Unlike some of my friends, I didn’t closely follow the royal wedding for months in advance. Not out of disdain, but simply out of having other interests, I’d never really heard of Meghan Markle or watched her TV show, and I generally associated Prince Harry with the wilder, more controversial antics of his youth. Until it all became impossible to ignore.
In the days preceding the wedding, the lead stories on seemingly every news outlet and style blog I follow involved Meghan and Harry: how would they incorporate American rituals into a traditional English ceremony? What musical selections would they choose? Would Meghan wear the Queen’s signature nail polish shade? Before I knew it, I was drawn in, growing in appreciation for what seemed like a genuine, natural love, with sense of equality and mutual admiration between the two.
What was it that made someone like me, who’d been mostly indifferent to the royals, so intrigued by their nuptials? And what made so many others, the world over, feel the same? Particularly in our culture where marriage is received with cynicism, and in light of Harry’s mother, Princess Diana’s disillusionment with her own marriage--her lack of a fairy-tale ending after the original televised royal wedding--our obsession suggests there remains something captivatingly hopeful about the union of man and wife.
On some level, there’s a realization that marriage still means something big, and we want to see relationships flourish and succeed. Love is worth rooting for, and commitment through good times and bad merits respect even from skeptics.
In the days after the wedding, I found myself scrolling through photos and clips of the service, attire, and family portraits. For those of us who aren’t duchesses, Meghan and Harry’s witness to love and service offers some valuable insights into how we can be witnesses, too.
As faithful Catholics whose wedding guests might or might not be in a similar place spiritually, the desire to evangelize through your wedding Mass and celebration is a natural one. In concrete, sensory ways, like incense, music, the readings, and a program that explains Catholic traditions in a clear, charitable way, that’s possible. I admired how the royal incorporated songs and a sermon from American Christian traditions without much fanfare, simply letting these inclusions speak for themselves. A concrete, yet humble witness. In an even more radical way, the Catholic faith has its own way of speaking for itself, stirring the soul to pay closer attention to the whispers, the longings, deep within.
Consider, as well, all the less obvious, unspoken ways the truth, beauty, and goodness of your marriage can, and will, also shine forth: treating each guest with attention and graciousness; meeting them where they are; exhibiting a spirit of reverence and resolve through prayer and worship simply by being your authentic selves; waiting until after the wedding to move in together. When you lead with the heart, prioritizing relationship over argument, your family and friends become well-disposed to receive, and can look past differences of opinion as their experiencing you and your beloved entering into marriage speaks to God’s grace.
The day after the royal wedding, sin and evil still existed in the world and our culture remained as politically fractured as ever. The wedding, however, stopped so many of us in our tracks for a moment and invited the world to step back from its brokenness and division. In the same way, your wedding day won’t heal yours or your guests’ every wound. Yet with beauty, virtue, and purity of heart, it can testify to something powerful and real without a word.