There is a lot of talk lately about an upcoming royal wedding this month, and while it is exciting to wonder about the dress, the giant cake and the massive crowds that will surely line the streets, I’m not spending a lot of time following it.
After all, I had my own royal wedding nine years ago today.
Except it wasn’t royal.
But is WAS a wedding straight out of a storybook.
My European prince was tall, dark and handsome. He spoke several languages and commanded a whole group of young German soldiers, which I found rather dashing. Our courtship included jet-setting weekends to cities like Paris and Prague, visits to castles and romantic love letters. Our engagement became quite the family news item.
Though my beautiful dress wasn’t specially made for the occasion, it was perfect for me with a cinched waist, long train, lace sleeves and tiny pearls in the shape of tiny flowers throughout the bust and gown sewn by little mice.
Okay, so there were no mice. But just go with it.
Our church, St. George in a tiny German village called Kraftshof, was built in the 1300s, nearly 200 years before the first stone for the Westminster Abbey was laid on the ground. The inside was small, but quaint, made entirely out of wood, stone and original artwork from the church’s beginnings. All our German friends and family, as well as several American friends and family, filled the pews.
And while we didn’t have legions of fans and obsessive paparazzi cover every angle of the event, Martin’s German military unit came out in formation, everyone had a camera, and as we all drove caravan-style to the reception hall, strangers did line the streets, being able to hear us coming from a mile away as our guests laid on their horns and waved from the windows.
And then we partied late into the night, dancing to music, eating, singing, laughing and celebrating the beginning of our storybook life together.
Keep in mind, though: it was only the beginning.
It’s been nine years since that awesome day, and our happy ending is still, hopefully, many long years away.
But to be honest, it hasn’t always been “and they lived happily ever after.”
Being married to a prince is much more complicated than that. So to Kate Middleton and all the other lovestruck ladies who are preparing to marry their own royal, here’s a quick hodgepodge of things I’ve learned up until this point:
- Your prince may speak a dozen languages, but he still won’t be able to understand you completely. Be prepared to do some translating along the way, and don’t assume he can read your mind. He can’t.
- Your prince may have graduated from the best schools and achieved the most stellar grades, and be known by all the world to be a highly-intelligent leader, but he is still human. Which means, he may end up doing or saying the most brainless, dumbest things ever. Don’t sweat it if you sometimes feel moments of intense panic that you’ve married the world’s biggest [not so nice word]. Rest assured you didn’t. And rest assured he’s feeling some moments of panic, too. You aren’t perfect either. Those moments will pass, though, and he’ll do something that will remind you why you love him so much in the first place.
- Your prince won’t always look like the gorgeous young man you first met. Things about him will change over the years. His hair will thin (ahem), his trim physique may soften, little wrinkles will crinkle around his eyes. But know that you will be changing, too. (Sometimes, by a lot.) You will still be able to see the young man you first loved, and he’ll still be able to see the young woman who captured his heart, so that’s all that really matters. This is especially important to remember on the nights when you no longer feel comfortable spooning and one of you is snoring so loud, it could wake the children.
- Trust each other. If there is trust, you can weather anything, whether it’s flaming gossip headlines or long separations apart. Talk to each other as often as possible, even if it’s just an ordinary recounting of your days.
- If you are marrying young like we did, you aren’t going to be able to afford the finer things in life, especially during the first years. Of course, if your prince comes with a trust fund or access to an entire country’s resources, or owns a posh castle in the Alps, than you’ll be pretty lush. But for the rest of us, it can be tough going. Those lean years required us to be very creative. And also a little combative. Treat money as you would a child: with attention, patience and respect. And when it, or a lack of it, stresses you out, don’t take it out on the other person. If you are both hardworking and resourceful, your money and investments will grow and you’ll get to a comfortable place.
- Your prince may fall in love with other women and you will love him even more for it: seeing my husband with our newborn daughters made my heart swell like nothing else. Raising two little princesses has made me appreciate the man he is all the more.
- Even on the hardest days, a real prince makes his lady feel like a queen every day. Appreciate the little things, even if it’s just noticing that he restocked the toilet paper in the bathroom or hanging your keys on the kitchen hook because you forgot.
- Tell him you love him every day.
- Your marriage to your prince may or may not make the history books. But being able to wake up and feel like the luckiest girl for having him in your life, well, that is truly a dream come true.
HAPPY ANNIVERSARY, MARTIN! I LOVE YOU!