May 19, 2018 at 11:08 AM EDT

“There is power in love…to help and heal when nothing else can.” After all the hype — the months of speculation about the dress, the primetime specials, the made-for-TV movies, the merchandising — these words, spoken by Bishop Michael Curry, summed up the experience of watching the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle (now the Duchess of Sussex to you). The lavish event was a beautiful, sweet celebration of love, as well as a much-needed distraction from our current reality.

It was hard not to consider the whiplash of the news cycle — which switched overnight from wall-to-wall coverage of yesterday’s mass shooting in Texas to the special event glamour of the royal wedding set-ups, live from Windsor Castle — as I groggily made my way to the couch at 5:30 a.m., coffee in hand. “NEW DETAILS ON WEDDING RINGS,” bellowed the Today show chyron, while Good Morning America offered viewers an early glimpse inside St. George’s Chapel, where the ceremony would take place, via a meticulous computer-animated graphic. “I’m just trying to fill airtime!” admitted Today’s Natalie Morales, a red fascinator perched dutifully atop her head, as she waited for Ms. Markle and her mother, Doria Ragland, to emerge from the Cliveden House Hotel.

But the joyful frivolity of watching the gussied-up celebrities arrive, was admittedly a wonderful — and charmingly made-for-TV — diversion. Hey look, it’s George and Amal Clooney! Oprah Winfrey in her church-going hat! (“That is a lot of volume,” noted GMA’s fashion expert Cindi Leive.) There’s James Corden! And in perhaps the biggest moment for basic cable since the Home Shopping Network launched in 1982, here comes Markle’s former Suits costar, Patrick J. Adams, with his wife, Pretty Little Liars star Troian Bellisario! (The CNN correspondents were having a hard time keeping up; as Suits’ Gabriel Macht arrived with his wife, Jacinda Barrett, one commentator wondered aloud, “The woman is…formerly of MTV?”)

For me, the tears didn’t start to flow until Princes Harry and William, handsome and resplendent in their military uniforms, began their long walk down the road toward the chapel. How proud their mother, the late Princess Diana, would be to see what fine men she raised! How deep the ache in Harry’s heart, as he embarks on this momentous day without the mother he loved so intensely. But the sadness of those thoughts was offset by the groundbreaking glory of watching Markle’s mother, her dreadlocks assembled neatly under a pale green cocktail hat, tearfully watching as her daughter became the first mixed-race member of England’s Royal Family.

Does a Royal Family milestone really matter in our modern age? Maybe not. But I would argue that the many acts of diversity and inclusion in Meghan Markle’s wedding to Prince Harry were heartwarming, and even a little healing, nonetheless. The sermon by Bishop Michael Curry — delivered with more ebullient joy and reverent enthusiasm than St. George’s Chapel has likely ever seen — talking about slavery and quoting Martin Luther King Jr. The gospel choir singing “Stand By Me” — the R&B classic co-written and originally performed by African-American singer Ben E. King — before the happy couple took their vows. Sheku Kanneh-Mason, the 19-year-old black cellist, damn near stealing the show with his spotlight performance.

When so much in the world right now is ugly, it helps to think of all the non-white children watching around the globe and seeing a little bit of themselves in this fairy tale. And certainly, none of these breaks from tradition dampened the enthusiasm of the throngs of people gathered outside Windsor Castle. You heard the distant cheers, didn’t you, when Prince Harry first uttered the words, “I will”? You saw the crowds lining the streets, gleefully waving flags and whooping their approval as the newly-minted Duchess of Sussex and her husband rode through the streets in a horse-drawn carriage?

“Think and imagine a world where love is the way,” Bishop Curry told the crowd. For a few hours this morning, thanks to a delightfully smitten young couple, we were allowed to do exactly that.

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