with guest Lorna Seilstad.
Hello, Seekerville! I’m thrilled to be here with all of you today to talk about two of my favorite things—weddings and writing.
I’ve been doing wedding planning and wedding flowers for years. I usually help with one to three weddings a year for young couples at church, friends, or family. I don’t charge anything, and I’ve never wanted to be a professional wedding planner. I enjoy being a fairy godmother for a day, but I’m not sure I’d want to do it every weekend. I’m a master at the low-budget, high-appeal wedding.
Writing a fictional wedding and planning an actual wedding have some important similarities and differences, so I want to give you the Writer’s Guide to Writing Weddings. Keep these points in mind as your heroine heads down the aisle.
1. Decide if your story really needs a wedding in it. Weddings are an often easy way to wrap up a romance, but unless the wedding is key to the storyline, figure out a more creative way to conclude. One way to look at it is to ask yourself, “Will the reader feel cheated if they don’t get a wedding?” Usually, I don’t think they need it. My books tend to end with a proposal or promise for the future. I think readers can imagine the wedding that will come soon for the characters.
If the wedding is part of the story’s catalyst like a forced wedding or a wedding of convenience, keep it short and simple. The real romance is yet to come.
2. If you do conclude with a wedding, remember weddings are all about the details. In real life and in the writing world, details make a wedding memorable. If you include a wedding in your novel, find a few special elements that will make it stick in the reader’s mind. It may be personal vows, the guests, or the location. It can be when something unusual happens like rain in the middle of the ceremony and a mad dash for cover. In real life, my niece got married last year on the family farm in the pasture. She wanted natural looking “weed” flowers at the reception, so my friend and I went ditch diving to collect them. What a memory! Whatever details you choose, make them unforgettable.
3. Include family. Relationships are at the heart of all weddings. Naturally, there’s the relationship between the betrothed, but there’s also relationships between the bride and groom and his or her parents. There is a dynamic between siblings and grandparents, too. All of these are great fodder for you to create conflict (if wedding is early in the story) or reinforce the character’s growth during his or her journey. These relationships can be underscored with a tangible item like a mother passing down her mother’s cameo necklace for the bride to carry.
4. Make sure the wedding that you show would be a doable affair. Readers aren’t stupid, and if they have to suspend reality in order to buy into your wedding, it will pull them out of the story. Is the wedding within the family’s financial means? Is there truly enough time to pull the event together? Is there something seemingly impossible occurring like a dead brother showing up?
5. Make sure the wedding is historically accurate. If you’re writing a historical, make sure you research the wedding customs at the time your story is set. For example, white didn’t become a popular option for brides until 1840 when Queen Victoria wore a white dress. Up until then, red was a popular color for brides. Wedding customs, wedding attire, and even the time of day for weddings has changed over time.
6. Simple, but significant sights, scents, and sounds. While a real wedding can be enhanced with everything from a scent machine to a horse drawn carriage, a fictional wedding only needs a few simple things to bring it alive. For example, a bride can sniff the roses in her bouquet and remember the first rose her groom gave her on a moonlit night. There’s no need to describe the wedding gown in intricate detail. In fact, since wedding dress styles often change, it’s probably a good idea not to.
7. Make dreams come true. For most brides, the wedding day is the one day a girl can be a princess. When I’m working with a bride, I always ask her, “What are three things would make this day perfect you?” One bride said it was an aisle runner lined with piles of rose petals. Since she didn’t have a lot of money, we went dumpster diving to get enough petals and made her dream come true.
You can do the same thing for your heroine. What would make her dreams come true?
Below is a wedding conclusion from the first book in the Gregory Sisters series, As Love
Blooms, because I wanted to show the hero’s acceptance and encouragement of the heroine’s unorthodox desire to fly. Their surprise wedding took place in a hot air balloon, surrounded by family and friends. The balloon made her dreams come true.
She blinked, then gasped. Before her stood the heavy wicker basket of a hot air balloon. Her eyes climbed higher, and she felt dwarfed by the huge, multicolored balloon overhead. Brother Molden waited for them inside the basket.
She turned to Lincoln. “We’re getting married in there?”
“It seemed like the appropriate place for my Hello Girl with dreams of flying. Do you like it?”
“Lincoln, it’s perfect.”
He scooped her into his arms and carried her to the basket. After setting her inside, he climbed in, and the balloonist released the tethers.
The balloon began its ascent, and Hannah could scarcely breathe. She waved to her sisters, Rosie, Pete and Elise, Jo, and Aunt Sam. Walt was there with his parents. They’d brought George too.
“Are we ready to begin?” Brother Molden asked.
Hannah nodded, and Lincoln took her hands. “Yes, sir, I’d certainly like to make this lady my bride.”
Brother Molden grinned. “Dearly beloved, we are gathered up here . . .”
She didn’t hear most of what the minister said. She said her “I do” in the right place, repeated the vows, and exchanged the rings, but her mind was focused on the feelings exploding inside her. Like the rising balloon, her heart swelled with love until she feared it might burst.
“Lincoln, you may kiss your bride.”
And there, amid the swooping hawks and the billowing clouds, she felt the fan of his breath on her lips. Then, as if he had all the time in the world, he kissed her with a tenderness that filled her heart.
Love had called, and she’d gladly answer it every day for the rest of her life.
So friends, let’s talk wedding rings and other things. Do you like books to end with weddings? Have you read any good weddings lately? What makes a fictional wedding resonate with you? What are some of the most memorable weddings you’ve attended?
Lorna Seilstad brings history back to life using a generous dash of humor. After her first child was born, she quit teaching and became a professional wiper. She says she wiped noses, tears, and skinned knees, but at nap time, she wrote. Today, she writes from her home in Iowa where she lives with her husband and three children. Find out more at www.lornaseilstad.com or connect with her on Facebook and on Twitter.
Lorna's 2014 release While Love Stirs is a 2015 Carol Award finalist in the Historical Romance Category!
Take one lovely young woman.
Add two ambitious young men.
Stir . . . and stand back.
Leave a comment today for a chance to win a copy of While Love Stirs and As Love Blooms. Two winners announced in the Weekend Edition!