Sunday, June 3, 2018

The Royal Wedding: Highlights, Fashions, and Our Wedding Too!

Alright, let's do it. Let's have a little fun with the royal wedding. Of course I'm a little late to the party with this blog post but, as you know, I'm in the midst of health struggles, and a legal battle with my insurance company. The fun stuff is often delayed. Better late than never?

Many non-Canadians are surprised to learn that Canada is still part of the British commonwealth. Technically, Queen Elizabeth is the head of our country. Her royal face is on our money. When I first moved to Canada, I had to sing "God Save the Queen" at school assemblies. Combine this with the fact that Meghan Markle lived in Toronto for several years, and you have a country that claimed the royal wedding as our own. Heck, the boys holding her veil are the grandsons of one of our former prime-ministers. 

I am well aware of the evils of empire. I know that Indigenous peoples suffered and still suffer terribly under British colonialism. Whether or not the British monarchy should even still exist is a subject of ongoing debate, and I'm deeply sympathetic to those who argue that it shouldn't. Because of this, I hesitated to write this post, and I hope I'm not hurting any of my readers with this post. 

The thing that made me decide to go ahead and write it is the fact that Meghan and Harry turned their wedding into a passionate, beautiful statement about racial equality. They were making history, changing the very trajectory of the monarchy, and they knew it. They celebrated it. 

I was happily surprised and deeply moved. It was not what I had expected. I watched it for the clothing. I wanted to see Meghan's dress. I wanted to see which tiara she wore. I wanted to see what the guests wore. And all that was really fun, for sure. But I kept watching because the service blew me away. It was so new to witness a royal wedding like theirs, that the hashtag #RoyalWeddingSoBlack took off immediately - and it filled me with joy.

It was a fairy tale about a princess, and about racial equality. With the recent rise of openly expressed racism in the last few years, we could all use a joyful fairy tale like that. 

I think the royal wedding was even more emotional for Beau, whose parents were openly hostile to inter-racial (and same-sex) marriage. When Beau's close relative fell in love with a man who, like Meghan Markle, had one white parent and one black parent, they said that they would not attend their wedding. Nor would they even touch any child she might have with the man she loved. This was in the 1990s. 

Because of this, Beau and I wrote on our wedding program that we would not be getting married at all if same-sex and interracial couples could not also get married. I could not believe that we even had to say that in 2015.

So watching the royal wedding made us think about that, but it also made us both think a lot about our own wedding, less than three years ago. Like Harry and Meghan, Beau and I thought very carefully about every aspect of our wedding. We wanted to make it both beautiful and meaningful. We chose to have a Jewish wedding but we did alter some prayers so they were in keeping with our values. I would not, for example, pray about Israel as my promised land, not with what the Israeli military is doing to Palestinians. And, in our vows, we added a bit about our union including a mutual commitment tikkun olam, healing the world.

We chose to have our wedding in an Indigenous Longhouse. Why?First and foremost, because it's beautiful. I have yet to see a photograph that does it justice. It even smells right: like cedar, like home. We both come from mixed up religious backgrounds, in which religious dogma was used to justify terrible child abuse, so we shied away from any space that was either Jewish or Christian. Yet we really wanted the space to be sacred, and we wanted our money to go to good people. The Longhouse seemed perfect.

And it was of the land we love. Neither of us was born here on the west coast, but we're both in love with it. It just felt right to be married in a space that was fundamentally of this part of the world, made with west coast wood, and traditional to a people who have been here for almost 20,000 years. 

So Beau and I both brought our fraught family backgrounds with us as we married. So did Harry and Meghan. Everyone felt the absence of Harry's mother, Diana, and remembered the tragedy of her death. But the rest of his family was there. I had no family members at my wedding. Meghan had only one: her mother, Doria Ragland.

And what a star her mother turned out to be! I was absolutely blown away by her beauty, poise, pride, and love. That woman is a queen if I ever saw one.

Meghan obviously got her gorgeous smile from her mama. Their smiles are the most radiant I've ever seen. 

It was clear to me that Doria knew that her daughter was making history. The pride that radiated from her was not just for her daughter, marrying the man she loved. It was also for the larger significance of what her daughter and that man, that prince, were accomplishing in that marriage: a fundamental shift in the very definition of British royalty.

Doria and Queen Elizabeth wore matching, becomingly modest, pale green outfits, something I'm sure they'd planned in advance.

Queen Elizabeth added a touch of royal purple. I wish we'd all been able to get a look at the dress beneath her coat, glimpses of which suggested that it was beautiful. (Of course, she also wore one of her many, beloved, diamond brooches. I love that she loves her brooches.)

When you take a look at the family photos after the wedding, it immediately becomes evident why Doria, Kate, and the queen all wore pale green: the bouquets were a wonderfully understated,pale green, and white. I wonder why Camilla wore pink. It almost feels like the family snubbed her by not asking her to wear a matching outfit. Whatever the reason, it makes her seem like the odd one out.

Doria was, of course, an odd one out in many ways. She was on her own (and I'm still not totally sure why). She's American. She is neither royal nor of the British gentry. She has a nose ring. And she's black. Such an exciting first! Her natural hair serves to accent her pride in being exactly who and what she is, in a setting that could easily have made her feel she had to alter her appearance, remove her nose ring and extra earrings, and straighten and colour her hair. All power to her.

From my blog post, Pretty Pictures and Pleasing Diversions
If you read my blog, you know that I'm a big proponent of natural hair. None of us should feel compelled to alter our natural hair to try to conform to the beauty standards of a very small ethnic group (i.e., British and Northwestern European, basically). 

This is why I do wish Meghan would let her beautiful, natural curls fly, but, obviously, that is her decision and her decision only.

At any rate, natural hair and all, Doria clearly had an ally in Prince Charles. I'm sure he understood how many firsts this woman embodied, and how nervous she could be. I was touched to see how often and how consciously he extended his warmth, welcome, and comfort to her, in both his words and his body language. 

He reminded me of my own bridesmaid, my very first roommate when I was 17, who knew how scared and triggered I was at my own wedding, and, who, as you can see here, kept a watchful, protective eye on me throughout the wedding and the days preceding it. I wasn't even aware that she was doing it until I looked our wedding photos.

I don't really know much about Prince Charles' personality, but his natural kindness at his son's wedding gave me a new kind of respect for him.

While we're on the subject, why is everyone so down on his wife, Camilla? When Charles was a young man, royal marriages were still very traditional. Love had nothing to do with it. Appropriate matches did. Royal marriage was political, not romantic. I don't think anyone, except, perhaps, some in the general public, expected Charles to marry someone he loved. 

If he and Camilla are guilty of anything, they are guilty of not bucking tradition and being together from the start. Having not done so, they certainly should have told the achingly young, Princess Diana the reality of the marriage she was entering, and then let her make a more knowledgeable decision about whether she wanted to become the princess.

But times were different.

Prince Charles did not, I think, believe he had a choice. He wasn't happy. They weren't in love.

I think that both of Prince Charles' children learned from his mistake. They both did something very out of keeping with royal tradition: They married for love.

They were lucky.

For me, another highlight of the wedding was simply the obvious love between Harry and Meghan. How sweet is that?

I didn't know what it was to have someone look at me with that kind of love until I was 41. When someone did, naturally, I married him.

The moment that Harry lifted Meghan's veil will forever be iconic, not for the beauty of her veil or tiara, but for the pure love in her eyes as she looks up at him.

Beau had never known what it felt like to be looked at like that either. He does now. Naturally, he married me. 

But Meghan and Harry chose not to make their romantic love the only focal point of their wedding. They decided to make their wedding a bigger statement about the power of love, not just between two people, but for the world itself. 

Bishop Michael Curry put that sentiment into words in his powerful, exquisite sermon. If his sermon wasn't an impassioned plea for us all to unselfishly love the world and seek social, racial justice... well I just don't know what is. When he said, "In the words of the late Martin Luther King Junior," I had to press pause on the television, pump my fist in the air, screech, "YES!" and then catch my breath before pressing play once again. And when he talked about the power of love that helped African-American slaves help each other... Well, there were tears ...

... and not just in my eyes. There was Doria Ragland, herself a descendant of slaves, watching her daughter, also a descendant of slaves, marrying a prince of England. History in the making? Hell yes!

Windsor's Castle's chapel had never, ever seen or heard anything like this before! 

There were a lot of giggles at the stuffy, white, royal family's reactions to Curry's fiery sermon. By far my favourite were those of Zara and Mike Tindall. There she was, vastly pregnant, her mouth agape with happy wonderment, and there he was, grinning and enjoying every minute of it.

Then there was the Kingdom Gospel Choir and their beautiful, Motown tinged rendition of Stand By Me. Twitter lit up once again with #RoyalWeddingSoBlack. People were saying things like, "Is this really happening?!"

Yes, it really was.

Also, look at the beautiful colours the choir is wearing, like the colours of fluffy clouds in a sunrise. What a wonderful, Heavenly choice.

Do let us talk more about the fashion. This was, after all, a wedding, a royal wedding, and neither the guests nor the bride disappointed. 

I'll admit, I was a bit underwhelmed by Meghan's wedding dress. But I expected to be. She has consistently shown a sartorial love of simple, unfussy, clean lines, and immaculate tailoring, and that's exactly what she got in her dress.

I ended up applauding her choice, because it put all the focus on her tiara. 

And, oh my God, what a tiara it is! The centre-piece is a brooch made in 1893, but the tiara, made in 1932, is unmistakably Art Deco. This was a fitting choice for a woman like Meghan whose own love of clean angles is reflected in much of Art Deco design.

Originally belonging to Queen Mary, the tiara now belongs to Queen Elizabeth, who loaned it to Meghan for the occasion. 

Since the wedding began at 2:00 AM our time, Beau and I taped it to watch when we woke up. I didn't want to see or hear a single spoiler, so I abstained from all social media before we watched it. Beau did not, so he knew which tiara Meghan had worn. He's quite the royal fancier and he could hardly contain himself, he wanted so badly to tell me all about it.

Of course, I didn't wear a diamond tiara to our wedding but, as you know, I am a huge fan of vintage jewelry, and I did wear a Trifari brooch made in the 1930s, like Meghan's tiara.

My brooch is actually a duette: it can be worn as two separate dress clips. And it is a stunner! I mean, it's not a diamond tiara, but it will do.

I chose not to wear a veil. I hate the symbolism of it, with the notion that the groom never sees the bride's face until their marriage, when she is given by one man, her father, to another, her husband. When I even tried on a veil, I got a cracking migraine within seconds, so that was a definite nope.

But, if I had worn a veil, it would have been something like the one the Queen Mother wore when when she got married in 1923.

Its delicacy reminds me a little of Meghan's veil, which was a stunner. I've heard that the flowers on it represent commonwealth nations, which, of course, would include Canada. 

People speculate that the length of Meghan's veil was a way to honour Princess Diana, who, had she survived, would have been Meghan's mother-in-law. Diana's veil was famously looong!

But, honestly, I think Meghan's veil looked more like Queen Elizabeth's. 

While we're on the subject of Queen Elizabeth, as soon as I saw Princess Beatrice at the wedding in her 1950s inspired dress, I kept saying to Beau, "Doesn't she look like her grandmother in the 50s?" He couldn't see it?

But I sure could! There's a distinct similarity in their faces.

And Beatrice's dress ...

... seemed to me like one Elizabeth would have worn in the 1950s

From my post, Moto Cool: The Biker Jacket as Cultural Rebellion
I would too but, so far, this is the closet I can get.

Plus there was the headband/fascinator thing, so like what Beatrice's grandmother wore in the 50s. I don't know what they're called but I saw them in abundance at the wedding ... 

... most notably on the mystery woman on the left, in her own, 50s inspired outfit. (If you know who she is, please tell me!) 

Beatrice's sister, Princess Eugenie, on the other hand, opted for a 1960s inspired outfit ...

... which was an obvious homage to Jackie Kennedy's 60s style

Eugenie's dress was like a cross between Jackie's formal outfits ... 

... and her more casual ones.

From my post, Race, America, and Canadian Patriotism: Reflections on a Chosen Country
I think the closest I've come to wearing the same look is in this dress. I styled it with an obvious tip of the headband to 60s style, my great-aunt's daisies and all. 

(If you'd like to know why you'll never see me wearing light blue like Beatrice and Jackie, read this.)

Headbands and headscarves, of course, were for casual wear.

For the formal events, it was all about the pillbox hat. 

Princess Eugenie's is an almost exact match to Jackie's! 

(Fabric experts, is her dress boucle? Whatever it is, I have a bit of a pash for it.)

While we're on the subject of hats, could Priyanka Chopra have picked a hat better suited to compliment her skin? That light, that colour, that pattern on her face! Wow.

Her makeup is stunning too. I don't normally notice makeup much, except when I think it's "too much," and that's often. But her makeup? Absolutely beautiful.

From my post, Lily White Skin and a Passion for Pastel
Maybe I think that because it's in a palette that happens to suit me too.

In fact, I'll be wearing that makeup (and clothing) palette in my next blog post. Here's a little sneak peek.

I wore similar makeup at our wedding too.

Moving on with other little details that I liked, check out Gina Torres' earrings. They're a total 50s/60s thing ...

... and they remind me a lot of my own, Sherman earrings. They seem to be infused with their own light, regardless of the darkness around them.

And speaking of accessories, Amal Clooney had, in George, the most beautiful accessory possible. In fact, I think his beauty totally overshadows hers (which, to my eyes, is marred by the fact that she's achingly thin).

In looks, carriage, and sense of humour, George Clooney is the obvious successor to Cary Grant.

Both remain beautiful with age. Rather than hiding his age, George chose to accent it by wearing a dove gray suit that exactly matched his graying hair. It's very hard for a man's suit to upstage a woman's dress, but George managed it. 

Harry and William weren't too shabby either, in their military uniforms, perfectly tailored to their bodies. 

I never realized how tall William is till I saw him in person here in Canada. He's 6'4" and towered over everyone else. (Yes, that's our handsome Prime-Minister, Justin Trudeau, behind William and Kate.)

But wait, what about dresses? We haven't talked about dresses yet! 

Okay, can I start by asking who the lady on the far right is? I think her pink dress is lovely.

From my post, The Little Pink Dress: Some of the Latest Fashion Trends
It reminds me a bit of this one, which always gets compliments when I wear it.

It's also a nice match for Oprah's understated, soft pink outfit.

I have to say that I wasn't fond of any of the women's shoes at the wedding, so let's get them out of the way now. Everyone wore sky high stilettos that looked like they could snap at any minute. Combine that with their sharply pointed toes, and they looked harsh and unfeminine to me. And bloody painful! No, they were not to my taste.

But Pippa's dress was to my taste, even if it did remind everyone of Arizona Iced Tea. I love the combination of pale green and pink, and I love the soft flow of it too. And I, like so many others, am a sucker for florals.

Carey Mulligan's embroidered floral dress was gorgeous, with an obvious, 1930s feel about it.

Sophia Wellesley's dress was very similar to Carey's but, while the cut reminded me of the 1930s, the texture, colours, and floral pattern reminded me more of the 1960s

From my post, Robin Hood's Palette: Fun with Mustard Yellow and Olive Green
I mean no offence when I say that it reminded me of our 1960s, vinyl and chrome, kitchen chairs. 

From my post, Robin Hood's Palette: Fun with Mustard Yellow and Olive Green
I really like our kitchen chairs. 

As you've come to see, there were echoes of many past decades in the wedding party. Abigail Spencer's dress was clearly influenced by both 70s and 30s looks...

... though, overall, I'd say it felt more 30s than 70s

From my post, Versatile Feminine Frills: the 1930s Day Dress
I think the closest I've come to a dress like hers is this one, which, doesn't come very close. 

It comes a little closer to Lady Edwina's dress, with its ruffled neckline and adorable pink and black polka dots.

That tall drink of water beside her is Dan Snow, who's presented some great history programs for the BBC. 

Edwina's dress is, yet again, very 1930s.

See what I mean?

But the 1930s wet dream of dresses was this stunner worn by Charlotte Riley. I'm not a fan of the ruffles at the bottom, but, otherwise, the cut works well. But it's the colour and design of the floral pattern that absolutely knocks me out.

Because: 1930s!!! 

From my post: Darkness Descends: Life Under Trump
The closest I have to it is actually... a nightgown! Okay, five nightgowns. I'm a spoonie; when I find comfortable jammies, I buy them in bulk.

You haven't yet seen this dress in my blog but I bought it almost entirely for the fabric. See how it perfectly matches my 1930s brooch? 

Charlotte's fascinator nearly made me faint. It's quintessential 1930s ...

From my post, The Ditsy Dress and the Dirty 30s: Honouring the Women of the Great Depression
Like my little... gravy boat? I'm not sure what it's for but I keep my cotton balls in it. 

But back to the dresses. I don't know why, but this is the only photo I can find of the soprano, Elin Manahan Davis' dress. I love it. Of all the dresses there, it comes the closest to ...

... to my wedding dress, which, itself was clearly inspired by ... 

... the 1920s.

My wedding dress was designed by Jenny Packham, one of Kate Middleton's favourite designers, so that's fun.

And that brings me to the end of my own ruminations about the royal wedding. Except... will someone please tell me who that woman in royal blue is, the one behind Carole Middleton? I loved her outfit and I can find no photos of it. I don't understand why she didn't make it onto any "best dressed" lists. 

That's it...

Okay, twist my arm. Here's another photo, from a less royal but an equally loving wedding: the wedding of Charlotte and Beau!

(I'm sharing this with Not Dressed As Lamb, Style Nudge, and Elegantly Dressed and Stylish.)