You don’t have to be royalty to have a royal marriage

  • Published
  • By Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Donald Bretz
  • Wing Chaplain, 71st Flying Training Wing
There has been a lot of preparation and publicity building up to the marriage of Prince William and Kate Middleton. Experts on the British royal family have, for months, been explaining many of the complexities involved in a royal wedding.

But in a matter of hours the royal wedding will be over and their marriage will begin. But you don't have to be royalty to have a royal marriage.

When we hear the word "royal" it is natural to think of things attributed to monarchy. But the use of the word royal can also mean that which is excellent, magnificent or the highest quality. So you don't have to be royalty to have a royal marriage. In fact, some of the most magnificent marriages involve ordinary folks.

In some traditions, the bride and groom actually wear crowns during a portion of the wedding ceremony. One explanation is that the crowns "express the creation of a new household, a kingdom which they are charged to rule wisely and with full responsibility to each other and to God."

In ancient days crowns of laurel wreaths were given to those who achieved victory and denoted leadership. The crowns used in marriage also denote the mutual responsibility each has as they enter into this special relationship. Crowning is a symbol of honoring another. The mutual honoring of husband and wife will go far in helping a marriage relationship remain special.

This past summer my daughter was married. I have participated in many weddings as the officiant, but this was my only opportunity to be the father of the bride. She looked absolutely beautiful, and I was so proud to be able to walk her down the aisle. As I presented her for marriage, the way she looked at the groom was as if he would forever be her Prince Charming.

Yet there was another woman at my daughter's wedding who was even more magnificent. My wife and I have been married 32 years and she wears the crown of my love. Although our wedding was only a fraction of the cost of our daughter's, our marriage has been truly blessed.

A seasoned priest, who was my first mentor, reminded each bride and groom being married that it is not love which creates commitment - but rather commitment that creates love. My experience of marriage personally, and as a counselor, has reminded me that one does not always live happily ever after. Relationships are going to have their challenges. There is a big difference between fairy tale and reality.

Military marriages have many unique challenges. Deployments, demanding schedules, combat operations, are just some of the challenges military couples face. With frequent moves, one may also feel separated from the support of family and friends. These challenges are real, yet there can be an incredible amount of resiliency in military couples.

Marriages involving military members can, in fact, be some of the strongest marriages. Marrying well does not just mean marrying royalty, as in the case of Kate Middleton. Marrying well involves marrying a person who can truly be your partner in the joys and challenges of life.

A royal wedding is extravagant - but a royal marriage is even more magnificent.