Tag Archives: wedding

One Hundred Grains of Sand

Reality and dreams collide all the time. The day of my daughter’s beach wedding was rainy and cold. Instead of exchanging vows with bare feet wiggling in warm sand, she and her significant other stood in a flooded gazebo under a pouring storm.

Surrounded by friends and family, thunder and lightning became the background music instead of crashing waves playing the wedding march and seagulls calling well wishes. Dark clouds blocked the sun’s bright blessings. It was an auspicious beginning to a new chapter in my daughter’s life.

It was a glorious ceremony. If you know anything about my family, we are closer to the Addams than the Waltons. Although it wasn’t what my daughter had pictured in her mind, the entire day exceeded her expectations.

Because of the excitement preceding the ceremony, the ten-month old ringbearer fell asleep. Since he’s a grumpy boss when he doesn’t get enough shuteye, we didn’t dare wake him. I held him and the rings instead.

After the vows were exchanged and the kiss was kissed, one of the wedding attendants called out, “Take the plunge!” and pointed to the pool in front of the gazebo. Acting purely on instinct and a devil-may-care wedding high, the bride and groom jumped fully clothed into the deep end of the pool.

We adjourned to the condo where our wedding fare consisted of traditional sandwiches and our own local cuisine of red beans with rice and jambalaya. The chocolate wedding cupcakes towered over the table already laden with chai tea cookies, sesame cookies and brownies cut in dolphin shapes.

Beer flowed freely, as did soft drinks and lemon water. Champagne was nestled in a bucket filled with ice and plastic sharks. With full bellies, everyone trooped out to the sandy, wet beach in the rain because it’s how we roll, muggles 😉


J J Dare is the author of two published books, several short stories and too many works-in-progress.

Current enthusiasm is sharpening intangible knives and co-authoring at Rubicon Ranch

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Excerpt From “Just Between Friends” by Donna Small

Emma’s best friend Layne is getting married to Andy, the old friend Emma has always secretly loved. For the sake of dear friends, Emma keeps her love for Andy to herself. But what is she to do when Layne begins a torrid affair and expects Emma’s complicity as she cheats on Andy.


She was wracked with guilt every time she thought of Andy and felt those flutters inside her belly, which was pretty much all day, every day. She knew she couldn’t help how she felt but Layne was her best friend, the person who knew every single thing about her and loved her despite it. And though she tried to convince herself of the fact she couldn’t control how she felt, and certainly couldn’t make herself fall out of love with Andy, she just couldn’t shake the thought that she was betraying her best friend. After all, wasn’t that the cardinal rule of friendship? You don’t fall in love with your best friend’s boyfriend. Period. Emma’s feelings were inexcusable despite how completely and utterly right they made her feel.

Of course, Emma had tried to fall out of love with him – God knows she tried – but she spent so much time with Andy and Layne that she was never away from him long enough to even begin to forget about him. It was hopeless. She just went about her days aching for something she knew she would never have and carrying the load of guilt she knew would never lighten.

This was the first time in Emma’s life that she had kept something from Layne and it was eating her up inside. But while she knew she was hopelessly, desperately in love with Andy, she knew that Layne loved him and was going to marry him. As difficult as it was to suffer in silence, Emma did it, knowing that Layne was happy.

Today, however, was going to be the toughest challenge yet. Seeing the man she loved marry her best friend might prove to be too much for her (She hoped there was plenty of wine at the reception), but Emma vowed then and there that she was going to get through this day, no matter what. She was going to be there for her best friend, as they’d always done for each other.

Layne looked at Emma’s reflection in the mirror. “You’re sure I look all right?” Her voice sounded almost foreign to Emma as it lacked any of the confidence she normally carried around with her in abundance.

Emma stood up and placed her hands on her hips. “It kills me that you even have to ask. Andy is going to have trouble remaining standing at the end of the aisle when he sees you!”

Layne giggled. “He’d better be standing when I get up there. I want him to be completely coherent when he takes his vows.”

“He will be. I don’t think anything could make him miss you walking down the aisle.”

Layne released a small sigh and felt her eyes mist up. “I don’t know what I’d do without you, Emma.”

“Well, you’ll never have to find out.” Emma replied.

Layne gave her friend a smile that is only shared between the best of friends, then turned and stepped away from the mirror in order to reach for the bouquet that had been resting on the table.

“Okay, then. Let’s go.” Layne said, as she took a deep breath.

Emma picked up the train of Layne’s gown and placed it gently over her forearm, careful not to wrinkle the delicate fabric. She then reached for her bouquet of flowers with her free hand and together, they left the room.

They walked silently to the front of the church, each lost in their own thoughts. Layne found herself thinking about the months and years that were to come, and wondered if every bride felt this way. Emma found herself wishing she were the one getting ready to walk down the aisle and spend the next fifty years or so with Andy.

They arrived at the back of the church and greeted Layne’s father, who was there waiting for them. She settled Layne on his arm and then moved behind her to adjust her train, lifting it up to catch the air beneath it and then lay it down gently on the white runner that had been laid out for her to walk on.

Emma stepped in front of her best friend, adjusted her veil one last time and nodded. “Are you ready?”

Layne nodded and forced a stiff smile onto her face.

The music began to play inside the church, signaling the need for Emma to face forward. The wedding planners opened the doors slowly, revealing pews filled with wedding guests all turning to face the bride. Emma didn’t notice a single one. Her eyes were focused on the man at the end of the aisle waiting for his bride to come to him. Taking a deep breath, she began to walk slowly down the aisle, just ahead of Layne.

She was, after all, the maid of honor.


Donna Small fell in love with the written word a very early age, frequently ignoring her teachers in order to discreetly read a book while hidden behind another student and below the wooden desks in her Catholic School. After graduating from college, she moved to North Carolina and began working in the non-profit world writing business plans, grants and anything that required putting pen to paper. She lives in Clemmons, North Carolina with her husband, two daughters, and their beagle, Charlie, where she is at work on her next novel.

Click here to buy: Just Between Friends

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Matchmaker, Matchmaker, Make Me a Match by Sherrie Hansen

My nephew is getting married tonight. In fact, I’m posting my blog from a hotel in Des Moines, awaiting the big event. My husband, who is a minister, is performing the ceremony. But not because Cole is his nephew. Kayla, the beautiful woman Cole is marrying, grew up in my husband’s church in Thompson, Iowa.

For the first and only time in my life (so far), I played matchmaker. And it worked!

One day, in the church basement after church, Kayla’s mother and I started chatting. She was lamenting that her daughter, who is such a sweetheart, couldn’t seem to meet a nice, goodhearted man. I’d thought for years that my nephew, Cole, and Kayla would be a good match, but had never found the right time to bring it up. Cole was in between relationships. It seemed the perfect time to put the wheels in motion, which we proceeded to do.

To be honest, I never really expected anything to come of it. Neither, I’m sure, did Cole, when I first mentioned sending him some digital photos of a girl from our church who I thought he might enjoy getting to know. What young 20-something thinks his fat, grey-haired old aunt is going to be the one to pick out his future bride?

But God had plans for Cole and Kayla (Cola, as we now affectionately call them). I, of course, was delighted when they fell in love, and later, announced their engagement. And I truly do believe they’re a match made in heaven.

As a writer of romance novels, I get to play matchmaker in my imagination all the time. Even as a child, I spent hours spinning romantic fantasies in my mind, all starring me, of course, and whatever handsome young man had captured my fancy at the time. None of them ever worked out, although the silver lining is that I got so practiced imagining these steamy, “what-if” scenarios that it led to a writing career.

I feel a great deal of satisfaction in my writing life when the love affair I’ve orchestrated comes to a good fruition. But I have to say, it is even more fulfilling to see a tiny seed that I planted grow and blossom into a real-life romance, now marriage. On this, their wedding day, I feel a deep, intense sense of satisfaction. I did good.

Early on in Cole and Kayla’s relationship, I invited Cole’s mother (my sister) to have lunch with me. When she arrived, she said, “Cole thinks you asked me to lunch so you could pump me for information. But he says not to tell you anything – he thinks you’ll put it in your next romance novel.”

I promised I wouldn’t, and my sister filled me in on what sketchy details she knew. It made me smile. And I’m still smiling today. And while I won’t crow about my excellent matchmaking skills in a book, I never said I wouldn’t blog about it. Besides this isn’t a fictional romance, it’s the real thing.


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What Day Is It? by Sherrie Hansen

Hi. My name is Sherrie Hansen and Friday was (is, I think) my day to blog. Trouble is, it’s been such a busy week that I’m not at all sure what day it is.

It all started on Monday, when we had a hugely busy lunch (I own and operate a Victoria tea house and bed and breakfast called the Blue Belle Inn in my “spare time”). Same story on Tuesday – a few reservations, a lot of drop bys, a crazy busy day of quickly making more food in our steamy hot kitchen. Tuesday night, I drove the 45 miles between our two homes (my husband of 6 1/2 years is a pastor in a town 45 miles west of the town where my bed and breakfast is) and spent the night at the parsonage after practicing a new song with one of our worship team members (I play the piano at church).

Bright and early Wednesday morning, I gave the devotions at our ladies aid group, complete with slides to illustrate my study – “Mosaics – How God picks up the broken pieces of our hearts and makes something beautiful.” Being as pastor’s wife is the third tier in my tipsy topsy life as innkeeper/restaurateur/author of romance novels/pastor’s wife.

The talk went well, according to my husband. I was unable to stick around after the meeting because our lunch crowd mushroomed at the last minute and I had to leave early and “fly” back to the Blue Belle Inn to help with another busy lunch hour at the tea house.

That afternoon, I picked up my nieces (ages 6 and 8) and met up with my sister-in-law and nephew (age 3) and went to a benefit / carnival in Austin, MN. After a few hours of balloons, bouncing and big, sticky prizes, I left with a rainbow painted on my face and a purse full of gooey candy wrappers, to go get groceries.

It was a late night by the time I escaped the grocery store, stopped at my parent’s house to pick up some green beans from Aunt Shirley’s garden and chat with Villiam, a friend of our cousin Helle’s from Denmark who’s been staying with my folks for the last three weeks. My husband helped me unload the car, and we tumbled into bed (back in St. Ansgar, where the Blue Belle is, tonight) sometime between one and two a.m.

Thursday brought a trip to Rochester, MN, 1 1/4 hours to the northeast of us, to shop for groceries at Sam’s Club in preparation for a wedding to be held at the Blue Belle Inn on Saturday.

Late Thursday night, when I had finally fit all the groceries into the freezer and refrigerator, I got a few more hours of sleep.

I’ve been cooking since 9:30 a.m. this morning. The rehearsal dinner for the same wedding starts in about 30 minutes, so I need to sign off and get back to work. The groom and a crew of men were here early this morning to put up a tent in the yard between our St. Ansgar house and the Blue Belle. The yard and flower beds needed a lot of grooming, and it looks very festive.

Tomorrow will find me dipping 200 strawberries in chocolate, stuffing freshly made cream puffs, spreading seafood cheddar spread on baguettes and making millions of other cute little crudites.

Oh, and Villiam came by earlier to say good-bye (he is off to Wisconsin and then back to Denmark) and introduced me to another man from Denmark who met his wife (a doctor from San Fransisco) on an airplane when there was a medical emergency. Sounds like a great opening to a romance novel, doesn’t it? I’ll probably be dreaming about the characters in my sleep tonight. If I get any.

All I can say is, thank goodness God doesn’t throw us away when we’re chipped, cracked or broken. I’d have been relegated to the trash bin years ago. Instead, I’m a beautiful mosaic, and very multi-faceted – wouldn’t you say?

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