Saturday, September 05, 2009

Weekend Wind Down: Weddings

Columnist Annie West can't resist a good wedding.

Recently I sat with a number of other Harlequin authors, discussing publishing trends and issues with Silhouette Executive Editor, Mary Therese Hussey. Magic! We were in a hotel meeting room in downtown Brisbane, completely absorbed in fleshing out some interesting points. Then someone glanced out the window and noticed the stretch limo pulled up on the other side of the road.

The whisper became a clamour of excitement. Within seconds everyone one of us was standing, glued to the spectacle across the road. The bridesmaids in their long dresses, the bouquets, groomsmen, parents of the bride and groom, the red carpet so lovingly rolled out from the car. The bride. Sigh. There was a rush of collective breath at the sight of the bride, lovely and elegant, complete with train and veil.
Later, after the ceremony, when the bride and groom appeared
at the top of the church steps, we all stopped again, sighed and chattered and drank in the sight.

As romance writers, tales of happy ever after are out stock in trade. But I guarantee our interest had nothing to do with research for future books. It was a spontaneous reaction of delight, curiosity and excitement.
What is it about weddings that made us all pause and shift focus so completely?

There's something about a wedding that catches our attention and makes us stop in our tracks. And not only romance writers! Nor is it just the fantasy of a wedding ceremoney with all the fairy tale trappings. I've seen a packed office of busy workers reduced to absolute, engrossed silence for the 3 minutes it took to view a recording of a colleague's 'quickie' Las Vegas wedding.
Perhaps it's the promise of happy ever after that appeals so much. The notion that 2 people believe in other so strongly they're prepared to commit to a life together.
Weddings are hopeful, usually joyous occasions. Maybe that's why they capture our attention. Like a satisfying romance story, they hold the promise of good things for those who trust to love.

And then too there's all the fun of planning the dress (retail therapy at its most challenging!).
Weddings and brides are staple fare for category romance and with good reason - they're such draw cards for readers. Sometimes the wedding is the payoff at the finish, when we enjoy the happy ending. Other times the wedding is a traumatic event that emphasises how far away that happy ending is.

I had a wonderful time starting a book (Blackmailed Bride, Inexperienced Wife) describing a heroine going to her wedding with a sense of utter doom, then twisting it so the heroine didn't have to face marrying the man she didn't want to wed. Whew! But instead she discovered another man she wanted to wed even less, demanding marriage. (What? Me devious? Never!)

Tying yourself to another person in marriage is one of the most significant, emotional, life changing things you can do. Perfect fodder for a writer who's interested in emotions! Not only are there the emotions and intentions of the bride and groom, but weddings also seem to affect other participants profoundly and not always happily: relatives, friends and even bystanders often have strong reactions to such events.

The other wonderful thing about weddings is they're all so varied. From scuba dive ceremonies to day long outdoor services, wonderful colourful weddings following various ethnic traditions, civil ceremonies, ones assisted by Elvis impersonators, ones with paparazzi photographers and of course elopements.

Do you have a favourite wedding memory? One you attended or participated in? One you read about or have always wanted to write? One you're planning for the future? I'd love to hear!

Annie's latest release is THE SAVAKIS MISTRESS, available now in Australia and New Zealand or on line. You can read about the story on Annie's website. Plus you can enter an easy CONTEST there to win it and some other new books.

No wedding in this story (but in December Annie has two weddings on the shelves!).


  1. I love weddings b/c they are all filled with little memorable moments. I was a bridesmaid at one where the maid of honor (a bit of a character) had sworn up and down that she had her dress fitted in the last month and she hadn't gained any weight.
    Well, that might have been true, but he had to force the zipper up all the same. It was a strapless dress and the poor girl could hardly put her arms down the whole evening it was so tight.
    Of course, I can't criticize weight gain. It was a tight squeeze to get in my own wedding dress. Thank heavens I had planned ahead enough to have a corset!

  2. Jill, I'm imagining the maid of honour with her arms out horizontally through the ceremony and the wedding breakfast! What a thought.

    Hey, great thinking on having a corset. It pays to prepare, don't you think?

    I still have my wedding dress, though I haven't done the 'try it on again for every anniversary' trick. I think that would be so depressing!


  3. Annie, I have a confession to make - I eloped! It was such fun! And I enjoyed the service, I wasn't stressed to the max, I didn't have to worry about feuding family members and, wicked creature that I am, I rather enjoyed telling everyone that the deed was done the next day!

    But there is something about a beautiful bride in all her regalia - I watched Princess Di's wedding and of course Princess Mary of Denmark's as well. Just gorgeous and that moment when you could see that Prince Frederik was so emotional and she reached across to hold his hand... (sigh) just lovely.

    Can't wait to get my next Annie West keeper!


  4. Sharon,

    You devious thing. What a terrific idea, to elope! I know someone else who did that and it sounded like a fantastic idea. How romantic. I remember reading stories about people eloping to Gretna Green by carriage and thinking it was so exciting. Eloping these days would be easier but still so exciting. And as you say, without so much stress.

    Ooh, love a royal wedding! Aren't they terrific? And I'm with you on Prince Fred getting all choked up. I'm sure every woman who saw that thought...Aaah!

    Hope you enjoy the Savakis story when you read it. Just had lovely reader feedback from someone who read it while walking the floor with a teething baby. So glad to think Callie and Damon helped at such a time.


  5. Annie, what a lovely post! You're right about the eternal fascination of weddings. I remember I was often in Sydney CBD on Saturday afternoons and I used to often see the brides at St Mary's Cathedral. All those huge Italian weddings with all the trimmings - gorgeous!

    I've just realized my last two books feature weddings. Neither of the first three did. Not very joyous weddings for different reasons. The other thing about a wedding is that the dramatic possibilities are legion!

    Congratulations on the Savakis Mistress. It's a doozy of a story!

  6. Hi Anna,

    It's nice to see you popping by. Isn't it interesting how we automatically pause and have a good look at a wedding? I think it's something very deeply ingrained.

    Dramatic possibilities definitely for stories in the wedding scenes. There's so much that can go wrong (or right). Just look at 'Four Weddings and a Funeral'!

    Thanks for the good wishes on Savakis!


  7. Hi, Annie!

    It just so happens I'm in Holland right now for my sister's wedding! The big day is on 09/09/09. I picked up a copy of The Savakis Mistress just before I left the country. Congrats on the new release!

    My favourite wedding memory is my own. We got married in one of Savannah, Georgia's, haunted inns--thousands of miles from home. Just five guests and a ghost were in attendance but it was just a magical day.


  8. Vanessa,

    Wow, what a coincidence! Hope 09/09/09 proves to be a gorgeous day and your sister's wedding is lovely. It sounds like a momentous day.

    5 guests and a ghost at your wedding sounds like a fantastic premise for a story! Would love to use it, or maybe you will first?

    Have a great time in Holland.


  9. Hi Annie, I always cry at weddings - just can't help it. I guess it's all about hope and faith in the future but most of all about love. Also the whole rigmarole of a formal wedding with long dress and the veil links us with our past when many women dressed like that in everyday life. So romantic!
    I've just started BLACKMAILED BRIDE, INNOCENT WIFE. As you say, the wedding is a great hook at the start of the book, such fun the way you turn it all around!

  10. Kandy, they ARE such emotional events, aren't they? I always have a tissue in case I tear up. Hey, what an interesting thought about the link to our pasts with the clothes!

    Hope you enjoy 'Blackmailed Bride, Innocent Wife'.


  11. Ooh, Annie, I'm with Sharon -- I eloped. It was FANTASTIC!

    But, I love a good wedding too. I've recently been invited to one at the end of year -- my 73 year old neighbour is getting married again. She's so excited! Hope and love spring ever eternal it seems and I guess that's why we love weddings -- they're the physical embodiment of all that and so much more.

    Thanks for such a lovely post!

  12. Michelle,

    Yes, I thought of your elopement. What a romantic thing to do. I have to say I also think your 73 yo's wedding sounds lovely too. It is all about hope and belief in love, isn't it?