Summer is wedding time, and when my friend Debra H. Goldstein’s newest book arrived with a wedding theme, I couldn’t wait to dive in and ask her Just One Question: Is there such a thing as a perfect wedding? Debra’s answer is below, along with a chance to win her latest terrific mystery, Five Belles Too Many! Take it away, Debra! — Shari Randall/Meri Allen
When I think about a “perfect wedding,” I think about a beaming beautiful bride and a thrilled groom. They only have eyes for each other as they happily share their vows, oblivious to everything else at the moment their union is sanctified. It is a wonderful illusion.
Wedding reality differs – none are ever perfect.
From the moment a couple decides to get married, tension ensues. One may want a large wedding, the other a small wedding and the parents may have a third idea as to what they can afford. There may be religious differences that impact who the chosen officiant will be or the venue that can be used. Are there allergies that prevent the use of flowers? Is there a venue rule that prohibits animals which makes it difficult to have the couple’s dog be the ring bearer? Do the parents like the groom or bride? Is there a bridezilla or Mamazilla involved?
Even if all of the pre-ceremony issues can be resolved, things can go wrong during the ceremony. Someone may faint. Rain may disrupt the planned outdoor wedding. Bees may beset a fruit display used as the centerpiece for food being served on the lawn. The rings may be lost or, as happened during my wedding, instead of being tied to the pillow with a slip knot, the six-year-old ringer bearer may re-tie them with double knots so he won’t drop them going down the aisle. To this day, I remember the best man, when asked for the rings twice, saying, “Dammit, Rabbi, I’m trying!” as he feverishly unknotted them.
In the newly released fifth Sarah Blair mystery, Five Belles Too Many, I incorporate the concept of the “perfect Southern wedding” with what happens behind the scenes of reality TV shows. In Five Belles, a New York TV show comes to Wheaton, Alabama to tape five finalist couples vying to win that “perfect Southern wedding.” Four couples are in their twenties, but the fifth couple is Sarah Blair’s sixty-plus-year-old mother, Maybelle, and her friend, George. They entered the contest on a lark, although Maybelle was sure they had a good shot at being finalists because of the demographic need for an older couple.
The show requires the five competing Southern Belles to each have a chaperone. Because Sarah’s twin, Chef Emily, works at night and Mother Maybelle doesn’t want to inconvenience any of her friends, Sarah is forced into the role. Not only does Sarah have mandatory chaperone duties, but she also must juggle her law firm day job and caring for her furry pets, RahRah and Fluffy. What makes it even worse is that the show contracted with Sarah’s greatest nemesis, Jane Clark, to have the contestants and chaperones stay at Jane’s bed and breakfast. Mother Maybelle assures Sarah it won’t be a big deal because she’ll be sleeping most of the time she’s at Jane’s Place, but, unfortunately, on the first night the TV show’s producer is murdered and Jane is found kneeling over his body with blood on her hands. When it is decided that the show must go on, Sarah must find the true killer before any more of the contestants or crew are permanently eliminated.
For a chance to win a copy of Five Belles Too Many (U.S. only), tell me, do you have any “perfect wedding” stories like what happened with the rings at mine?