I'm just going to say it: I can't wait for Prince William and Kate Middleton's wedding. One, I love weddings. (The dresses! The flowers! The dancing!) Two, I love pomp and circumstance. Probably because much of my life feels chaotic, the order and ritual of weddings, graduations, funerals even, move me. Three, I love princesses—not the Disney kind, mind you, but the real kind.
The kind I discovered, in fact, back when Will's mother, Lady Diana, married his dad, Prince Charles. I was 9, and while my mom rolled her eyes at the "charade," I was enthralled. It was during that charade that I discovered that real-life princesses lived in big houses with tons of dogs and had country houses with tons of horses. And that they got to travel around in beautiful clothes and say nice things for which people gave them roses.
What a life, I thought. A perfect life.
Which leads me to the fourth reason I'm excited: because I have a 6-year-old daughter who will love this wedding too. She will love it because she's a romantic at heart who loves the Disney sort of princesses and their Prince Charmings and happily-ever-afters. She'll watch this and think, like I did, What a life. A perfect life.
I'm excited about William and Kate's wedding because I need to kill this off in my daughter. Or at least scuff it up a little.
I don't want my daughter growing up believing in happily-ever-afters. I don't want her to grow up thinking that one day or even one moment will perfect her life. I certainly don't want her to grow up thinking that her wedding day is the climax of her life or even the most important day. Or the day she arrives, or worse, becomes.
Of course a wedding day is a wonderful day (at least mine was!). It's a serious day (vows before God and all!). It's even a defining day (I went from having two difficult names to having three!). Absolutely, a wedding day should be a happy and celebrated occasion.
And I get why People magazine has article after article about guest lists and wedding dress predictions for Will and Kate. I get why some are counting down the days. I understand why there are commemorative plates. Why some might buy the Kate Middleton dolls.
Weddings—especially this kind of wedding—are times when many of us lose ourselves in the fantasy of what a wedding and a marriage are really about. The fantasy that just that one thing or event can finally make us happy, complete, fulfilled. Can make our life perfect. So we celebrate that. Beautifully.
In all that beauty, however, we risk forgetting that the real beauty of a wedding is not the sparkle or the tulle. It has nothing to do with flowers or candle flickers. You can't even see it in the most blushing of brides or the most breathless of grooms.
The real beauty of a wedding is instead found in the truth that marriage is a sacrament, a means of channeling grace. And you can't channel grace without bearing the brunt of sin.
And few things reveal unholy sin quite like holy matrimony. With all our promises of eternal love and fidelity, we get plenty of hurt. Plenty of frustration. Plenty of annoyance. Plenty of mean words. Plenty of disappointment. Plenty of selfish behavior.
Which all leaves room for plenty of grace. Grace to shower one another with. Grace to learn and grow and become from.
This is what I want my daughter to know. A wedding isn't the day you become someone or someone's, but a day that tethers you to a beloved so you can become something together and for another: instruments of God's dazzling grace.
I will sit with my girl and watch Kate Middleton being pomped and circumstanced and cheered as she goes to meet her prince. I want to wonder with my daughter about the jewels and crowns and clothes that await. About the dogs and the horses and the country houses and enormous opportunities for doing good that I hope Kate's life holds.
But I also want to talk to my daughter about that what I know awaits the soon-to-be princess. While I hope that plenty of her life and marriage are happy and wonderful, much of it won't be. Not just because we know the rough side of royalty, but because life, because husbands, because roles never are just as we imagine. Not for any of us.
And that's okay. Because the real reward, the real beauty, the real "happily ever after" of that wedding day is all about the grace that pours out of two people—fallen but committed, broken but loving—promising God and witnesses to love (which "keeps no record of wrongs," according to 1 Corinthians 13:5) one another through it all.
It's the same beauty of God's amazing love for us. I hope my daughter gets this. And I hope Kate Middleton and her prince do too.
Caryn Rivadeneira is a writer, speaker, and mother of three, and the author of Mama's Got a Fake I.D. as well as a book forthcoming from Tyndale House. She has written for Her.meneutics on parenting, boycotting Amazon, Halloween, burqas, fathers, Mother's Day, spanking, happiness, pregnant Olympians, and boy-girl wrestling.
The title of this post has been updated to avoid confusion.