William and Kate are wed. Half a world away, Americans from Washington to Los Angeles roused themselves to watch the hour-long ceremony broadcast live and in HD from Westminster Abbey. While denizens of the former colony sometimes carp about oppressive British traditions, those who breakfasted on the event showed a genuine sense of appreciation for the restrained elegance that ran through the moment.
“It was really beautiful,” says Nathalie DeWulf Miller, a naturalized US citizen born in France. She turned on the TV while her husband slept in their Southern California home. “I knew Kate would have long sleeves because every royal wedding dress has had them,” says Ms. Miller, “but it was so elegant and modern.” The choice of gown was decidedly not what Diana and Fergie chose, she adds, “not over the top at all.”
On the other coast, third-generation ex-Marine Robert Westover fired up his wide-screen, high-definition TV to enjoy what he calls a celebration of the best parts of royal traditions. “It encapsulated a thousand years of British history from William the Conqueror – who was crowned in the Abbey – all the way through Chaucer and Milton,” says the Washington, D.C., resident. “I am not a monarchist or even a royalist,” he says, but “this is the country that gave the world the Magna Carta, laying out the rights of man for the whole civilized western world.” Respect is due this heritage, he says, “even if I firmly believe in electing all my own leaders.”
Being of British descent, Mr. Westover says, it’s the least courtesy he can accord his mother country. Besides, he says, as a former Marine, respect is a professional courtesy. “When British Marines set fire to Washington in 1812,” he says with a laugh, “the one building they did not torch was the Marine commandant’s home.”
Watching from her Detroit-area home, author and social scientist Terri Orbuch says she was impressed with the lack of ostentation. “No big-name celebrity performers or modern vows written by the bride and groom,” she says, although she does concede that walking out of a church to see a crimson-lined carriage drawn by white horses “may just be every little girl’s wedding dream.”
She says she was struck by the obvious connection between William and Kate. “Their body language – small looks and glances between them – spoke volumes about how united they feel in this union,” says the author of "Five Simple Steps to Take Your Marriage from Good to Great."
While the Bible verses and traditional passages from church officials suffused the ceremony with a traditional hue, the relationship at the heart of the wedding is completely modern, “a paring of equals,” she says, very unlike the distant, somewhat tense relationship on display in the Prince Charles and Diana nuptials.
She hopes that watchers will absorb the importance of a calm and mature bond at the heart of the wedding. Nonetheless, she adds, a more likely take-away will be yet another upgrade for any self-respecting modern wedding: “No doubt, we will see some brides demanding their very own horse-drawn carriage complete with footmen,” she adds with a rueful laugh.