Kudos if anyone gets the quote in the title before I explain it.
…I’ll give you a moment to think. Hit the “read more” after you’ve given up.
I make absolutely no excuses about being obsessed with characters and their development. Even more so, I am fascinated with relationships and how characters get them into and out of them. I have stories about star-crossed lovers who can’t seem to find their way into bed together, I have stories about men who have tragic pasts and won’t entangle themselves again, I have stories about girls realizing they’re a lesbian, I have stories about people trapped in impossible loves. I have friends and enemies and traitors and everything in between, and I love delving into all of it.
So it shouldn’t surprise anyone that I love weddings. And I had the wonderful gift to watch two of my friends from my undergrad college years get married to each other this past weekend. I haven’t known the groom that much, but I’ve heard more than enough about him from the bride, my dear friend from college. She was one of the first people I met at the school, at the auditions for the theatre scholarships our university offered. We shared a name, shared an instrument in high school band, shared a favorite musical, were both in school for theatre… We had more commonalities than we did differences, though we couldn’t have been more different in aesthetic. I am heavy, with brown hair, and about 5’7″. She is petite, blonde, and about 3-4 inches shorter. But she is one of my best friends from those years, and it was wonderful to share that day with her.
It’s fascinating, to watch a wedding. They had an entirely un-religious ceremony held at her grandmother’s farm. It was a lovely (and short) service held in the Virginia heat, with a family-style reception afterward. There was laughter before, during, and after the service. I made new friends, and got a chance to see her groom again. (He’s a wonderful person, from all I’ve seen, but I’ve only spoken to him twice now. I’d like to change this over time.) I took pictures, I cried when she walked down the aisle, I shared in their toasts to a long and happy marriage, and I left with a smile on my face.
Jack Sparrow really had it right in Pirates with his “A wedding–I love weddings! Drinks all around!” Weddings should be a time for the happy couple, their families, and their friends and loved ones. It’s the perfect time to see how everyone interacts, and what happens when two families who up until then, may not have been around each other all that much. Maybe the younger brother of the groom hits on the sister of the bride–until he realizes how young she is. Maybe the mother of the groom has a fit of anger about something the DJ says. Maybe the groom blacks out about half of his wedding. Maybe several of the extended family all end up drinking too much and telling things that…perhaps ought not to be told. (No, I’m not calling on stories I’ve heard or anything; what do you mean?)
Really, if you want to see how your characters all interact, find a way to put them all at a wedding. Everyone’s true colors will show there, I assure you.
(Alternately, and perhaps more morbidly, you could do much the same at a funeral, but I find that makes for a much less interesting story, unless you’re taking it in a rather What Dreams May Come tack and having the dying see what they’ve left behind. I’ve done that before.)
What do you think? Do you like weddings? Do you think the whole thing is overwrought and useless? Would you rather sit at the bar and get drunk or be out on the dance floor making friends? If nothing else, it might make for an interesting focus to just ask your protagonist or supporting character this: who would you invite to your wedding, and who would you leave off the list?
Tell me what you think in the comments. Fun or phony? Can you do a quick (<700 words) write-up on what you think about one of your characters’ weddings? If you don’t want to make a whole story, try doing the invitation list challenge I mentioned above! I’m tempted to do one myself…