Till Death Do You Part

This week, I’m away on my honeymoon. No, I didn’t write this blog while ignoring my new husband. LOL.

It has me thinking about weddings, though. Not just my own and other real-life humans, but weddings in romance novels. Are they required?

Publishers of romance do require either happily-ever-after or happily-for-now endings to the stories they publish. That’s kind of the definition of a romance, in my opinion. The characters have a happy ending. That ending might mean that they commit to a long-term relationship, or that they agree to continue the relationship they’re already in (going under the belief that a story about an already-existing relationship constitutes a romance, which I blogged about a few weeks back). It might mean that they move in together.

Or it might mean that they wind up married.

I’ve read a couple reviews of romances by one of the big name publishers that made a little bit of fun of the publisher’s tendency to put out novels that include the heroine becoming pregnant by the hero, and the hero then proposing marriage. Instant happy-ever.

I’m not so sure the situation would work out that way if it’s a couple who’s just begun dating and an unexpected pregnancy occurs, though I do know one or two couples for whom that was the case and they seem pretty content together. If the couple in the story is already in love and a baby happens along, I can get behind that idea. I’ve written one or two like that, though at the moment they’re languishing on my hard drive because they have issues beyond the “Oops I’m pregnant” ones.

This entry’s supposed to be about weddings, though, not pregnancies… This is me doing my “Ooh, shiny!” topic thing again. Sorry about that.

So on with the wedding thing. Yes, romances have to end with happiness, either ever after or for the moment. Do they have to end with the characters pledging undying love to one another in front of a preacher, though?

The most committed relationship I’ve ever known of was a triad. Three men, living together in a relationship that lasted from the late 1960s until one of them passed away in the mid-1990s. The two surviving men are still together. Of course the three of them had issues and arguments and so on. They stuck things out and worked them out, though, and to be honest, they, not my parents, provided my template for what a good relationship should be. If they still lived in this state today, two of them could be legally married. Back when they lived here, though, that wasn’t possible, and even today the three of them wouldn’t be able to form any type of legal commitment. (Marriage is still two people, even if you’re fortunate enough to be in a state that disregards the gender of those two.)

What about other religious or spiritual beliefs? Not everyone stands in a church and says “I do” according to the word of God. ***DISCLAIMER: I am not attempting to start a religious debate here. If you have strong opinions on the subject, fine. If those opinions involve disrespecting others’ beliefs, please keep them to yourself.*** (Really not happy that I have to say that, but I’ve seen similar discussions devolve to mudslinging, and I won’t have that here.)

So anyway, not everyone is married in a church by the traditional Christian ceremony. Aside from civil ceremonies, which still often include some reference to God, there are pagan handfastings, ceremonies from other religions, and even commitment ceremonies that aren’t considered legal marriages. There’s a pretty wide range of diversity in the way people can be married. However, in nearly all the books that I’ve read that involve a wedding, it’s the traditional church thing. Is that because that’s what the author is most familiar with, or because it’s what the reader demands?

Personally, I’d love to read more books that end with some type of commitment ceremony other than the traditional wedding. My husband (dang, I keep wanting to type fiance, this is gonna take some getting used to) and I had a ceremony at a local yacht club, performed by a justice of the peace, that included a unification piece involving my children from my first marriage. The JP used vows that didn’t include any religious references, out of respect for my husband’s self-described “apathetic agnosticism.” (He doesn’t know if there’s a God, and he doesn’t care.) The unification ceremony involved each of the four of us pouring sand into a jar, a different color for each of us, to show that we’ve blended together into a family. I’m definitely going to be including that in a story in the future.

I’d be interested in hearing whether you’ve read or written a romance that involves a different type of wedding/commitment ceremony, whether it’s from a religion other than Christianity or some other type of spirituality (or lack thereof) altogether. Not fantasy or sci fi stories in which the author invents a ceremony; I’d like to hear about books that present things people do in real life to legalize and solidify their commitments to each other, but that aren’t often shown in fiction.

And if you want to bounce on over to my personal website, I’ll be blogging about my own wedding there.


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