Memorial Day is past, the calendars now officially read “June,” and the first day of summer is so close that we can almost taste the popsicles. For romance readers, that can mean only one thing – it’s wedding season! Okay, it’s wedding season for a lot of people in the really real world, too, but we romance readers get to tap into this any time of year, without having to pick chicken or fish, decide on a plus one, or buy a bridesmaid’s dress. While not every romance novel includes a wedding, a lot of them do, and there’s a romance novel wedding for every taste, from grand national holidays for the nuptials of a head of state, to quick courthouse affairs, shipboard marriages, and dashes to Gretna Green. In this season of weddings, finding the right special day for our favorite imaginary friends has got to be a piece of cake, right?
Probably the only subgenre of romance that can be safely deemed wedding-free would be YA, but then again, we wouldn’t be surprised if that weren’t always the case. Taking into account historical YA, when the age of consent and actual adulthood was often lower than it would be in today’s society, and SF/F or dystopian YA, where the rules of society are whatever the creator of that world (aka the author or authors) care to make them, we may very well have a few very young brides and grooms out there, going through all the turmoil of adolescence and preparing to start a life together at the same time.
Category romance fans know well the promise of the words, “bride,” or “groom,” or “wedding” in a book’s title. Put a veil or cake on the cover, perhaps a “just married” sign on the getaway vehicle of choice, and we have a ready-made setting. We also have a ready-made cast of characters for the next several books, because all those bridesmaids, all those groomsmen, the guests, staff, even a conveniently single and attractive officiant. There are possibilities here, lots of them. Add in all the traditional activities, from bouquet toss to cake cutting, hijinx on the dance floor, family drama (oh mercy, the family dramas!) emotional moments with friends and siblings, and the elebenty billion and one things that can go wrong at even the most meticulously planned events, and there’s a story in every one. From cowboys to billionaires (or billionaire cowboys) sheikhs or sheriffs, category romance weddings are a true classic that add an extra sprinkle of sparkle to any summer.
Contemporary readers, we know, you’ve got all of that, too, only more of it, and we’re going to count vow renewals, because, hey, why not? The books are longer, the subplots go deeper, there are secondary romances that can lead to yet more weddings, and, well, on and on it goes. There are even series based around wedding planners, so even when it’s not the actual hero and heroine getting married (though they likely will, because, hey, romance novel) there is always a wedding going on somewhere, so the party literally never has to end. For the inspirational readers, there’s another layer to this cake, as the spiritual side gets to share the spotlight with the romance, giving a big church wedding (or any venue, really) double the importance, and double the impact.
Historical readers, we got you. Historical romance has literally thousands of years worth of weddings. Let that sink in for a minute. Literally thousands of years. That is a lot of wedding cake, and it is all delicious. First, we have the staple of the genre, the love match. Hero and heroine have prevailed through the entire book (or more, if we’re talking series or serials) and finally, finally, fi-nal-ly, get to make things official, celebrate with all their friends and family, and the reader is invited. Pretty darned good, but that’s not the only historical wedding, by any means. We’ve got the arranged marriage, the marriage of convenience, the proxy marriage, the fake marriage, the marriage-in-name-only, the political marriage, and more. Fill in your favorite. Granted, many of those can happen in the present day, too, but historicals are where weddings seem to be one big, beautiful buffet. Take your pick and run with it. We know, mixed metaphor there, but it’s wedding season, and that makes us romance types a wee bit giddy when it comes to these matters.
Hopping over into the speculative side of things, we hit paranormal romance and everything changes. Okay, not everything. Weddings are weddings, after all, but when we add in the extras that come with paranormal romance, we are officially not in Kansas anymore. Unless the book is set in Kansas, because if so, we are, but metaphorically, we are not. While planning a wedding where both parties are from different cultural and/or religious backgrounds -Jewish and Catholic, let’s say, or Partner A is from the big city and Partner B from a town so small it doesn’t have its own post office- try figuring in the challenges posed when Partner A is a vampire, and Partner B cannot guarantee that they will not transform into a cheetah at any point during the ceremony, and does “until death do them part” technically apply if either party is or has been a ghost? Is one ceremony required for the human side of things, if one partner is human, and another for the other? Does there need to be a vampire (or other paranormal being) ceremony as well? Does this form of paranormal being even marry at all, or is there some form of “mating” that takes the place of marriage, and can it be done without the knowledge and/or consent of both parties? How did the newlyweds meet? Destined from centuries past? Knew each other in a former life, but it didn’t work out, but good luck this time? Sky’s the limit here.
However one slices the wedding cake, there’s a romance novel wedding to please every reader. What’s your favorite?
So, dear readers, I turn it now over to you. Do you like weddings in your romance novels? Why or why not? Is there a type of fictional wedding you like best? If you could design your favorite fictional wedding, what would it be? If you’ve already got a favorite, we’d love to hear about it. Drop the title and author’s name in the comment section and tell us the best part. If you don’t like romance novel weddings, we’d love to hear about that, too. Pull up a chair in the comment section and tell us all about it. There’s room for everybody at this table (and we won’t make you do the chicken dance. Unless you’re into that, in which case, the floor is yours.