Visiting British Isles
The royal wedding is a jolly early time in Houston: Waking up to a fantasy
I've only woken up before 5 a.m. a handful of times, and always for international travel. So I guess it makes sense in a way that I would be waking up in the dark once more to travel vicariously across the Atlantic to watch the wedding of a beautiful couple that I've never met.
With DVR, YouTube, and a Friday full of replays on demand, why wake up and watch? I'm not really sure. Maybe for the same reason that we pay attention to Halley's comet every 75 years: Because it's an event that's rare and fully spectacular.
I found myself thinking about the next time I'll watch a royal heir walk his bride down the aisle. At the current pace of a wedding every 30 years, I'll be pushing 60. Maybe by then I'll be the kind of person who wakes up at dawn and sits down with the New York Times crossword before balancing my checkbook, turning up the 3D hologram TV to watch Wills and Kate's son get married before heading out to the garden. Weird.
But today I'm a mess, crawling out of bed and throwing on the first dress I find with three hours of sleep and the plastic wristband from the MFAH's Latin Wave party still on my wrist. Driving to British Isles in Rice Village to join the viewing party, it's like being alone in the world, and I can do amazing things I never thought possible, like make a left turn onto Greenbriar from Bissonnet.
About 40 people were gathered in the Rice Village store, with many wearing hats and fascinators as well as dresses. One older gentleman is even in a kilt. It's mostly Americans with a few British accents mixed in here and there.
Settling in with a mimosa, almost immediately Kate is on the screen in the car, and for some reason seeing someone so lovely on her wedding day does give me a jolt of excitement. The first time she turns a corner and the BBC cameras get a closer image of her in her veil and tiara, there's an audible gasp in the room.
As she emerges in front of Westminster, it's the pageantry and splendor on full display. Others will have plenty to say about the dress, but I will just say I thought she looked magnetic, and fully expect every wedding I attend in the next five years to have a bride wearing a show-stopping veil.
The live BBC coverage is wonderfully calm and restrained, with the broadcaster breaking to the speak in soft tones only to explain what was happening and name a hymn, a welcome change from the incessant gabbing I'm used to on American broadcasts. And when the BBC cameras showed the sweeping views down from the roof of Westminster, the sheer grandiosity is stunning.
William in his red uniform is every bit the fairy tale prince, although something about Harry's manner by his side gives me the feeling he's going to screw something up. But instead he just sneaks a peek back at Kate while she walks down the aisle and whispers to William "just wait 'til you see her." Folks, this is the stuff of romance.
After the vows, as the wedding dragged on with speeches, prayers and hymns, I remembered something: Weddings are boring. Beautiful, but about five minutes of interesting and a half-hour of filler. So as I stood and waited and my shoes began to pinch, I started to believe that in some small way it really was just like being there.
As the couple exited the church into the fairy tale open carriage, the crowd gathered stopped for a bit of cake (not fruit cake, thank god), one last toast to the new Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, and a "hip hip hooray" before people slipped away to return to their normally scheduled morning.
So why do we care about a royal wedding? Why do we force ourselves awake?
It's a bit of fantasy and tradition that, by going through the motions — waking up, putting on the hat — we get to share in a bit of the ceremony, and by sharing feel like that fantasy, that glamor, might rub off on us somehow.