Hope springs eternal for Michael Lawler.
He isn't a cousin to Prince Harry or a Hollywood pal of Meghan Markle. He probably won't be sitting in the pews at St. George's Chapel on Saturday as the couple exchange vows in their royal wedding, an event that has generated media excitement to rival the 1981 nuptials of Harry's parents, Prince Charles and Princess Diana.
But Lawler, a Newport Beach estate planning lawyer of Celtic heritage, will get as close as he can.
The Celtic Bar Assn. of Orange County, of which Lawler is a member, threw him and his wife, Barbara, a send-off party Tuesday evening at Muldoon's Irish Pub in Newport Beach before their planned departure for England on Wednesday to take in the big day.
A representative of the British American Business Council of Orange County handed out several tiny Union Jacks for guests to wave, a bagpiper played and corned beef finger sandwiches and banger slices — this was a pan-Celtic affair — made the rounds.
"A couple of our members are going to try to crash the royal wedding, or so we've heard," club President Susan Kelley declared.
Around the holidays, the Lawlers — who attended President Trump's inauguration in January 2017 — were planning their big vacation for 2018. Michael considered going to the Winter Olympics in South Korea, but Barbara wasn't taken with the idea. Then they hit on the royal wedding.
The guest list is exclusive, but Michael crafted a request for an invitation on his professional letterhead and sent it to Kensington Palace. He figured a letter from a barrister would at least be read. And it was, although he didn't get an invite. Instead, he got a very polite rejection.
"I am sorry to send you what I appreciate will be a disappointing reply and that it has taken so long for us to respond. I'm afraid we have been overwhelmed by the thousands of letters and cards received," wrote Claudia Spens, head of general correspondence for Harry, his brother William and sister-in-law Catherine. "I do hope you understand."
"His royal highness and Ms. Markle were touched that you took the trouble to write as you did," Spens added.
Michael made photocopies of the letter for the party guests and placed them beside a wedding card — etched with "sláinte," more or less Irish Galeic for "cheers!" — that he encouraged the group to sign. He hopes to deliver it in person.
The Lawlers have been to the United Kingdom before. Michael bought a kilt in Scotland. It's not his clan's tartan — it was ordered by someone else, who never picked it up. The shopkeeper said it would fit Michael, so he took it home.
He later put it to use in assembling a full formal Highland costume — an evening jacket, sporran, hose (thick knee socks with a dagger tucked behind the right cuff) and ghillie brogues — that he wore to traverse Hadrian's Wall in England. He planned to take his formal cultural dress on this trip too.
Michael said good things happen when he and Barbara travel together. They plan to drop by St. George's Chapel this week and reenact their own wedding vows.
With a wink, Michael suggested another trip to the church.
"I'm available if asked to walk the bride down the aisle," he said.
Markle's father is unlikely to attend the wedding because of ill health.
2:55 p.m.: This article was updated throughout with additional details and comments.