Tag Archive for: weddings

Is There Such a Thing as a Perfect Wedding? by Debra H. Goldstein

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?


Love and Humor is in the Words

Love and Humor is in the Words
by Debra H. Goldstein

Valentine’s Day and love is in the air. Cards and
chocolates are flying off the shelves; flowers are being delivered. Here and
there, on bent knee with ring in hand, there are even a few proposals of
marriage being offered and accepted. It’s nice, but sometimes, there’s fun to
be had at the expense of “love.” That’s exactly what I do in my upcoming Sarah
Blair book, Five Belles Too Many.


I will admit that my NY editor loved the book and I giggle
just thinking about different things in it. The premise of a reality show where
the prize is a perfect wedding is simple. The complications are that the story
is set in fictional Wheaton, Alabama and the wedding is being dubbed the
perfect Southern wedding. Although different vendors are vying to be chosen for
their invitations, flowers, food, and venue, the conflict comes from the


There are five finalist couples, who each represent a
different segment of the population or

demographic. Being Alabama, there must
be a couple who pull for Alabama and another who are die-hard Auburn fans.
Mixing things up also requires a pure as the land couple (think Beverly
Hillbillys) and one with a more goth edginess. The fifth couple is the charmer,
though. That couple is Sarah Blair’s sixty plus mother, Maybelle, and her
friend, George, who is a decade older than Maybelle. If you’ve read earlier
Sarah Blair books, particularly Two Bites Too Many,
you know Maybelle is feisty and well able to care for herself; but, all belles
in the competition must have a chaperone.


That’s where Sarah come in. It seems silly to have a sixty
plus bride-to-be with two grown daughters chaperoned, but rules are rules. So,
twenty-eight-year-old Sarah is drafted as her mother’s chaperone. And that’s
where the fun and humor begin.


Although I may be prejudiced, Five Belles Too Many
was the most fun to write and one I think will keep you chuckling while also
enjoying the more serious plotline. Five Belles Too Many
will be published in June 2022 but is already available for pre-order.
One of the reasons I think I enjoyed delving into the reality show world was
that years ago, I was a Jeopardy contestant (and no, I didn’t have a streak
like Amy’s). Were you ever on a reality show?

A Critical Eye For Weddings and Writing

A Critical Eye for Weddings and Writing 
by Debra H. Goldstein

Weddings are a time of joy, unbridled nerves, and warm, sweet and catty family moments. Last year, as the mother of the bride, I was the chief wedding planner and put-out-the-fires” behind the scenes person, responsible for keeping everything and everybody balanced so that my daughter could relax and enjoy herself.  At the beautiful wedding I attended last week, people kept coming up to me and saying, “I bet you’re thrilled you’re not the one in charge” or “Nice to be a guest, isn’t it?” Smiling, I assured all of them how right they were, but that wasn’t true.

The truth is that I can’t help attending weddings without dissecting them. Rather than simply taking in the beauty of the flowers, I take note of the number and style of arrangements, if they vary in height, whether they are composed of flowers (and if so, what kind) or if they contain cheaper accent pieces like wood or candles.  If there is a chuppa or canopy, I look to see if the décor is carried down the support legs or simply greenery wrapped across the top.  I also mentally record if the evening is black tie, the bar is open all evening, if the better liquor tiers are served, and whether the menu is multi-faceted or disguised chicken.  I also look and listen closely to understand the interaction between the different family members.

My enjoyment of weddings hasn’t diminished, but my approach to them has been significantly altered. My reading habits have undergone a similar modification since I began writing seriously. I bring the same critical approach to works I create and those, written by others, that I read. Although I take the time to rave about books or stories that are well-written and engage me, my level of tolerance for repetitive language, poor grammar, shifts in viewpoint, and plots that don’t work has diminished.

Perhaps my current reaction to weddings and things I read is an outgrowth of the hours of research needed to plan my daughter’s wedding or it could be that it reflects my efforts to improve my writing techniques.  The irony is that whatever clouds my perspective when I read is the same thing that is helping to make me a better writer.  Technique and fundamentals colored by creativity are teaching me things that work, things to be avoided, and things to be experimented with. The result, I hope, is that although my ability to read for pure pleasure has been forever changed, I have and am growing from the experience.

Trust Yourself

By Evelyn David

My son got married a week ago. His bride is everything I could hope for. It was a beautiful wedding, held outdoors in a gorgeous setting (see photo left). It rained five minutes before the ceremony was to begin, but stopped fairly quickly. The hotel staff dried the seats and a rainbow emerged just before the bridal procession began. Blessed indeed.

During the dinner, my son gave a brief speech that left me close to tears. He thanked his bride’s parents for the warm, loving welcome to their family, then turned to thank my husband and me. Surprisingly he made special mention of an event that had happened 20 years earlier.

It was his first time at sleep-away camp. He was scheduled for a four-week session, but on Parents Visiting Day, two weeks in, he said he hated it and wanted to come home. We spent several hours trying to convince him to stay, and finally agreed that if he still hated it in a week, we would pick him up. He thought that was fair and to be honest, since even he acknowledged that he was actually enjoying himself at least some of the time, I felt sure that he would decide to remain the last two weeks. But seven days later, he called to say he wanted to come home and my husband duly drove two hours each way to retrieve the reluctant camper. A deal was a deal.

I got a fair amount of criticism from other parents when I told them the story, but my gut instinct was that this was what our son needed. Conventional wisdom about making him “tough it out” didn’t fit my child. So I was especially touched when in his wedding speech, our son talked about the love and support we’d always given him, including he laughed, picking him up from camp.

What does all this have to do with writing? It’s to trust your instincts when it comes to your characters and the stories you have to tell. Ignore the conventional wisdom about what works and what doesn’t, what’s currently popular and what’s not. Create the world that works for you. You know YOU best. Believe in your talent, creativity, and determination, even when, or especially when, faced with criticism or rejection.

Trust your gut. Who knows? You might even get thanked later.

Marian, the Northern half of Evelyn David


 Kindle e-book – http://tinyurl.com/ZonedK

Brianna Sullivan Mysteries – e-book series
I Try Not to Drive Past CemeteriesKindleNookSmashwords
The Dog Days of Summer in Lottawatah KindleNookSmashwords
The Holiday Spirit(s) of LottawatahKindleNookSmashwords
Undying Love in Lottawatah- KindleNookSmashwords
A Haunting in Lottawatah – Kindle – NookSmashwords
Lottawatah Twister – KindleNookSmashwords
Missing in Lottawatah – KindleNookSmashwords
Good Grief in Lottawatah – KindleNookSmashwords
Summer Lightning in Lottawatah – Kindle NookSmashwords
Lottawatah Fireworks – KindleNookSmashwords
Leaving Lottawatah – KindleNookSmashwords

The Ghosts of Lottawatah – trade paperback collection of the Brianna e-books
Book 1 I Try Not to Drive Past Cemeteries (includes the first four Brianna e-books)
Book 2 – A Haunting in Lottawatah (includes the 5th, 6th, and 7th Brianna e-books)
Book 3 – Lottawatah Fireworks (includes the 8th, 9th, and 10th Brianna e-books)
Book 4 – Leaving Lottawatah (includes the 11th Brianna e-book and some special features.)

Sullivan Investigations Mystery series
Murder Off the Books KindleNookSmashwordsTrade Paperback
Murder Takes the Cake KindleNookSmashwords Trade Paperback 
Murder Doubles Back KindleNookSmashwordsTrade Paperback
Riley Come Home (short story)- KindleNookSmashwords
Moonlighting at the Mall (short story) – KindleNookSmashwords



My Writing Took a Back Seat

The last two weeks have not been good for my writing at all. I’m about 1/3 into my next Rocky Bluff but many, many things have interfered with the writing.

I had to judge some manuscripts for a contest–and that was interesting. The first one I read was marvelous. Excellent writing, different plot and a joy to read. Second book was great too, some minor errors but not much. Then came the not-so-good–and one that’s was just plain awful.

I’ve judged a lot of books and unpubbed manuscripts over the years. Some of them make me wonder if they’ve ever read a book–or even the guidelines of how to format a manuscript. Did they look up words to make sure they used the right one for what they meant? Have they ever heard that an exclamation point after nearly every sentence doesn’t make things better? And elllipses covering every page–what’s that about?

Using every synonym in the dictionary for said and asked drives me crazy.  And boring dialogue that does nothing to move the story along.

And of course, the biggest problem so many new writers have, point-of-view. Head jumping from one character to another–and none of the characters have been developed enough to be more than a name.

Anyway, that took up lots of time. I had to decide which ones would win  and write something encouraging for each–and tell them what needed to be fixed.

And then family events came along. Not complaining about them because they were beautiful, heartwarming and fun. Grandson Nathan (youngest son’s oldest boy) married his love, Amanda, weekend before last.

This was a three day event in a beautiful mountain setting. Family and wedding party stayed in the lodge and cabins. We had a great time.

This past weekend, we headed to the coast for another grandson’s wedding: Gregg (youngest daughter’s middle son) and his love, Caitlin.

This was in a gorgeous garden in Montecito (Gregg’s uncle’s backyard). Beautiful wedding and like the one before, got to see lots of relatives. Loved every minute of both weddings and receptions.

Now it’s time to put my fanny in the seat and get to work on my own book.


A Slice of Cake!

February is the month of love but we like our love stories served with a large slice of mystery. How about you? Start your week off right with something sweet, but not too sweet – sample an excerpt from MURDER TAKES THE CAKE


“Live turkeys or frozen ones?” Mac frowned at JJ. It
didn’t sound like much of a case. “Have I mentioned we should be aiming
for jobs that pay actual cash?”

“Live turkeys. And there’s money with this one.”

There were a lot of turkeys in the nation’s capital, but very
few with actual feathers. “Live turkeys? Are you sure? In D.C.?”

“They were the backup team for the guys headed to the White
House to get pardons.”

“Why would someone pay to find them?” He laughed. “Especially,
if they were the second string. My fee would be more than what they are worth.”

“It’s not only turkeys that are missing.”

“JJ, do you want those fries some time today? Let’s hear
the whole story, but make it quick.”

“The turkey farmer’s employee, stock truck, and wife are
all missing.”


“And the contents of his savings account–$400,000 and
change. He’d just sold some land. Needed the money to invest in some spin-off

“A turkey spin-off business? What? Gobbles in a Can?”

JJ narrowed her eyes and remained silent.

“Okay. Missing employee, truck, wife, turkeys, and money.
What’s our client the most interested in finding?”

JJ grinned. “The money of course. And the turkeys…but only
if you find them before Thanksgiving, which means a rush job. He didn’t seem
too broken-up about the wife or the truck.”

“Must have been an old truck.” Mac sighed. “Okay.
We’ll do it. Give Edgar a call. He’s been wanting to get his hands dirty on a
job. He won’t admit it, but I think since Elinor’s sudden death, he’s been
lonely. Tell him to interview the farmer, neighbors, anyone who knew the wife,
and any acquaintances of the hired hand. He can do it over the phone.”

“So we’re officially taking the case? He’s offering a
turkey and 5% of whatever we recover.”

“Yeah, we’ll take it. The cash, not the turkey. Something
already smells funny.”

“You’re still thinking about the turkeys.”

Mac chuckled. “Besides them. If you’re running off with the
boss’s wife and a whole lot of money, why bother to haul around a load of
smelly birds? Tell Edgar to make sure the two disappearances aren’t just a
coincidence. And get the farmer to sign a contract.”

They both turned as the bells on the office door jingled.

A tall woman with red hair and an even redder leather bomber
jacket walked in.

“Uncle Mac! Surprise!”

“Bridget!” Mac wasn’t too surprised to see his
goddaughter. He knew she was coming home this week for the holiday and to work
on wedding plans. Plus, Jeff had mentioned the Thanksgiving dinner invitation
again to him the day before, trying to get him to humor Kathleen and leave
Whiskey at a kennel for the occasion. Now it appeared Bridget had been given the
mission. The issue of abandoning his dog for the day aside, he’d really rather
stay home with a six-pack of beer, take-out from his favorite pizza place, and
a football game on his new flat screen television. “Whiskey and I are a
team. I’m not leaving her behind even for a plateful of your mother’s candied
sweet potatoes.”

“Good to see you too.” Bridget gave him a hug. “You
don’t have to come to dinner. I’ll eat your share of sweet potatoes. And
pumpkin pie. But I do need something from you.”


“You can’t tell my father.”

“I already don’t like the sound of this.”

“Someone is trying to kill me.”




Sullivan Investigations Mystery
Murder Off the Books KindleNookSmashwordsTrade Paperback
Murder Takes the Cake KindleNookSmashwords Trade Paperback 
Riley Come Home (short story)- KindleNookSmashwords
Moonlighting at the Mall (short story) – KindleNookSmashwords

On Marriage

Congratulations to Marilyn’s granddaughter, Jessi, on her impending wedding. With grandma Marilyn and her cute sailor husband of many years as role models, Jessi is well on her way to happiness with Juan. I can just tell.

Marilyn’s blog got me thinking about my own nuptials. Jim and I just celebrated our twentieth anniversary on the 18th of March. Why March in the Northeast when you have the beautiful fall foliage, the spectacular weather of June, or any other month that would do better than a dreary, cold, spate of days, you ask? Jim had just started his new teaching job and the school calendar dictated two weeks off at the end of every March. We decided to get married on the day after St. Patrick’s Day and with the little money we had, jet off to lovely Cancun for a week of R&R after the big day.

We had so little money to travel that my father, who had stayed up all night after the wedding so that he wouldn’t oversleep, picked us up at the new Hilton in our adjacent town and drove us to the airport. Nothing says romance like having your father drop you off for your honeymoon! We got to Mexico in good time, went through customs, and checked into our hotel room where we promptly fell asleep for what seemed like two days. We were very young when we got married by today’s standards (early- to-mid 20s) and didn’t know a whole heck of a lot about traveling. Or take into account that the last two weeks of March in Cancun would be filled with Spring Break revelers and not too many honeymooners. And extended American families with more than the requisite 2.3 children. But we made the best of it. Our room was nice, and everything was super cheap, a boon for a newly-minted teacher and his editorial assistant wife. Service was interesting, though—every morning between five a.m. and six a.m., a porter would come to our room, let him or herself in, and give us clean towels, despite the fact that we were sound asleep. We never did figure that one out and were never able to make them stop.

When I awoke after our extended nap, I realized that I didn’t pack a bathing suit, so our first moments of being awake on our actual honeymoon were spent shopping in downtown Cancun looking for a bathing suit that was a) not a bikini, b) not a string bikini, and c) not something my mother would deem “flattering” (the kiss of death). I settled on an $80.00 pink and black Speedo which was functional, but least of all, “flattering.” I held onto that bathing suit for a long time, despite the fact that the elastic in the leg holes went back in the early 1990s and I couldn’t wear it in public.

The week was wonderful. The weather was gorgeous, the water calm, tranquil, and warm. We even had the added bonus of running into some Spring Break participants who had graduated from our college and who were in awe of the fact that we, too, had chosen Cancun as our destination. We started to run out of money toward the end of the week and decided to chance the local fare, away from the hotel. That proved to be our fatal mistake.

The local food was delicious. We were careful about what we ordered. We assiduously avoided the water. We did everything we thought would keep us safe, eating in a country that we had heard might make you the recipient of Montezuma’s Revenge. We were doing great, enjoying local delicacies and culinary delights and had made it through the week, our budget intact. We headed off to the airport, a little sunburned, but relaxed after a week-long jaunt to tropical climes and got on the plane with all of the rest of the Spring Breakers, so happy that we were now able to start spending our life together.

We were somewhere between North Carolina and South Carolina—my best guess—when it appeared that I was bringing home either an intestinal parasite, salmonella, or some other exotic case of food poisoning. We managed to make it to our apartment just as my fever hit one hundred and four degrees and all hell broke loose. I’ll spare you the gory details.

Long story short? In the space of twenty-four hours, we had lived most of our vows, specifically the “in sickness and in health” part. I was sick for two weeks, but managed to avoid hospitalization. I stayed in pajamas the entire time, too weak to put on anything with buttons or a zipper. Jim went back to school, checking on me sporadically throughout the day, and coming home not to a home-cooked meal, but a can of Lysol, a sponge, and a bucket full of bleach to begin his nightly rounds of disinfecting.

OK, so maybe we shouldn’t have Jessi and Juan read this post lest they turn tail and run for the hills. But something tells me that they are a bit more savvy about the world than me and my husband were at the time. All I can say is that after that auspicious start, our marriage has been smooth sailing, which is what happens when you marry your best friend, your soul mate, and the love of your life. Not even a little parasite will get in the way.

Maggie Barbieri

I Do, I Do!

The collective Evelyn David is positively giddy to announce that Murder Takes the Cake, the sequel to Murder Off the Books, will be published May 2009. Giddy, I tell you.

Here’s a brief synopsis: The guest list is getting shorter and shorter, as the body count rises. Can Mac, Rachel, and Whiskey find the killer who wants to see the bride in red…blood red?

Weddings are on my mind. I’m hosting a bridal shower in a few weeks. While I’m not expecting anything sinister to happen, all this “till death do us part” stuff has made me sloppily sentimental about my own nuptials. Held in the middle of the summer, the temperature was about 110 in the shade, and the menu was caponette, a uniquely Baltimore kosher dish which was essentially chicken on steroids. My only nod to personalizing my wedding was to insist on a chocolate wedding cake. My mom made most (probably all) of the decisions since frankly I had no taste at that point in my life.

I do have wonderful memories of looking for a wedding dress. Mom insisted that we take my father along. As I have mentioned before, my Dad was, to put it lovingly, frugal. I guess Mom didn’t want to hear any financial hysteria when he got the bill. I tried on several gowns and Dad nixed each one, until I emerged from the dressing room in what was the most expensive dress of the group. He smiled and said, “that’s it” – and I felt like Cinderella at the ball. After the wedding, a dry cleaner “preserved for eternity” my dress. To be honest, I’m not sure why I saved it. I’m four inches shorter than my daughter and the puffy sleeves and empire waist would look ridiculous on her. As for the shoes, four children later, and my feet are two full sizes larger. But they’re upstairs in the attic as well.

Weddings today are big business. The average budget for a wedding is $28,000+ (or a fabulous downpayment on a home!). In the U.S., that translates to an annual $40 billion industry. There are wedding coordinators (versus my cousin Suzi who stood at the back of the synagogue and whispered, “go” when she thought it was the right moment for each of the attendants to move). Photographers still capture every moment, but now there are videographers as well. I have mixed feelings about videotaping weddings. While it’s true you capture every second of the big event, that also means that certain moments that memory will eventually blur to less-than-mortifying status, are now captured forever in living color on tape.

We’re adding a wedding stories page to our website (www.evelyndavid.com). Please share your favorite, funniest, or even murderous memory of your special day.

Evelyn David