Most royal weddings have more than ten people in attendance. Most royal weddings require greater than a three-week planning window. Most royal weddings take place in the country-of-origin of the royal family.
Mark and Lyla just wanted to legally and formally join their lives so they could go on their honeymoon to Cancun. The more time they spent together the more fun they had.
As little as they knew of one another; their families knew even less. Neither set of parents were aware of how little time the kids had spent together before agreeing to marry.
Keeping the secret was half the fun. Mark and Lyla spun tales of walking in the garden at the resort, without mentioning they’d only taken one walk. They described sitting together at a table with their friends at the tiki bar, without mentioning they’d only been at the table for less than two minutes. They described playing in the pool, without mentioning they’d both been wearing formal attire or that the encounter had lasted fewer than eight minutes.
As far as their parents were concerned, they’d had a whirlwind romance lasting almost two weeks. The more time they spent telling stories the more it felt as if they had indeed spent weeks together.
Collins stood up with Mark even though the best man should have been Nicholas Cohen, who was still on his honeymoon.
Lyla had her two best friends, Deb and Cory, as her bridesmaids. Add two sets of parents and one Aunt Carol, and there were more hotel staff than wedding attendees, including the bride and groom.
When Mark first saw Lyla standing at the top of the curved staircase his breath caught. The wedding planner had staged her dress to rest in an elegant flair on the patterned carpet. Lyla’s instructions were to stand there holding the elegantly simple bouquet of cascading, inverted calla lilies and glance demurely down at her groom. Mark was led to the bottom of the short flight of stairs after she had already been placed so the photographer could capture the moment when he saw his princess for the first time.
Most of the pageantry of the wedding was to create photographs featuring the prince and his bride, the king and queen, the bride’s parents and the tiny wedding party. Every little step of the ceremony was carefully and meticulously staged to provide the perfect collection of photographs.
The Mayor of New York City officiated, and King Sayid offered a solemn coronation afterward, placing an elegant little crown atop his new daughter-in-law proclaiming her as Princes Lyla Sayid of Mada’in Saleh, using the traditional pronunciation.
There was nothing more beautiful than when she rose from her formal curtsy and lifted her eyes to meet Mark’s gaze. For the second time that evening, Mark’s breath caught. Emotion choked off whatever words he could have used to describe her beauty.
As if speaking to a room full of attendees, the mayor pronounced them husband and wife, and the king announced them as their royal highnesses, and Mark didn’t need permission to know what came next.
He gently pulled Lyla into his arms, being careful not to crush her dress or mess up her makeup and kissed his bride. Again, mostly for the pageantry and photo ops. The real kissing would take place later that evening when the cameras were gone.
When the parents were gone, and the friends were gone, and the staff was gone, and doors to their presidential suite were closed.
Collins was the last person to say goodnight to the bride and groom because he had one last duty to perform. He was to instruct Lyla in the proper procedure to formally remove Prince Marcos’ crown.
As Mark was seated at the dressing table in their private suite, still in his royal uniform, he watched in the mirror as his most trusted advisor reverently explained each step of the procedure.
When Lyla’s hands lifted the crown from his head, their gazes met in the mirror and the moment was almost spiritual. Her eyes fluttered with unshed tears until one tear slipped down each of her cheeks.
Mark was reminded of that moment on the day they’d met when he’d caught her wrist before she reached his head. His prophetic words telling her she couldn’t touch his crown until she was his wife had come full circle.
Lyla carefully placed the crown in its velvet and Mahogany box and tucked the box in its leather satchel.
In continued reverence, Mark rose from the settee and Lyla took his place. A smaller velvet and Mahogany box lay open to receive the princess’ crown and Mark lifted the gold band inset with diamonds from his bride’s head and placed it in the box. The small box nested atop the box where his crown was stored, and he closed the leather satchel.
Mark performed one last ceremonial and symbolic action by lifting the leather satchel from the dressing table and placing it in Collins’ hands for safe keeping.
“Your Highness,” Collins said with a subtle bow, then turned to Lyla and bowed to her as well. “And, Your Highness. I will see you back at the palace in Madain Saleh. Enjoy your honeymoon.”
With that, Collins strode from the suite, pulling the door closed with a soft click.