Jun 8 2016 8:30am

This Won’t Be the Best Day of Your Life: When Weddings Go Wrong in Romance Novels

Only Beloved by Mary Balogh

In the brilliant and witty How To Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran, the author assures us that wedding days are not the happiest days of our lives. “Weddings,” she tells us, “do women no good at all. They’re a viper’s pit of waste and despair.” While most romance novels celebrate perfect days, several recent books seem to highlight just what Ms. Moran is saying. These fictional brides might indeed wind up with Mr. Wonderful but getting through their special day is nowhere near as fun and easy as Brides magazine would have you think.

Ms. Dora Debbins from Only Beloved by Mary Balogh never expected to marry. A music teacher in a country village she is happy with the life she has built for herself. Then George Crabbe, the Duke of Stanbrook surprises her with a proposal. Dora is delighted to accept and soon finds herself in London, planning a society wedding and celebrating a deliciously warm and friendly relationship with George. Her wedding day dawns bright and clear and seems likely to be a wonderful experience. And then:

A voice broke the silence from far back in the church before the Bishop could resume –a male voice, distinct and loud and slightly trembling with emotion. It was a familiar voice, though George had not heard it for a number of years.

“I can show just cause.”

And somehow it seemed to George that he had been expecting this, that it was inevitable. There was a collective gasp of shock from the pews and a renewed rustle of silks and satins as the members of the congregation, almost as one body, swung about in their seats to see who had spoken. George turned too.

Accusing George of a horrible crime, their uninvited guest adds some spice to the ceremony. Proving that Shakespeare was right to say, “The course of true love never did run smooth” Dora and George learn that getting to an HEA might mean facing some hurdles—but it is definitely worth it.

Callista “Callie” Sheridan from The Marriage Contract by Katee Robert knows that the old saying “love and marriage go together like a horse and carriage” will probably never be true for her. She’s certain her father will use her as a pawn to make a business alliance with another powerful family. Predictably, her engagement to Teague O'Malley takes place on the same day she meets him. Marrying a stranger at an elaborate ceremony that showcases the family’s wealth and power seems to be her destiny. But Teague surprises her.

They walked into the courthouse. Callie had been here a few times over the years, but it felt different now. She would be walking out the doors as a married woman. Trying to wrap her head around that fact just gave her a headache. So she didn’t think about it. There were far too many things she tried not to think about these days.

She occupied herself with filling out the paperwork, and then they were being ushered back to say their vows. The dim little room wasn’t anything like she imagined their families had wanted for them. There was no bouquet, no family, no elegant white dress. She wouldn’t dance with her new husband, staring up into his eyes and feeling her heart full nearly to bursting with love. It was strangely fitting. Teague repeated his vows after the minister, his gaze never leaving hers. His thumb stroked soothing circles on her knuckles, as if he knew exactly where her mind had gone. He finished with, “Till death do us part.”


Callie’s wedding might not meet her expectations but the love she finds with Teague far exceeds any hopes she ever had. A startling tale of finding romance in a world full of violence, The Marriage Contract is a must read for fans of the Godfather—or for anyone looking for a gritty, no holds barred tale of true love.

This Heart of Mine by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

First Star I See Tonight by Susan Elizabeth Phillips, the eighth book in her Chicago Stars series, won’t be out till August. Which gives old fans plenty of time to re-read the series and new fans time to get caught up. And one of the books that should be on the list for fans new and old is This Heart of Mine by Susan Elizabeth Phillips. Molly Somerville crushed on Chicago Stars' key player, quarterback Kevin Tucker, from a distance for a long time. When a series of unfortunate events concludes with the two expecting a baby, a shotgun wedding ensues.

The wedding took place a few days later in the Calebow living room. Molly wore the winter white calf-length dress her sister had bought her. Kevin wore a deep charcoal suite with a matching tie. Molly thought it made him look like a gorgeous mortician.

They’d both refused to invite any of their friends to the ceremony, so only Dan, Phoebe, the children and the dogs were there. . . And that was how they got married – underneath a makeshift bower of mismatched crepe-paper streamers with a five year old planted firmly between them and a gray poodle glaring at the groom.

Not once did Molly and Kevin look at each other, not even during the kiss which was dry, fast and closemouthed.

While the ceremony might not have been spectacular, Molly and Kevin’s romance turns into a delightful, quirky and fun adventure. Featuring time at Windlake Campground, this is a perfect vacation read. Be sure to watch for the line about the bunny book author turned hooker. That scene still makes me laugh every time I read it.

In The Goodbye Bride by Denise Hunter, heroine Lucy Lovett finds herself in a very unusual predicament.

How could seven months of her life simply slip her mind? She had a man—a fiancé!—she didn’t even remember. What had she been doing the last seven months? Where had she been living?

What she does know is that her head aches.

“I fell.” Didn’t she? She must’ve. Why else would she be lying prone on the floor—wet, she realized now, as the dampness registered—with a lump on her head? She winced as her hand found the bump again.

And she’s in a wedding dress:

Her eyes dropped to her lap and took in the frothy white skirt. She followed the delicate beading up the bodice to her bare shoulders. Her thoughts raced, searching for answers, but all she found were scrambled puzzle pieces.

For her fiancé Zac Callahan, the last seven months have been devastating. All he knows is that Lucy left just weeks before their wedding without saying goodbye. So why is she calling him from a town hours away, pleading for his help? And why is she wearing a wedding dress when he goes to pick her up? A young couple struggles to figure out where they went wrong and how they can set it right in this intriguing Inspirational romance.

Dirty by Kylie Scott

Dirty by Kylie Scott features a bride getting some pretty bad news on her wedding day. Lydia Green receives a text with video just before the start of the ceremony:

From out in the hallway came voices, laughter, all of the usual sounds of happiness. About what you’d expect on your big day. The smut on the small screen, not so much. I didn’t want to see it, yet I couldn’t look away. Whoever had sent this to me had blocked their number. They could have only had one aim in mind, however. Shit.

God, the sure way they touched, so obviously familiar with each other’s bodies, killed me. My stomach churned, bile burning the back of my throat. Enough. I swallowed hard and threw the cell onto the brand-new super-size bed. Video still rolling, it lay discarded among the scattered red rose petals like some sick joke. Should have chucked it at the wall. Stomped it, or something. Chris had said they were going to hang out, take it easy. Just him and his best man, Paul, knocking back a few drinks and talking about the old times. Sure as hell, there’d been no mention of them tongue wrestling because I would have remembered that no matter how busy with wedding details I’d been.

She could swallow her pride and go through with the ceremony but that is not her style:

Escape was mine. Let Chris explain to them all why his bride had fled. Or better yet, let Paul, the slimy, two-faced, man-stealing bastard.

Lydia breaks free from her fiasco of a would be marriage and into a house behind the wedding venue, where she cries herself to sleep in the shower.

Vaughan Hewson hadn’t expected to find a broken hearted bride in his shower when he got up to use the bathroom but it’s clear Lydia is in no shape to be thrown back on the streets. As he makes nice with the down and out lovely home invader it quickly becomes clear that the two of them have a lot more going for them than she and her ex ever did. Can the worst day of her life lead to the best love she could ever find? Sure looks that way.

Bad weddings may not be fun to live through but they can be entertaining to read about and the great part is, with a romance novel you know you will get an HEA.

Which are the funniest–or saddest–bad weddings you’ve ever read?


Learn more about or order the books mentioned in this post:

Only Beloved by Mary Balogh  
The Marriage Contract by Katee Roberts   
This Heart of Mine by Susan Elizabeth Phillips  
The Goodbye Bride by Denise Hunter  
Dirty by Kylie Scott  







Maggie Boyd, blogger, reviewer, avid reader

Subscribe to this conversation (must be logged in):
1. Scarlettleigh
This Heart of Mine is not a favorite at all --in fact there is another scenario in the news that is very similar to this book. . . so we have to agree to disagree on this book.

The others sound good!
Lee Brewer
2. LeeB.
One of my favorites by Mary Balogh is A Summer to Remember, tells the story of a woman who was at the altar ready to marry when, well don't want to give away the story, but it is a really excellent "when weddings go wrong" romance.
Maggie Boyd
3. maggieboyd66
@LeeB A Summer to Remember is my very favorite Balogh romance. I don't even know how often I have read it but lets just say it would be a lot!

@Scarlettleigh I always treat This Heart of Mine like two books - before the wedding and after the wedding. Before the wedding is a touch - unusual - but after is pure SEP zaniness.
4. filkferengi
Jennifer Crusie's _Bet Me_ features the hysterical non-wedding of the main character's sister. It's slapstick with heart, and a touch of pathos.
Mary Lynne Nielsen
5. emmel
Judith's and Iain's wedding in The Secret by Julie Garwood, when they're married before Judith realizes it. :-)
Maggie Boyd
6. maggieboyd66
@filkferengi and Emmerl - These both sound great, thanks for posting!
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