How fascinated are Americans with Prince William’s and Kate Middleton’s nuptials next week? According to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll, not very. Only 6 percent have been following news about the wedding very closely, and an additional 22 percent are following it somewhat closely.Some political commentators are speculating that the American media is manufacturing the lack of interest in the wedding out of loyalty to President Obama, who wasn't invited; that seems like a stretch to me, especially since some of the people I've seen express a total lack of interest are, like me, quite conservative and completely unconcerned about whether or not this or that political figure made the cut for what is not a state affair.
Women are paying much more attention to the wedding than are men, particularly older women. A third of women under 40 are following news of the wedding at least somewhat closely, as are more than 4 in 10 women who are 40 or older. In comparison, half of men are not following news of the wedding at all. “It’s their British thing; it’s their custom,” Edward Rakas, 57, of Colchester, Conn., said in a follow-up interview after the poll was completed. “I guess they enjoy it, but it’s just not something I’m interested in.”
In fact, I've seen at least one other Catholic female blogger express (on Facebook, so I can't link to it) a lack of interest in this wedding despite her long-ago interest for the wedding of Charles and Diana. I, myself, was enamored of that royal wedding, watching as much coverage as I could and collecting newspaper articles about it (yes, it was that long ago--there were still newspapers). But perhaps the explanation is simple: I was a teenaged girl then, and perhaps royal weddings are only interesting to teenaged girls here in America.
There is one other possibility, but it's so politically incorrect that I hesitate to mention it. Years ago, a Catholic friend of mine commented on a wedding he had attended. The wedding was an expensive affair held at an island resort; the outdoor wedding ceremony was glitzy, the decorations and appointments costly, and everything from the bride's gown to the food and drink served to the smallest detail of decoration was ostentatious and first-quality.
But my friend said that the wedding was boring--because, according to him, it's pretty boring to go to a wedding of a man and a woman who have been living together for years. How, my friend wondered, was this day any different for them from any other day in their lives, except that they were throwing themselves a lavish party to celebrate themselves in their specialness? Did the idea of marriage actually mean anything to these people, or was it just the "next step" you take because people expect it, and you get nice gifts out of it, and it's a good opportunity for your friends to show up and tell you in word and deed how important and terrific and wonderful you are?
Considering that couples who live together before marriage have a much higher risk of divorce when compared to couples who do not, these aren't pointless questions--but the real point is that my friend found it hard to take an interest in a wedding with what he saw as so little romance to it.
Romance requires mystery. It is hard, I think, for those of us whose standards of morality still include the phrase "living in sin" to find anything terribly romantic about the marriage ceremony of a couple who have been, as this article so quaintly puts it, "shacking up." We can pray for the couple, we can hope that they will beat the odds, we can, if we wish, be faintly glad that they are making what a much less polite age used to call an honest man/woman of each other, but it's hard to muster a great deal more interest than that.
There are exceptions to this rule, however. This interesting story of the mass Catholic wedding of fourteen couples is one; others involve couples who became aware of the sinfulness of living together without the Sacrament of Matrimony, and who agreed to follow the Church's rules, separating until their wedding day and taking advantage of the Church's programs to educate them more deeply in the faith, particularly in regard to Catholic teachings concerning marriage and human sexuality. It is not at all impossible for a couple who has lived together to rebuild the foundations of their relationship in such a way that they can enter the married state joyfully and, with the graces of the sacraments, live a long and happy life together.
And that's much more exciting--and much more mysteriously romantic--than any number of royal weddings.