They Did It Their Way: Thoughts on the Royal Wedding of the Duchess and Duke of Sussex

May 19, 2018

Upon entering St. George’s Chapel independently at the Windsor Castle to exiting the wedding ceremony to the song “This Little Light of Mine” – Etta James’ civil rights anthem, the now titled HRH Duke and Duchess of Sussex (did you know Meghan will be the first woman to ever hold this title? True.) did indeed curate their wedding ceremony uniquely to themselves.

While the true reason as to why Meghan’s father didn’t attend the ceremony may never be known, her choosing to walk the first length of the aisle on her own is absolutely fitting and most appropriate. The customary practice of “giving away” a grown woman has for some time discomfited me as it is an antiquated tradition which began as the daughter was seen as property being given to the husband. As traditions are powerful and some are most worth continuing (a procession afterwards to thank and greet the guests, exchanging of the rings, vows, just to name a few), symbolically and in order to move forward as a culture and in society, knowing why traditions were created is important as what we keep and what we leave out often speaks louder than any words. Meghan walking confidently and gracefully and of her free will to marry Prince Harry was symbolic and quietly powerful. Inviting Prince Charles to join her the final length of the aisle was a lovely gesture, and I applaud the queen (or whomever, or maybe no one’s permission was needed) for supporting this break with tradition for both lengths of the aisle.

Viewing the entire event from arrivals to the final carriage procession to wave to celebrators of the marriage who came from near and far, perked my emotions and prompted more than a few teary-eyed moments. While it might be tempting, and understandably so, to compare Meghan and Harry’s wedding to previous royal nuptials, letting this wedding (as all wedding should) stand alone as a moment in and of itself not only for the couple, but for the world’s current culture as well as the moment of a modern woman’s choice of whom and when and how to wed her love is much deserved.

Perhaps part of the reason many more people around the globe came to celebrate yesterday’s special occasion just outside of London is because the royal British family has been depicted more intimately as of late (albeit on fictional sound stages) in Victoria and The Crown. The opportunity and likelihood that more sympathy has grown for their lavish, yet restricted life is quite possible. After all, both drama series debuted well after Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding in 2011. And yes, Meghan is visually striking and her style choices are impeccable and have inspired many a blog and shopping post (even on this blog), but what moves me, what keeps my attention when it comes to this couple, and especially Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, is her intelligence, her independence, her strength and femininity (and it doesn’t hurt that she is devoted doggie mama as well – did you hear that the her beagle Guy drove with the queen on the eve of the wedding to Windsor Castle?).

Some in Britain fear that Meghan may “celebritize” the monarchy too much and on the other end of the spectrum others worry that by being more approachable, outwardly more congenial, make the royals appear “normal” and thus “the less people will see the point of the institution of monarchy.” However, one of the good fortunes that remains of being a part of a royal family is having an expansive and significant platform to do good, to reach and meet people from around the globe, to cast influence.  And if that influence is one to promote love as Bishop Michael Curry so passionately and beautifully shared with the 600 invited to the wedding, one of equality, one of inclusion and one of supporting of soldiers whose lives and limbs have been given for their country, than the potential “normal” they may become is something I would welcome and look forward to.

What was most refreshing about watching a royal wedding was watching an accomplished, successful, intelligent, philanthropic, feminist, feminine woman step forward into an adventure for something that is never guaranteed for any of us – the giving and receiving of love. While yes, we may choose to give love (and if we are to heed Bishop Curry’s sermon, we absolutely should), we can never control or know what will or if it will be reciprocated or for how long. And it can be absolutely frightening, especially after hurts and heartbreaks of any kind to continue to be confident in our life journey, but if Meghan demonstrates something most wonderfully, it is to be the strong, focused individual on something more than “getting married” or “being in a relationship”. Instead focus on what you can bring to the world. What is that one (or two or three) amazing gifts that you can contribute? If it means an exploration with the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on a USO tour to Afghanistan as Meghan did in 2014, say yes. If it means becoming an ambassador for One Young World and speaking out about gender equality and modern slavery, say yes. If it means refusing to be a “lady who lunches and rather a woman who works” as Meghan shared she always preferred to be the latter, say yes. And if it means taking the opportunity to be a UN Women advocate and an ambassador for World Vision traveling to Rwanda for a clean water campaign, say yes.

What you say yes to will be unique to you, but the point is to stop focusing on the limiting notion of a “fairy tale” as the traditional Disney films would have us to believe. Instead focus on the legacy you want to leave, the inspiration you want to give to the world and how you can contribute positively. If along the way you meet your “Prince Harry”, fantastic. But ultimately you need to be in love with your journey because that is what will light up the world.

To the bride and groom, to the new Duke and Duchess of Sussex, may their union be strong, long and loving, and may the world be better because they were united.

Updated 5/21/18: The Duchess of Sussex’s website is now up, and prominently displayed is the following: “I am proud to be a woman and a feminist.”

Articles and posts from around the web you may enjoy about the details of the Royal Wedding:

~As Prince Harry and Meghan Markle Wed, a New Era Dawns

~an NPR interview with Bishop Curry about the scripture which inspired his sermon

~The history of the Aquamarine ring of Princess Diana‘s that Meghan wore after the reception

~All the details of the dress, designer, veil and more

~Thanks Meghan Markle, We Needed That

~A few extra details shared by Habitually Chic. Did you notice the empty chair by Prince William? Discover what many speculate was the reason.

~The Cellist – Sheku Kanneh-Mason (need I say more?)

~Vogue UK’s images of the guests to the Royal Wedding

~All images Evening Standard (view all 53 here)



24 thoughts on “They Did It Their Way: Thoughts on the Royal Wedding of the Duchess and Duke of Sussex

  1. Shannon, A very thoughtful and well-framed way to view this very public event. Thank you for sharing your reflections!

  2. Shannon, I can always depend on you for an informed and varied view of an event. Thank you for sharing! A beautiful post.

  3. Hi, Shannon, what a thoughtful post. However, I like the idea of a father walking his daughter down the aisle…I think of it as her walking with the first man whom she ever loved , and then walking into the arms of the last man she will love…..

    1. I totally agree Janice. Sometimes it’s best to put the feminist pitchforks and torches aside and reframe the way one sees tradition. 🙂

      1. Being a feminist or respecting feminist views is not a negative term (def: the advocacy of women’s rights on the basis of the equality of the sexes). “Pitchforks” is unnecessary in either perspective one wishes to view the wedding. It was indeed a glorious and beautiful occasion – to the eye and the heart as well as the mind. It okay to celebrate it all as it is a grand occasion, just like an individual that is multi-faceted and not a singular “thing”.

        1. I understand and respect what you are saying; however, I think sometimes we read to much into things…if we question the tradition of a father walking his daughter down the aisle, then should we question a divorced woman or any woman, wearing the white gown symbolizing her virginity? Aren’t we past that? But we like the tradition……

          1. The detail that is unique about this particular wedding is the world was watching, and yes, details mattered to them, that was made very evident. They wanted us to pay attention to the details as it revealed what they care about, what they are honoring without saying a word (i.e. the empty chair next to Prince William). I would also add and agree it is a choice. The key is understanding why anyone is doing what they are doing and not simply following because of pressure from family, the church, society, etc.

  4. Hi. you captured my sentiments to a tee… However, I know most want to skip over the aesthetics for fear of not being pc, but my oh my, the bride’s dress and veil were gorgeous, her makeup demur which let her beauty shine thru. The floral arrangements thru out the castle and grounds were perfection.The way the bride and groom smiled thru out the lovely carriage ride was endearing, etc. I believe that enhanced my enjoyment of every moment.

    I am a 70 year old romantic and really relished the fairy tale aspect, even if only for one day. Now the day after, the political and social impact take center stage.

  5. Hi Shannon,
    My husband and I watched all of the coverage of the wedding, before and after. We loved every minute and really admired how they did choose to change some things and very tastefully and respectfully I might add. Absolutely beautiful!

  6. Shannon,
    What a lovely and thoughtful description of the Royal Wedding.
    I was deeply touched by your observations and found tears in my eyes that someone could be aware of all the nuances and express the heartfelt admiration I feel the new couple. They are already being the inspiration we need in the world.
    P.S. your line about her beagle riding with the queen gives me a whole new appreciation of the Royal family!

  7. I loved reading your post, and I agree that it was great to see how Meghan chose to walk down the aisle. I thought they struck such a nice balance between respecting royal traditions and introducing personalized and modern touches to the service. The exquisite cello playing was a high point for me, and I love the idea of an elderflower cake!

  8. I thought that Harry and Meghan’s wedding was absolutely beautiful. I loved that they made their wedding their own despite all the media attention and regulations they had to follow. I believe that weddings should be very personal and meaningful- not just a cookie cutter ceremony. I really loved the point you made about Meghan choosing to walk herself half way down the aisle. When I saw her walking by herself I never thought “poor Meghan her Dad isn’t here.” I thought she looks beautiful and so happy. I didn’t even think about him not being there. She was owning her moment and her love. I think that should be the main consideration instead of being so legalistic about things. What is important here- two people that love each other so much they can’t imagine spending their life apart. My absolute favorite part of the wedding was how happy Harry and Meghan were. You could see the love shining in their eyes.

  9. Beautifully put. We all need to make a legacy of our lives. I have many things that I would to do and I am able to use Rotary International to achieve my ideals. I am putting clean water and a kindergarten in a remote village in Fiji. I am promoting steps for facial cleanliness to eliminate Trachoma in Australian Aboriginal communities. Meghan has been doing these things using her influence as a media personality, but now that has all been enhanced by her marriage. With the enormous backing of the Royal Family behind her, all doors will be open and the good and influence at her disposal will be enormous. I wish them both well. As to walking down the aisle alone, I think that is very appropriate for a divorced woman who is remarrying. She has been given away already to her first husband. As a divorcee, she is free of any ties to any other man, especially her Father. Prince Charles was more of a receiving her into the Royal Family gesture and showing that she is not alone now.

  10. I was looking for a new quote to put up on my kitchen blackboard and I found it in one of the most beautiful moments of the wedding: “This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine….”
    It reminds me of how earnestly we sang this song in the late 60’s and 70’s. I have a new anthem from another era. Let’s go for finding the light and sharing it. Meghan and Harry gave us a beautiful and poignant wedding gift. Something we can share. Let’s light the candle of beauty, truth and goodness.
    Thanks for the inspiration, Shannon

    1. Great idea Margaret! Thank you for sharing – beauty, truth and goodness. They truly did give everyone a wonderful gift this past weekend. Let’s do something constructive with it. 🙂

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