So I'm sitting here in my little English cottage in Derbyshire with the BBC blasting its coverage of a very special love story, and here goes your Marmite post: either you're sick of hearing about the Royal Wedding or you can't get enough of it. But there is something crazy close to my heart about this wedding, and the fact that the bride grew up only two hours away from my own home town is just one of many reasons. As a Californian who fell in love with her own Englishman, I am stoked (had to throw a Cali word in there somewhere) that a mixed-race California girl is coming in to shake up the formality of the Royal family. I am excited that both of "my" cultures are being given a bit of time in the public eye of the other. To see coverage of Britain in America and coverage of America in Britain feels akin to having my parents "meet" for the first time. Although this story in no way belongs to me, my heart and my background for both America and Britain make today's news coverage feel quite personal.
An American reporter spoke on the BBC this morning about what this Royal Wedding means to Americans aside from the obvious: "We pretend, as little girls, that we're going to grow up and marry our prince. We followed Prince William and Prince Harry growing up, and there's something special about seeing this little girl from Los Angeles grow up and actually marry her prince." Some may find that response stereotypical and a bit dry or cheesy, but I can attest to the fact that for many of us, it's an accurate description. As a teenager, my friends and I used to joke about how we'd run away and marry one of the handsome royal princes to escape the dry dust of California. Meghan Markle, in turn, feels a bit like she's championed that reality for the fourteen-year-old-girl-gang of my youth. Seriously: right now, I'm watching a school of American girls on the television dancing with both Union Jacks and American flags in their hands, saying "You never know what can be next in your life."
And they're right: I too championed my own fairytale, sitting comfortably in my little cottage with my handsome Englishman and memories of a dusty desert far behind me. And it's that reality, far from being BBC-newsworthy, that still knits my heart to this public love story. I am not one of those people who is sick of hearing about the Royal Nuptials because truly, I love seeing the world turn a public eye onto something joyful. Something rooted in love. Something worth celebrating.
What's more, there are some major differences between wedding culture and wedding law in America vs. Britain, and I'm excited to see how Meghan's presence mixes up the traditional "Royal Wedding" model. From the personal experience of having moved to England for love and being a hopeless romantic whose heart's desire is to capture love on camera, I must say, there are a few things that I hope to see the royal photographer, Alexi Lubomirski, capture on the big day. Wedding photography is about more than operating a camera well. It's about capturing the emotion and the craft and the unique cultivation of detail and love that goes into the aesthetics of the venue and the looks on the couple's faces. The decorations meld into the tears because the entire day is a culmination of a love that has been fought for. So if you want to follow along with me, here's what this little Californian wedding photographer in Britain will be looking out for in Lubomirski's photos:
Things like the wedding cake, for example, are little details that are subtly breaking tradition. Where most Brits opt for a fruit cake for their wedding (I still find this weird), Meghan and Harry are going for a lemon and elderflower sponge cake. But it's just a cake: no big deal, right? Except it is. Because little details like this reflect an active decision to incorporate American trends into what is one of the most traditional wedding constructs of western culture. I want to see all of the little details that stray from the British ritual and invite the newness and creativity of American wedding culture into the old Royal conventions(but maybe I'm a bit biased).
The first look:
Whether they opt for a first look before the ceremony or a more traditional "don't see the bride until the aisle" approach, I want to see Harry's face when he sees his bride for the first time. While the Brits often adopt the "stiff upper lip" approach to showing their emotions, I hope that in marrying a woman whose culture is more expressive, that he too, in that moment, would feel free to let his face reflect what his heart is feeling. And I hope that Lubomirski captures it authentically.
A quiet moment:
I hope that Meghan and Harry get a private moment with the photographer after their ceremony. Unlike most couples, the public eye is so astoundingly pointed towards them, and they have such a responsibility to be "present" for the thousands of tourists and viewers who are watching them wed. But at the end of the day, this story is about a man and a woman who simply fell in love, and I want to see what the camera captures when they are able to break away, just the two of them, and enjoy the realisation that they are man and wife.
I want to see shots of close friends and family on both sides during the ceremony. I want to see the emotion on their faces. The world outside might be waiting with screams and cheers, but this day belongs to the couple and those who they're close to.
In essence, I want Lubomirski's wedding photography to capture what makes this Royal Wedding special: the sacrifice of a woman who has moved countries and social statuses, the boldness of a man choosing a woman whose background cracks the shiny surface of his own heritage, the beauty of two cultures merging, and ultimately, the universal simplicity of the sacred covenant of marriage when it is rooted in selflessness and love. And though I hope to see all of these types of shots publicised, in the end, those wedding photographs are solely to memorialise the day for the bride and groom. If they are kept in a private album somewhere, so be it, as long as they have that album to cherish. Despite the world's expectations, The Royal Wedding is just a wedding, and it's about two people who love each other-- possibly the simplest and most ancient of truths. So I hope that their wedding photographer captures the energy and emotion of romance in the room, the faces of loved ones, the thoughtfulness of American and British details, and the overall magic that makes weddings the happiest of days.
Congrats to yet another international couple, fighting for love for the world to see. My heart stands with you, always.