At some point every romantic novelist faces the Wedding Dilemma.
If they do — how, when and where?
On the page?
On the last page?
Of course, the purist’s answer is: whatever is right for the characters. But, just as organising a real-life wedding needs to take account of friends and family, the end of a story — perhaps more than any other part of the book — is there to satisfy Readers. To provide emotional closure.
Do Readers want, need a wedding to achieve that? Even if the characters don’t?
Think of the small sister who just yearns to be your bridesmaid. Disappointing her would really hurt. It’s the same deal.
In last week’s blog on Wallows, Joanna said that readers want to enjoy the Happy Ever After ending right there on the page. So that’s one answer to the Wedding Dilemma.
A wedding scene offers so many opportunities: those heroic promises — in sickness and health, all my worldly goods, until death; the couple taking hands in front of the world, to stand or fall together; a stolen moment of intimacy among the festivities.
Yes, I can see the satisfaction in all of these.
Princely Wedding Dilemma
My own Wedding Dilemma came when, in 2011 — and yes, the year is significant — I wrote To Marry A Prince. Fast. Only 14 weeks from idea (a brilliant publisher’s, not mine, though I fell in love with it as soon as we talked) to physical book in our hands. I enjoyed writing it, loved my heroine, fancied her prince like crazy, and I still read the book with pleasure.
Readers were very kind, some exceptionally so. But a small proportion of them were disappointed that the wedding itself was not on the page.
Would I have written the big royal occasion — trumpets, trains, curtseying to the monarch and waving from the balcony — if I’d had more time? I don’t honestly think so.
As an ending I gave my characters a stolen moment of intimacy before the wedding. That was what I felt my heroine wanted and — really important this — didn’t think she could get. But was I wrong?
In last week’s Wallow Poll, readers’ favourite wallow was the emotional one, with the lovers alone together, enjoying each other, but not in a sexual way. The wedding scene wallow came equal third. Out of five. Our poll was in no way statistically valid, but I do take a little comfort from it, even though I’m still sorry some readers of To Marry a Prince felt they had missed out on the wedding itself.
We hope none of our readers will miss out on our competition (below). You probably won’t be surprised to see that it’s on the theme of Weddings.
Win A Wedding-Themed Goody Bag
Here is our first ever Libertà competition, to win the gorgeous weddingy prize you can see above, including Penhaligon’s Artemisia.
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By coincidence, I’m researching weddings at the moment. Procrastinate? Me? I’ve decided to add an epilogue of the wedding day to a work almost finished – which of course involves looking at lots of wedding dresses. And yes, It’s a private moment on the day.
Fascinating, Evonne. Wedding dresses are a terrible temptation to the research-minded.
During the Royal Wedding run up, Vogue had a slideshow of royal-ish dresses over the years. Can’t tell you how many times I and my friends went back to that, trying to decide which we’d really like to wear.
Really interesting. I must say I prefer an ending without a wedding, and To Marry A Prince was just perfect. I always felt, even when I read romantic fiction far more regularly than I do now, that adding on the wedding was unnecessary – a sort of anti-climax. And if it’s present day fiction – well, at least half of the young couples who set up homes together don’t find it necessary.
That’s so interesting, Lesley. And thank you enormously for enjoying To Marry a Prince.
I find a wedding unnecessary, unless it’s actually part of the plot. I do enjoy a wallow and think readers deserve it after having the h/h put through hell on earth before love triumphs. Worse yet, are those epilogues one year later when the h/h are happily married with baby, the only justification being to tie up a few loose ends. I say leave it to the reader’s imagination.
I adored To Marry a Prince and it certainly didn’t need the wedding.
Isn’t it interesting how different people are? I suppose I feel the wedding is often a whole new story.
Thank you so much for your kind words on To Marry a Prince, Liz. It means a lot.
I adored TO MARRY A PRINCE — in fact I have two copies of it, in case one goes missing. As for weddings at the end, I do like them, but they’re not necessary in my view. What is important is a gorgeous scene that reflects the couple and their journey. I want to feel they really will live happily together into the future.
Oh Anne, thank you on behalf of TO MARRY A PRINCE. I agree with you about endings. I suppose I’m looking for some moment which shows that they know and trust each other deeply. Which should augur pretty well for their HEA, I think.
I bought To Marry A Prince in an airport strictly because I loved the dress on the cover. I ended up loving the book as well
Oh Cindy, I’m so glad. Thank you. And three cheers for the publisher’s cover, too.