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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Year's Eve

As 2008 comes to a close, I can't help but think about how the Wedding Planners were so much a part of my year. The blog debuted, the books went on sale and the friendship between the six of us authors deepened. Our Yahoo group loop is as busy as it was when this whole thing started. We talk about writing, but also our lives-our families and our dreams.

I can't tell you how much Shirley, Myrna, Linda, Susan and Lisa mean to me. When we talked about friends writing about friends we weren't kidding! That's one reason we plan on continuing this blog into 2009! I don't think any of us are ready to say goodbye to the Wedding Planners or each other even though we're all concentrating on our own stories now.

I hope you'll join us here at the Wedding Planners in 2009 as we not only continue talking about weddings, but expand the blog to other topics that might be our minds at the moment!

In honor of New Year's Eve, I thought I'd share a romantic scene from a movie that takes place as the clock strikes twelve and the new year arrives. Enjoy!

Happy New Year from all of us at The Wedding Planners!

Melissa M

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Monday, December 29, 2008

Magical Cookies make for a Magical Love Story

This month, I have a new release, Marry-Me Christmas, which is still in stores, if you're looking for a Christmas read with a mix of yummy treats (lots and lots of cookies in this story, including some magical ones, rumored to make people fall in love) and a snowstorm or two. Not to mention a hunky hero who has quit believing in Christmas, and a heroine who loves the holiday.

I always write my Christmas stories during the Christmas season (I just finished writing next year's A Princess for Christmas a week or so ago) because it's so much easier for me to get into that holiday mood. I'm already wrapped up in decorations and Bing Crosby tunes, and last year was no exception.

It helps, of course, if there's a nice little snowstorm brewing outside (which keeps me from venturing out to the mall too often ;-). And, when the holiday is over and I'm not quite ready to give up the tree or the ornaments, writing or reading a holiday story helps me to hold onto Christmas just a little longer. Not just the love stories, but the best of the spirit and the happiness that is the wonderfulness of the season.

I hope all of you and yours had a wonderful holiday season!


Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Last Blogs of 2008...

This has been an amazing year with these ladies and with our readers! We've truly enjoyed each and every post, and every comment! And yes, we are continuing the blog next year, with more guests and more from our team of authors.

As we come to a close this year, we have blog posts this week from me :-), Melissa and Susan. Melissa always has the most interesting topics (climbing...something I couldn't imagine doing because I'm a high heel girl ;-) and Susan always got something helpful to say :-). Me, I'm...not, LOL. But I try my best!

So let me say thank you for reading with us this year and I hope you stay with us into 2009!


Friday, December 26, 2008

'Tis the day after Christmas...

‘Tis the day after Christmas and all through the house,
Everyone is chillin’, including my spouse…..

Okay, I admit it. Bad poetry. But it’s the day after a wonderful, wonderful Christmas at the Goodnight house and I’m not thinking about weddings. My mind is still on that special day that our family sets aside to celebrate Christ’s birth and about the incredible flow of love that circulates through my house each Christmas.

As I reflect back on the day, something occurred to me. Though many nice gifts were exchanged, it wasn’t what I got that made the day so special (for me), it was what I did. Last night, my daughter and I attended a candlelight church service and then came home to watch the movie, The Nativity Story, with my husband. It was lovely and set the tone for the best, most peaceful, content, and joyous Christmas I can remember in a long time.

One of my sons received a special gift this Christmas. But even though the gift was phenomenal, he admits that the best thing about it was the way his wife worked so hard to keep it secret and surprise him in an unusual way (with a little help from the rest of our big, crazy family.)

I hope you found something special to enjoy about Christmas this year. If you did, please tell us. Was it a gift? Something you did? Something someone did for you? Please share. It’s the day after Christmas. I’m feeling all mellow and would love to hear all about it.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas to All of You!

Christmas can be such a romantic time of the year and here at The Wedding Planners we're all about romance. Here's a montage of (mostly) romantic scenes from movies.

Wishing all of you joys of the season and a very Merry Christmas from The Wedding Planners!

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Friday, December 19, 2008

More Wedding Movies!

I have two wedding movies for you to check out.

The first is a made-for-TV movie that premieres on Lifetime Saturday December 20th at 9:00 pm et/pt. It's called A Very Merry Daughter of the Bride. Here's the description from mylifetime.com:
A twenty-something wedding planner disapproves of her forty-something widowed mother's whirlwind romance. Her mother has been a devoted single parent, but now she wants to create a fulfilling new life for herself. Unable to stop the wedding, the daughter decides to take control of it, and hopefully find a way to persuade her mother this is a bad idea. It takes comedic disasters and emotional confessions before the daughter discovers that letting go works both ways. An unexpected romantic development in her own life, makes her truly understand how her mom feels, and motivates her to whole-heartedly give her mom away.

A Christmas movie with a wedding! Sounds right up my alley.

Coming to theaters on January 9th is Bride Wars. It looks like it'll be a funny movie, but boy, oh, boy would I not want to be the wedding planner for these two. Check out the trailer:

I'll wait for the reviews to see if this is something I see in the theaters or wait for the DVD, but I do like the actresses in it. Candice Bergen as a wedding planner should be good, too!

Any movies on your must-see list?

Melissa McClone


Thursday, December 18, 2008

Winner of the Countdown to Christmas Contest

I just wanted to announce that Brandy is the winner of the third Countdown to Christmas Contest I've been running (a book and a grab bag), so Brandy, congratulations! Email me at myrnamackenzie@yahoo.com with the title of the book you'd like and an address I can send your prize to.

Thank you, everyone, for your comments!

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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

It's a Wonderful...Movie

I admit it, I’m a sucker for “It’s a Wonderful Life.” It’s the first movie I set up to tape as soon as the holiday season arrives, and the only one I’ll watch more than once. I do indulge in “Rudolph” and “Frosty” (the original Animatronic versions), but they’re not on my have-to-see list like the original Frank Capra version of “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

I’m not sure why that movie is on my must-see list. There are plenty of other movies I love, plenty of others that scream Christmas, but this one…

It just seems to grab me in a way none of the others do. Maybe it’s Zuzu’s petals. Maybe it’s the way the whole town comes together at the end, and how it just grabs my heart. Maybe it’s the simple love story between George and Mary, the kind of elemental romance that every romance in the world must be based upon.

Or maybe it’s the lessons in the movie. The basic good versus evil, home is where your heart is, and finding gratitude and happiness in what you have and where you are, rather than always looking for the greener grass elsewhere. Not to mention the message about coming together to support the ones you love. One of my all-time favorite scenes is the one when Officer Bert and cab driver Ernie create a honeymoon “retreat” in the abandoned house (which looks an awful lot like the first house my husband and I bought, LOL), and do their best to bring poor, hard-working George a night to remember with his beautiful bride—after the bridal couple had to abandon their original honeymoon plans. Those are true friends, and that town is the kind we all wish we could live in, isn’t it?

So this Christmas season, I’ll be cozying up with a glass of wine, a thick blanket and my daughter (who also loves this movie) to watch George and Mary fall in love all over again, and to see Bedford Falls come together for one of their own. Once again, we’ll count our blessings, and our gratitude for the special people in our lives.

After all, isn’t that what Christmas is all about, after all?

Tell me, what’s your favorite, can’t miss holiday movie?


Monday, December 15, 2008

This Week!

I was staring at my calendar this morning, wondering why the day looked "important" and suddenly realized I wasn't merely supposed to post a blog today; yesterday, I was also supposed to introduce the blogs for the week.

I have no excuse except that I got involved in J R Ward's new book! LOL

I'm also burning out on the wedding theme. Worse, I'm burning out on Christmas!

I hate when this happens. In July, I'll be huming Christmas songs and sipping hot cocoa, wishing for December. But the actual running around, shopping, wrapping, gift buying overwhelms me around right now.

So I felt really lucky this morning as I was cruising our local discount department store, buying cookie ingredients. I found the cutest pair of monkey slippers for my nephew. $5.

The bargain seriously lifted my spirits. But the fact that the slippers were little monkeys just cracked me up. While all my other nieces and nephews went to the annual Halloween Parade dressed as a member of the Flintstones, my nephew Jake (who is 4) insisted on being a monkey with a banana in his pocket.

None of us can really figure out how a kid's mind works, but finding those slippers gave me back my joy. Right gift, right price, for the perfect kid.

I suppose you're now all wondering how I'm going to bring this around to a wedding theme...It's simple. Brides are going to burn out on planning. Bridesmaids will burn out even more quickly. And moms and dads of the bride and groom...there's probably therapy in your future.

Unless you find a way to laugh. Unless you take time out to celebrate the "other" things that are happening in the year before "the wedding".

So if you're a bride, do yourself -- and your family and wedding party -- a favor and make a vow not to talk about your wedding for the next two weeks.

Celebrate Christmas!

susan meier

Friday, December 12, 2008

Since we started this blog, I've spent a lot of time taking note of unconventional ways people have chosen to get married (really, I'm amazed at how creative some people can be).

But as the mother of runners I was especially interested in a story about 47 couples who either got married or renewed their vows at the Las Vegas Half Marathon last weekend.

This has apparently been a tradition for several years with the number of couples growing. The runners start off and at the five-mile mark they stop at a drive through wedding chapel for a brief ceremony. This year the pastor ran the race, too. She stopped to don her robes and performed the group wedding ceremony at a pulpit set up outside the chapel.

Some of those getting married were runners who wanted their wedding to reflect their passion for the sport and some saw it as an interesting way to elope. One of my favorite stories from this event was the marriage of Adrian Broca, the fastest blind runner in the country who married his fiancé, Brenda Arechiga, who, in addition to running part of the race and getting married was also in charge of coordinating all the Elvis runners in the race (yes, it's Vegas and lots of people arrive in the costume of The King). The women in their wedding party dressed as showgirls in pink tutus and feathers (and yes, I wish I had a photo of that).

So, just when you think you've seen every innovative way to get married, you discover that you haven't. I do think the congratulatory hugs and kisses might have been interesting, however. I've hugged my sons after they've run many a race. You have to love someone a lot to do that (and wear clothing that you don't mind getting a little…soggy).

Still, this sounded like fun!

Also, before I close this piece, I do have two more small announcements to make. The first is that I just found out that my Wedding Planners book, The Heir's Convenient Wife, is a finalist in the Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice Awards! It's a nice way to end my week.

In addition, I'd like to let everyone know that I still have one more Countdown to Christmas Contest going on over at my website (as well as a new quarterly contest), but if you comment on this blog between now and December 17th, I'll automatically enter you in both contests.

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Monday, December 8, 2008

Chocolate Diamonds--How Yummy!

Choosing a wedding ring becomes more complicated all the time—but oh what a delicious problem to have. So many diamonds to choose from. And now I’ve discovered an even more delicious type of stone--the chocolate diamond! I’m probably behind the times but I had never heard of chocolate diamonds until a TV ad introduced them to me today. A little research shows such an ordinary beginning for these luscious sounding treasures. In fact, brown diamonds occur naturally and until some very smart jeweler changed their name, they were considered of lower quality simply because of their color. But LaVian and his designers created some fabulous settings, changed the ordinary sounding name (brown) to something that most women find irresistible (chocolate) and soon any number of celebrities were sporting the diamonds around Hollywood. Now the gem is a hot item and likely to get hotter because the only known source for true chocolate diamonds is in a single mine in Australia.

So what do you think? Chocolate or clear? Or a beautiful mix of both?
(Just writing this made me crave Godiva chocolates!--I think the photo below actually looks like a heart-shaped box of candy, don't you?)

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Upcoming this week!

Monday Linda Goodnight will be blogging about a yummy jewel.

Wednesday Melissa James stops by.

Friday Myrna MacKenzie is here. I'm sure both authors will have something terrific to share.

Don't forget that "Her Baby's First Christmas" by Susan Meier and "Marry-Me Christmas" by Shirley Jump are on the shelves right now! There's nothing like a Christmas romance to get you in the mood for the holidays, so hurry out and grab both while they're still available. Then when you get home, take a little time for yourself, fix a nice hot choocolate, light a Christmas candle, and enjoy two terrific stories!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Worn Out, Needs Replaced

I've been married nearly twenty years. When I was a bright-eyed, blushing, excited bride-to-be all those years ago, I didn't really think about what things would be like two decades down the road.

How worn out things would get.

How I'd tire of the same things, day in, day out.

How I'd wish for something with a little more pizzazz. Something to jazz up what I already have.

No, I'm not talking about my husband :-) I'm keeping him ;-). I'm talking about all the bridal shower gifts. Twenty years ago, the toaster and dish towels were shiny and beautiful. Now they're dull and worn (actually I'm now on my third toaster). The few wine glasses that have survived for two decades are mis-matched, and the bedding is so worn it's see-through.

It's time for all new stuff. Top to bottom, a household replacement. The problem? My husband learned pretty early on NOT TO BUY THE WIFE HOUSEHOLD STUFF FOR ANY OCCASION. He once bought me a blender.


So now, when I put stuff like "new pots and pans" on my Christmas list, he backs away, hands up. No way, he says, is he going anywhere near that. He's learned his lesson, and he's not making that mistake again. Okay, so he's not going to buy any of that.

Second problem? He also doesn't see the need for replacing any of that stuff. If the dishtowel still has a single fiber left in it, hey, it will still dry a dish. This is the same man who didn't want to replace our living room sofa until it was down to ONE SPRING. One. I have yet to be able to argue my way into all new kitchen, bedroom and bath stuff. So, I've come up with a solution.

A mid-life bridal shower.

Hey, people renew their vows, right? Why not renew the house? Of course, my friends aren't exactly seeing the need to pony up cash for my house, but if we all conspired together and did it for each other all at the same time, it'd be the equivalent of buying it for ourselves, pretty much. We could register and everything. Do it as a group--there's power in numbers. And in the end, we'd all have our kitchens, baths and bedrooms outfitted with new pots and pans, towels and sheets.

And be all set for another twenty years ;-)



I'm pleased to announce my first Christmas release for Harlequin Romance will be out next week. HER BABY'S FIRST CHRISTMAS is a wonderful story of two people going home for the holidays. One eager to find a place where she fits; the other desperate to avoid commitments and entanglements because of an unhappy past. Both discovering that happiness can be found in the most unexpected places.

Here's a sample...

Jared Johnson drove his black SUV out of the basement parking garage of Clover Valley Luxury Apartments onto the street and saw Elise McDermott standing on the corner in the pouring rain. Suitcase, diaper bag and small boxlike container on the sidewalk beside her feet, she held her baby in a carrier, which she protectively sheltered with her umbrella.

But the storm was relentless and Jared suspected it wouldn't take more than a minute or two before Elise and her baby would be soaking wet. Angry with her for standing in the rain with a baby, when she could be in their building lobby, he stopped his SUV and hit the button that lowered the passenger side window.

Leaning across his seat, he yelled, "What the hell are you doing out in this storm with a baby!"

"I'm waiting for a taxi to take me to the bus station."

With the window down he could hear the heavy California rain as it pounded his windshield, roof and hood. Obviously thinking he'd yelled to be heard over the noise and not out of anger, she stepped closer. Her pretty green eyes were dull with worry. Her thick, curly red hair danced around her in the wind.

"But I've been waiting a while. And the schedule I have has the bus leaving in a little over an hour. If I miss it I won't get to North Carolina in time to do everything I need to do before Christmas. Do you think my taxi forgot me?"

"Yes!" Guilt stabbed him. She wasn't standing in the rain like a ninny with no place to go. It sounded as if she was on her way home for the holiday. To her real home. Not a condo she was house-sitting as she'd been for the past six months for Michael Feeney while he was in Europe. And her taxi had forgotten her. She wasn't a scatterbrain. He had to stop jumping to the conclusion that everybody who did anything out of the realm of what he considered normal was somehow wrong.

Annoyed with himself, he sighed and glanced at his watch before he shoved his gearshift into Park. He was way too early for his flight anyway.

He jumped out of his SUV and rounded the hood. He knew from experience there was only one way to deal with his guilt. Penance.

"How about if I give you a ride to the bus station?"

Elise McDermott stared at dark-haired, gray-eyed, absolutely gorgeous Jared Johnson. He wore an expensive raincoat over a dark suit, white shirt and tie, and was currently getting drenched because he didn't have an umbrella. When she agreed to house-sit for Michael Feeney, Michael had told her Jared was the person to call if anything happened while he was away. He'd laughingly said Jared was grouchy but once he got over being disturbed, he would always come through, if only out of guilt. Jared had probably offered her a ride because he'd felt bad about yelling at her.

"I'd love a ride, but you're obviously on your way somewhere and I don't want to be any trouble."

He reached for her suitcase. "No trouble."

She put her hand over his on the handle. "I'm serious. You were going somewhere and I don't like to be a bother." He might want to make up for yelling at her, but he didn't have to. Being alone and pregnant she'd learned to stand on her own two feet. She didn't need to be coddled. "I'll call another cab."

"I'm on my way to the airport. But I'm early. Way too early. You'll be doing me a favor if you let me make the side trip to the bus station. I won't have to sit in the airport lounge for three hours."


Before she could argue any further, he pulled on the suitcase, easily wrestling it away from her. "Come on."

She opened her mouth to stop him, but the wind caught her umbrella and she couldn't hold it. The rush of air jerked the handle out of her grip and it took off like a kite.

He nodded at the baby seat. "You buckle her in," he said, shouting over the noise of the storm as he began walking to the rear of the SUV. "I'll put these in the back."

She shook her head. Lord, he was persistent--and she was getting drenched. Since he was offering to do what she'd have to pay a cab to do, she supposed she'd be foolish to argue.

By the time he had her gear stowed, she was almost done with the baby. She clicked the final strap, shut the back door and settled into the passenger seat of his SUV. He slid behind the steering wheel and closed the door. Suddenly it was blessedly dry and quiet.

He hit the buttons to activate the heater and she glanced at all bells and whistles in his obviously expensive vehicle. "Wow. It's so quiet in here."

"That's one of the car's selling points. It's quiet."

"Yeah, quiet and. . . wonderful. Holy cow. This must have cost a chunk of change."

"It's nothing compared to the things my clients drive."

"It might be nothing compared to your clients' rides--" According to the building rumor mill, the guy in the penthouse--as Jared was known to most of the residents—was the attorney for several recording artists, one recording studio and a few movie stars, so she didn't doubt his clients drove incredibly fancy cars. "But compared to the rest of us, you're sitting pretty."

Her praise seemed to make him uncomfortable and he shifted on his seat. His jaw tightened. "I wasn't always well-off."

Because she didn'tknow him, had only seen him a few times in the lobby waiting for the elevator to his penthouse, she had no idea why he'd be upset to have money. But since she'd never see him again, it didn't matter. He was who he was. Rich. She was who she was—a single mom without an extra cent to spare. Six years ago when her mother died she'd left North Carolina with her boyfriend Patrick with big dreams, but she'd ended up supporting him. When she'd gotten pregnant he'd left as if his feet were on fire. She and Jared Johnson had nothing in common and there was no sense pretending they did by making mindless small talk.

She settled into the bucket seat and closed her eyes.

Besides, she had a few things to think about. She was returning to North Carolina, but not the small town she grew up in. She'd inherited her grandmother's house in the town right beside it. She was going to the hometown of her father. The guy who had left her mom. The guy she didn't even know. And she wasn't sure whether the good people of Four Corners, North Carolina, would welcome her with open arms, or treat her like the plague. She only knew the grandmother she'd never met had left her a piece of property. A place she could sell, hopefully for enough money to buy a home to raise her baby.

The same grandmother who hadn't even wanted to meet her, hadn't acknowledged her as her kin, had given her her first break in life.

And she'd be a fool not to take it.

Suddenly the SUV was so quiet Jared could hear his own breathing. This was a bad idea. Elise was virtually a stranger and here they were, trapped in a car for at least twenty minutes, with nothing to talk about. He fixed his eyes on the road, occasionally glancing at the shops lining the street, then he saw the Christmas tree in front of Meg's Memory Mart, growing in a pot big enough to accommodate a four-foot fir, covered in blinking lights and tinsel. His heart caught. His breath shivered.


She's gone.

He shifted on the seat, struggling to rein in a flood of memories. He had to get a hold of himself now, before his plane landed in New York. If he didn't, his pain would be infinitely worse when he got to the city where every damned thing on every damned street would remind him of the absolutely perfect life he'd lost. He couldn't cancel his trip. After five years of his finding excuses not to come home, his parents had threatened to come to California with their friend "the shrink" if he backed out this year. They didn't think it was natural for him to stay away as long as he had. They thought he was just a little bit crazy. He had to show them he was okay.

Even if he wasn't a hundred percent sure he was.

Blocking that last thought, he fixed his mind on upcoming contract negotiations for one of his clients, and the rest of the drive to the bus station passed in silence. He pulled up to the curb and Elise eagerly jumped out when he stopped the car. He climbed out of his side of the vehicle and headed for the back of the SUV.

"Here," he said, grabbing her suitcase before she could. "I'll get these. You get the baby."

"That's okay. I can handle it."

"I'm sure you can. But I've got plenty of time. Think of this as part of the way I'm wasting those three hours before my flight."

She rolled her eyes but strode to the side of his vehicle, letting him unload her things. He added her six-pack-size cooler and diaper bag to the suitcase he already had, and walked to the passenger's side of the SUV where she was getting her baby from the backseat.

She arranged the baby carrier in her right hand and motioned for him to slide the straps for the diaper bag and cooler to her shoulder. "I'll take those."

She wasn't going to let him help her into the bus station? That was ridiculous. She could barely carry all these things.

Still, rather than argue, he said, "Okay," and slid the bag and cooler in place before setting the suitcase at her feet for her to take. Then he surprised her by removing the baby carrier handle from her right hand. "I'll take the baby."

"We're fine."

"I'm sure you are, but I'm happy to hold her while you get your tickets."


"I know. Fine. But I have time and I can use it to save you the trouble of juggling the baby while you buy your bus tickets."

"You know, you wouldn't have to pay penance for the guilt you feel when you yell at people if you'd simply stop yelling at people."

It surprised him that she caught on to the guilt and penance thing he had going and that unexpectedly struck him as funny. Despite himself, he smiled. "Why do you think I usually just don't talk to people?"

"I thought you were a snob."

That made him out-and-out laugh. She gave him a strange look, but turned away and marched into the bus station. He followed, glancing down at the baby in the carrier. "Hey, Molly."

The chubby, curly-haired baby grinned at him, her toothless gums exposed, spit bubbles forming at the corner of her mouth. ...


Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The Wedding Planners at PHS

I'm guest blogging at the Pink Heart Society blog today. A few of the Wedding Planner authors helped out by giving me links to tasty holiday treats! I hope you'll stop by, say hi and see what we'll be cooking this month!


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Monday, December 1, 2008

My Christmas Wedding

For as long as I could remember, I dreamed of getting married at Christmastime. It's such a special time of year, and I felt in my heart it would be a lovely time for a wedding. When my then-boyfriend proposed a few days before Christmas, I knew my dream was going to come true. I'd have a year to plan a spectacular Christmas wedding in San Francisco!

I started imagining the day right away. A full nuptial Mass at my parish, St. Vincent de Paul, in Pacific Heights followed by a reception. I wanted somewhere with a historic feel. The leading reception site was the Sherman House, a Victorian Inn also in Pacific Heights.

And then real life and something called cancer got in the way. We moved our wedding up to April in hopes that my fiance's ill father could attend. We also moved the wedding from San Francisco to New York. We had a lovely wedding and reception with forty of our closest friends and family. I couldn't imagine a nicer day.

But when I was asked to take part in a Silhouette Romance continuity and told I'd be a December 2003 release with a heroine who was a florist, I knew I'd been given a chance to actually have my Christmas wedding in the pages of the book. So here it is with only a few changes (a small town vs. the big city!)

From Chapter One, Santa Brought a Son, Book 4 of Marrying the Boss's Daughter, December 2003:

Samantha Wilson stood midway up the aisle of the empty church holding the bridesmaid bouquet she'd found on the altar and surveyed her work. On the end of each pew, a miniature wreath decorated with tiny berries, cinnamon sticks and pinecones hung from red-and-green plaid ribbon tied in bows. At the front of the church, potted red and white poinsettias created a cascading effect on the steps leading up to the altar. And the altar was dressed with fresh pine boughs and garland. Pinecones, holly, berries and the same red-and-green ribbon from the pew wreaths provided a splash of color and texture to the greenery that filled the church with a christmasy pine scent.

From Chapter Two:

As the new Mr. and Mrs. Mark Slayter finished their stroll down the aisle to the tune of Beethoven's Ode to Joy, the bells in the steeple chimed. Reed followed the stream of wedding guests outside to the steps of the 275-year-old church. People milled about as if it were a spring afternoon, not early December with a wintry chill in the air.

"I'm Rebecca," an attractive woman with hazel-green eyes said to him. "Are you a friend of the groom or the bride?"

"The groom," Reed answered. "Rebecca Donnelly, right?"

"You know my name, but I'm positive we've never met." She smiled seductively. "I would never forget a man like you."

"You sat next to me in physics and world history senior year." Her blank stare didn't surprise him. "Reed Connors."

Her mouth gaped. "I'm sorry, Reed. I didn't recognize you."

"That's okay," he said. "I only lived in Fernville a couple of years. No reason for you to remember me."

She pursed her glossed lips. "Can I make it up to you?"

"Possibly." His hint of suggestiveness left Rebecca nodding and batting her heavily mascara-covered eyes.

As he made the one block stroll to the reception, Reed searched for his friends from high school. They had to be here, but he didn't see them. He reached the reception site, the town's recreation center. An odd choice for a wedding reception considering he used to compete in chess tournaments here. The only difference between then and now was a new sign out front.

Inside, a framed picture of Mark and Kelli sat on an easel. A white mat with guests' signatures and greetings surrounded the photo. Reed picked up the pen, scribbled the words "May the force be with you as you live long and prosper together" and signed his name. Mark would understand as only a former Star Wars/Trekkie geek would.

With his seat-assignment card in hand, Reed stepped through the pine-garland trimmed entrance to the multipurpose room and was transported from the recreation center's nondescript decor into a romantic winter wonderland.

The scent of pine permeated the air. White gauzy fabric with sparkling snowflakes on it covered the walls. Garland entwined with white lights was draped over them. Next to the dance floor stood a twelve-foot Christmas tree decorated with white lights, red bows and crystal hearts. A smiling angel, with wings spread wide, graced the top of the tall tree. Reed's assistant had sent a gift for him, and he wondered if it was under the tree with the other wedding presents.

Had Samantha done all this? The girl he remembered hadn't seemed interested in flowers unless they were for a prom corsage. Thought she'd been more concerned about whether they clashed with the color and style of her dress. But Reed had thought he'd seen more in here. Too bad he'd been wrong.

Reed passed a group of carolers dressed like characters from a Dickens novel and made his way to the center of the room.

And then a little later in Chapter Two:

She picked up the smaller throw-away bouquet made with fire-and-ice roses and sprigs of pine and made her way through the crowded room to the dance floor. The sweet scent of the roses tickled her nostrils, reminding her this was a wedding not a wake.

It was fun to write my Christmas wedding day, but honestly, I wouldn't change anything from my real one except for having my father-in-law there and my sister, who'd given birth to her first child and didn't feel up to making the cross-country trip.

Did you ever think about what kind of wedding you wanted to have? How did reality compare to the wedding of your dreams?

Melissa McClone

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