June - weddings, brides, and romance in the air!

From the desk of Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy


            Something about weddings appeals to our romantic natures and everyone – or almost everyone – adores a bride.  June is traditionally a popular month for weddings, a custom dating back to Roman times when marrying during a month named for the goddess of marriage, Juno, seemed auspicious.  On this first day of June in a unseasonable and strange spring, I thought I’d share some of my favorite bride photographs and a few wedding snippets from some of my various works.  Since I write romance, weddings seem to happen within the pages of my novels fairly often and since as a child I was somewhat wedding-obsessed, it’s no surprise.  Every little girl may dream of one day being a bride but I doubt many others insisted on having a wedding each and every Sunday without fail with one cousin forced into service as the reluctant groom and another standing in for the parson.

            I’ve written about very conventional weddings and some that are as unconventional as it gets.  From Love Tattoo, book 1 of my Love Covenant series, here’s what happens when a vampire weds his lady…..

            After the formal rite, the unchanging and age old promises made, Father Tobin let us express ourselves in our own way.   Maybe it wouldn’t have happened if there had been a church full of people but at that hour, alone, he gave us flexibility.

             I picked up my Gibson from the front pew and faced Will, strap over my chest as if this were a gig.   The words were not mine but what I sang, I sang from the heart.   As I chorded the music, the plaintive, tender words of Jim Croce’s   Time In A Bottle, I watched Will’s face and the joy I saw reflected echoed in my own heart.  We have time, all the time there will be, together, all the days until eternity passes away to spend together.  That’s more than Croce had and I treasure it.

            When I finished the song, a stray tear tracked down Will’s cheek and he took my hands in his, despite the guitar between us.   In that voice I adored, he quoted again from Romeo and Juliet,

            “My bounty is as boundless as the sea; my love as deep.  The more I give, the more I have for both are infinite.”     

             Like an arrow shot with skill, those words struck me through the heart, speared me, and reached my very soul.   My song, his quoted poetry, those became our personal vows as we expressed our love with our style.   Emotion flooded all my senses and overflowed as tears cascaded down my cheeks.


Now here’s a more traditional exchange of vows, 1920’s style, from Guy’s Angel..


“You look like the angel Guy thinks you are,” Mama said, when she pirouetted to show off the dress.  “You’re beautiful, Lorraine.”

“Thanks,” Angel whispered, staring at the reflection in her mother’s dresser mirror.  In the old glass, her image wavered but the dress enhanced her appearance so much she felt like a stranger.  Around her neck she wore her mother’s faux pearls for something borrowed, little gold earrings once  Granny Ryan’s for something old, and the dress itself was new.

The silk bodice dropped, pannier style, to the skirt with an overlay of gold lace trimmed with a knot of wax flowers, beads, and ribbons centered at the waist.  The cap style bonnet fit snug against her short bob and the veil, more netting than lace, hung to her waist behind. She looked very much a bride but not much like Angel, the girl who wanted to fly, and she hoped Guy would still find her pretty in the ritzy get up.  When she voiced that to her mother, Mama laughed, “He’s going to think you’re the prettiest thing he’s ever laid eyes on his life.  That young man loves you.”

“I love him, too.”

Her mother nodded, “Oh, Lorraine, I know.  Let’s go to church.”

Angel retrieved her bridal bouquet from the ice box, a present from Guy.  The huge bunch of flowers took both hands to hold and from the fragrant blossoms, ribbons trailed, some tied in the traditional lover’s knots. The white roses, baby’s breath, and pale white carnations surrounded a single red rose and it was the loveliest bride’s bouquet she’d ever seen. The flowers from Stuppy’s arrived early, not long after the milkman left the milk on the porch.  Pop, hands shaking, pinned a corsage to her mother’s best dress. Her baby brother, just turned sixteen, looked pale and strange in his new suit jacket, bought just for the occasion.

Pop drove them so they wouldn’t to walk in their finery.  Since that night he’d come to the house looking for Guy and spent hours keeping vigil with her mother, Pop came around often and Angel, with mixed amusement and surprise, thought he might be sweet on Mama. What shocked her most of all, however, was the idea Mama might feel the same way.

 At St. Mary’s, the sparse crowd looked tiny in the huge sanctuary but they’d agreed they just wanted their closest folks to attend. Since her dad was deceased, Ed, as her nearest elder male relative, walked her down the aisle to the soft strains of “The Wedding March". Guy's sister, Bettie, walked before her as matron of honor and down before the altar, Guy waited with Charlie, his best man at his side. 

In the pews, on opposite sides of the center aisle, their mothers watched with the other gathered relatives as Angel came down the aisle with measured tread, heart pounding and tears threatening to erupt. Guy, more handsome than ever in a brand new suit he’d bought at Block Brothers at a sharp discount, watched her, his hazel eyes intent on each step she made.  She made eye contact and held his gaze, relying on it as she stepped toward him.

 Her nervous tremors eased when she stood beside him, inside the altar rail.  Despite his pallor, he smiled at her and Angel relaxed, letting the happiness that buoyed her up each time she thought about the reality of becoming his wife expand until it filled her. The familiar words of the Mass succored her and when the time came to make their vows, she spoke hers to him in a clear, calm voice.  His eyes never left hers when he made his own and when they were pronounced husband and wife, he took her into his arms and kissed her as if they were alone.

Guy’s mouth touched hers with the reverence for something holy, the tenderness for something precious and his mouth offered love. She kissed him back, enjoying the slow, subtle caress that still carried a hint of passion to come. As they walked back down the aisle, hands linked, she noticed all of the other pilots and would-be aviators from the field sat on the groom’s side of the aisle along with some of Guy’s fellow veterans, some in their uniforms. On her side, Pop sat beside her mother.  Four girls she worked with at Kresge’s sat behind her family and in the same pew, several old high school classmates sat, familiar and yet strange.

Outside the church, at the top of the steps, Angel stopped Guy.  As a slight breeze caught her veil and wrapped it around them like an embrace, she looked up at him,

“Can I get a better kiss than that, ace?”

“Baby,” he said with a grin that outshone the morning sun and melted her heart. “You got all the cash you want.”

This time he kissed her until her head whirled, his mouth firm and searching against her mouth.  Guy’s lips seared hers until she burned hot as a candle flame and felt as pliable as wax.  She clung to him, his strong arms supporting her and Angel knew beyond any doubt, she was home, forever, in his embrace. They might have remained there kissing in the heat forever except the wedding guests pelted them with rice and the interruption inspired them to race down the stairs to his car.

And how about a war time wedding from In The Shadow of War…


                The Newton County courthouse claimed the center of the downtown square.  Bette remembered the old one, a red brick towering edifice with Victorian style, but the new one couldn’t be more modern with square lines.  She remembered the period between when the open space looked so strange and watching the new one emerge from the ground up.  They held the big dedication in October, sophomore year, and the kids all walked over from the high school to hear Senator Truman’s speech. She’d never imagined being married here, but today it fit.   Inside, the marble hallways thronged with more people than she’d seen on previous visits.  It turned out half of them were waiting to get married.

Most of the grooms were just like Benny, soldiers from Camp Crowder, and Bette’s heart dropped, thinking they’d never get wed today.   She sighed so hard the sound became almost a whimper and Benny turned to her. “What’s a-matter?”

                “If they’re all waiting, too, we’ll never get married today,” she said, surprised and saddened.  A few hours ago she’d never dreamed this could be her wedding day, but now she’d set her heart on having it.  If it wasn’t, now she’d be disappointed.

                “Sure we will,” Benny said. “We’ll get married, baby.  I promise.  Wait here.”

                Bette sank down on a bench against one wall and watched him move through the crowds.  Benny vanished into the press of people and she sat, eyes closed, praying maybe they could be married today after all.  Although it’d seemed cool as they entered, the crowded hallway grew warm and she got overheated.  She opened her eyes to fan with her pocketbook, but it didn’t provide much relief.   All the events of the past day, less than twenty four hours, swirled around in her mind until Bette’s head spun dizzy.  The man she loved lost a brother and Benny’s emotional condition worried her.  On top of it she’d given up her virginity and made love for the first time.  Now she might or might not wed today.  Between the heat and everything else, she realized she might experience another first if she fainted.   She tried to put her head down to stop the whirling circles but the movement only increased it.

                “Bette?” Benny’s voice cut through the spinning mayhem. “You awright?”

                He sounded concerned so she pasted on a smile as she raised her head. “I’m hot and I got a little dizzy, but I’m fine.”

                “Good,” he said as he watched her with an anxious frown. “C’mon, we’re moving to the head of the line.”

                 Benny grasped her hand and pulled her up from the bench.  His physical contact eased Most of her vertigo and if she understood, they were about to say their vows.  “How’d you do that?”

                He rubbed his thumb and first two fingers together in an age old motion. “I greased the skids with a little dough, baby.  I wasn’t raised in Brooklyn for nothing.  A little cash put us up next.  Are you ready to do this?”

                All her dizzy malaise vanished. “I sure am, honey.”

                Stares and glares from the other waiting couples followed them as they headed into the office to offer the information and buy the license.  Within a half hour they entered the judge’s inner office, meeting another couple coming out.   The judge, one Bette knew by sight from around town, sat with a smoldering cigar between his fingers and a glass she figured wasn’t iced tea.  He greeted them, came to his feet, and began the simple civil ceremony.

                Without a bridal veil, outside the sacred circle of church, inhaling cigar smoke, Bette repeated the familiar words as she promised to love, honor, cherish, and obey Ben Levy for the rest of her life.   When her groom said the same, she listened and saw nothing but him. Although she heard the judge’s voice, flavored with more than a bit of bourbon, Bette looked into Benny’s eyes.  He produced a pair of rings from his pocket, a fine, almost fragile narrow band for her and a heavier wedding ring for him.   He slid the lovely ring onto her left hand and handed her his ring.  Bette managed to put it onto his finger and when she did, Benny kept her hand to hold tight.

The shelves of law books, the smoke stained drapes, the office became invisible and when the judge pronounced them man and wife by the power invested by the state of Missouri, she felt just as married as if they’d had a Nuptial Mass.

                “You can kiss your bride if you want, son,” the judge said. “But make it snappy.  I got at least ten more weddings today.  And congratulations to you both.”

                  Without hurry and with slow deliberation, Benny took Bette into his arms and kissed her, his mouth cherishing hers with tenderness and love.  It wasn’t a passionate kiss, but she couldn’t have dreamed of anything sweeter.  Then, still holding her hand, they left the office as Mr. and Mrs. Ben Levy.  As they moved through the waiting crowds, he put his arm around her and steered them through the mass.  Outside, Bette raised her left hand so sunlight touched the ring with living fire.  “It’s so dainty and pretty,” she told him. “I love it.”

                A smile played over his lips like music. “I thought maybe you would.  So, Mrs. Levy what do you want to do now?”

                “I have no idea,” Bette said, happiness bubbling up like a spring inside. “Anything you want, honey.”

                “I want it all,” Benny replied with a playful growl. “Come here, wife.”
These are just a few of the wedding scenes from my various writings! Scroll down to see where to find me - and a few more bride pics too!

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