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July 15, 2014

Writing About: A Wedding

I wrote a beautiful wedding scene in my unpublished series, one that I hope I’ll be able to share with you because the characters and the ceremony are so near and dear to my heart.

To write this scene, I basically pretended I was a wedding planner because I wanted to include every aspect that makes a wedding ceremony so great.

This post is going to provide tips on how to write the ceremony and reception, but if you want to, you can certainly write about the months and moments leading up to the wedding if you want. 

Note: Not all weddings have to be described in such detail, but if the wedding is important to the story, it would be a good idea to follow the steps below.
TIP #1: Let the genre and the kind of story you’re writing influence the wedding. If your story is set in the future, change up the traditions. If it’s a fantasy, add magic and fanciful creatures.
TIP #2: Keep to the culture and religion of your characters. For different cultures, you’ll have to alter these tips and do more research.

Now here are my 15 steps to help you write a wedding ceremony (American-style).


1.    Know when and where.

Decide what month/season the wedding will take place, and the location. A summer wedding with vivid colors like red would be stunning on a beach with white sand and blue water.

2.    Pick the theme.

The theme could fit the story, such as an autumn wedding with pumpkins and fall leaves for a horror or supernatural story. You can also use the bride’s and groom’s personalities. If they are a fun couple, they could have a Vegas-themed wedding.

These details will help you greatly when you need to describe the surroundings.

3.    Say “yes” to your heroine’s dress!

Even if you’re a guy, like it or not, you’ll have to at least briefly describe the bride’s dress. You don’t need to report every stitch, but you should give a few details such as the color (not all dresses are white), the length, and perhaps what the neckline looks like.
TIP #3: Go wedding magazine crazy at your local library, or search online until you find your heroine’s perfect dress. I actually designed my heroine’s dress, so if you have a knack for design, give it a try!
4.    Bridesmaids and groomsmen.

Let your minor characters take part in the wedding. And yes, along with the heroine’s and hero’s attire, briefly give us a picture of what the bridesmaids and groomsmen are wearing.

5.    The bouquet.

When the bride is walking down the aisle, tell us what flowers she’s holding. This could be as simple as a bundle of Calla Lilies or as elaborate as a mixture of roses, carnations, and daisies.


6.    Emotions are high.

How does the bride feel as she walks down the aisle to the man she loves? How does the groom feel as he watches her come toward him? Scared, anxious, happier than ever before?

7.    Wedding march and escort.

Does the bride walk to a classic wedding song or a different instrumental piece? Does a father figure walk her down the aisle or does she take the walk alone?

8.    The vows.

What the bride and groom say to each other is extremely important. Do they exchange traditional vows or write their own? If they write their own, use their personality. Is one of your characters funny? Slip in a private joke.

For my book, I wrote the vows, including what my characters say to each other during the ring exchange and what the official says before announcing my characters as husband and wife.
TIP #4: Write a piece of poetry inspired by your character’s love for each other that can be used as their vows.
9.    Ring exchange.

When your characters exchange rings, let their fingers shake. I was once at a wedding where the groom put the ring on the bride’s wrong hand. Then when he tried to take it off to put it on her left hand, it wouldn’t budge. They had to pour water on her finger (at the altar) to slip it off. Can you remake something cute and funny like that?

10.    The kiss.

“You may now kiss the bride” is always the best part of the wedding ceremony. Do your characters share a sweet kiss, or does the groom sweep the bride around in his arms and lay a big one on her? Reveal their personality and their love for each other.

For more on this check out: How to Write Kissing Scenes


11.     Dances

The dances are the sweetest moment following the vows and the kiss. Don’t let the opportunity to describe your characters’ first dance as husband and wife. Share their happiness as they dance, and let them whisper in each other’s ears.

12.    Bouquet and garter toss.

This is possibly the funnest (Yes, funnest!) moment at a reception. I always enjoy seeing who catches the bouquet and garter, so in my book it’s no wonder that I paired two characters who had a lot of hidden sexual tension for each other.

13.    Food

Aside from the couple getting married, the next thing the guests care about is food. You don’t have to go into extraneous detail about every plate of food, but a short inventory of the kinds of foods your characters can eat is always a nice touch.

14.   Cake

What does the cake look like? Two tier? Three? What is on the top? After the description comes the cutting of the cake. If your characters are care-free, they can smear the icing across each other’s faces. I had fun with this part, letting my characters get playful.

15. The wedding night.

Once the wedding is over and the reception winds down, the couple deserves some time alone. To write this part of the wedding night, use this link: Writing About: Intimacy
TIP #5: If you’ve had your dream wedding, infuse your precious memories with your characters’ happy day. If you have not had your dream wedding, this gives you the chance to have it by giving it to your beloved characters.
Not all weddings are happy, though. Perhaps your groom is stood up at the altar. Or if you’re writing a mystery, maybe someone turns up dead.

It’s always important to keep with the theme of your story. However, a bit of happiness is a good idea. After everything I put my characters through in my series, I decided a beautiful, peaceful wedding was imperative.
TIP #6: Listen to your characters. How do they want to get married? What do they say needs to happen? Pay attention to what they tell you. After all, it’s their day.

SHARE: Memories from your wedding day.

QUESTIONS: Has any of your characters tied the knot? Did you write about their wedding?


Stephanie Faris said...

That cake is bee-you-ti-ful!!! I went through two weddings of my own (one big, one small) and I have no desire to delve deeply into that subject in the near future!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I'm glad I don't have to write about all of that. In my Cassan world, they don't do ceremonies and I'm not about to describe the actual bonding part.

Pat Hatt said...

They get married in between in mine, so I don't have to write it haha my idea of a wedding is eloping, so I wouldn't get far writing about it.

lisa thomson said...

I love your advice to 'listen to your characters'. That's fantastic. In my own wedding 3 things were very bad omens 1. My Groom showed up half cut 2. I got the giggles during the ceremony 3. My Groom's friend told me my new hubby looked 'bored' during the first dance! It's a surprise we lasted 18 years :)

I haven't written a wedding scene yet but this has given me a great idea for my short story collection. I think it's fun to write in some family conflict for the reception. Enough conflict to make the reader cringe and laugh at the same time. Thanks, Chrys for the inspiration. As always your posts are so resourceful!

Chrys Fey said...

My sister-in-law made that cake. :D

I understand, and the great thing about writing your own story is that you don't have to. :)

Chrys Fey said...

It is quite a lot to write about if you want to give your readers (and characters) a full wedding and reception.

I guess I'll just have to read your books to find out then. ;)

Chrys Fey said...

At least you don't write romance, because romance readers would want that wedding! lol

Chrys Fey said...

I think the bride who gets the giggles during the ceremony is cute! Now I want to make one of my brides giggle. :P

Family conflict is always a good idea. My brother will be getting married next month and they were bringing together scores of people (on both sides) who hate each other. There's bound to be some conflict during that reception, and I hope I'm not part of it. haha

Thank you, Lisa! :D

Unknown said...

This is why I couldn't write romance! My bride would certainly get shot before the ceremony or robbed by the groom, LOL!

Chrys Fey said...

But that would be a great wedding for a thriller or romantic-suspense story! lol

Unknown said...

I actually never thought about focusing on a wedding in one of my stories. But I imagine I would create the most lavish and endearing ceremony on the beach somewhere. These are some great tips... especially the color red against the white sands... I can see it now=)
Will be keeping these thoughts in mind if and when I have my characters get married!

Chrys Fey said...

The wedding with red against whit sand and blue waters was actually inspired by a real wedding I went to. :)

I'm always happy to give you new ideas, Gina.

Slamdunk said...

I like how detail oriented you are with the wedding Chrys. I think it is a lesson for all of us no matter what specific elements we are writing about.

It did make me laugh about my own wedding; as my job was just to nod and the Mrs. and her mom did everything. I was in charge of the honeymoon--travel fun is more my style.

Lisa Thomson said...

:) Let us know how the wedding goes and if you get some material!

noone said...

ohh these are great tips for anyone who is planning a wedding! very detailed and layout, thanks for putting the time together to share this, I would def use it in the future if i was getting married!

Optimistic Existentialist said...

Hi Chrys!! I have read a ton of books in my life but believe it or not, I have never read a vivid wedding scene. Weird eh?

Chrys Fey said...

Thank you! I do love to add details because it makes the experience that much better for readers because they will be able to imagine everything, and they can even feel like they are there at the festivities. And you're right, it can be used for every element and scene.

A groom's job usually is to nod. My brother is getting married next month and the bulk of what he's done is . . . yup, plan the honeymoon. lol

Chrys Fey said...

Thank you, Pop! I love that my tips could be used to plan a real wedding. :)

Chrys Fey said...

That is weird. I've read a wedding scene that was vague, and one that was given to us as a backstory. But I believe that if we see these characters fall in love then we should see them tie the knot, to complete their story. :)

Carrie-Anne said...

I've written about lots of weddings, since I tend towards family sagas. I've mostly written about Jewish and Eastern Orthodox weddings, with some Protestant weddings too. I also tend to make my brides' dresses non-white, since I always thought white was really boring and unoriginal. As a proud second-generation Lucy Stoner, I NEVER have the new couple announced as Mr. and Mrs. Husband's Full Name. I can't believe so many people still do that and don't see it as passive identification writing the bride out of existence.

If I find another man, this one actually serious about getting married instead of just liking the idea (and man enough to tell his parents about our engagement), I'll follow the traditional Jewish wedding custom of not kissing after the ceremony. At Orthodox weddings, the couple goes to a room alone (yichud) at the end of the ceremony, with two guards outside, while they break their pre-wedding fast. If they're very Orthodox, they touch and kiss for the first time. I can't imagine doing something so personal and private with an audience. The mere thought makes me so uncomfortable, making others privy to something meant to be private and special between just two people.

Robin said...

Very good list. It is critical to pull off a wedding with the perfect details and panache.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

This was interesting. I've never written a 'big' wedding scene. I always have those intimate small weddings.

Crystal Collier said...

Great post, Chrys. It hit especially close to home since I just wrote a story with a wedding. Yeah... Interesting how that played out. *ahem* Back on topic, I think you did a great job covered the details.

Loni Townsend said...

With all those considerations...I might never write a wedding scene! Actually, I wrote one once, but it wasn't long. I touched on the dress, and a bit on the ceremony. I mentioned the party, and laid out the vows. All the rest didn't get much attention. But then, it wasn't our world either.

Chrys Fey said...

It is! Thanks for commenting, Robin!

Chrys Fey said...

Intimate small weddings are great, too! But you can still add a lot of the details I mentioned. :)

Chrys Fey said...

Thanks, Crystal! And I'm thrilled you think I did a good job covering all the details. I'll be interested in reading the wedding scene you wrote. :)

Chrys Fey said...

Oh, but you don't have to include everything I mentioned. What you wrote about for your wedding scene is just enough to satisfy a reader. :)

Chrys Fey said...

It's funny you mentioned that because I personally hate a couple being announced as Mr. and Mrs. Whatever. It's so old school. Just like "You are now man and wife." Husband and wife is better.

I love traditions. If I ever get married. my wedding will be full of them. :)

Denise Covey said...

There's a wedding in my Fiji romance, but it's not the major focus, so I was able to get away with casual, with Fijian elements.

An informative post Chrys.


Chrys Fey said...

Oh, a Fijian wedding would be wonderful!

Thanks, Denise. :)

Chrys Fey said...

I will! :D

CA Heaven said...

We (a friend of mine and I) are working on more like a non-wedding scene, where the in-love couple buy wedding rings and throw them in the river, as a symbol of the freedom they don't want to loose >:)

Cold As Heaven

Chrys Fey said...

That's cool. I like that!