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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

A second honeymoon in Paris; a Groom’s guide.

If you are considering a honeymoon, anniversary or romantic holiday in Europe, the quintessential location would have to be Paris.
My wife and I decided that we would spend a second Honeymoon in Paris, soaking up the sights and sounds of the city of love. I utilized the website viator.com to find some romantic activities to make the event special. This website will provide a list of activities to suit any taste or budget. I chose a package that included a Seine river cruise, Dinner at a classy restaurant and a private tour of Paris at night.
At around 6pm the Chauffer arrived at our hotel to take us to the boat which moors about 100 meters from the Eiffel tower. The river cruise provides a good opportunity for those new to Paris to acquaint themselves with the more famous sights such as Notre dame, Alexander 3rd bridge and of course the Eiffel Tower. The cruise also has an audio guide which comes free with the ticket and lasts about 45 minutes.
Once the cruise is concluded, the chauffer took us to a French brasserie for dinner and drinks. The food and wine was exquisite. The dress code is stricter than you would find in Sydney or London, but that only adds to the elegance of your surroundings. A professional jazz Pianist plays in the corner and the waiters are prompt and friendly. At the end of the meal the chauffer approached us and presented my wife with a single rose (organized beforehand to look as if I had arranged it) and whisked us off for a private tour of Paris by night. Paris is a beautiful city, but once the sun goes down the place looks like it has come straight out of a fairytale. I can’t recommend highly enough the need to see Paris by night. It will not disappoint.
To get around I recommend the metro as it is always close by and is a lot cleaner than many other metros in other cities. If you want a nice quiet meal away from the tourists I recommend the suburb of Sant Germain Des Pres. This is where you will find small winding streets with secluded restaurants in a beautiful setting.
If you just fancy a drink, head to La Deau Magots (the two maggots) in Sant Germain. Inside they have the hat that Napoleon Bonaparte left as a deposit one night when he was a student at the Military school nearby when he couldn’t pay for his drinks.

My son-in-law, Chris...that's them, with my husband and me, in a gondola in Venice. And a wedding picture. Aren't they a handsome couple? I was supposed to have pics of Paris for this that Chris took, but they didn't turn out.


Monday, September 29, 2008

How to crash a wedding and make friends

To all those who've followed Gail's stories and love her already, here's another wedding story - but finally not her own!

Let me preface this with a disclaimer - I don’t advocate wedding crashing as a way of making friends. However sometimes when people go on vacation, rules change and they’re fortunate to meet like-minded souls who become dear friends.

An all-inclusive resort has similarities to small town living, albeit on a short-lived basis. Soon after arriving, you begin seeing familiar faces, find yourself waving and stopping to chat. It’s as if you’ve become Norm from Cheers.

After pool aerobics, I plunked myself at the swim-up bar for much needed rehydration. Naturally, I start chitchatting with the person beside me. My new acquaintance tells me he’s getting married on Wednesday.

Ding, ding, ding. A wedding! Unbeknownst to Michael, the groom, in my religion it’s important to do whatever one can to make the bride and groom happy. Who cares if they’re not Jewish? Hey, nobody’s perfect. *g*

Before long, Michael and Amy and their respective parents meet the Fullers. Poor unsuspecting folks. No more peaceful vacation for them. Every day after that, we’d meet up and get our fix on the upcoming wedding.

These lovely laid-back Brits graciously indulged my curiosity – where did you meet, why a Cuban wedding, etc. My husband kept saying, ‘Gail, leave the nice British people in peace.’ However, it was too late. They’d already become good friends, and I was thrilled these two sweet people had found love. Perhaps they didn’t deserve the Canadian paparazzi treatment we gave them, but at least they received lots of pictures capturing their special holiday. *g*

Now, I would never question the validity of their marriage, but apparently they won’t receive their official wedding certificate for eight months. So, what happens if it never arrives? A trip back for a wedding, take two? *g*

We were quite touched when they invited us to their wedding and reception and cheered their big moment as if they were part of our family. Concerned the resort’s photographer might miss that perfect shot, we appointed ourselves unofficial wedding photographers. Good thing. Both my hubby and the official photographer missed such defining wedding moments as Michael uncorking the champagne and a parched Amy quenching her thirst from the champagne bottle.

Against an ocean background, Amy and Michael stood on the beach within two hearts fashioned from flowers. Afterwards, the mariachi band serenaded with a Spanish rendition of The Beatles’ song, ‘And I Love You.’ It was perfect. Or to use Amy’s word - ‘fabbie!’

Did I ‘bubble’ (cry) during the ceremony? You bet - along with both beautiful mums. No bubbling from the handsome dads, just big smiles.

Regrettably, we couldn’t attend their reception in England. However while they celebrated back home, we opened a bottle of Jameson’s, a gift from the bride’s father, and toasted our friends, wishing them much love and happiness.

Have you ever crashed a wedding? *g* If so, we want to hear about it – and you can win a copy of either The Bridegroom’s Secret or any of Melissa’s Harlequin Romance backlist!

Huge thanks to the gifted and generous authors of The Wedding Planners! You ladies rock!

- Gail

Note from Melissa: this time being a leadup to Jewish New Year, Gail will be popping in and out when she can, but understandably she's very busy. All the best with your holiday, Gail! Enjoy!


Sunday, September 28, 2008

Coming Up This Week...

Hi, everyone, this is my last "coming up" for my month on the blog...but not the end of the blog. As some of you know, we've decided to keep going and see where the winds of weddings take us.

But this week, we have the wonderful Gail returning to blog about being, not the bride this time, but a most fortuitous wedding crasher...and any interesting stories along those lines will win a copy of The Bridegroom's Secret. :-)))

We also have my son-in-law blogging about a groom's guide to Paris; we have Susan returning to blog - and I have a couple of unusual honeymoon destinations: one in continental Europe, one in Scotland for anyone interested. So looking forward to hearing from our readers!


Friday, September 26, 2008

Singing the Memories

I bet everyone, or most everyone, had a wedding song. It's one of those traditions, as engrained in the wedding as the rice and the cake and the garter. I've been married nearly 20 years, and I look back at my wedding song (I actually had a few, because I couldn't choose, LOL), and wish I'd chosen a better one.

Not because I didn't like it.

Not because it didn't perfectly capture the moods and emotions I was feeling right then.

Not because my husband (and when he was my boyfriend) didn't think it was perfect, too.

But because it was sung by a one-hit wonder band and thus, it's NEVER played on the radio. Oh sure, I hear it at weddings from time to time, but let's face it, how often are you at a wedding? DH and I can hear it if we go out to a bar and get some screechy karaoke singer trying to belt it out, but we're OLD, according to our kids (meaning over the age of 20, and thus, we should just give it up and collect our social security and sit quietly in the rocking chair in the corner) and we never make it past 10 o'clock for anything. Bars start happening around 11 or 12, and that's simply past geezer bedtime (geezer being 40 in my case ;-).

My wedding song, the one that we danced our first dance to, was Sheriff's "When I'm With You." I think the band released one album, LOL. I read the story of the song on Wikipedia (the regular page WILL NOT work with blogger, so just click on that redirect there and it brings you to the story) and love that it came with its own happy ending. Now that's appropriate.

We did have two other songs, backups, if you will ;-) The Bangles "Eternal Flame," also one that's never played, and "Time of My Life" from Dirty Dancing, which gets played all the time -- that was our end of the wedding song, when everyone gathers around to say goodbye to the bride and groom. I still get choked up (even writing this) when I hear that song and think of all the memories of that moment and what that song says, to me, at that moment, about my life changing, and the new life I was taking on.

Of course I don't think my DH was thinking all that, LOL.

As for "When I'm With You," when it does happen to come on the radio, I'll sometimes call my husband at work and listen to it with him. Just a quick, "remember when it was just me and you" and for a second, we're back on the dance floor, two silly, in-love kids thinking we had the world by the tail, because we had each other and that was all that mattered.

What about you? Did you pick a one-hit wonder for your wedding song? Or something that has been played ad nauseum?


Thursday, September 25, 2008

Death – the impetus for our third wedding?

My husband, an estates lawyer, says one-hundred percent of all marriages end in death or divorce. (Cheerful statistic, isn't it?)

Since divorce was not an option, death became the impetus for our third wedding. Morbid? Not us!

My hubby’s family is buried at a small town’s Jewish cemetery. However, since I could not be buried beside my husband in this Orthodox Jewish resting place, I opted to tackle the issue with a simple solution - convert and become an Orthodox. Not surprisingly, this overnight decision took about a decade. As anyone can tell you, choosing a plan of action is easy. The tricky part rests in the execution. Undaunted, we adapted and embraced the new lifestyle changes.

A few pluses as a result: our children would likely avoid the fuss of becoming an unmarried married person; and they could participate in our third (and final!) visit under the Chupah, truly making it a family affair.

Below are a few notable aspects of an Orthodox wedding:

The bride (kallah) and groom (chasson) fast on their wedding day (until the reception). Standing under the Chupah, their joint destiny is set and all previous transgressions are erased. I really liked that part ... erasing all past indiscretions.

My dear husband placed the wedding band on my right forefinger during the ceremony. This stems from the ancient belief that the index finger was directly connected to the heart. Before this wedding, we had the jeweller’s markings removed because a ring without blemishes symbolizes a marriage that will be free from strife or conflict. So far so good! The bride’s acceptance of the ring is when the couple is considered married. Finally! LOL!

It’s a huge blessing (mitzvah) to make the bride and groom happy. We were fortunate to have many people make us smile on our special day, but the best one came from a friend who came to the reception wearing a plastic lei and a hula skirt over his suit. Just priceless.

Getting back to our children’s participation - our daughter was a beautiful flower girl, and our son assumed the role of ring bearer. Great, we’re all set. Daughter leads me in; my dashing chasson is waiting under Chupah... Yes, this time everything is perfect and so we begin.

Hang on, someone is missing! Has anyone seen a ring bearer about so high? A search party is dispatched.

Not to worry. We locate the missing party playing cards with a friend on the landing of the synagogue’s back stairwell. Obviously this was a more happening place than the sanctuary.

We begin again and this time, this third and final time became our charm.

Coming soon to this wonderful blog, tips on how to make friends by becoming official wedding crashers.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Stay Tuned For More...

As many of you know, we're coming to the end of the series. But we've been enjoying ourselves so much that we've opted to continue this blog. Beginning the second week in October, we'll be going to a Monday, Wednesday, Friday schedule (with a Sunday message detailing what's coming up in the week ahead).

Look for more wedding fun, details on what the heroines of The Wedding Planners are up to now and information on the authors' new releases. We're looking forward to visiting with all of you!

Also, this really isn't today's regular post, so please don't forget to scroll down. Linda has a really cute video up that you won't want to miss!

First Dance

Video and Code Provided by WhoIsTheMonkey.com

I couldn't resist this. Hope all of you get a good laugh.

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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Is This Perhaps the Most Disastrous Wedding Ever?

From my dear friend, who's led rather an, um, adventurous life with her geologist husband...

Well, I wouldn’t call it funny but after Timor (Melissa's note: my friend and her then boyfriend escaped the massacre of East Timor in 1975 by sailing back to Darwin on a boat) we went down to Tasmania to reassure his family he was still alive, despite having been shot at and held hostage and losing so much weight. While we were there I ended up in hospital with malaria misdiagnosed as hepatitis, and needed an urgent blood transfusion.

In the meantime we’d talked about moving to Perth, so I applied for and got a job a job at Fremantle Hospital near Perth. Naturally my folks were worried about me too, even before the malaria, so I left Tasmania first to spend three weeks with them in Adelaide before heading west and starting my new job. I’d only been there a day when Randall phoned and said, "let’s get married before we go to Perth." Very romantic proposal...but given what he'd been through, I accepted it at face value.

There was a mad panic to organise a wedding in that time but I did it, church, invitations, flowers, reception, dress, bridesmaid, best man, rings, the lot. Having been forced to leave behind everything we owned in Timor, all I had was what I’d earned at Darwin Hospital after getting out of Timor. I spent the lot on the wedding, which meant I’d have to hit Dad for a loan to get to Perth.

Less than a week before the big day, my fiance was yet to leave Tasmania. Then his grandmother has a TIA – a trans-ischemic attack; that’s a minor incident like a mini stroke in which there’s an interruption to the blood supply to a portion of the brain but not enough to leave any lack of function. His family weren’t coming to the wedding anyway, but he said, "how about we put the wedding off and get married in Perth?" I said, “Fine. I’m going to Perth with or without you, but if I’m not getting married in Adelaide I’m not getting married in Perth. Your choice.”

Two days later he was in Adelaide looking to hire a suit for the wedding.

That close to the date all he could get to fit his still way-too-skinny frame was a heavy velvet jacket, burgundy, and black pants (touches of Saturday Night Fever?). OK, so the photos would be a touch colourful but hey, it was the 70s and we were getting married. Except that it was the height of summer...

As I'd almost expected by this time, the maximum of 42 degrees Celsius (about 105 Fahrenheit) on our wedding day arrived right on time for the ceremony. I was still pretty weak and anaemic after the malaria, so I felt cold when everyone else was hot. Yet even I was sweating under my dress and veil, and my groom's chin was like a trickling tap.

So there we are in the church and the minister’s performing the service - but within a few minutes I’m not hearing anything, because I’m feeling so woozy. I try to lean on my groom, but his shoulder suddenly disappeared – Yes, he was also faint. If my brother (the best man) hadn’t caught him he’d have hit the floor and splattered us all with sweat. I quickly dropped my head between my knees...

The minister cleared the front row and, bless him, married us sitting down. The photos look a little damp – and burgundy – but the reception went off without a hitch, then the wedding night. We had nothing, remember. My husband came out of Timor with what he was wearing. So our wedding night we spent at my parents’ house, in a room right next to theirs with a single bed that squeaked with the slightest move, so we slept on the floor. Next day we flew to Perth and a few days later I was working. We never did get that honeymoon but who cares? We still have each other, 33 years later, and that’s worth far more to me.

Wow. Doesn't this tale make you smile and think, wow, the disasters surrounding my wedding weren't so bad - or do you have a tale to out-tale this?

Melissa J

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Editor’s Honeymoon Wish-Come-True!

Mills & Boon editor Lucy Gilmour describes her unusual honeymoon destination...

I imagine in some ways every couple’s honeymoon destination is unusual, purely because this isn’t just any old holiday, but the first one you take together as a married couple. I didn’t quite believe it would feel that different to any other holiday – but it really, really did. For one, it was fantastic to just to relax after the hectic build up to the wedding. But mainly, it felt as if this was a new beginning for us both – the start of our married life I suppose, and I wonder if it would have mattered where we’d been, as long as we’d been there together.

My husband (eeek, it still sounds so grown-up!) Ben and I chose to forgo a fortnight of unadulterated bliss on an idyllic white sandy beach in the Maldives in favour of backpacking around Indonesia. This seemed like a sensible idea at the time ‘we’ll go exploring’ we cried ‘and have a real adventure!’ And yes, we found ourselves sharing our open air bathrooms with a fair amount of the local wildlife, rather then relaxing in a luxurious marbled whirlpool bathtub. And our decisions not to pre-book any accommodation so we could make spontaneous decisions over how long to stay in each place meant we’d often start our hunt for a room at dusk. (There’s always a silver lining, and this did often mean that we found ourselves upgraded to fancy rooms for a bargain price!)

But most of all, it was our adventure and I wouldn’t have swapped it for the world Luckily (for me) we managed to squeeze all our belongings into just the one backpack, which meant that Ben lugged this full-to-the-brim monstrosity along the dusty roads of Indonesia, whilst I floated serenely beside him, guidebook in hand, pretending that the hotel we hoped might have a spare room really was just around the next corner…

I know, I know it’s a cliché – but our honeymoon really did feel as if it was a once in a lifetime experience. One evening at a local restaurant, we inquired as to what ingredients were in a particularly mouth-watering dish, and found ourselves invited back to the next morning for a private cooking class with the restaurant owner’s grandmother! We hired bikes, got hopelessly lost, and ended up having an impromptu personal tour of some of Bali’s beautifully tropical rice fields (see the picture below) One of my absolute highlights was deciding not to take the expensive tourist ferry, with its hygienic toilets and shady canopy between islands, and instead finding ourselves in a small fishing boat ambling along under the blazing sun, with numerous dolphins swimming and jumping up alongside us. It was a truly incredible moment, and one you couldn’t pay all the money in the world for.

We did have a two-night stopover in Singapore on the way home, which brought us gradually back to reality. And while I can’t say I suffered any blues when I returned to work over not having a wedding to plan anymore (organisation is most definitely not my middle name) I did pin this photo of us in the Balinese rice field up by my desk, and it brings a smile to my face even when chasing the tightest of deadlines.

And I will admit to sneaking a long weekend in the French Alps a week or two ago, which is where Ben & I met. Those few days felt like another mini-honeymoon - although with less make-your-eyes-water-they’re-so-spicy-noodles and far more cheese and wine this time! I guess you might say we’re still enjoying that ‘honeymoon period’ – well, if so, long may it last!

I’d love to hear all of your honeymoon tales – I wonder how many countries we’ve all covered in pursuit of these, the beginnings of our own individual happy ever afters?


Lucy x

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Coming Up This Week...

Another exciting week! Monday kicks off with my editor, Lucy Gilmour, describing a most unusual and inventive honeymoon; then I blog with what could be one of the most disastrous weddings ever - and prize for whoever can beat this story! Linda and Shirley both have their blogs - and then the very popular Gail is back with her final (and finally kosher!) wedding.

But the fun isn't ending with September 30. I have new HR author Michelle Douglas with one of the most romantic weddings ever, and a giveaway of her most recent book; Gail has yet a fourth funny wedding story (would you believe it?); I have some more unusual honeymoon destinations for you to learn about - and not to leave out the other Wedding Planners, with their own announcements!

More coming up!!!


Friday, September 19, 2008

Drug Bust at the Wedding, by Presents/Desire Author Robyn Grady

Thanks so much for the invitation, ladies! It’s wonderful to join in the celebrations here.

When I was asked to share an anecdote with you all, I thought, Hey, what about the Drug Bust At The Chapel story?

Only kidding ( The incident happened the night before the wedding.

Oh dear. This tale really does have a happy ending. Let me explain…

People are known to travel halfway around the world to attend weddings. When my husband and I were married, his brother flew from London to Australia be a groomsman. Two years ago, our family drove from slow’n’easy Caloundra in Queensland to big-smoke Sydney to celebrate brother Max and Renee’s special day.

Following tradition, my husband joined the guys for a Buck’s Party – a night on the town. They chose a well known nightclub and the festivities had only begun when my husband went for another round of drinks. Crowded in at the bar, he growled and spun around when something hard and wet dug into the seat of the pants.

It was a huge nose, belonging to a huge police dog. The sombre looking policemen asked my husband to accompany them and marched him outside.

Jeff emptied his pockets, submitted to a thorough search and provided his name and other details. Luckily he looks nothing like a drug lord or user, and he’s not the type to fluster easily. In fact, he was quite amused. So the nice policemen finally let him go, explaining he must have brushed up against someone that night who’d carried an illegal substance, which the dog had detected. Meanwhile, the Buck’s Party guys were getting worried. Or was that thirsty? (

The wedding was a beautiful heart-warming affair. Our daughter, Tabitha, (four at the time) joined in the ceremony with her special task of helping to release butterflies into a clear blue sky (they were a little reluctant, as you can see). Tabby danced until midnight and concocted her own version of “the dead cockroach”. My 16 year old niece had her first kiss, and the speeches were both humorous and deeply emotional. It was all so special and brought back so many wonderful memories of my own wedding day, the very best day of my life.

After Max and Renee’s wedding, I went home and tackled revisions on a manuscript that, four months later, sold to Mills and Boon! Eight years of submitting had finally paid off. This week I’m giving away two books, Baby Bequest, my November Desire release, and Confessions of a Millionaire’s Mistress, a Presents, which will hit the US shelves February 09.

Does anyone have a hen’s or buck’s night story they’d like to share? (Or, perhaps, tell us what releasing butterflies at a ceremony signifies to you.)


Thursday, September 18, 2008

A Romantic Wedding for a Romance Editor...

When I was asked to write this blog, I was at first very excited. I love nothing more than talking about my wedding, but having to put into words what was so special is actually quite a hard task! So, like all good stories let’s start at the beginning…
On a deserted beach in Florida, my boyfriend of seven years, David, finally popped the question! (British men can be a little slow sometimes…) Wow! Finally it was my chance to plan the most amazing day of my life…sorry our life. I knew I wanted big and I knew I wanted traditional, but like every modern bride I also had a budget!
Being a romance editor did not make this task any easier! Every day is spent with gorgeous heroes who sweep their beautiful women off to exotic locations and where money is no object…it can spoil a girl! We scoured places in England and although very beautiful none really did it for us – we also knew that it would rain.
So my hero and I decided to have our wedding on the beautiful Mediterranean island of Cyprus. There were a numbers of reasons for this, but the main one was that the sun was guaranteed to shine...
It took twelve months to plan, and I even had my very own wedding planner who organised everything exactly as I wanted it – even down to goldfish swimming around in bowls at our table!
The big day arrived and on THE HOTTEST DAY OF THE YEAR my dad and I were escorted in a horse drawn carriage to the 2000 year old monastery where David and I would tie the knot. There were shouts and cheers of good luck from all the passers-by as we trundled along. I have never felt so nervous or excited in all my life!
We arrived at the monastery and with a little help I managed to make my way over the ancient cobbled courtyard in my four inch heels…I didn’t think that through did I?
Then the doors opened and I charged down the aisle to the man of my dreams…I had been waiting seven years remember!! Our vows were exchanged in front of our very closest family and friends and I even promised to love, honour and OBEY!!! In return my beloved David swore to worship me. I thought this meant diamonds every month, but he assures me it doesn’t…
After hundreds of photos we made our way back to the hotel for champagne, speeches and dancing as the warm sun set on our first day as man and wife. It was simply the most perfect day in the most perfect setting and definitely as good as any romance I’ve read!
Looking back, it was quite an international affair I suppose, England, America and Cyprus. For our honeymoon we went to Egypt, and we bought back a little souvenir…our first baby! We have been married now for four years and have two babies and are still very much in love. If only you could get married every year…to the same man of course!
Emily Ruston, Editor, Mills & Boon, London

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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Green Wedding Rings

We've already had posts about green weddings and gift registries on this blog. Imagine my surprise when I found a website with a registry to help brides and grooms make green wedding rings!

I thought this was a fascinating idea because the diamond of my engagement ring belonged to my grandmother. All I needed was a new setting once I became engaged because my nana had a bigger finger than me.

I stumbled across the eco jeweler greenKarat during a google search and was so intrigued. From their website:

Our greater goal at greenKarat is to end destructive gold and diamond mining.

Our mission is to provide an ecologically and socially responsible jewelry alternative to those who seek change. We want to help you, in some small way, become part of the permanent solution. Together we can make a difference.

One way they hope to do this is by recycling gold and platinum. Recyling you may think. How do they do that? This is where the registry part comes in. greenKarat created the myKarat registry so couples could make wedding rings out of gold or platinum that once belonged to their family and friends.

Imagine having your aunt's chain, your uncle's ring, your sister's bracelet and your best friend's necklace become a part of your wedding band. Talk about giving new meaning to the "Something old" adage. The registry allows couples to pool whatever jewelry is given to them and turn that into new wedding rings.

I love this idea. A wedding ring is a symbol of love. Remember the video I posted a few months ago? What better symbol to express love than wedding rings created with jewelry given to you by friends and family with love! Depending on how much jewelry a couple collects, it can reduce the costs of their rings. And you're helping the environment. A win-win situation for everyone involved!

What do you think of green wedding rings?

Melissa McClone


Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Regency Weddings by Diane Gaston

Hello, Everyone! It is a treat to be my friend Melissa's guest blogger. I hope when you all are not reading Harlequin Romance that you pick up Harlequin Historicals. We love weddings, too. In fact, my new book, Scandalizing the Ton, has a wedding in it, but not your typical Church or Wedding Hall-type wedding.

I'll be giving away an autographed copy of Scandalizing the Ton to one lucky commenter. All you have to do is comment on this blog (Really say something, not just "nice blog") and I'll select a winner at random by noon eastern time Sept 17.

I write Regency Historical Romance for Harlequin Historical. "Regency" means the story is set in England in the early 1800s, the time of Jane Austen, Beau Brummell and Lord Byron, the war with Napoleon, and when King George III went mad and his son was declared Prince Regent. The Regency was a time of great drama and beauty, a time when lords and ladies were expected to marry well, but also a time when the concept of marrying for love had taken hold. From Jane Austen to Georgette Heyer to today's Regency Romance authors, that concept of marriage for love is what we celebrate.

I was married a brazillion years ago, long before I started writing or reading Regency Romance, but one day recently I realized I had actually had a Regency Wedding!

Here I am with my bridesmaids. Notice that our dresses are all empire-waisted. Notice the leg-o-mutton sleeves on my dress and the puffed sleeves on the bridesmaids dresses.

Now compare these dresses to two Regency Fashion Prints from the fashion magazines of 1815.

See the similarities?

I had a Regency Wedding!

And you can have a Regency Wedding, too. There are many sites on the internet offering custom made Regency wedding dresses. Here are two of them:

Regency Reproductions

Fashions in Time

Or if you are handy you could make your Regency gown:

McCall's Pattern 202 Regency era Empire Waisted Wedding Gown

In fact, if you so desire, you can have a Regency wedding in one of the historic sites in the UK.

This is St. George's, the church on Havover Square in Mayfair, London, where many Regency lords and ladies held their weddings. You can, too.

You can also have your wedding in the Prince Regent's summer home, the Brighton Pavilion in Brighton Hove.In a room like this:
If that is too fussy for you, or if you must marry in a hurry, like many couples in Regency Romances, you can elope to Gretna Green over the border in Scotland. Here I am standing at the historic anvil. Regency couples were married "over the anvil" in Gretna Green.
No, this isn't another wedding photo. It is me with the tour guide at Gretna Green when I visited in 2005. I'm holding a copy of The Wagering Widow which began with a Gretna Green wedding.

How about it? Have I convinced you to have a Regency Wedding?

Come visit my website to learn more about Scandalizing the Ton, my Regency paparazzi story with a scandalous Regency wedding of its own. View my video.

If you can't wait for the book to come to bookstores in October 2008, you can order one right now from eharlequin.com. While you are at it, pick up copies of The Wedding Planners. You'll be happy you did.

Ask me any questions you like about Regency Weddings, Regency Romance, or the Regency itself. I'll be stopping by all day to answer.

Do you read Regency Romance? What do you like or not like about it?

Remember, if you comment you have a chance of winning an autographed copy of Scandalizing the Ton.

Wedding Belles, thank you so much for inviting me to your "Wedding" celebration.

Diane is taking part in the Unleash Your Story fundraising for Cystic Fibrosis. Click here for more information.

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Monday, September 15, 2008

Interview with Photographer Karen Watson, Part Two: Best Wedding Tips for Great Photography

I am a freelance photographer based in Sydney, Australia. I shoot predominantly for the entertainment industry (music/film - album covers, publicity stills, live concerts, music video stills) and publishing (cookbooks etc) but have attracted private clients for portraiture and weddings. My style is relaxed and unobtrusive – capturing candid moments. Contact details: karen_watson@bigpond.com. My new website will be launched in Oct!

Melissa's Addendum: I added the wrong pictures - thought the ones I had were Karen's but they weren't. Blame it on an overseas move at the time. These above are Karen's.

The Interview, Continued:

Discuss weather and seasons. How do they affect the bride’s choices and your suggestions?

Weather, seasons and also time of day obviously impacts wedding photography. That's not to say that you can't get married in winter or in the rain, just be prepared accordingly. Don't count on the weather being co-operative, even in Summer. Always have a back-up plan in case it rains. I generally suggest a few different locations for wedding photos - both for variety of shots but also just in case the weather is unpredictable or you lose light. In summer, aim to time your wedding portraits for later in the day - it's cooler and the light isn't as harsh so you won't end up with photos with strong shadows and you'll be more comfortable. If you like beach portraits remember SAND gets everywhere. I generally bring towels and water so the bridal party can wash their feet afterwards - check your photographer will supply these items and if not then make arrangements yourself. Also try for a beach with white sand as there is less likelihood of dirtying your dress.

Remember that beaches in the afternoon / evening can get cold so be prepared. If it's likely to rain and you still want some outdoor shots then I suggest investing in some cheap black umbrellas (some photographers like myself supply them so worth checking). Black umbrellas in the rain look great in wedding photos. If the rain is heavy and you have a large bridal party, you may want to limit these types of shots to bride and groom only - it's faster and easier to co-ordinate two people in the rain rather than 8 or more. If you want late afternoon shots or sunset shots timing is critical. The window of opportunity for good light is small so plan these shots with your photographer in advance and take their direction on the day. Once the light is gone, it's gone so if everyone is playing around the photographer will miss the shot. Also remember that on the actual day - especially weekends - some locations at certain times of the year are
VERY POPULAR. I have turned up to locations where there were 8 other bridal parties all vying for the same spot for photos! Consider your locations carefully - a secluded beach in winter can be overcrowded in summer.

10.What is one thing you wished all brides knew about your job?

Have realistic expectations - photographers can only capture what is there on the day and can't be in all places at once. They also don't control the weather! And Don't forget that time is money to you as well as the photographer too - they are there to do a job. The wedding party should listen to the photographer's directions to ensure that the photos are done well and within a reasonable time frame for all. For large group shots or family shots, your MC should be ensuring that everyone that should be in photos is gathered and ready for the photo when the photographer needs them. This will ensure that group photos run smoothly and your photographer is not wasting valuable time.

11. Is there anything you wish brides would NOT ask you to do?

Photographers take the wedding photos - they are not substitute wedding planners, ushers or waiters. Don't ask your photographer to serve your guests food or drink, or to round up your guests for dinner or photographs. Your MC should coordinate all this.

12. Please share a favorite tip or two.

I always tell my bridal parties the following tips:

1. Remember to smile! It's your wedding day - you should look happy!! And it's OK to cry - even if you are the groom! But glum and vacant expressions don't make the best wedding photos!

2. Remember your posture, stand up straight - nothing is more unattractive in a wedding photo than the bride or groom slumping their shoulders etc.

3. Don't rush during the ceremony. It's your day so enjoy it. It's OK to take your time. When you exchange rings or kiss after the ceremony, do it slowly, linger so that your photographer can capture the moment. You'll get better photos!

4. Don't forget to tell your photographer if there are any special requirements. These could be items in your ceremony that have significance to you - such as lighting candles for deceased relatives, special readings or musical performances. If your photographer doesn't know about these then more than likely they may be in the wrong place to capture these properly. Ditto if a member of the wedding party has special needs (such as being wheelchair-bound). I recently photographed a wedding for a bride who wanted shots of the wedding party on the beach - we visited the beach together, discussed how we would pose etc. She just neglected to mention that the best man was a quadriplegic and we couldn't get his electric wheelchair near the beach without causing him great discomfort. If I had known this in advance I would have made alternative suggestions for locations. Thankfully some quick thinking and knowledge of the area saved the day and I managed to get some lovely shots of the wedding party - just not on the beach!!


Karen Watson, photographer extraordinaire

What are some of the differences between taking photos of weddings and of other events?
The major difference is that you only get one chance to get it right on the day - no second chances if you miss the shot in the ceremony for example. Also depending on the denomination of the ceremony, there are particular types of etiquette that you may need to follow, particularly during a ceremony. Weddings in general tend to be more emotional than other events too - trying to settle everyone's nerves and emotions on the day can be challenging and you don't generally have to contend with this when shooting other events.
Describe some of your favorite backgrounds for wedding shots.
The ocean is always great or the bush. I try to find interesting textured backgrounds or architecture such as vines creeping up a wall, old gazebos, archways and so on.
When money isn't an object (or not much of one), what is the most likely (or the best) scenario for preserving the bride and groom's memories of the day?
Unlimited options really - you could get 2 photographers to shoot all day starting with bride and groom dressing through to end of reception. One photographer would focus on more formal shots and the second would focus on capturing candid moments through the day. You could get albums, parent packs, DVD slideshow, framed prints as well as miniature keepsake albums for the bridal party. It's endless really.
What do you consider to be your greatest asset as a photographer?
My personality, as clichéd as that sounds. My approach is relaxed, fun and easygoing and where possible I try to be as unobtrusive on the day when taking photos. I find people photograph the best when they are not even aware the camera is there.
Any dream locations for taking photos for the future (as in, if the wealthiest and most
influential person in the world called you up and told you that he had chosen you as the perfect photographer to immortalize his wedding day and was willing to fly you and the wedding party to as many locations that day as you wanted, where would you choose and what would you do to make the day special)?
I think the Japanese blossom gardens in Kyoto would make an excellent location for wedding pics. Santorini for its beautiful light and architecture, a secluded beach in Thailand with white sands.
What is the most difficult task for a wedding photographer?
Getting everyone to follow your directions! Keeping everyone's emotions in check, especially before the ceremony. Rounding up everyone for group shots. Ensuring you capture everything that is important on the day.
Any humorous moments that have occurred during the weddings you have photographed?
I have had wedding cakes collapse before the bride and groom arrive, wedding limos crash before they even get the bride to church, I have had torrential downpours during a beach wedding - I have even had a guest slap a bride in front of all the guests just before she walked down the aisle! You see a bit of everything at weddings!
10. If you could photograph your own wedding (and location was no impediment), what would you choose to do?
I'd have a small wedding with my closest friends and family in a beautiful secluded location.
11. What is the best advice you can give to couples contemplating how to record their wedding day?
Don't feel you have to spend a fortune on the day - pay for what you need and spend the rest of the money on the party or your honeymoon or your new home! It's supposed to be a fun day - enjoy it.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

What's Coming Up This Week

This week is a very exciting week! First off we have Karen Watson returning with some fabulous tips for successful and lower-priced wedding photography for anyone on a tight budget; Julie will return with some amazing places she's been that could become your unusual honeymoon destination; Melissa McClone will be blogging ; Mills & Boon editor Emily Ruston will be dropping by with her beautifully exotic wedding locale, and then, to end the week on a big splash, Modern Extra and Presents author Robyn Grady will be dropping by with her unique story, and to give away a copy of each of her *two* next releases!


Friday, September 12, 2008

Registering for Gifts

My Goddaughter, Kelli, was the first in our family to register for gifts. Excited, I drove to the mall with my sister to buy her something that she really wanted. Before we got to the computer with Kelli's list, I found the most beautiful white shower curtain. It had gorgeous rose buds in a Victorian style that simply touched a place in my heart. I also found towels and wash clothes, soap holders and curtains -- everything you could want for a bathroom -- in this beautiful pattern.

I turned to my sister and said, "You know what? I'm buying her all of this. I know she will love it." Helen said, "It is beautiful, but before we make any decisions let's look at her list and see what she wants."

To my complete surprise the beautiful rose bud bathroom supplies were not on the list. Instead, a green and purple polka-dot shower curtain with matching towels and fixtures were what she had chosen.

Once I got over the shock that our tastes were so different, I had one of those epiphany moments.

Not every one likes the same things!

There are several thoughts to consider when registering for wedding gifts.

1. It's a kindness to your friends and family who really do want to buy you something you will not only use, but also love!

2. Not everyone can spend the same amount on your gift. My niece registered at Macy's, but also at Walmart and Target.

3. Lots of people like to give practical gifts. Don't just pick a silver tea service and china. Do as my niece did. Pick practical items like shower curtains, can openers, baking tins and kitchen towels.

4. Remember you have a groom. Even if you can't get him to help fill out the registration, keep him in mind. Nine chances out of ten, Kelli's husband wouldn't have liked the pick rose bud shower curtain either!

Registering for gifts is probably the kindest thing you can do for your friends and family! So don't hesitate to register and register early. Give every one ample time to get you exactly what you want!


Thursday, September 11, 2008

Customs and Traditions Around the World - well, some of it. :)

The planet seems to get smaller everyday and so it’s not really ‘unusual’ for couples to incorporate the ‘usual’ practices of other countries and cultures into their own special day!


Add the garter toss to your tossing the bouquet ritual. This is when the single men are lined up to catch the bride’s garter and see who will be the next to marry. (This seems to have caught on in other countries...I know I did it in Australia 25 years ago!)


A local Japanese-American custom in Hawaii is for the bride to fold 1001 origami cranes prior to her wedding for good luck, good fortune, longevity, happiness fidelity and peace. The crane is said to live for 1,000 years. How beautiful is that?


Waiters usually pass out take-out boxes to the guests because providing too much food represents abundance.
Tea is served at the reception as a sign of respect. The couple usually serves it to each relative who give jewelry and "lucky money" in return. (Nice way to start married life, with a nest egg.)


Everything is white, from dresses to decorations so this is the perfect theme for understated elegance.
It is also traditional to sell kisses with the bride, but this could be dangerous to the groom's peace of mind... (I agree with that. Too many what-ifs)


During the ceremony, when the couple kneel, the groom may kneel on the bride's hem to show that he'll keep her in line. The bride may step on his foot when she rises, to reassert herself. (I like this - cool tradition!)


Give your attendants a traditional charm in the form of a small eye that protects the wedding celebrants from bad luck. (We won't talk about spitting on the dress to keep the devil away!)
End the ceremony with honey and walnuts offered to you both on a silver spoon. Walnuts break into four parts representing the bride, groom and the two sets of family.


Ask your groom to give thirteen coins to you before the ceremony as, in Spain, this symbolizes his ability to support and care for you. Carry them in a little purse or ask your bridesmaids to look after them.
In Mexican ceremonies, a rosary tied into a ‘lasso’ shape is wound around your shoulders and hands to symbolically tie you together.


Wear a claddagh wedding ring, which has two hands holding a heart with a crown. When the ring is turned so the hands face in, the bride is married.


In a few regions the couple shattered a vase or glass into many pieces. The number of pieces represented the expected number of years they'll be happily married to one another
Serve symbolic foods for good luck including twists of fried dough, powdered with sugar, called bow ties or ‘wanda’.


At "Yui-no" gifts are exchanged between the bridegroom-to-be and bride-to-be. The main present for the bride-to-be is an ‘Obi’, representing female virtue whilst a ‘hakama’ skirt for the bridegroom-to-be expresses fidelity.
A great tradition to include for your reception is the guests' performances. Ask them to perform any dramas, skits or sing to you. But remember that forewarned is forearmed!


Add the ‘unveiling’ ritual to your reception: Everyone forms a circle around the bride. Her mother takes the bride's veil off (symbolizing the bride's becoming a woman) and places it on the head of the maid of honour who then dances with the best man for a few minutes before passing the veil to the next bridesmaid.


Place a silver coin from your father in your left shoe and a gold coin from your mother in your right shoe and Swedish tradition says you will never go without.


Wash your feet the night before the wedding! On the eve of a traditional Scottish Penny wedding, a ceremonial "feet washing" was held where everyone crowded around to help wash her feet. (I hope she does it at other times too...) A married woman's ring was placed into the tub before the ceremony and the first person to find it was believed to be the one who would get married next. Cute!


Pinning money on the bride. This is an ancient custom, and the point is that the money may never be touched by the groom; it’s the bride’s in case she ever needs to leave him. In a culture where the man is lord of the family and the woman has few choices and little money if she leaves, this is a small piece of independence. Nice tradition - I've seen it done.

Having done traditions from around the world, I know this day is tragic in the memories of so many...my husband's school mate was killed this day, in the second tower. To all the innocent who have died through acts of aggression and human insanity anywhere in the world, and their families, my heart goes out to you.

Melissa J

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

What a Contest!!!

This recently came in from Lauren, one of our blog readers

J David's Bridal recently launched a contest on their site, where they want to hear stories about that incredible moment when you knew your guy was "The One". Whether you've got the date set or you're just dreaming about it, they want to hear you and readers' stories. The link to contest is here:

http://www.davidsbridal.com/onelove1.jsp?pbbdesturl= x252ffashionx252fDavidsBridalOneLovex253Fta bx253Doverview

The winning prize package is worth $5,270 that includes a $1,500 giftcertificate towards their honeymoon, their choice of the following: onewedding gown, up to four bridesmaid dresses, one bridal accessory, up to four bridal party gifts, up to five tuxedo rental packages and their choice of his and her wedding bands from Ice.com.

I think this contest would be perfect for your readers and I encourage youto take a look at some of the submissions. They are fantastic and soo romantic!


A Slightly Different Kind of Wedding

Did you know that if you Google the words “pet weddings,” you’ll end up with 6,910,000 hits? Me either, but that’s what popped up.

For the record, I don’t have a pet (at least not now), so I’m not exactly sure what led me to loop up that particular topic (other than the fact that I knew my day to blog was coming up, and I was fresh out of ideas).

I was thinking that there might be a little humor online, something along those lines, but apparently pets, pet clothing and even pet weddings are big business.

In fact, Harrods (yes, that Harrods!) has an extensive pet department which they have just expanded to about 11,000 square feet and have an annual pet fashion show (coming up on September 25th if you’re thinking of popping over to London. Tickets are 35 pounds which is just over 62 dollars at the current exchange rate). This is haute couture for puppies.

And, as a matter of fact, in 2006, as part of their “Anything is Possible” promotion, Harrod’s offered a wedding service for dogs. For 2,500 pounds, you (and your pets) received designer bride and groom wedding outfits, a wedding ceremony where collars were exchanged, a dog-friendly wedding cake, a marriage certificate, a reception for 20 human guests at the Harrods restaurant in London, a Just Married Sign and a honeymoon for the happy couple at the Paw Seasons Dog Hotel in Kent. An extra 1,000 pounds would add on a photographer and a horse drawn carriage.

Apparently pet weddings have become quite popular in America as well. As at Harrods, owners are encouraged to write vows (i.e., a promise to always play tug-o-war with each other or a promise to share the water bowl).

Here’s a photo of Timmy and Muffin’s wedding from one of the Harrods weddings. I have nothing to say to this trend other than Woof!

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Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Interview with my daughter's Wedding Photographer, Karen Watson

I am a freelance photographer based in Sydney, Australia. I shoot predominantly for the entertainment industry (music/film - album covers, publicity stills, live concerts, music video stills) and publishing (cookbooks etc) but have attracted private clients for portraiture and weddings. My style is relaxed and unobtrusive – capturing candid moments. Contact details: karen_watson@bigpond.com. My new website will be launched in Oct!

What is the best piece of advice you can give to a bride about choosing a photographer?

I think above all else you should choose someone with whom you feel a connection to - and that is also the basis upon which I also choose to shoot a wedding or not. No matter how technically great a photographer is, if they don't connect with you they will never truly capture the spirit of your day. Ask to see samples of their work and even if you can speak to some of their previous clients for recommendations. It's the best indicator.

How far ahead of the wedding date should you be contacted?

Don't leave it till the last minute! Most photographers are booked well in advance (in some cases up to a year in advance) - personally I like to meet the clients at least 3 months before the wedding so we can discuss concepts, visit some proposed locations for the wedding portraits and so I can do a dry run of the day (ie checking routes and timing how long it takes to get from brides house, to ceremony to reception venues etc). I also like to get a feel for the ceremony and reception venues in advance and meet the celebrant etc so I have a good idea before the wedding of lighting, positions etc rather than trying to do that on the day. It's also important for a photographer to check the etiquette for the ceremony - different religions and venues have different expectations and I think it's important for the photographer to respect that while shooting a wedding.

How can a bride on a budget get the best deal for the money?

Do your research. Get quotes from at least 2 photographers and get as much detail as to their pricing as possible. Most photographers offer packages - the idea here is to make it simple for the bride but that doesn't necessarily make it cheaper. Get quotes for individual items such as photography only and digital negatives only. If you are on a tight budget then you can save ALOT of money by being sensible and realistic about your choices. It's easy to get caught up in the "once in a lifetime" excitement of your wedding and feel you have take the "more bang for the buck" approach but that's where you can waste money. The reality is that most people will only ever "live with" about 50 images of their wedding day in the years afterwards so why pay for 400+ images if you will never look at them ever again? This is probably the biggest trap.

Areas where you can save money on photography if you’re on a tight budget:

1. Book your photographer to shoot the ceremony and wedding portraits only. The most important shots on the day are the ceremony and wedding portraits so these are the ones you REALLY want the professionals to capture. - combined, this will be no more than 2 hours and will save you a lot of money vs booking them for an entire day. You will find that most guests these days will have their digital cameras so there will be plenty of candid shots of the "party" taken by your friends and family...and for FAR LESS COST than getting a pro to take the happy snaps at the reception!
2. ONLY Pay for photography and all the digital negatives and consider getting the prints done yourself at a later date. Digital technology allows a bride to get high quality images printed in whatever format you want for a fraction of the cost. That way you can choose only the pics you want to be printed when you can better afford it.
3. Consider building your own wedding album at a fraction of the cost - these days you can source quality leather bound wedding albums (or something unique) with mount boards that will give you the same results as the professionals for up to 1/3 the price.
4. Pay for what you know you will use rather than volume for the sake of it. Remember that at the end of the day, most wedding albums and pictures languish in boxes or on bookshelves for years, unopened, so why spend a fortune on getting "unlimited photos on the day" when in reality there are probably only going to be no more than 50 or so that you will always look back on?
5. Book only one photographer to shoot the day rather than opting for two photographers or even a videographer as this will generally cost extra. Get a friend to video the wedding to save you money too.
6. Book a photographer who is local to the region where you are getting married. Generally you will be expected to pay extra charges if you expect your photographer to travel overseas, interstate or over an hour from their office to shoot your wedding.
5. A good photographer should be open to discussing various options with you to suit your budget so be open about your situation so that you get the best value!
How much should a bride expect to spend?
You can expect to spend anywhere from AUD $1000.00 up to $6000.00 + (which could include 2 photographers for 10 hours, professional lighting set ups, travel to locations, albums, parent packs, reprints, proofs, framed print and more). Don't forget that if you expect your photographer to travel a considerable distance to your venue then you may incur additional travel and/or accommodation costs for them, so go for someone local if money is an issue.

What are some of your favorite ways and times to photograph the wedding party? Before? During? After? Do you prefer candid to posed shots?

My shooting style is candid though I will take some posed shots. I personally like to shoot the wedding party during the ceremony and on location immediately after the ceremony - particularly as they interact with one another and guests. Best time of the day is definitely late afternoon, approaching "magic hour" when the light is at it's best for shooting portraits.

What are the most popular or standard wedding photos that you do? Are there various packages?

The most popular locations are the beach and the bush which I guess reflects our culture here in Australia. The most popular shots I have taken are ones where the bride and groom are having a quiet moment together as they walk away from camera and also some candid moments with their bridal party as they all laugh and chat amongst themselves. I generally take along champagne, towels and water (to wash sandy feet!) which I find generally gets the wedding party relaxed and carefree - this just creates a mood where everyone is comfortable and enjoying the moment and I find that makes for better candid photos. I am finding that these days, couples don't want formal wedding shots but pics that reflect their personalities. I do offer packages but my approach is generally to sit down with a couple and figure out what their needs and expectations are and then to present them with various tailored packages to suit their needs and budget.

Do you have a ‘most memorable’ wedding or wedding incident to share? What’s the most unusual, beautiful, or interesting place or photos you’ve ever done?

I have had a few incidents while shooting weddings - one of the most memorable was for a secluded outdoor beach wedding. The weather had been fine and hot for the weeks leading up to the wedding and on the day there was a torrential downpour and the temperature dropped to 12 degrees Celsius! The wedding limo crashed on its way to collect the bride from the hotel so the makeup artist and I were standing in the street in the rain, flagging down cars to help us try to get this bride to the ceremony. By the time we got there, the bride was wet, the guests were wet, I was wet and we were all squeezed into this tiny beachside cafe for the ceremony but for all the disasters, it was an amazing and joyous wedding!

The most unusual and interesting place for a wedding was in Melbourne at an artist’s colony called "Montsalvat". (See picture) Set in among the rural landscape, the architecture was amazing - a gothic looking church over-run with vines, a medieval inspired dining hall with stained glass windows and candelabras and the artists cottages themselves with Juliet balconies, cobbled courtyards and olive trees - it looked like Tuscany. One of my favorite wedding photos comes from this venue: a shot of the bride and groom walking down a path next to the gothic church. It was an amazing venue.

Karen Watson

Look out for the rest of her wonderfully in-depth interview on Sept 15!

Monday, September 8, 2008

I Know His Secret...

Well, so now I know what Matt was hiding from me...

He has a daughter.

My head's spinning. What do I do now? I mean, these days a child isn't such a big deal - he never married her mom, by his ex-lover's choice...but he chooses to tell me now, this day, on a staged "romantic" kidnap that isn't romantic at all. He needs me to help him babysit Molly, who's somewhat of a rebel.

Why, why didn't he tell me before? Am I so hard to confide in? What else is he hiding? It was bad enough at the engagement party, finding out another ex is his business partner - finding out about his brilliant invention that saved McLachlan's, and that everyone knew but me.

Now he has a secret daughter, who's arriving any minute.

How can I walk out? He's made it impossible for me to leave...and impossible for me to marry him. How can I trust a man with my life if he doesn't share his life, his brilliance and his child with me?


Friday, September 5, 2008

Bridal Shower Favors

I just love unique shower favors, don’t you? While cruising the internet for photos I came across some adorable ideas that I want to share with you. Www.Myweddingfavors.com had by far the cutest ideas if you’re into checking them out yourself.

Some favors were very pricey and others quite reasonable. They can range from as little as 20 cents to as much as ten dollars or more. Yikes! Most ran in the one to two dollar price range. Common ideas include votive candles, mint boxes, or candies. Take the candle a step further with something creative like this Wedding Cake Candle or have your mint box or candy bar personalized with wedding date and the couple’s names. Bottle stoppers, coasters, cookie cutters, key chains, shaped cookies, pillow sachets- all in wedding a design – also seem to be very popular choices.

Elegant little boxes such as these are pretty inexpensive but very cute. Fill them with your choice of mints, nuts, or other goodies. Tiny decorative bags are available too and very inexpensive.

You could also choose a favor to a match your party theme-seed packets for a garden party (check out the butterfly basket with wild flower seeds), fancy tea bags for the tea, chopsticks or fortune cookes for an Asian theme, ‘hot’ sauce for a kitchen theme, etc.

Remember how the Wedding Bellles loved their margaritas? Well, here’s a party favor they would adore – a margarita-shaped note pad. Chances are the Belles would throw a margarita-themed shower in the first place, so at $2.20 each, why not have a matching party favor?

Or considering the way they loved their poker games, they might have a poker party and hand out these adorable magnet favors.

For a bit more money, ($2.95) you can treat your guests to this pink polka dot purse. Inside is a little manicure set.

Gotta love these flip-flop photo frames. They would be perfect for any shower, but especially one with a beach or luau theme. They cost about $2.11 for a set of four.

And how about this measuring tape shaped like an umbrella? How cute is that?

Last of all, a gift that would make the Belle’s photographer, Regina, swoon with delight—the chic leather stiletto key chain. At $1.65, it’s not too bad. Wow! That’s one shower Regina will not miss!
Okay now, ‘fes up. What’s the best bridal shower favor you ever received? What did you have at your shower? Or what do you wish you could have had?

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A History of Wedding Cakes...and a few unusual examples

My lovely critique partner Mia Zachary found this little history for me. Enjoy!

The history of wedding cakes goes back to the time of the Romans. Usually they used loaves of wheat bread which were then broken over the newlywed’s heads to bring them luck and prosperity. (Obviously the ancient Romans did not spend several hours and several hundred dollars in the salon or else this tradition would never have gone over...)

It was considered good luck for guests to eat the wedding bread crumbs that landed on the floor. Single women scrambled for the grains to ensure their own betrothals. (It would seem the cost of catering the affair was considerably lower in ancient Rome also.)

During the middle ages, each guest brought one small bridal cake- actually simple biscuits or scones. The ‘cakes’ were piled on top of each other, and the newlyweds had to kiss across the top of the pile to bring them good luck in their marriage. (How much luck do you think a modern groom should rightly expect after squashing cake in his new wife’s face? I think “the pile kiss” is a better way to go!)

The history of wedding cakes continues to the seventeenth century, when French bakers stacked wheat buns and coated the whole lot with icing. This was the beginning of cakes starting to look like the typical cake of today- three to five squares or rounds of sponge or angelfood stacked in layers and draped with sheets of fondant and piped frosting.

Yes, modern wedding cakes came to be considered a symbol of purity and new beginnings, vanilla white cake with untouched-snow white icing… Boring.

In a modern world where most everyone wants their fifteen minutes of fame, where we struggle to be noticed amongst the constant onslaught of visual images in our daily lives (yes, blogs included!), today’s wedding cakes strive to be culinary and design extravaganzas.

The 21st Century couple wants a cake that reflects their personality, style and favorite colors. They want something that the guests will talk (or snigger - check out some of these beauties of cakes!) about for months… well, weeks… okay, a few days after the grand event.

At least until the next wedding!