A wedding-day wish for a happy couple's life together

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So we heard a little something about somebody getting married today.

Their names are not William and Kate, who we understand are having a big to-do of their own, but Rachal and Miguel, who are about the same age but otherwise trading vows in very different circumstances, with a bit less fanfare.

Indeed, to date Rachal and Miguel have not had a postage stamp or made-for-TV movie created in their honor, but their romance has been no less storybook in its own way. They actually met when they were very young, some 11 years ago, and then - like the British couple with whom they will share a very special day, if unintentionally - were apart for a while, as he moved to Texas. Last September they ran into each other again in Peoria, and it was love at second sight. He proposed earlier this spring, not in Kenya over "holiday" but over dinner at Red Lobster. And now they're getting married, on April 29, 2011, just like Will and Kate.

Unlike them, they do not look forward to becoming a future king and queen, but to pursuing a decidedly American dream, creating a family and stable life together after he graduates from Illinois Central College and she returns to her career as an insurance estimator.

They will not be walking down the aisle at Westminster Abbey before 600 guests, including pop singer Elton John and various heads of state, but striding into Courtroom 322 at the Peoria County Courthouse before Judge Michael Risinger, with Rachal's daughter, parents, brother and sister and Miguel's sister and brother-in-law standing in witness.

Rachal will no doubt be lovely from head to toe after finding exactly what she was looking for at Macy's, but otherwise her wedding dress will not have a train that is "longer than the block I grew up on." And Miguel will no doubt be handsome sans tuxedo. Let's just say the goal is not so much "formal" as "comfortable."

After the ceremony there will of course be picture-taking at the courthouse and riverfront, and from there bride and groom will board the Jeep Liberty not for Buckingham Palace - where unconfirmed rumors had Jay-Z and Beyonce performing, though who knows - but to Johnny's Italian Steakhouse at The Shoppes at Grand Prairie, where there may be some Muzak piped in. After that the newlyweds will gladly retire to their home in East Peoria, with plans to honeymoon down the road.

"That's my royal wedding," says Rachal, and it's fine by her. "I'm lost for words when it comes to him," she says, though we'd suggest her vocabulary is more than passing in pronouncing herself "splendid" at the thought of marrying "a great guy" who "keeps me grounded."

"Does it matter if you're royalty or not? It's a life-changing experience," as it should be, she says. "I don't wish I could have that kind of (fairy tale) wedding. ... If love is what it is, then it doesn't take $30 million to make it bona fide, you know?" Her advice for Will and Kate? "That's a tough question," Rachal says. "Just love, that's all. That's all I got."

And that's plenty. Indeed, in the contest between royalty and reality, we trust most of us - like Rachal and Miguel - would take the latter, hand's down.

Thirty years ago this coming July, Chicago newspaper legend Mike Royko dispensed some advice to William's parents - Charles and Diana - in a column under the headline, "A Pact to Cherish." Regardless of their royal status, "You are a couple of people who just got married," Royko wrote. "That gives you something in common with all the young lovers, and older lovers, of a world that sometimes seems loveless. You're really no different from the kid from the Southwest Side of Chicago, who is assistant manager of a pizza joint, and his bride from Oak Lawn, who is going to nursing school. They might not have had the trumpets and the audience of millions. But their vows and their commitment are no different from yours. ... It boils down to the same thing: It's just you and her ...

"Be warned: It's not going to be all kissy-face and patty-fingers," Royko wrote, prophetically in that case. Still, "You are lucky because, I assume, you are in love and are beginning a life together. And that's more important than anything else you do, your work, your place in history, or the opinions, approval, or disapproval of others ...

"It's the most wonderful thing in the world. And don't let anyone tell you otherwise ...

"So, kids, good luck and don't blow it. And remember: Squeeze the toothpaste tube from the bottom."

We feel a little that way about Rachal Lopez and Miguel Habib, not unlike the countless couples who march bravely through local churches and courthouses - Risinger may be busier than any minister, figuring he presides over 30 weddings a month, from soldiers about to be deployed overseas to those couples wanting to secretly make it official before doing it all again in front of guests in Mexico or Jamaica. He closes the doors, helps administer the "I do's," oversees the exchange of rings, gives them a blessing if they want one and gets them to promise "not to come back to this courtroom."

Couples in committed relationships and the families that grow out of them are the bedrock of civilization, in just about every place on planet Earth. So, on this day, we extend our congratulations to Rachal and Miguel and wish them the very best of luck, love and happiness, for their sake and ours. We're rooting for them.

Oh, and for Will and Kate, too.

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