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Friday, October 17, 2008

What a Romantic Wedding...by Author Michelle Douglas

I’ve never been one of those pretty, frilly kinds of girls. When the other girls in the playground started that game – the one where they planned their future weddings in minute detail: dresses, venues flowers – I’d promptly slink off to play cricket with the boys.

Don’t get me wrong I love a wedding as much as the next person. It’s just that I didn’t want one. All that planning. All the things that could go wrong. All that fuss! The thought made me break out into a cold sweat.

So I eloped.

Eloping is all about making things as fast, fun and stress-free as possible. And for what it’s worth, my five golden rules for eloping:
1. First and definitely foremost – decide if eloping is right for you. Not everyone wants stress-free, princess-free or family-free.
2. Get a marriage license – laws vary from country to country and state to state. No marriage license = no marriage = sad face.
3. Find a venue – whether that is a courthouse in your home town, a wedding chapel in Vegas or a Balinese beach, you will need to be married somewhere.
4. Plan a honeymoon – eloping does not mean foregoing the honeymoon.
5. Get married – which is, after all, the point.

Additionally, it’s wise to consider elopement etiquette.
1. Do tell your nearest and dearest what you’re planning to do. This will help allay any hurt feelings.
2. Don’t register for gifts.
3. Do have a celebration party when you return home.

So... was my day fun and stress free? You bet! Let me tell you about it...

London, January 26th 1998. The day dawned bright and clear. England was having one of its mildest winters on record. An auspicious omen? Absolutely. Furthermore, the day dawned bright and clear AND we woke up in time. Very auspicious.

I dawdled over my preparations, slipped into my chic little suit, while my tall-dark-and-handsome-soon-to-be dear husband set off to collect our wedding licence [to be eligible for said wedding license we’d had to meet a 21 day residency requirement.]. Then, with the wedding license clutched in our hot, little hands... drum roll please... we were off to be married.

We’d booked the wedding venue before leaving Australia...


The town hall, not the abbey.

At this point I’d love to tell you a story about grabbing people off the street and wheedling them into acting as witnesses, but I’m afraid we weren’t quite that blasé. We’d organised for a couple of friends who were working in London at the time to step into the breach. We were all ushered into the Blue Room at Westminster Town Hall – to find it festooned with wattle in honour of Australia Day. We’d eloped to England from Australia to get married on Australia Day! The registrar and his assistant were full of goodwill, good wishes and plain old-fashioned good fun. We filled in the paperwork, we laughed and joked...

...And then suddenly we were exchanging our wedding vows. It was the most out-of-body moment I’ve ever had. My heart swelled until I could hardly breathe. I felt so light I thought I’d float up around the ceiling. Oh, yeah, and I had this really goofy grin on my face that I couldn’t seem to wipe off (and I’d meant to be so cool and dignified).

We were married!

And it was wonderful.

Now it was time to celebrate. According to our dog-eared copy of Frommer’s 1997 Guide to London, “the best hotel in London today,” was The Dorchester. Guess where we booked our wedding night? Our two witnesses, the dh and I jumped into a black cab and headed straight there. We settled down in the bar – not too far from Liberace’s piano – and we ate, drank and were merry.

Mid-afternoon: our two witness friends left and, as the cliché goes, finally we were alone. Our room – a double deluxe with four-poster bed and views of Hyde Park – was divine. In honour of our wedding day, the hotel had a complimentary bottle of champagne on ice and a dish of handmade chocolates waiting for us. Heavenly!

[An aside here because I can’t resist: the bathrooms at the Dorchester are to die for – all grey Italian marble with bathtubs bigger than some swimming pools I’ve seen. Pure indulgence. Highly recommended.]

We didn’t leave our room for the rest of the day or night. I had the most perfectly wonderful (and stress-free) day. What’s more, I had a honeymoon in Paris to look forward to the next morning.

Would I do it all again without changing a thing? You bet.

For a chance to win a copy of– HIS CHRISTMAS ANGEL – the only book I’ve written so far that features a wedding, tell me where you’d elope to if you had the choice?

- Michelle


Blogger Julie Hilton Steele said...

Now, if I eloped, it would have to be to Paris. Lovely places to stroll from side streets to the Louvre. Great food, beautiful lodgings, and wonderful people. I love Paris so we went there for our 25th anniversary. It says something that I would want to go back rather than try a new locale.

October 17, 2008 at 5:13 AM  
Blogger Shirley Jump said...

If I could have had as cool an elopement as you, Michelle, I think I might have, though my mother would have KILLED me if she'd missed the wedding, LOL.


October 17, 2008 at 6:10 AM  
Blogger Brandy said...

Ooh, I'd loved to have eloped to Scotland. (There's just something about all those ruins. *G*)

October 17, 2008 at 12:37 PM  
Blogger Annie West said...


Talk about eloping with style. That is just so romantic! You've certainly picked a winner with that dh of yours.

Not sure where I'd elope to. Maybe Venice. A wedding there appeals, but I wouldn't understand the ceremony!

Any chance of you writing an elopement story some time? I could imagine it working a treat, after having read your other fantastic stories.


October 17, 2008 at 2:10 PM  
Blogger Michelle Douglas said...

Julie, we did consider trying to meet the requirements for getting married in Paris (dreaming of the steps at Sacre Coure) but in the end we decided to honeymoon there instead. And you are so right! It is just the most wonderfully beautiful and romantic place.

October 17, 2008 at 2:19 PM  
Blogger Michelle Douglas said...

Shirley - ah, yes, mothers. I was a little sneaky. I had a 2 year engagement and floated the idea of an elopement really early on... and slowly my family became used to it.

Oh yeah, and it helped that my sister did the wedding thing a few months before too (I thank all the powers that be for sisters).

October 17, 2008 at 2:23 PM  
Blogger Michelle Douglas said...

Ooh, Brandy, Scotland! I've been a lover of Georgette Heyer regencies forever, so the Gretna Green was the very first location that popped into my head when the dh and I decided to elope. All that mist and the brooding hills - so gothic. And most people think I'm crazy, but I love the sound of bagpipes ( I have Scotland The Brave on my iPod).

October 17, 2008 at 2:27 PM  
Blogger Michelle Douglas said...

Hello, Annie. it's great to see you here! Thank you for the kind words. (I swear, I'm blushing)

Ooh, Venice! Another beautiful and romantic city - I so want to go there. Like you, though, the language barrier may have proved a problem. I would've had to learn enough Italian to at least understand what I was agreeing to (the mind suddenly boggles with story possibilities!) Hmm... an elopement story...

I will if you will.

October 17, 2008 at 2:37 PM  
Blogger Monique Wood said...

Hi Michelle,

I'd have to agree with Annie. Venice would be the place I'd elope to. I thought it was the most romantic place I visited in Europe. Fortunately my parents are Italian so I'd understand some of the ceremony! Lol.

Apart from that, well, a tropical island would be another option, or maybe a castle somewhere. I went for a very traditional wedding myself, but if my daughter decided to elope (mind you, she's only 2) I'd support it... as long as I liked the groom!

By the way, do I detect Michelle and Annie will be doing a series based on elopement stories?! Very interesting if you two did!

October 17, 2008 at 3:05 PM  
Blogger Michelle Douglas said...

Hi, Monique. Hmm... another vote for Venice. I think I better put Venice down as the ideal destination for one of those BIG wedding anniversaries.

Living in Australia, I do occasionally see a magazine spread with a beach wedding theme and they really do look wonderful. Imagine a wedding on a beach at The Great Barrier Reef or in the Whitsundays... or Tahiti. It'd be divine.

But you're right, of course. As long as the bride and groom love each other, nothing else matters.

I have to admit, I hadn't considered an elopement story until Annie mentioned it earlier. Hmm... dueling elopement stories... What do you think, Annie?

October 17, 2008 at 4:25 PM  
Blogger Monique Wood said...

I know, in Australia we're spoilt for choice - there are plenty of gorgeous beaches to elope on!

I think you and Annie should challenge each other to produce some elopement stories. Rope in a few other authors to join you. It would certainly keep 'The Wedding Planners' blog busy!

Funny, I made a brief mention of my wedding in my blog yesterday, and included pics. I just LOVE weddings! I never get tired of them!

October 17, 2008 at 5:06 PM  
Blogger Michelle Douglas said...

Ooh, I just popped over to your blog, Monique, to have a look at your wedding pics. You look gorgeous and glowing! Definitely a bride in love.

October 17, 2008 at 6:33 PM  
Blogger Monique Wood said...

Thanks, Michelle! It was a beautiful day. Not sure if I could fit in the dress now after having two kids! Lol.

October 17, 2008 at 11:43 PM  
Blogger Annie West said...

Michelle and Monique,

Is that a dare? 'I will if you will' certainly sounds like it! Hm, haven't written an elopement story. That's got the mind working... However, as I've just got my editor's agreement to write a reunion story I'll have to hold the thought for the moment.

Michelle, I can feel some wonderful brainstorming sessions coming on! An elopement to Venice...? Ooh, now I want to finish this book I'm only just starting and begin playing with new ideas.


October 18, 2008 at 12:10 AM  
Blogger Serena said...

Oh boy, where to elope to? It would HAVE to be Italy. Having grown up speaking a dialect of Italian and married into a family that actually speaks *proper* Italian - I would still go for somewhere in Italy. I, too, loved Venezia (Venice). My family are from Trieste, but I adored Vicenza (part of the Veneto region) and Roma. I think I'd have to pick Roma - for the rich heritage, the beautiful surroundings, the vibe of the place. SIGH. A wonderfully romantic place to elope to! (though my hubby might not approve ;-P)

Serena, Melbourne, Australia

October 18, 2008 at 12:28 AM  
Blogger Michelle Douglas said...

I know where you're coming from, Monique. I doubt that I could squeeze into my chic little suit now and I don't have the excuse of having children!

October 18, 2008 at 1:15 AM  
Blogger Michelle Douglas said...

Annie, am seriously looking forward to reading your reunion story - no doubt it will be full of emotion and passion like all your wonderful stories.

However, I have to agree - I'm finding a sudden appeal in an elopement story. I'll meet you around the brainstorming table!

October 18, 2008 at 1:18 AM  
Blogger Michelle Douglas said...

Wow, with all that history in your family, Serena, I should imagine you'd feel right at home in Italy. And, no doubt, you'd understand the wedding service!

One day I swear I shall travel to Roma and throw a coin in the Trevi Fountain.

Thanks for dropping by!

October 18, 2008 at 1:21 AM  
Blogger Annie West said...

Serena, another vote for Venice! Monique and I have started a trend. I bet you'd be able to find the best place in the city too to be married. If your husband doesn't approve you need to take him with you. Then he'd approve, especially if you plied him with delicious Italian goodies!

Michelle, I'm blushing. Thanks for the compliments. Seriously a plotting session should be fun. I still have a few issues to work out with the current (barely started) one, but it doesn't hurt to think ahead! With you being an expert on elopements I can't wait. I wonder what the pitfalls of planning an elopement are. For, of course, our elopements can't be too easy (G).

October 18, 2008 at 1:27 AM  
Blogger Monique Wood said...

Michelle - when you eventually get to the Trevi fountain one day, make sure you try the gelato at the shop next to it. It's divine!

Serena - my parents speak both dialect and 'proper' Italian, so I know what you mean! My dad's from Lombardia, also in the north, and not far from where your family is from. He's from a little Village on Lake Como not too far from George Clooney's villa. Hmmmmm. Think I need to make a visit!

Annie - It IS a dare!! Lol. Too bad I can't harass you about it in person on the 30th!

October 18, 2008 at 1:35 AM  
Blogger Michelle Douglas said...

I have to admit, Venice does seem to be garnering a lot of votes (I so have to go there!).

Annie, you're right, of course. The elopements can't be too easy... Am starting to wonder... a long time ago I wrote a story (which in it's current form will never see the light of day) but two best friends eloped from Oz to Vegas. Hmm... That plotting session you mentioned, I'll bring the chocolate if you bring the coffee!

October 18, 2008 at 2:31 AM  
Blogger Michelle Douglas said...

Omigod, Monique! You know that there's a gelato shop next to the Trevi fountain?

Mmm... divine Italian coffee, a coin in the Trevi fountain, followed by a gelato. Sounds like an afternoon pleasantly spent, doesn't it?

October 18, 2008 at 2:33 AM  
Blogger Monique Wood said...


It's sad when you remember what you ate and where on a holiday :-)I think we ate our way through Italy!

If you ever plan a trip there, give yourself a few weeks. My hubby and I went from Venice to Florence, Rome, and along the Amalfi Coast, staying in Sorrento. Made a visit to Pompeii which was amazing - we spent 6 hours there!

If you do a lot of walking you burn all the food off, especially in summer. You eat the food of whatever region you're in, and make sure you try a nip of limoncello if you ever make it to Sorrento!

I think you need to book a trip for 'research' purposes and get yourself over there quick smart! And don't worry, they speak English everywhere :-)

October 18, 2008 at 2:44 AM  
Blogger Annie West said...

Monique, what a coincidence! Truly. I'm just starting a new story. One I've had in mind for quite some time. My hero is from Lombardia, in fact from the vicinity of Lake Como, because I fell in love with that area when I visited there many, many years ago. And speaking of remembering food on travels - I had my first ever lemon gelato at Lake Como! Faaaantastic!

Monique, I'm sorry too that you can't make the Sydney library talk on the 30th. But no doubt there'll be other times.

Michelle, you're bringing choccies? How could I resist? OK, I'll line up the coffee. This should be fun. You might use your Las Vegas story as a starting point? The more I hear about some of the wedding chapels there the more amazed I am!

Are there any other favourite spots for an elopement?


October 18, 2008 at 5:27 PM  
Blogger Michelle Douglas said...

Monique - you've convinced me! I have to eat my way through Italy.

October 18, 2008 at 5:53 PM  
Blogger Michelle Douglas said...

Annie - Lake Como sounds so romantic. And, uh, is it lunchtime yet because lemon gelato is sounding seriously good!

So... for this brainstorming session of ours... We have coffee and chocolate... a wedding chapel in Las Vegas and... perhaps some lemon gelato?

Yep, definitely lunchtime.

October 18, 2008 at 5:57 PM  
Blogger Annie West said...

Michelle, what a pity we don't have a private jet. We could do some research for my current book at Lake Como and sample the ice cream then duck over to Las Vegas and brainstorm some elopements!

And yes, it's definitely lunchtime.


October 18, 2008 at 6:10 PM  
Blogger Michelle Douglas said...

Hi guys,

I want to thank everyone for coming to talk to me. It was great reading where you'd like to elope to if you had the chance.

For sheer enthusiasm - and convincing me I have to eat my way through Italy - Monique is the winner of a copy of His Christmas Angel. Monique, if you'd like to email me at michelle@michelle-douglas.com with your postal address, I'll pop a copy of the book in the post for you.

Thanks again everyone.


October 19, 2008 at 5:14 PM  
Blogger Monique Wood said...

Aw, thanks, Michelle! I'm so excited! It was a fun topic :-)

October 19, 2008 at 10:07 PM  

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