The Royal Wedding is everywhere. It covers the pages of the American Tabloids, it’s a trending topic on twitter, and now it has even taken over our national ‘news’. We no longer hear about the bombing in Libya but we hear about who may have designed Kate Middleton’s wedding dress. Good Morning America is no longer in America but in London. Today’s featured piece? Which souvenirs one can buy for under $80 to commemorate the nuptials.
So why do we, as Americans, care? After all, we fought a war hundreds of years ago, to gain our independence from the British Monarchy. Why then, do we care now?
As Americans we are fascinated by celebrities. We love larger-than-life personalities. We love the opportunity to read about people who live a life that seems much more extravagant than our own. However, American weddings, even celebrity status, don’t dictate our news coverage for an entire week. Reese Witherspoon’s recent wedding made headline news on E! and the Entertainment programs. However, outside the entertainment news shows, the wedding of American Royalty was a blip on the news radar.
So what is it that makes us so caught up in William and Kate? Perhaps, it all stems from our childhood. What were the first movies we were allowed to watch? For most of us they were Disney movies. Little girls grew up watching stories of Cinderella being swept off her feet and whisked away from her evil stepmother and stepsisters. Sleeping beauty was saved from an evil spell by her prince Phillip.
As young women we are socialized into world of romance predicated by the notion of waiting for our prince to come. As we become teenagers we discover the teen romantic comedy films and teen magazines which enforce these notions. Some of us are even schooled in the value of getting an MRS degree.
As young women many of us dream about our wedding days. While I fully admit I’ve never been that into the wedding thing, many of my friends have. One friend started a wedding scrapbook as a teenager. Other women talk about cakes and decorations long before they find Mr. Right. After working Bridal shows in my previous career, I met many women who were single, who attended to ‘get ideas’ before they were even in a relationship. Weddings themselves, for many women, are a fantasy of what their wedding will be like some day.
So, perhaps, it should come as no surprise that a wedding a prince, a woman of new found celebrity status, a gorgeous abbey, being shown live around the world, would garner so much attention. I’ve heard women saying they are watching for the glamour. I’ve heard women say they are watching because they are fascinated by the royals. I even know women who have flown to London to be a part of the watch parties.
Then there are the rest of us. We want our news coverage back. As an American I’ve come to appreciate the doom and gloom that the national news brings, and this coverage of the wedding of Kate and William seems like little more than fluff. The problem is this ‘fluff’ has gone from an end of segment kicker piece, to a full-on marathon of coverage.
So, why don’t we care about the Royal Wedding? Let us count the ways.
Let’s look back on our childhood. Sure prince charming came for Cinderella and Price Phillip saved sleeping beauty. How has this impacted our adulthood? How many women fit the character Charlotte from ‘Sex and the City’? How many women pass up perfectly good men because they don’t fit the ideal of a prince that they have constructed the first 20 years of their life?
Those of us who have found our Mr. Right will tell you that he is certainly no prince. The first thing you will learn is that he struggles to be romantic, and only does so, to satisfy the romantic ideal you have built up in your head from romance novels and films. The real Mr. Right will have his flaws, from finding bodily functions funny, to caring more about the game than what you are wearing. Mr. Right is rarely perfect in every way.
As a former domestic violence and sexual assault counselor, when a woman would start recounting her prince story to me, red flags went up in my head. The typical pattern of an abuser begins with a wooing phase. Women would recount being swept off their feet and showered in gifts from designer handbags to trips out of town. Then, after he had them convinced he was perfect he would snap. As a counselor I reminded clients time and time again, if he seems too good to be true, he probably is.
The truth about love is learning to love someone for who they are flaws and all. Typically, in the beginning the flaws are cute, and sometimes funny. Get a few years into it, and the flaws are less cute and more on the side of annoying. But we love them despite their flaws.
For many of us growing up post-feminism we were never taught to wait for our prince to come. My parents raised me with the abilities to do everything for myself. (This includes drywall and changing oil, just don’t tell my Mr. Right this!) Most of us grew up with aspirations and career ambitions that did not center on finding prince charming. Everything I’ve ever had in life took hard work, even eventually finding Mr. Right. I still take pride in the fact that I’ve accomplished everything in my life myself; from career to material possessions.
Many of us realize that you have to make life happen for yourself and that prince charming may or may not come. He may come in your 20’s or might not make an appearance until your 40’s. You cannot spend your life searching for just one thing.
Then, once you do find that special someone comes the wedding. Today’s brides spend on average 20 to 25 THOUSAND dollars on their weddings. Call me a cynic but that seems like an astronomical amount to spend on just one day. Weddings should not be about the day, but about the marriage. Every bride I’ve ever spoken too has said the same thing; the day came and went so fast. Why then spend so much money on it? I would rather elope on a $2,000 cruise in the Caribbean and put that money toward mortgage than blow it all in one day.
However, speaking with a friend and groom-to-be this weekend I came to a realization. Weddings aren’t always just about the couple. Sometimes weddings are about the other people involved. It is about the families, the friends, and the celebration of love. While eloping sound like the perfect escape for myself, and my friend the groom-to-be, it leaves out the element of the friends and family whom you share your life with outside that marriage.
So for those of us who would rather have our sad and depressing news back, we have to remember that this Royal Wedding isn’t about us. It is about the people who still believe in fairy tales. It is about the people who think a wedding should be the biggest day of their lives. It is for the people who fantasize about their wedding days for years. It’s about letting them have their moment.
So for the realists this week is about living in the world of the fairy tale our friends dream about. After all, they live in our world the other 51 weeks a year.