Tuesday, February 2, 2010
With all the reality TV shows exposing the most bizarre, indulgent and negative side of weddings, it's a little surprising elopements aren't on the rise. Weddings are on my brain in a big way right now because my youngest is getting married on January 31st. That just happens to be the day before my latest manuscript is due and two days before my next release, Moon Craving, hits the shelves. Timing is everything!
My daughter had originally planned to be a June bride, but she and her fiance decided they wanted a winter wedding instead. So, my carefully plotted schedule with all the time in the world to be Mother of the Bride went out the window right along with my sanity. I can't say I mind. No amount of stress can diminish my excitement over the upcoming ceremony and celebration. My oldest married last March, so we've got more recent experience with wedding preparations than we did for hers.
Weddings are wrought with meaning and potential and social context. They're also romantic and special and a reminder to every married person who attends about their own love stories.
Many of our current wedding traditions only date back as far as the Victorian era. For instance, bridal white? Not everywhere. In Japan the color associated with love is purple. In China white is a color for mourning. But here, yep, the most common color for a wedding dress is white. And why? Queen Victoria's break with tradtional bridal silver and the common practice of wearing one's best gown rather than a special bridal gown to get married in. (My daughter would be so disappointed if she didn't have that excuse to buy the Oleg Cassini gown and trundle down the aisle at the Adrianna Hill Ballroom in it.) Speaking of walking down the aisle, it is still common practice in many places for the bride and groom to meet at the front of the church without the bride's slow march down the aisle on the arm of her father.
The exchange of rings is also a fairly recent wedding practice and one I personally love. While some men and women still opt not to wear weading rings, it is definitely the exception, not the norm. (You don't want to hear the horror stories of cutting fingers off in emergency my oldest daughter told her sister when she found out the fiance wants a titanium ring. The fiance wasn't swayed however and his ring is gorgeous.) Did you know that in Greece the wedding ring is worn on the right hand? In some cultures the practice of wearing the ring on the left thumb as a symbol of devout love is still used. I don't really care what finger I wear it on, I just like that little symbol of my lifelong love for my dh.
I'm also partial to the whole "removing the garter and tossing it" tradition. Do you see the look on my dh's face as he removes mine? That man had some seriously kinky thoughts going through his head in that moment. LOL But tossing the garter and the bouquet came about because brides didn't want to be chased down for torn strips of their "lucky wedding dresses" (circa Middle Ages). Yeah, I'm thinking traumatic, how about you? And we thought it was stressful to catch the bouquet! It would certainly justify buying a pair of good running shoes before the wedding.
I love writing weddings as much as I love attending them. In fact, I've been known to write two ceremonies into my stories for different reasons. Below you can find a shortish excerpt of Abigail and Talorc's wedding in Moon Craving. I had a lot of fun writing that scene, but the one that moved me to tears is the private Chrechte (the name of my shapechangers) ceremony later in the book.
Yep, I'm a sucker for a good wedding and it's a good thing too...or I think I might be losing my mind right about now. :)
What are your favorite wedding traditions? The ones you find most bizarre?
Berkley Sensation (mass market paperback)
Excerpt © 2009 Lucy Monroe
Talorc stood before the English priest in the small chapel. The MacDonald warriors and most of the English baron’s soldiers had to remain outside. His own warriors, the MacDonald and five of his men, his bride’s family and a few English soldiers were the only witnesses for the wedding to come.
There were no flowers, no pomp and ceremony for this royally dictated marriage. That should not have bothered him, but the soft-spoken woman he had met the night before seemed to deserve more. Even if she was English. She had been so vulnerable, and yet when he had demanded to know if she planned to marry him, she had taken her time replying.
She had weighed him. He could feel her doing it, and she hadn’t been adding up the size of his lands in her head. She’d been judging him personally and something inside him had refused to be found wanting.
She was nothing like Emily, which was both good and bad. He did not relish the prospect of being likened to a goat by another Englishwoman, but he had no desire to see Abigail Hamilton eaten up and spit out by his clan. Emily had come to the Highlands to protect this very sister from such a fate. He could not help believing her fears had been justified.
Abigail spoke in whispers, seemed oblivious to her beauty and had a nervous habit of holding her hand over her throat when she talked. As if she was preventing the wrong words from coming out. His wolf felt protective toward her like he had no other besides family. Since the only one left, his younger sister Caitriona, was now mated to the Balmoral’s second-in-command, it had been a long time since Talorc had felt those instincts stir so restlessly.
He wanted to believe it was only because the woman was slated to be his wife, but his wolf had shown no such concern for her sister when King David had originally instructed Talorc to marry Emily. The wolf had wanted to howl at the evidence of bruising on Abigail’s pale skin.
And then hunt.
Talorc spent his time waiting for his bride’s arrival glaring at the woman’s mother and forcing down the wolf’s threatening growls.
Lady Hamilton had that same greedy, unreasonable look to her that his stepmother Tamara had had. As if she expected the world to do her bidding and woe betide anyone who refused. At first, the bitch had attempted a smile, but Talorc merely warned her with his eyes how close to death she had come by mistreating the woman that was his.
The fact he had not wanted an English bride made no difference. The kings had dictated that Abigail was to be his and no one dared to mistreat a Sinclair. He was still tempted to kill Lady Hamilton, despite his bride’s pleas to the contrary. His wolf clamored for retribution, if not death.
Eventually, the English lady began to squirm under his hostile regard.
Good. She had no place in Abigail’s life and he meant her to know it.
Niall cleared his throat, but Talorc did not need the prompting. He had picked up Abigail’s scent the moment she entered the chapel. Fragrant herbs, known to heal, mixed with her own unique perfume creating a heady fragrance that called to his beast. It was all Talorc could do not to turn to watch his bride walk up the aisle.
It would not do to show such interest though. The English baron might take it as a courtesy. Not that his wolf seemed to care that Abigail herself was English. The beast never took notice of women, but he certainly noticed Abigail.
And wanted her.
With a ferocity that forced Talorc to keep strict control of the semi-stiff member under his kilt.
The wolf fought to get out and make itself known to the woman about to marry the man. Talorc had to concentrate harder than he ever had on keeping his wolf inside while he waited for Abigail to make her silent trek up the aisle on the arm of the baron.
Finally, he turned, if only to appease the wolf.
Abigail was not smiling, but she did not hesitate in her slow procession toward him. She looked scared, but determined and he respected that.
It was easy to face battle without fear, much harder to face it with uncertainty of the outcome. Eyes the color of rich earth reflected fear, but not terror. That was something. He should not care, but he did not like the idea that marriage to him would terrify her. It was natural for her to be somewhat worried about her future.
She was leaving England for the Highlands. Her life would never be the same.
Nor would his, a low voice inside him insisted. One that sounded suspiciously like his wolf.
Her long ringlets, the color of pure, sweet honey swayed just above her hips with each step she took. Talorc experienced an unfamiliar desire, nay need, to reach out and run his fingers through the silky strands.
He bit back a curse. Where had that thought come from? He had never wanted to touch Emily. Or any other woman. Not since the years during which his body had transitioned from boy to man. His sexual urges had run rampant then, but he had not acted on them.
He had not been ready for a wife and had not found a mate. He would never dishonor his family by not following through on the promises of the flesh either.
Unlike the Balmoral, the Chrechte among the Sinclairs believed sex a binding act. The Balmoral held more lax standards so their warriors could gain control of their ability to shift at will at a younger age.
Luckily for Talorc, his father had had the good sense to mate a white wolf who passed that ability at birth on to their children.
That control over the beast within him had never been truly tested until now.
The wolf wanted Talorc to claim Abigail in the way of his people, but he had no intention of doing that in front of a chapel full of people. Nor did he intend to mate her on anyone’s land but his own
It was bloody frustrating, but for an Englishwoman, Abigail was beautiful and all too alluring. She had perfect bow-shaped lips in a feminine, oval face. Her nose was small and straight and her brown eyes were big and expressive. She’d tried to hide her body’s allure in the English clothes she had donned that morning.
She wore her father’s colors for the last time. The female tunic over the long dress covered every inch of her skin from her neck to her dainty feet. At least she wasn’t wearing the awful cowl-thing her mother had donned. He thought the English women called them wimples. Tamara had insisted on wearing one with the Sinclair, constantly reminding the clan she would not relinquish her English ways.
If Abigail thought to dress so, she would soon learn her mistake.
He would not allow it.
A question came over her lovely features and the baron blanched beside her. Talorc realized he was scowling. He smoothed his features into expressionless repose and put his hand out to take her from her stepfather.
The priest cleared his throat. “We are not yet to that part of the ceremony, my lord.”
Since the man spoke English, Talorc chose to ignore him.
He lifted a brow to his bride, asking why she had not complied with his request.
In a move that surprised him and clearly Sir Reuben as well, she dropped her stepfather’s arm, stepped around him and took Talorc’s hand.
He nodded, grasping her hand firmly and turned to face the priest.
The man looked flustered and took several moments to collect himself before beginning the service. In Gaelic after only one false start.
Talorc spoke the vows of his people in Chrechte when the time came, ignoring the murmurs around him.
When his bride’s turn came, he moved her so the saw only each other, not the rest of the congregation gathered as witnesses. He told her the vows to speak, speaking slowly so she would not stumble on the unfamiliar words.
Her expression puzzled, but accepting, she whispered them back to him, making lifetime promises he was determined she would keep.
If you'd like to read the rest of the scene, click here
As a special thank you to readers, I'm giving away a prize pack of pamper yourself products and paranormal romance. All you have to do to enter is send an email with Moon Craving Contest in the subject line to moon_craving at yahoo dot com before February 28th, 2010. The drawing will be held March 1st and the winner will be announced on my blog at http://www.lucymonroeblog.blogspot.com.
Posted by Nine Naughty Novelists at 9:00 AM