The big day was here. Prince Harry, Princess Diana’s mischievous little ginger, had somehow grown up and was about to marry the radiant American actress Meghan Markle. I knew the wedding was going to be broadcast on nearly every channel. My biggest worry: Would the Tennis Channel still show Rafa Nadal’s semi-final match in Rome?
I have to confess, I’m wedding-averse. Although I’ve been married twice, both of my weddings were simple affairs and I’ve done my best for the past 35 years to avoid attending as many others as possible. I’d find myself sitting in the church pew unconsciously shaking my head as a happy couple stood at the altar.
“Do you take this man . . .?“ the minister would ask and I’d want to spring to my feet with an objection: “Don’t you know more than 50 percent of marriages end in divorce?” But I’d clench my jaw and try to envision a lifetime of bliss for the bride and groom. Needless to say, I wasn’t invited to perform many toasts.
About 11 years ago I met Randy, the saint who would become my second husband. When we decided to marry in 2013, we discussed options: Destination wedding on the California coast? Simple ceremony in our Washington, DC, home? Wedding on Martha’s Vineyard where we’d met and spent summers? Who would we invite? ‘Round and ‘round we went, finally choosing the easy way out: Elopement on the Vineyard!
As I waited for the Rafa match to begin, coverage of the royal wedding was everywhere. I couldn’t help but marvel at the differences between the Harry/Meghan extravaganza and my own recent nuptials. Nearly 30 million Americans, 18 million Brits, plus another 100,000 in the streets of Windsor, 600 in cozy medieval St. George’s Chapel, and 2,640 additional guests on the castle grounds witnessed their ceremony. Add Oprah, George Clooney, Idris Elba, James Corden, Serena Williams, and Elton John and you’ve got one hell of a party!
Ours, on the other hand, was attended only by the black-robed justice of the peace and his wife/photographer. Even our dog stayed home. She didn’t have a hat to match her coat.
We did have one fleeting, uninvited guest, however. As the officiant began performing our simple ceremony on the banks of a secluded pond, a 20-something guy on a bicycle swooped by the rickety pier that swayed beneath us. He screeched to a halt.
“Whoa!” he said, drawing out the one-syllable word so that it echoed in the warm September air for a good 30 seconds. “Are you, you know, are you, you know . . . you know, are you guys doing what I think you’re doing?” First interpreting the glazed look in his eyes as awe, I quickly realized he’d probably just been smoking some really powerful weed. When no one offered him an invitation to stay, he pedaled off with a dazed nod.
Fashionistas in the UK and around the world speculated for months about which designer Meghan would choose to craft her dress. While the beautiful bride wore a chic, minimalist Givenchy with a shoulder-revealing bateau neckline for her ceremony and subsequent reception, she changed into a bespoke Stella McCartney number for the evening soiree. Though the Givenchy was pared down, the 16-foot-long veil required that textile workers wash their hands every 30 minutes as they spent hundreds of hours sewing its elaborate embroidery. Estimated cost of both gowns: well over a half-million-dollars.
I, on the other hand, snatched a tie-dyed, knee-length, après-yoga skirt (purchased the year before at Sports Authority) and sleeveless slubbed cotton shirt (Marshall’s sale rack) from the pile of clothing on my chair. Giving them a quick sniff, I deemed them clean enough for a wedding. Following a heated two-and-a-half-hour doubles match that afternoon, I had arrived home gamey and glistening. To make our 4pm ceremony I was afraid I’d have to forego a shower.
“You’re not getting married all sweaty!” Randy said, horrified. Chastened, I sprinted into the bathroom, emerging fresh as a daisy. Albeit a damp one.
We drove our SUV filled with dog hair, used tennis balls and empty Twizzlers wrappers to our rustic outdoor venue nearby. Tiptoeing through poison ivy and tick-infested grass, we heaved a sigh of relief: no sign of paparazzi. Meghan and Harry’s event, on the other hand, was covered by more than 5,000 members of the media from 79 international networks. We wound up with about a dozen iPhone images, most of them shot from too far away to discern the expressions of rapture on our faces. Meghan and Harry wound up with countless wonderful images and a photography bill for $22,000.
We all became newlyweds. But while Prince Harry is now known by his new title, His Royal Highness, the Duke of Sussex, and Meghan as Her Royal Highness, the Duchess of Sussex, I remain Karla Araujo, the Duchess of Dog Care, Laundry, and Stain Removal. Randy, my beloved husband, is my Duke of Trash Removal, Simple Repairs, and Grudging, Infrequent Dog Walking.
And, while I vowed not to watch the royal extravaganza, I found myself captivated by Harry and Meghan’s unmistakable ardor. I could watch Rafa Nadal win tennis matches any day. This was a wedding for the ages!