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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Rehersals and Weddings

Today's guest blogger is Harlequin Romance author Donna Alward. Donna also oversees the Harlequin Romance Authors blog for which of all of Wedding Planners are most grateful for. We think you'll like Donna, too, once you read her post today. Enjoy!

Like most events in life surrounded by romance and hype and sentimentality, (Christmas anyone?) weddings are the most beautiful and also one of the most stressful events we’ll ever go through.

To be honest, most of my wedding planning was stress free. I had my dress well in advance and I loved it. We booked the church and the reception venue with a minimum of fuss. We had a few moments of head exploding frustration as we did our own invitations (and spent an outrageous amount of money on a colour inkjet printer, long since obsolete). We were so on the ball that my mum even went on a trip for the entire month before the wedding, coming back only 10 days before the big day.

But as most brides know, that’s all the easy stuff. Because it’s the last 24 hours that everything comes together and when there is the most potential for things to go wrong.

The first thing that happened was we realized that the cake topper I’d bought wouldn’t work with the cake we had AT ALL. Cue a 2 hour delay as I had to drive into town and had a florist make up a fresh flower top. I didn’t want fresh flowers. And while it sounds like a small detail, when you have everything scheduled just so, two hours is a big deal. I will admit though that the flowers looked just right and the cake was beautiful.

Then there was going to the church to decorate. We were married the week after Thanksgiving and the windowsills were decorated with apples, Indian corn, preserves. It actually looked very nice and we kept much of it but added a cloth, took out the jars and replaced them with fresh cut mums and asters. But there’d been a mess as there was a squirrel getting into the church and one of the jars had been knocked over and broken leaving a sticky mess behind. Then there was the fact that many of the apples had bites out of them. I had horrible visions of the squirrel running up the aisle during the ceremony a la Mississippi Squirrel Revival by Ray Stevens.

But we got it all sorted and I loved the harvest feel to the decorations. Being a farm girl, it just felt right. (I should also note a lovely bit of symmetry. The fresh flowers came from the garden of a family friend, Ethel. Ethel died a few years ago, and I’m very lucky her husband is now my step dad. It’s another thing that feels right – the connection that goes so far back between the families.)

But really the stress really happened at the rehearsal.

It was bedlam. I’m an organized person and the chaos was so disconcerting. My pew markers were not cooperating and I handed the job over to my sister in law and aunt. There were arguments and noise and it was bad enough the minister patted my hand and said, “I’m so sorry.” At one point I ended up on the back steps just trying to breathe. If it was all going so very wrong the night before, how could anything come together the next day?

We departed for my inlaws house for a rehearsal buffet and then I was told – perhaps a fabricated saying to calm my nerves – that a bad rehearsal meant a flawless wedding day.

They were right. No crazy rodents scurried up the aisle. The music was lovely, everyone walked up the aisle just right, the day was lovely and sunny and warm. After the ceremony we climbed into a limo with our best man and maid of honour and drank champagne as we drove to a park for pictures.

I don’t know if that saying about bad rehearsals is true, but it was true for us, and we definitely had a magical day.

I have a book out this month with Harlequin Romance, The Rancher’s Runaway Princess. The nice thing about writing is that you only have to make special moments stressful if you want to. You can leave the stress behind and create something magical if you want, and that’s just what I did for my heroine, Lucy Farnsworth, AKA Princess Luciana Navarro of Marazur. There was a little bit of fairy dust as I wrote the ball scene, a time when everything just seemed to fit. As a writer, it is one of my favourite scenes. As a reader, I hope you enjoy it too. Here’s a snippet:

Alexander met her at her door and escorted her down the long curving stairs to the foyer and then to the doors of the ballroom. “Happy Birthday, Luciana,” he murmured, and then nodded at the footmen. The doors swung open and she entered on his arm, everything in a haze, including being announced as Luciana Navarro, Princess of Marazur.

Never had she been in such a place. Liveried servants circulated among the guests, and Lucy, her father and brothers formed an official receiving line where she could be properly – and personally – introduced. It was very surreal as she was addressed as Princess Luciana or Your Highness. She smiled, thinking she should really just be called “Lucy of the Stables” but then her father squeezed her elbow and smiled at her and she was suddenly glad she had him there at her side. And if her thoughts drifted to Brody now and then, that was okay. One didn’t get over a broken heart in a few weeks.

There was cake, a frothy concoction of vanilla fluff and real flowers, and enough champagne to float the entire island of Marazur. Lucy was holding a glass when Alexander touched her elbow and said, “We are ready to start the dancing.”

He cued the orchestra and held out his hand. She took it in her gloved one and bit down on her lip at the look in his eyes. And when he pulled her into his arms and guided her steps, she leaned ahead and whispered, “Thank you, Papa,” in his ear.

At the end of that dance she was paired of with Raoul, who complemented her on her dancing, and then Diego, who made a joke about her wild hair and the tiara and which caused her to snort in a most unladylike way. Grandma’s shoes made several more turns with the heads of influential families in Europe before she was passed back to Alexander once more.

“Are you tired?” he asked, as their waltz was nearly over.

“A little.”

“And your feet?”

She smiled. “I’ve been on them all night.”

His smile broadened suddenly. “Do you think they can manage one more dance?”

“I suppose, but why…”

“Your birthday present has just arrived.”

He turned her a half turn towards the doors.


Everything in her slammed to her chest. He was here. In Marazur. Standing twenty feet away from her in a tuxedo, his hat nowhere to be found, his dark eyes glittering at her dangerously. Instead of a bow, a bolo tie gleamed at his throat.
To her, he was perfect.

Alexander leaned ahead, still holding on to one shaking, gloved hand. “When there is a choice to be made, my darling, one should always choose love.” And he let her go, stepped back.

Everything in her wanted to race across the floor and fling herself into his arms. Yet she held herself back and waited, heart pounding, as he took step after torturous step until he was before her, in the middle of the ballroom, with three hundred pairs of eyes on them.

And when the orchestra started playing Let Me Call You Sweetheart, he took her in his arms without a word and turned her around the floor.

Oh glorious, glorious day. Her heart swelled to bursting, she soaked in the feeling of his hand at her waist, the way his fingers curled around hers and the heat of his body as he led her across the floor in the effortless waltz. She looked into his eyes, unable to look away from what she saw there. “This was what was missing,” she whispered, as he executed a sweeping turn.


“You. Just you.”

Donna Alward is one of two Canadians writing for the Harlequin Romance line. Her debut Romance, Hired By The Cowboy, won the Bookseller’s Best Award – Traditional this past August. The Rancher’s Runaway Princess is the first of her books set in her fictional town of Larch Valley.

Donna lives with her husband, kids and spoiled dog just outside Halifax, Nova Scotia. You can learn more about Donna at her website and her blog.


Blogger Melissa said...

Thanks for stopping by Donna! I love the squirrel and where you got married is lovely. Your books sounds great, too!

January 13, 2009 at 7:20 AM  
Blogger Donna Alward said...

Squirrels were bad that year. We had one getting into our house of all things. When my mum was traveling, my aunt stopped in to talk pictures as she was our photographer. Our first order of business was getting the squirrel from under the table and out the door!

Gotta love rural living...

January 13, 2009 at 8:01 AM  
Blogger Brandy said...

I enjoyed the excerpt! As I am a bit of a romantic, it brought tears to my eyes at the end. *G*

January 13, 2009 at 2:06 PM  
Blogger Donna Alward said...

Brandy - I had so much fun writing the end of this book. I had a box of tissues at the ready and I swear I cried through the whole last 2 chapters. I know, saying it was fun and crying at the same time sounds weird, but it's true!

January 13, 2009 at 3:06 PM  

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