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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Regional Wedding Traditions

I was born in what my family knows as the South (though others claim the bootheel of Missouri isn't far enough south to be true South). In my family wedding receptions were, essentially, cake or maybe a meal in the church basement.

But I was raised around Chicago, and church receptions here are much more elaborate affairs than the ones of my youth. A hall is rented, a band is hired and the party lasts until midnight.

I would venture to guess wedding traditions might even vary family to family.

And they've changed, for various reasons. The custom of throwing rice at the bride and groom is far less common today (you know the reasons).
So, what traditions do you like best at weddings? Are there any you can think of that may be different from one part of the country to another? Or ones that are unique to your own family?


Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Why Hire a Wedding Planner?

In case you were wondering why you should hire someone to coordinate your big day, check out what these wedding and event planners have to say!

Would you (or did you) hire a wedding planner?

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Monday, April 28, 2008

Callie Pops In Again!

I see Jared stopped by.

Well, that makes things mighty interesting. I haven't seen that guy in YEARS.

And my, oh my, do I have some memories of him. Not that, you know, I'm still interested in him or anything. He was a brainy guy. A sexy brainy guy, but not the kind that would have interested me. I wanted the guy on the motorcycle. The break my heart and leave me wanting more kind.

And that was definitely not Jared.

Jared is a Golden Retriever. Reliable. Steadfast. Curl up by a fireplace and stay with you forever.

Lots of women would say, "oh, perfect."

But for me, the kind of woman who hates to stay in one place, who hates to even think about OWNING a fireplace, a Golden Retriever kind of man is terrifying. Give me a guy who likes to run and live a life of adventure and I'm all for it.

But he is cute, isn't he? Fills out a tux pretty nicely ;-). I wouldn't turn him away if I ran into him a bar. Might even have a drink with him. Or two.
So if you want to see how things work out, you have another week or so to pick up Sweetheart Lost and Found and just three more days to enter our contest to win some Shirley Jump books!


Saturday, April 26, 2008

Excerpt for THE HEIR'S CONVENIENT WIFE by Myrna Mackenzie

Book 2 in The Wedding Planners Series
Regina's Story

The minute Dell walked through the door of the mansion, he knew something was different. His wife, Regina, was perched in the hallway on a Victorian settee that had been in his family for generations and was just as uncomfortable as it looked. That in itself set off warning bells. Regina was never waiting for him when he got home. She rose to meet him now.

He looked into her concerned brown eyes. She was holding a sheath of papers.

"What's wrong?" he asked.

"We need to talk." Her soft voice came out unevenly. "Have you seen this?"

He hadn't. The publication masqueraded as an event guide for the city of Boston, but the real draw was the bits of gossip sprinkled throughout its pages.

Dell lifted a brow. "Not my usual cup of tea."

She blushed slightly, and Dell realized that he'd rarely seen her blush. But then, he didn't really know Regina well. Their brief, necessary marriage had been entered into in haste, and they'd spent very little time together. But the delicate pink that tinted Regina's cheeks and dipped into the shadows at the vee of her white blouse definitely made him aware of her in ways he hadn't been when he entered that room. That was a surprise…and clearly bad timing.

Regina nodded, and for a moment Dell wondered if she'd read his mind. "No, I suppose a man like you wouldn't read this," she said, "but I've verified the facts."

She turned away, but she held her head high, her straight brown hair brushing her shoulders. Regina was a woman with generous curves, but she seemed thinner than he remembered her being when she'd entered his world just over a year ago. Was it any wonder? She’d been through a lot these past few months.

Dell rubbed a hand over his jaw. If Regina had suffered unhappiness, the blame was partly because of events he had unintentionally set in motion. "So tell me the facts." His voice came out too rough, and she turned to face him again.

"You were well on your way to marrying Elise Allenby when we—"

"When we wed," he offered.

"Yes, but you did that to help me. You were supposed to marry Elise. I didn't know. If I had, I wouldn't have—at least I hope I wouldn't have said yes."

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Friday, April 25, 2008

Weddings in the Movies

I like nothing better than to pour myself a glass of wine, grab some dark chocolate, sit back on the couch and enjoy a romantic movie. My husband calls them girl movies. I've heard others refer to them as chick flicks. All I know is I love watching them! And if there happens to be a wedding involved somewhere in the plot, all the better. I just want to be sure I have a box of tissues nearby. I cry during weddings no matter if they're real or on the screen.

Over on The Wedding Planners thread at eharlequin, a few of us were talking about wedding movies. Lots of titles were mentioned such as Father of the Bride, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Runaway Bride. It got me thinking about how many movies, not just romantic ones, actually have weddings in them. I went searching on YouTube and found a couple of clips that celebrate weddings in movies. Enjoy!

Do you have a favorite wedding movie? What about your favorite wedding scene in a movie?

Melissa M.

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Thursday, April 24, 2008

Quiz: What's Your Wedding Floral Style?

When I got married, I didn't think about a wedding style. A floral style. Or any kind of any style of anything ;-). I just picked what I thought was pretty. And inexpensive. We had no money when we got married. In fact, when we came home from our honeymoon, we had twenty bucks to our names.

Yes, we were young and crazy and IN LOVE. :-)

And eighteen years later, we're still together and just a bit smarter, but still in love :-).

Nowadays, though, the buzz is about style. What's your wedding style? Your dress? Your flowers? There's even a quiz. :-) So I took the quiz and thought you all might want to take it too!

My answer, BTW:

60% Simple Style: Your dream wedding includes several traditional elements updated with your own sense of style. A simple bouquet can be classic or modern, embellished with a few accent flowers, or clean and minimal. The intrinsic beauty of flowers shines in simple-style bouquets. Picture a posy of barely open roses, an armful of calla lilies, a handful of creamy-white tulips dotted with a few sprigs of chartreuse lady's-mantle, or a single orchid. Simple is the perfect word for summing up the centerpieces that you love. Often monochromatic, your favorite centerpieces are arranged in geometric, unadorned containers. Their clean lines and refined color palette make a dramatic statement. Top your tables with a glass cube packed with pink roses or a simple cylinder brimming with white calla lilies or stems of delicate pastel orchids.

That explains my heroine in Sweetheart Lost and Found! Clearly we think alike! :-)


Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Julie’s Essential Bridesmaid List

Waving hello from Julie, General Assistant at The Wedding Belles!

Being the plain one in a beautiful family, I thought I'd always a Bridesmaid. I’d been a bridesmaid three times for my sister and friends – so to escape the proverbial fate I fled from my Sydney home to Boston. Why not? If I couldn't find love, I could at least find adventure, right? And in those first three years, I found a great place to work, and the friends of a lifetime. I love Boston, but still, I'd found no romance...

Until I fell over at the feet of a kind man who helped me up. I looked into ice, ice blue eyes – and fell in love. Unbelievably to me, he fell in love, too - and now, finally, I’m going to be a bride!

But being a far more experienced bridesmaid than bride, I thought I'd post my Essential Bridesmaid List. To me, the job description entails:

1. Knowing the couple’s budget – therefore not encouraging your bride to buy that wonderful, adorable, won’t he just love me in this dress that happens to be at least $1000 over the budget (they do need a deposit on the house, remember)
2. Knowing to pick the shoes first and bring them dress hunting so the bride won’t trip over coming down the aisle
3. Not making fun of their list of romantic love songs for the waltz, even if they make you want to toss your cookies!
4. Let the bride (or her mother) yell when she’s stressed – she doesn’t mean what she says and will most likely forget it by the next day. If the bride’s father yells about the cost blowing out, call a male for sympathetic listening and beer swilling
5. Remembering the names of as many as you can – even the groom’s mother’s second cousin Aunt Pat who was invited because she came to his christening
6. Not taking seriously the declarations of love from the wild members of the groom’s high school football team who decide you’re their mascot (after a few beers, of course!) and toss you around like a caber (yep, that really happened!)
7. Not imagining a ‘connection’ to the best man, or imagine you have a connection…best men are inevitably taken or gay (sigh)
8. Reminding her who is allergic to what flower for bouquets and centerpieces (possibly best to do those twisted branches with glowing rocks and lights)
9. Reminding the bride of all the reasons why purple and canary yellow just don’t go together in a rainbow bridesmaid dress extravaganza
10. (The Biggie!) Reminding her of all the reasons she does love this man on the panicked night just before the wedding, when everything’s going crazy and she just wants to run (I hope my bridesmaid’s around when I start this!)

I’ll keep coming back with additions and addendums to the list as they come to me, and please feel free to add others for all you wonderful bridesmaids out there…but the biggest point: keep smiling, because one day you will be the bride and yes, you will drive your bridesmaids crazy too!

Julie (general assistant at The Wedding Belles)

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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Saying "I Do" to the Planet

A note from Shirley: Today's column is GREAT and GREEN! It's from my awesome friend Diane Gow McDilda, author of the Everything Green Living Book. She has some amazing tips for having a green wedding. How cool is that?? And if you want more tips, read her blog, too!

Green may not be the new white when it comes to exchanging vows, but there are ways to reduce your eco-footprint as you walk down the aisle.

For those looking to make Your Special Day more planet friendly, start by considering all the different aspects your wedding involves. There are wedding rings and apparel, invitations, gifts, food, lodging, and travel, all of which can be greened up. As you and your soon-to-be-spouse sit down and warmly (not frantically, mind you) discuss the details of your nuptials, keep the environment in mind. And once you've started, you'll likely be surprised with other ideas you come up with. Here are a few to get you started…

The Band. Companies like greenKarat offer a beautiful and sustainable assortment of wedding jewelry. Along with gold and silver, they also carry a Precious Wood band that incorporates petrified (a feeling you might relate to) wood in the design. Another option when choosing your tokens of love is recycling older jewelry. By melting down gold or other precious metals you're avoiding the need to mine them. This option also has the bonus of freeing your inner artist to design your one-of-a-kind-and-highly-personal wedding rings.

And if recycling isn't an option, don't forget the second R (in reduce, reuse, recycle). Consider buying a used wedding ring. My husband and I bought my set (I got no bended-knee proposal, just a suggestion over a burrito that we hook up permanently, aw shucks) from a consignment shop. At that time it was more of an economical, than environmental, decision. Friends were concerned that the ring would bring bad luck since the union it was originally intended for never played out. I took it as being "pre-disastered" (ref: John Irving's The World According to Garp, when the plane crashes into the house, "Honey, the chances of another plane hitting this house are astronomical. See? It's been pre-disastered. We're going to be safe here."). And 17 years later, me and the big guy are still together (knock on sustainable wood).

The Dress. Consider a simple dress with less fabric and hoopla. This could be a real sacrifice if you've always dreamed of a floor-length, crinoline-reinforced, Cinderella gown. But consider a smaller and sleeker alternative. There are also shops like Threadhead Creations and Conscious Clothing that offer sustainable silk and hemp wedding attire. And, "no" you cannot smoke your hemp clothes. The hemp used to make the fabric comes from the root, stalk, and stem of the cannabis plant, not the leaves. So puff away on your suit if you like, but any craving for brownies you get is all in your head. Besides using sustainable fabric, there's always "something old" you can add to your wedding day checklist. Vintage Vixen carries vintage (surprise) gowns, along with other vintage (surprise again) clothes, and I for one fell in love with a 70s halter-style wedding dress. (Seems like a good time to renew our vows, don't you think?)

The Invites. Of course an evite tops the list for paperless invitations, but may not be the most suitable approach for requesting wedding attendance. In lieu of going electronic or using virgin (yes, I said it) paper consider using recycled paper to deliver your message. The Naturally Ever After line of invitations includes 30 percent recycled content and natural inks. And consider cutting down on some of the paper too by eliminating the tissue and other traditional, but possibly, unnecessary inclusions (sorry Emily Post or similar etiquette guru).

These are just a few tips, to get you started. You can also considering locally grown sustainable food for your reception and an eco-friendly honeymoon as other green options. As are biodegradable disposable tableware. And when it comes to gifts consider asking for donations to a favorite organization. The I Do Foundation offers a registry where guests can donate to a cause picked out by the bride and groom. When you're planning don't despair if you can't incorporate all the green ideas you've seen into your wedding. All those hugs you share as part of Your Special Day should include a couple of pats on the back for greening your wedding.


Monday, April 21, 2008

Jared Stops By!

Hey Gals,

Hope you don't mind if a guy puts in his two cents. Though it's feeling pretty darn...pink here. I'm thinking I need to dress all in black leather just to "man" up the place. ;-)

The last time I did that, though, things went from great to terrible between Callie and me. I thought I had her heart, then she broke mine. Heck, she didn't just break it, she turned it inside out, shattered it into a hundred pieces, then ran it over with Tony's motorcycle when she headed off into the sunset with him.

Yeah, I'm not bitter. At all. And I'm completely over her. One hundred percent.
So ask me why I'm researching love. Why I'm here, sitting in a bar, taking stats on true love. Either I'm a serious glutton for punishment, or I'm still trying to figure out the way to a woman's heart.
One woman's heart in particular.
And when that particular woman walks into that very same bar, she ends up turning my very straight and ordered world of statistics into a chaotic mess. Last time I let chaos reign, it didn't turn out so well. This time...
Well, we'll see if the-not-so-wild guy can win Callie's heart before she gets the urge to run again.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

With a little help from my...kid

Well, the deal is on Publishers Marketplace now, so it's out there for all the world to see :-) so I thought I'd announce it on the blog. My daughter and I are going to be writing horror young adult novels together for Houghton-Mifflin.

It's amazing to think that my kid is A.) grown up enough to do this (she's nearly 15) and B.) that from a dream I had as a kid, then as a new bride, I'll now be pursuing it with my child. How cool is that?

Yes, I'll still be writing romantic comedies and sticking with my Harlequin Romances! I love writing those, too! These books with my daughter are just one more type of writing, a little something different every year. The first book, tentatively titled THE WELL, will be out in late 2009 (it's about a high school freshman whose mother is trying to kill him. Yes, it's scary :-).

We'll be writing under a pen name, AJ Whitten. Visit our MySpace page, and keep an eye on the updates (DD is in charge of the marketing on this one :-). I never thought when I walked down that aisle (nearly 18 years ago!) that I'd be writing with my high school daughter, that's for sure!


Friday, April 18, 2008

Liz's Contest Winner!!

Great news for one lucky reader. The winner of Liz Fieldings fabulous new read is (drum-roll, please)......


Now, if teachtoreach will please contact me or Liz with mailing instructions, we will get that awesome prize right out to you.

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On the Way to a Wedding Dress - Part 2

A note from Myrna: When I first wrote about wedding dresses a couple of weeks ago, several friends graciously sent me stories and agreed to provide pictures (I only had to twist their arms a tiny bit).

Here are two (more to follow later):

From author Jennifer Stevenson:

It was 1973. My mother and I were shopping for my high school senior prom dress. I had spent most of my childhood in hand-me-downs, and this was only the second time we had ever bought clothes for me in, like, a real store. Senior prom was also my very first date. (I was a major geeky high school weirdo.)

We found this lovely Edwardian white lace thing for a mere $50 at a dress shop. My mother pounced on it, and it fit me. She bought it so fast, my head spun.

Four years later, I wore it as my wedding dress. D'ya think she had that in mind?

Jennifer Stevenson
THE BRASS BED April 29, 2008
Ballantine Books

And from author Lindsay Longford:

Me: barely 21, $100 for the entire wedding, no honeymoon planned because we didn't have any money. Other than the aforementioned $100, of course.

Yep. Those were the good ol' days, all right. Pre-Bridezilla, pre-many thousand dollar-extravaganzas.

They were also the days of Thin Me. 108-lb me. Yeah, definitely the good old days!

The Thin Me was able to fit into a very expensive, small-sized sample dress at one of the pricey department stores down south, and since the dress was soiled from the many try-ons and ripped, I was able to purchase this gorgeous, heavy peau de soie dress for $10. That's right: $10.

Cleaned and repaired, it saw me down the aisle with my homemade veil and into thirty-four years of mostly wedded bliss.

Best $10 I ever spent--and, like the gentleman groom, thank goodness, non-returnable.

Oh, and the honeymoon? The car broke down on the way to our friend's cabin in North Carolina, and we spent our carefully saved $100 repairing it and our honeymoon night in a run-down motel with no toilet paper.

So who needs $30,000 weddings? The story's the thing. As always. And we had many years of wonderful, crazy stories. Wouldn't have traded a single one for a Bridezilla Wedding.
Lindsay Longford

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Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Mother of the Groom

A note from Shirley: Today's guest blog is from the great and talented Leigh Riker, who writes hilarious, touching books that celebrate women. She's the mother of the groom, and she's got a common dilemma...what to wear!

What does the mother of the groom wear to the wedding?


Don't get me wrong. I love weddings! I adore them. I'm a sucker for TV shows like "Whose Wedding Is It Anyway?" and its successor in the cycle of life, "Baby Story." And what could be more fun for a mother than that phone call from my younger son last spring that he was engaged? A late summer ceremony was being planned, and of course I was eager to do my part. I couldn't wait.

Weddings--as we all know--are that special day when the bride plays her starring role of a lifetime. Her mother comes next in the order of things, and then her father who proudly walks her down the aisle-and gives his cherished "little girl" away to another man. Hal's fiancée is very close to her parents and they're a wonderful couple. This was going to be a very special event.

It would be all the more so because several years ago my husband and I nearly lost Hal and the bride's parents nearly lost Kim to devastating medical conditions. Not only was this wedding now to be a joyous occasion--both the bride and groom are healthy again--but a miracle on both sides. I could already feel the tears and the laughter bubbling up within me.

A few weeks later Kim had already chosen her gown, a gorgeous, classic column of strapless winter white satin. Her mother--who was serving as wedding planner and doing a tremendous job!--would wear a lovely champagne-colored dress overlaid with stylish, petaled layers of sheer fabric. Designer dresses, both. The bridesmaid and matrons of honor would look slim and summery in yellow strapless tea length gowns.

Me? I didn't have a clue.

With a month to go before the wedding, I abandoned my original plan. That off-white crepe suit with a silky turquoise cami underneath just wasn't going to cut it after all. I certainly didn't want to come too close to the color of the bride's dress. That's a definite no-no.

So here I went, off on a shopping expedition. The wedding loomed. I had to wear something.

The clock was ticking. With the ceremony's location--the patio of a beautiful inn at Old Saybrook, Connecticut, right on the shore with the marina in the background--and the wedding party's colors in mind, I finally found The Dress. A fitted style with a slightly flared skirt, also tea length.

Sigh of relief. I wouldn't clash with the bride, the bridesmaids, or the groom and his attendants whose nautical theme of navy blue blazers, white shirts and yellow ties nicely suited the seaside environment.

Are you familiar with the color olivine?

It's a soft green, not too dark, not too light. I'm told my choice looked just fine-even if, as a writer, I'm not that used to "dressing up" and felt rather like I was going to the prom.

But what I wore is not the important part. Not by any means. That was my private struggle as the mother of the groom.

What is important? That special day was, indeed, very special with lots of laughter and happy tears. The weather proved to be perfect with a cloudless blue sky and a faint breeze off the water. The ceremony went off without a hitch (well, except for the fact that the bride's mother and I never did manage to light that unity candle in the wind). Everyone looked great. The wedding party and the guests had a fabulous, fun time at the reception.

And best of all, the bride and groom are living happily ever after....


Library Journal LOVED Sweetheart Lost and Found!

What a great surprise to find out that Library Journal reviewed...and LOVED the first book in the Wedding Planners series! My editor sent me the link yesterday, and it was such a wonderful way to start my day! Quoting just part of the review:

"...funny, sassy story that launches Harlequin's "Wedding Planner" miniseries in fine style...this tale of rekindled love is right on target; a delightful start to this uplifting, marriage-oriented series. Jump's (Really Something) romances are noted for their humor..."

I think you can read the whole thing at your local library (I'm pretty sure they all carry LJ). Sweetheart Lost and Found is still in stores, so pick it up on your next trip!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Saturday's Blushing Bride!

Hi, Everyone

Audra here. This morning I'm breathless with excitement! Can you believe my wedding week is finally here? Audra Greene, chubby daughter of the Manelli family's maid is now a thin, successful CPA -- who is also getting married!

Some days I can't believe it myself. Meeting David, our courtship, everything that happened in this relationship has been a whirlwind of excitment.

I was skeptical about dating somebody so far out of my social class, but David isn't like the usual rich playboy. He has a serious side. He wants kids and a comitment. Not to mention that he's absolutely gorgeous!

Callie chose the most beautiful flowers for my big day. Serena created a scoop-neck silk sheath that fits my figure and my personality. Natalie is baking my favorite chocolate raspberry cake. Regina has promised me an album filled with pictures to capture my special, perfect day! Julie has been by my side for weeks helping with details. And Belle...well, Belle has been Belle. She and my mom have been clucking like two mother hens. There isn't a detail we haven't considered!

It brings tears to my eyes to think of how my friends, Belle and my mom have all come together to make my wedding the kind of event most girls only dream of. I've never felt so loved.

Some days I pinch myself to be sure I'm not dreaming! I can't believe David chose me. Yet here I am...A few short days away from my wedding!

Audra... Saturday's Bride!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Diplomacy and Dresses

From Shirley Jump: Shirley Hailstock is a great friend and a great author. Read on for a hilarious account of bridal dress story...and another great release from Shirley H.!

We all have other lives. In one of mine, I wanted to own a bridal shop. I had so much fun planning my own wedding, I thought it would be great to have that feeling all the time. I mentioned this to the owner of the shop where I bought my gown. As luck would have it, she was in the market to sell. To find out if I really wanted to do this, she offered me a part time job.

And I got an education!

I could tell you stories about mothers of the groom who don’t like the bride, mothers of the bride who don’t like the groom, of tears in the eyes of mothers and grandmothers when they saw their daughters or granddaughters dressed in those gorgeous white gowns, even of boyfriends who couldn’t keep their hands to themselves when they saw their girlfriends in the prom gowns.
But those will have to wait for another time.

I want to tell you the story of the wedding I wanted to attend so badly I could almost taste the wedding cake. It started with a fashion show. I’m 5'5" tall. This doesn’t mean I’m a very tall person. It’s an average height, but the most significant thing about my height is that I rarely, very rarely need to hem anything. I can pull anything off the rack and if it fits in the right places, the length is never an issue. Because of this, the owner of the wedding shop asked me to be a model in a fashion show she was doing. Fashion shows bring in business and she was also showing me the ropes of how to attract clientele.

I came into the shop one evening to try on the gowns I was to model. Hanging against the wall was one of the ugliest dresses I’d ever seen. It had those horizontal tucks like you see draped on funeral home curtains. The skirt billowed out as if it had been taken straight out of Scarlett O’Hara’s closet. And I was to wear it.

“I don’t like it,” I said.

“Try it on,” the owner tells me. “It looks completely different on a person.” You can tell she was a salesperson. And diplomatic. This would come in handy later in the story.

I do as she tells me and go into the dressing room. When I come out and see myself in the mirror, I am transformed. The dress is gorgeous. All thoughts of funeral home curtains fall away and what I see are folds of light fabric that make every bride beautiful. We sold five of those gowns that evening, just because I was wearing it when the bride walked through the door.

But here’s the rub.

And this is the reason I wanted to attend this particular wedding.

One dress was sold to a bride who couldn’t be more than 4'11". I looked like a tower next to her. We all tried to be good sales people and let her know that the dress would look terrible on her. Of course, we used arguments like, “because of the way it’s made, the alternations will cost more than the gown.” Diplomacy, remember.

“It doesn’t come in petite. There are many other dresses that are similar that come in petite. Let me show them to you.”

She wouldn’t have it.

The seamstress came out to let her know she would have to virtually re-make the dress. But the bride had made up her mind. She wanted that dress and no other one would do. So we sold it to her.

As she came back for her fittings – five of them – the dress was remade. The bridesmaids came with her, a couple at a time and every time she tried on the dress to show them how great a choice she’d made. The week before the wedding she arrived for her final fitting, with a hoop slip. She planned to wear it under the gown. Mind you, I already told you the dress billowed out on the bottom. In it, even after it had been remade, she looked like a head sitting on top of a white mountain.

So here we go again trying to be diplomatic. I asked her if she was being given away by someone. And how wide was the aisle she had to walk down. She answered that her father would be giving her away and the aisle was no wider than usual.

We set up chairs the width of an aisle, and she dressed in her gown and veil. She wore the shoes she intended to wear on her wedding day and under all this was the dreaded hoop skirt.

“Pretend I’m your father,” I say.

I took her arm and stood next to her. The hoop swung out to the left, knocking into one of the chairs, and exposing her underwear. Still, she didn’t get it. She said at the rehearsal she’d be sure to let her father know this might happen and that he shouldn’t push into her. How he could NOT was a fete I’d like to see.

But we’re not finished.

We remove the chairs and place them back where they belonged. The bride moved to the pedestal in the center of three mirrors. And raises a parasol. Two of the clerks had to suddenly go to the stock room. I knew they were laughing in the background. Keeping a straight face myself was worthy of at least an Emmy.

We didn’t say anything. When she asked if they were for sale, we told her they were. She bought one for herself and one of each of her eight bridesmaids, the tallest of which was probably 5'1".

We could just see the wedding. Her standing up in a dress that looked like she floated under it, with a veil over her face and a parasol that her father had to dodge as they walked down the aisle toward eight bridesmaids all with open umbrellas.

She finally finished and was satisfied. We packed her dress, her parasols and white gloves, the shoes she’d brought with her, the famous hoop skirt and bid her good luck on her special day.

As she crossed the parking lot to her car, a hoot of laughter went up inside the shop. It went on for so long our sides were splitting and tears ran down our faces. We all wanted to go to the wedding.

Exercising restraint, none of us crashed it. But what I wouldn’t have given to be a fly on the wall and see her walk down the aisle in all her imitation antebellum glory.


Shirley Hailstock’s next novel is about a wedding. Wrong Dress, Right Guy, June 2008 release (of course), is the story of a mix-up that leaves Cinnamon Scott with a gorgeous wedding dress instead of the ball gown she expected. Unable to resist trying it on, she’s caught by MacKenzie Grier who arrives to retrieve his sister's missing gown. He's floored by the sight of Cinnamon, but his previous trip to the altar has proven to him that a wedding is not in his future. At least he thinks it did.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Monica and Ben's Story: Read the Rest

My Online Read is finished up, so if you are the type of person who likes to wait until the end to read the story, zip on over to eHarlequin and read it from start to finish! Then click on the link to participate in the discussion! And if you're interested, you can also order the Wedding Planners series from eHarlequin at a discounted price!


Flowers: The Icing on the Wedding

I love flowers. They're so simple, so easy to understand. Treat them well, and they'll reward you with incredible blooms. Treat them poorly, and they'll show their displeasure in drooping stems, closed petals and discolored faces.

They're like friends. They look great in a group (like my fabulous gal pals at The Wedding Belles ;-), they give you joy just by seeing them, and they never let you down. I see my friends at the Belles like a group of flowers--each one is an individual, a rose, a lily, a mum, a lilac, a daffodil, and of course, there's Belle, the vibrant, effusive and big-hearted sunflower. All together, they look beautiful, and they bring incredible happiness to my life.

Unlike men, who have let me down, especially my ex, who made breaking hearts a part-time job. I'd much rather stick to my flowers, thankyouverymuch, than have anything to do with men. None of that love stuff for me, no way. And if a sexy stranger from my past comes back, I'll just walk away, and resist that handsome face.

I will. :-)


Sunday, April 13, 2008

Coming Up This Week...

This week, we have two great guests! Authors Shirley Hailstock and Leigh Riker will be here to talk about weddings, from two very different perspectives. Shirley used to work in a bridal shop (and used those crazy experiences in her latest book) and Leigh was just a mother of the groom. Plus we'll have the usual fun blogs from our authors, and you just never know when one of our characters might pop in!

Be sure to post comments all week so you are entered into the drawing for my books and goodies, too!


Saturday, April 12, 2008

Contest for Readers

This month, I thought I'd jazz things up with a kick-butt prize!! I'm going to draw one lucky reader from all the comment posters for this month and give away a Shirley Jump tote bag filled with books and a Shirley Jump mug, as well as a $25 gift certificate to Bed Bath and Beyond!! (That way, if you're a new bride, or even not, we can all use new towels ;-).

So post away and be sure to check out the excerpts and the books! SWEETHEART LOST AND FOUND is in stores now, so pick up your copy and start on the Wedding Planners journey!


Friday, April 11, 2008

Most Romantic Songs

When my husband and I got married, we were really concerned about the music at the reception and we wanted a band that could play a variety of types of music so that there was something for everyone.

But of course we're talking weddings and romance here, so if you could only choose 3 songs that fell into the category of "most romantic" which ones would they be? (And yes, I know this is a tough one. Narrowing it down to 3 is really difficult).

I'll start (even though I know that five minutes after I post this I'm going to think of at least one song that should have made it to the list). I took a minute to consult with my heroine Regina on this, because after all, she's one very romantic woman. Here are our choices:

1. I've Had the Time of My Life, theme song from Dirty Dancing by Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes

2. When a Man Loves a Woman (either Percy Sledge or Michael Bolton version)

3. (And just to hit something more contemporary) You're Beautiful by James Blunt

Okay, your turn. What 3 songs would you choose?

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Thursday, April 10, 2008

What Kind of Bride?

All this talk about weddings, the dresses and flowers, has me on pins and needles waiting for Rupert to propose. I really thought it might happen the other night when he'd taken me to L'Espalier, a French restaurant in Boston's Back Bay. Talk about a romantic place! But it didn't happen. Hmmm...I wonder what he's got up his sleeve.

Anyway, I decided to take this quiz since it's only a matter of time until I'm a bride myself.

You Will Be a Traditional Bride!

You're the type of girl who is feminine, old fashioned, and totally traditional.

You've been dreaming of your wedding day since you were young

And you can't wait to be a princess in your big white gown.

It's likely that you'll have a big family wedding and take your husband's name

While a huge affair will be fun, just don't go all Bridezilla about the color of your napkins!

Oh, this is so me! Though I will not go all Bridezilla. With The Wedding Belles to help me, I won't have to!

It's your turn to play! What kind of bride will you be?

Serena, the dress designer

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Wednesday, April 9, 2008


Wow! Liz’s blog yesterday inspired me to think about wedding dresses. Wasn’t that photo great?

As a moon-eyed teenager, I dreamed of having a big Gone With the Wind southern style dress and a train that dragged from here to London. But that didn’t happen. So I have no wonderful wedding dress story of my own to tell. Okay, stop feeling sorry for me. :-) I’m okay with it. Elopers do not plan ahead.

However, I still love to look at Wedding Dresses in shop windows and browse online. It’s been interesting to watch the wedding dress evolve over the years, from the traditional flowing gown to the sometimes strange and funky designs of today. Check out some of these styles!

The bottlebrush anyone? Socccor Bride?

Anyone remember Princess Diana’s wedding gown? Even though the marriage was as ill-fated as our sweet princess, her dress was the kind fairy tales are made of. I watched that wedding with all the gushing sighs of a young girl in love. From the elegant, satin gown to horse drawn carriage, Diana had the wedding (and the dress) fit for dreams and romance novels.

What kind of wedding dress invaded your dreams? Did you have it? Or are you still dreaming? Do you have any interesting, strange, or gorgeous styles to share?

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Win a Book & Read an Excerpt from Liz Fielding!

Read on for a great guest blog from Liz Fielding...and a chance to win a book!

THE BRIDE'S BABY, Liz Fielding's 50th Harlequin Romance is published this month as the first book in a four-part mini series, A Bride for All Seasons. The heroine, Sylvie Duchamp Smith, is an events planner, but she knows that a wedding is a never-to-be-repeated occasion that has to be perfect and it's her attention to detail, her determination to deliver the perfect day that has made her the top of every A-list bride's wish-list. Now, in the cause of a charity founded by her mother, she's been asked to show the world what her own fantasy day would be like.

Hi, I'm Sylvie Smith. Thank you so much for inviting me to visit this wonderful Wedding Planners blog.

I have to admit that planning a fantasy wedding was the very last thing on my mind when I was asked to help publicise a fund-raising Wedding Fayre for the Pink Ribbon Club. Five months pregnant, my thoughts were running more to layettes than wedding gowns.

Worse still, the event was being it was being held at Longbourne Court. Once my home, I hadn't been back there for ten years. Not since my world fell apart just as I was putting the finishing touches to my real fantasy wedding. This was going to be it's last outing before some billionaire turned it into a conference centre.

I really didn't want to play but as Hon Pres of the Pink Ribbon Club, a charity founded by my mother, and with lifestyle magazine Celebrity offering a huge donation as well a full coverage, I didn't have much choice. Even when the noblesse has gone well and truly down the pan, the oblige just refuses to quit.

My first mistake was neglecting to ask which billionaire had bought Longbourne Court. Honestly, as if things weren't already bad enough, running into Tom McFarlane, the father of the baby I was, so obviously, carrying before me --a man who'd left me in no doubt that fatherhood was off his personal agenda -- did not improve matters. This fantasy, dredging up painful memories, was already difficult enough.

Ten years ago, nineteen years old and about to marry my childhood sweetheart, I chosen a colour scheme based on the primroses blooming in the hedgerows and I'd planned to wear my great-grandmother's wedding gown. It was still wrapped in tissue in the attic at Longbourne Court, but that virginal veil was scarcely appropriate - even in the wildest of fantasies -- for a woman shortly about to become a single mother.

Just when I was in despair, however, I saw the shoes. Rich dark purple, embroidered and beaded. The colour of the violets carpeting the woods. I had my colour scheme, I had a dress designer who sketched me a dress and a loose three-quarter length jacket, appliquéd and embroidered to match the shoes. So far, so good. But I needed a theme, something vivid, something fresh and new that would ignite my imagination, thrill the readers of Celebrity. Without a bride to drive that, without a groom of my own, I was all out of ideas.

It was Tom, amazingly, who came to the rescue. Who came up with the idea of a proper old-fashioned country fair, with rides driven by vintage traction engines, sideshows and carnival food.

Tom, who in the firelight of the library, had me spilling my secrets. Who spilled out his own…

Tom pushed open the library door and stopped as he saw Sylvie stretched out in one of the fireside chairs, limbs relaxed, eyes closed, head propped against the broad wing.

Fast asleep, utterly defenceless and, in contrast to the hot desire he'd done his best to drown in a torrent of cold water, he was overwhelmed by a great rush of protectiveness that welled up in him.

Utterly different to anything he'd ever felt for anyone before.

Was that love?

How did you know?

As quietly as he could, so as not to disturb her, he placed the tray on a nearby table and then took the chair opposite her, content just to watch the gentle rise and fall of her breathing.
Content to stay like that for ever.

But nothing was forever and after a few minutes her eyelids flickered. He saw the moment of confusion as she surfaced, then the smile as she realised where she was.

A smile that faded she saw him and, embarrassed at being caught sleeping, struggled to sit up.
'Oh, lord, please tell me I wasn't drooling.'

'Hardly at all,' he reassured her, getting up and placing a cup on the table beside her. 'And you snore really quietly.'

'Really? At home the neighbours complain.'

'Oh, well, I was being kind…' He offered her a plate of some home made biscuits he'd found as she laughed. Teasing her could be fun… 'Have one of these.'

'Mrs Kennedy's cure-alls? Who could resist?'

'Not me,' he said, taking one himself. Then, as it melted in his mouth, 'I can see how they got their name. Maybe she should market them? A whole rang of Longbourne Court Originals?'

'With a picture of the house on the wrapper? Perfect for the nostalgia market. Except, of course, that there won't be Longbourne Court for much longer. Longbourne Conference Centre Originals doesn't have quite the same ring to it, does it?'

He didn't immediately answer. And when he did, he didn't answer the question she'd asked.
'When you asked me if I bought the house for Candy, I may have left you with the wrong impression.'

The words just tumbled out. He hadn't known he was going to say them. Only that they were true.

'You always intended to convert it?'

'No!' He shook his head. 'No. I told myself I was buying it for her. The ultimate wedding present. But when I walked into the house, it was like walking into the dream I'd always had of what a family home should be like. There were old wax jackets hanging in the mud room. Wellington boots that looked as if somebody had just kicked them off. Every rug looked as if the dog had been sleeping there just a moment before.'

'And all the furniture in "country house" condition. In other words tatty,' Sylvie said.

'Comfortable. Homely. Lived in.'

'It's certainly that.'

'Candy would have wanted to change everything wouldn't she? Get some fancy designer in from London to rip it all out and start from scratch.'

'Probably. It scarcely matters now does it?' She lifted a brow, but when he didn't respond, subsided back into the comfort of the chair, 'This is total bliss,' she said, nibbling on the biscuit.

'Every winter Sunday afternoon of childhood rolled into one.' Then, glancing at him, 'Is it raining?'


'Your hair seems to be dripping down your collar.'

'Oh, that. It's nothing. I missed the kettle and the water squirted up at me,' he lied.

'And only got your hair?' That eyebrow was working overtime. 'How did you get so lucky? When that happens to me, I always get it full in the face and chest.'

'Well, as you've already noticed, I've got a damp collar, if that helps.'

'You think I'm that heartless? Come closer to the fire or you'll catch a chill.'

He didn't need a second invitation, but took another biscuit and settled on the rug with his back propped up against the chair on the far side of fireplace.

'Tell me about your winter Sundays, Sylvie.'

'I'd much rather hear about yours.'

'No, believe me, you wouldn't. They are definitely nothing to get nostalgic over.' Then, because he didn't even want to think about them, 'Come on. I want everything, from the brown bread and butter to three choices of cake.'

'We never had three choices of cake,' she declared, in mock outrage. 'According to my mother only spoilt children had three kinds of cake.'

'I'll bet you had toasted teacakes. Or was it muffins?'

'Crumpets. It was always crumpets,' she said, still resisting him. 'I will have your story.'

'You'll be sorry if you do.' But for just a moment he was tempted by something in her eyes. Tempted to unburden himself, share every painful moment. But he knew that once he'd done that, she'd own him, he'd be tied to her forever …

For more excerpts, pictures and background to the books in this series, visit http://abrideforallseasons.blogspot.com/ and http://www.lizfielding.com/

Now for the contest. We'll draw a winner from all comments!

"Sylvie confronted the wedding planner's worst nightmare when the bride did a runner with one of her assistants. In the book she lists the top five disasters.

For a chance to win a signed copy of The Bride's Baby, what would be the very worst thing -- short of the bride or groom not turning up -- that could happen on the big day?"

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Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend

From Shirley: Today's blog is from a great friend of mine who also happens to be a jeweler. She's talking about my favorite thing--gems!

Hello, my name is Diana "DJ" Welker, a retired (2 years now) forty-four-year veteran in the jewelry business. During those years I earned a degree in diamonds and diamond grading, colored gems, gem identification, and jewelry design from the Gemological Institute of America. This exciting field allowed me to work in three states and several areas of retail and retail management and yes I have some great memories. Wouldn't change anything...well maybe a couple of things.

Top priority and much thought needs to be given by any bride in choosing your future husband's wedding ring. The ring is not just a piece of jewelry but symbolizes your circle of life together. I know many couples who have renewed their vows many years later with the exact ring that was chosen by the bride. Thought needs to be given to his career, his hobbies, and his leisure.

Always select a knowledge, reputable jeweler. (This is an always rule. You may want to use the same jeweler that provided your engagement ring/set). Remember, not all rings and not all jewelers are created equal. Any knowledgeable jeweler can help you determine the type of ring that will meet all of your criteria.

It's advisable to start your shopping experience at least ninety days prior to your wedding date, especially if his ring needs any type of custom work. Believe me when I tell you that your jeweler pulls his/her hair out when we are working on a short deadline. Yes, I've worked on extremely short notice. At nine o'clock on a Saturday morning, a customer was waiting on me to open the door so he could chose his bride's wedding ring. As I was packaging his purchase at 9:25 he asked if I could please hurry. He informed me that he was to be at the church by 9:30 a.m.! Don't know if he made it or not.

With the price of gold today, saving money can be a difficult task. One piece of advice I can give, is consult with your jeweler. Many times a 10 karat gold ring is better than a 14 karat gold one, because the alloy used makes it a stronger ring. There is no discernable difference in appearance, but there is a definite difference in price. Also today there are alternate metals to gold, but be certain to ask about sizing/repairing in the future. Things happen to finger sizes!

Over the years I have found that if the groom is given a choice, a large percentage chose a traditional plain round band with no frills, but there are many beautiful rings with engraved designs and many set with gemstones.

A good rule to remember about gemstones is that diamonds are the hardest of all gemstones, thus making for the best possible wear. In my many years of service, I have observed that men test that hardness theory over and over. I had a bride who wanted her construction-supervisor future husband to wear a diamond wedding band and she informed me that he was a hands-on type of guy and they both liked unusual items. Together we came up with an acceptable design using a square cut one-carat diamond set deep into a double inverted pyramid. Our jeweler hammered in the diamond. That was twenty-five years ago and he still has the ring. It has been battered, but with polishing it looks as good as the day he said "I do." Ah the beauty of gold!

One rule for you as a bride NOT TO DO to your jeweler. Please do not ask any jeweler to change the engraving (after it has been engraved) in your wedding ring. Before having your ring engraved make certain it is what you desire. Removing engraving and reengraving is not a task that will endear you to your jeweler. And yes, I've had to do that--also one day before the wedding. Was I up late? Yes! Was I happy? NO!

My wish for any bride reading this is to be happy on your special day and on every wedding anniversary remember all the happiness you have shared over the past year/s! Your wedding ring will be on his finger to remind him of your love.

It has been my privlidge to help many couples and it has been a joy. I have even had the privilege of helping second generations in choosing their special items. That is one of the best perks of my career!


Monday, April 7, 2008

The Subject was Flowers...

It’s spring, I’ve seen crocuses blooming, we’ve been talking about weddings, so flowers have been on my mind a lot lately. In particular, I’ve been thinking about wedding bouquets, remembering some of my favorites.

The one I loved best as a bridesmaid (pictured here with the green floral dress) was a simple bouquet of yellow roses and baby’s breath. Gorgeous. I wish I could have kept it forever. Yellow roses are a favorite of mine.

And here are the bouquets from my wedding (the one with daisies was my bridal bouquet—I’m not sure why I was carrying daisies) and the lavender ones were the ones my bridesmaids carried. I think they consisted of amaryllis, purple freesia and baby’s breath, but I’m not much of an expert on flower names, so I could be wrong about that. Regardless, these bouquets were very special to me, not only because they were from my wedding, but because they were made by a florist I had frequented all the years I was growing up. When I was in high school, the girls used to give each other birthday posters and corsages when they turned 16, and even though we only had enough money to buy carnations, this florist, knowing we were broke would add something special (an unusual ribbon, a figurine, some sparkles). Having this caring man make the bouquets for my wedding meant a great deal to me.

So, what types of flowers have figured large in your life? What are your favorites? If you had to put together a bridal bouquet what flowers would you include? Tulips? Roses? Orchids? What colors?

Have you ever caught a bridal bouquet? Or avoided catching one? Had a floral disaster (like the wedding I attended where the arrangements at the church caught fire from the candles embedded in them)? Share your stories. And if you have no stories to share, keep watching the ground. The flowers are going to be blooming very soon.

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Friday, April 4, 2008

Mother Of The Bride…

I’ve just been through the joy of being a mother of the bride. Our daughter married last September…and thanks to a wonderful, unselfish bride and groom and fantastic family backup on both sides, we had few trials. Soon after their engagement, we got the news we were moving from Australia to Switzerland in a matter of weeks. Our daughter and son in law (and his excellent family on both sides, to whom we owe our undying gratitude for taking us all into their hearts and homes) just took over. We had few things to worry about – so few we felt a bit left out! But once our daughter let us know she wanted our input, all was well. We dress shopped together, bride and bridesmaids, groom and groomsmen, and it was a really fun day. Jaime found a dress in a day – how’s that for no fuss? – and shoes. Through my husband’s contacts at work they chose a wonderful venue for the reception by Terrigal Beach in Australia (thus taking care of where to have post-wedding pictures…they were gorgeous, and the photographer even provided beach shoes for them). Crowne Plaza did much of the hard work, but Jaime and Chris chose décor and the buffet dinner. They even found some black 1965 T-birds for the wedding cars at a budget price! Our other daughter’s friend is a wedding photographer, and did marvellous shots of the happy couple.

We had a truly happy and memorable day with family and the bride and groom’s lovely young friends. We came home for the wedding of course, and organised house moving at the same time. Our house was left empty and we wanted good tenants, so were able to give the bride and groom their first home (shades of My Big Fat Greek Wedding there…and the groom is Greek!) It was a beautiful sunny September day, perfect for them, not too hot. Everyone truly loved the day.

Only one thing did not turn out perfectly: my daughter listened to some advice, but not Melissa’s great advice about taking your wedding shoes to buy a dress. I told her about it but she ignored this, and an hour before her wedding, found the dress too long for her shoes and nearly fell on her face! She had to change shoes from those comfortable ones to higher heels, and ended up with sore feet. But it’s a small price to pay for the truly lovely, happy, memorable day we had, on both sides of the family.

Melissa J

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Thursday, April 3, 2008

Being a Love Bug Again

Nearly 18 years ago, my husband and I went to Clearwater, Florida for our honeymoon. We laid on the beach, while he tanned and I burned. I'm so fair you can just about see through my skin, LOL (I tell the ladies at the Lancome counter to give me the shade of foundation just above death ;-).

And we had the most romantic time ever.

I'm not sure if it's the sun or the surf or what, but the beach just seems to bring out the romantic in us. A few years ago, we started coming back to the Clearwater area (a little further south, actually now, to a quieter, more family friendly section of the gulf) for Spring Break. We bring the kids and do the same thing -- lay on the beach or by the pool while my husband tans and I, much smarter now, cover up with SPF 7000 and stay a shade above dead.

And we have the most romantic time ever.

It's like we got married all over again, every time we come here. I remember my wedding, the couple of weeks afterwards. We're all "kissy-kissy" as my grossed-out teen calls it. And we kiss a lot, much to the complete horror of our children who make gagging noises behind us. It's as if the beach has transported us back 18 years, and we've just walked out of the church, hand in hand and full of dreams for a bright future.

Every morning, we take a walk down the beach, hand in hand, and discuss our future. The sun is just coming up, the dolphins and swimming in the surf beside us, and we don't feel our age at all. We feel like we're in our early 20s again, and the whole world stretches ahead of us. For one week at least, we're newlyweds.

And we have the most romantic time ever.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

The Perfect Place

Thirteen years ago today, I got married. The ceremony, a full nuptial Mass, took place at St. Joseph's Church in Babylon, New York. It was the parish my husband had grown up in and where he'd attended elementary school.

I have such fond memories of the day even though it wasn't exactly how I pictured getting married. I'd always dreamed of a Christmas wedding. If you've read my book, Santa Brought a Son, you can get an idea of what I'd imagined my reception to be. But I have no regrets over the wedding we did have. I still can't believe it all came together as well as it did.

Our wedding planning was rushed. We'd gotten engaged right before Christmas, the night before my husband flew back home for the holidays, but my future father-in-law was diagnosed with terminal cancer so we decided to forgo a long engagement and get married sooner rather than later so he could attend.

After Christmas, we flew back to New York to get the planning underway. We knew, due to the circumstances, it would be a small wedding. First on our To Do list, find a location for the wedding reception. We knew that could be the hardest thing to find given the short timeframe.

Oh, boy. Talk about an adventure. I felt like a stranger in a strange land, a west coast girl trying to plan an east coast wedding. No offense intended to anyone who lives there! I always pictured wedding coordinators to be like Martha Stewart or in the movie Father of the Bride or our own beloved Belle Mackenzie of The Wedding Belles. I quickly learned there was no stereotypical wedding coordinator. At least on Long Island.

Early that day, we entered a lovely place with beautiful reception rooms. A man in a sharply tailored suit escorted us into an office. He sat on a big leather chair, behind a large wooden desk, clasped his hands together and leaned toward us. "You look like a nice couple. What can I do for you?"

My heart slammed against my chest. He looked and sounded exactly like the Godfather. I kid you not. I thought at any minute there'd be guns pointed and bullets flying overhead. This was not the type of wedding coordinator I had in mind. My fiancé, a born and bred New Yorker, saw nothing strange about the situation. No, instead he laughed at me. I quickly realized I needed to change my expectations. I also learned that people talked who talked really fast and loud weren't angry or upset. That's just how they spoke.

Over the ten hours or so of searching, we found some nice reception places, ones that could handle a wedding party of our size at short notice, but none that made me think, "this is it!" Soon, it was dark and we were tired. We just wanted to pick a place. But one named remained on our list so we drove north to a little village called Stony Brook.

Somehow we made a wrong turn. Not surprising given the hour and the fact we hadn't eaten dinner yet. I saw a colonial white house with white Christmas lights and a big red ribbon tied around it. Right then, I told Tom that's where we were going to have our wedding reception. He said the place wasn't on our list. I said I didn't care. He started getting worried, but turned around and pulled into the parking lot anyway.

The first thing I noticed when we walked inside was a white grand piano with lights and Christmas decorations on it. In the dining room itself, the décor was romantic and charming with lots of chintz and pink. My favorites! (This was at the time when I would devour the latest Laura Ashley Home catalog as soon as it was published.) The place was called Country House Restaurant, and they did wedding receptions. I couldn't believe we'd stumbled across the place. The manager handed us a folder full of menus and information. He also said they provided the floral centerpieces for the tables and could do the cake, too. Less work for us! We were sold. We knew we'd found the perfect place for our reception. And on April 2, 1995, the reception was just as romantic, just as wonderful, as I imagined. Unfortunately, one guest was missing. We weren't quite quick enough with the planning, but we both knew my husband's father was with us in spirit and toasting us with a champagne cocktail.

If you're married, where did you have your reception? Was it hard to settle on a place? If you aren't married, where would you want to have your wedding reception? Any dream locations that you have in mind?

Melissa M

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Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Guest Blog: Wedding Day Beauty

Wedding Day Beauty - Putting Your Best Face Forward

In the pages of romance novels, creating perfect skin for the heroine is as easy as putting words like “porcelain” or “radiant” down on the page. In real life, though it takes a bit more planning, it doesn’t have to be difficult to create the look you want for your wedding day.
For some reason, makeup and skin care never seem to be on the top ten list of things to be taken care of prior to the big day. Often more thought is given to the cake than to the bride’s face!
When you look back at your photos in years to come, you want to see YOU, not some excessively made up version of yourself. Your wedding day look should simply be a more beautiful, enhanced version of you.

Start Early
At least three to six months before your wedding day, you want to begin paying attention to skin care. Even the best makeup artist will be challenged to correct skin that hasn’t been cleansed, moisturized, SPF-protected, and exfoliated over a period of time. If you don’t already have a skin care routine, invest in yourself at this time by consulting a professional. It doesn’t have to be complicated and a dedicated skin care regime will carry you through life, even after the I-do’s.

Make it Fun
One to three months before your wedding, plan a beauty party for the bridal party. Have your beauty consultant recommend looks and colors for everyone to try. The makeup can be a wonderful bridesmaid gift and it’s one way of ensuring a seamless color palette for everyone.
When choosing makeup, avoid bright or shiny products as they don’t photograph well due to the light they reflect. Instead, opt for powdered, matte eyeshadows and blushes as they contain more pigment, will photograph better, and they last longer. Be prepared for wedding day tears by using waterproof mascara and eyeliner. Steer clear of very red or dark lips as they tend to require more upkeep when you are doing a lot of kissing and champagne toasts.

Delegate the Worry
Your makeup shouldn’t stress you out on your wedding day. Bridal jitters can set you up for mistakes in application. Have it applied by a professional who can also help keep you calm, and designate a bridesmaid as the keeper-of-the-face. She can carry a touch up kit with face powder, concealer, blotting tissues, lipstick, etc.

The Whole Picture
Remember that skin care doesn’t just apply to your face. Your hands will also be on display as you show off your bling and if you are wearing sandals your feet need to be picture perfect as well. Even those bits that only your groom will see should be soft and supple. Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize and this will go a long way to making sure both your skin and your day run more smoothly.

The End

Carolyn Hueston is a Senior Independent Beauty Consultant for Mary Kay cosmetics. For skin care and beauty ideas, including bridal looks, visit her website at www.marykay.ca/chueston

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