Watching Friday's royal weddingpalooza was akin to hunkering down for the Oscars: The hype machine revved up months in advance, day-of media coverage started way earlier than was necessary (and contained a lot of awkward, repetitive filler), the real heavy-hitters didn't show up until close to Magic Hour, and the ceremony itself mostly afforded a quick nap.
But there's something relaxing about watching a major television event that is virtually guaranteed not to have any unpleasant surprises. A royal wedding is not like a sporting event, where the team for which you cheer (or on which you bet) could lose. It's not like the season finale of your favorite TV show, where your most loved character might fall down an elevator shaft. No, we knew the prince would get the girl or vice versa the bride would wear white(ish), no one would stand up to object for fear of being arrested for treason, and everyone would sing "God Save the Queen" (save, of course, the Queen). It made things terribly comforting. The happy couple seemed, indeed, happy; no one fell over, caught on fire, or bungled any lines; and the people cheered so hard it ceased to matter whether they were actually thrilled or just hopped up on three days' worth of booze and body odor.
The truly remarkable thing about this wedding was how touching it was, despite the total fatigue of tweets and blog posts and 24-hour cable news saturation. Every last detail had been discussed and debated in every format imaginable for months. Everyone knew the exact schedule of events, the order of arrivals, the name of the wedding D.J., the fact that the Middletons invited their favorite bartender. And yet, as the cheers along the procession route grew heartier, we scooted closer and closer to the edges of our seats. The first glimpse of a girl in her gown, about to change her life in ways even she may not fully grasp, managed to be breathtaking even to those of us who like to think we are thoroughly jaded.
And after the slightly draggy ceremony which proved that royals are just like us, at least in that their weddings get a little dry after the vows and rings are wrapped up the exhaustive coverage and high-tech photography gave us something pretty personal: a close-up look at Kate Middleton as she, for the first time, was fully adopted by her countryfolk. Middleton is surely accustomed to snarky tabloid nicknames, paparazzi stalkers, and probably more than a few catcalls, but we saw awe in the eyes of Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, as the crowd embraced her with its ovation. On CNN, Piers Morgan blathered that we were witnessing the reinvigoration of the monarchy, and while that certainly remains to be seen, his sentiment confirms that some people are still suckers for a pretty girl getting her fairy-tale ending. Which means, in the end, that the wedding was worth its hype for us, and, we hope, for her.
It was also worth its weight in crazy, because you can always count on a royal shindig for bizarre church-going getups. The bride's gown was a smashing success, but everyone knows that on TV, it's the secondary characters who provide all the fun. Let's take a look at some of the most eye-catching guests.