It’s the middle of June, and weddings are on my mind this week. Possibly next week as well, and into July. But at any rate, today I’m thinking about weddings.
Two – no, three of my most favorite books have weddings in them. Jennifer Crusie’s Bet Me and Lois McMaster Bujold’s A Civil Campaign both feature the “gotta find a date for the wedding” trope. Let’s take a quick look at how the wedding works in each story.
In Bet Me, Min needs a date for her sister’s wedding, and she’s just been dumped by the man she was counting on to validate her place in the party. He was going to be Min’s offering to her volcano mom, in order to appease her and divert her mother’s attention to other things. It didn’t matter very much that he was a rat . . . he was her rat, at least for a few more weeks, or so she thought. Instead, he breaks up with her, and Fate steps in to provide a shining new gift horse, eminently suitable for getting her mother off her back . . . her pack pony, at least for the next few weeks, or so she thought.
In ACC, Miles also needs a date for his foster brother’s wedding. (That foster brother also happens to be Emperor Gregor of Barrayar, so it’s kind of a big deal.) Unlike Min, he’s not seeing anyone . . . but he’s fallen head over heels in love with the woman whose husband he just watched die in the last book. The love is there – it doesn’t need to be developed. But oh, boy, the timing and circumstances are awful! They need to be overcome in order for our happy ending to take place. The widow, Ekaterin, is understandably gunshy about starting a new relationship so soon. And Miles, in his saner moments, totally understands this. But he’s got self-esteem issues, so he wants to get a commitment as soon as possible. The wedding, he figures, will display his confidence and standing in society, and persuade her to love him. He buys into a lot of unspoken societal assumptions about masculinity and wooing a woman. He’s got to get over his attitudes before the happy ending can take place.
In Bet Me, the wedding is not a shining example of happy endings. It highlights the difference between a bad relationship between people who don’t really know each other, and what Min and Cal want to create. The wedding is a horrible warning, and an anti-example of what to do. In ACC, the wedding is between almost literally a princess (shipping heiress of her planet) and a prince (as mentioned before, Emperor of Barrayar). Not only that, it’s a love match, a match in intellect, a political match, and a perfect match in so many ways. Miles can look at his foster brother’s impending nuptials and see that the fairytale can happen. It motivates him in his own quest for marital happiness. It’s a great aspiration to be striven for.
Aside from the plot points, the weddings also provide a great opportunity for set pieces. There are a lot of dramatic scenes, and very funny scenes as well, that spring from the complicated logistics of getting a pair of people wedded. We get a lot of great food, and some very nice fashion along with our romance.
It is interesting that the wedding couple aren’t front and center in either story. Min’s sister is one of many supporting cast members, and Gregor and Laisa are both finished with the “hard part” and are basically sitting around, pawns to be pushed by the wedding planners. Another interesting thing about both stories is that there is more than one love story. IIRC, there are three supplementary love stories in Bet Me (one fizzles out but they remain friends), and in ACC, there are a variety of love stories – budding ones like the ones the Koudelka sisters enjoy (with a tortured entrepreneur, a nerdy scientist, a top-level bureaucrat and a FtM count) as well as the established ones between Miles’ parents and Ekaterin’s aunt and uncle. I love that we see an investigation of love from many angles in both books.
How about you? What’s your favorite fictional wedding? How does it drive the plot in the story, and does it have a happy ending?