Monday, July 29, 2013

40 for 40 - India Grey

Some people you just remember exactly where and when you met them. India Grey is one of those  people.  The Magnet and I had been invited to a party at Susan Stephens'  house. We had just negotiated a parking space close to the house when  the driver of the car parked in front emerged in a flurry of long, silky dark hair. When we realised we were heading in the same direction, she introduced herself as India Grey and, fizzing with excitement, produced  her very first copy of her not-yet-published book  The Italian's Defiant Mistress. I understood that excitement - it might be years ago now, but I still remember how it felt.
Another thing India and I share is our preference for understated weddings -  my wedding (to the Magnet of course!)  and hers sound really very similar - including the 'straight out of university'  bit.  Perhaps it's one of the reasons why we write romance - the real romance of a wedding is in the love between the bride and groom.
So India's post made me smile  as it brought back another memory. This time one of 40 years ago . . .

Thank you India - and welcome:

With an immensely successful career and 61 books (and counting) covering just about every luxurious setting imaginable, from grand palaces to exotic white-sanded beaches, there’s not much you could tell Kate Walker about the trappings of love. She’s a world-class expert, the Empress of Romance, so it might come as a bit of a surprise that she chose to spend her 40th wedding anniversary, not in a posh hotel in Paris or a villa on the beach in St Lucia but in student accommodation in Sheffield. (A decision applauded by her many friends also at the RNA Conference this weekend!)
When Kate invited me to write a post to mark this special celebration it made my thoughts turn to weddings, and specifically the ones I’ve written in my books. It struck me that, although the books are about people who are wealthy and powerful enough to have the kind of nuptials which would cost enough to fund the NHS for a year and would warrant a pull-out souvenir section in OK! Magazine, they never actually do. Almost all of the weddings I’ve written have been tiny, private, sometimes even secret, because to me those are about a squillion times more romantic than the Windsor State Circus-style ones. When I got married,
straight out of university and reeling with love and laziness, I bought my dress from the first shop I went into – a vintage clothing shop where they had a grand total of two to choose from. (Since then, looking back at the photographs, I’ve often thought that a little more attention to boring details like finding one that actually fitted properly might not have been a bad thing...)
Having just written another very modest wedding in the book I’m currently working on (this time in wartime and featuring a borrowed dress, a bouquet picked from a neighbour’s garden and a buffet comprising bloater paste sandwiches and almost-fruitless fruit cake) I was interested to find out what kind of wedding Kate and Steve had. I suppose what I really mean is that I had an idea what I thought their wedding would have been like, and I was interested to find out if I was right. So, when I tentatively asked, ‘was it lavish?’ I probably would have fallen down the stairs (for that was where this conversation took place – you have to grab your chances whenever you can at the RNA conference, particularly with the perennially in demand Ms Walker!) if she’d sighed and said, ‘Oh yes... Six tiny bridesmaids in ankle-length silk spilling out of a fleet of vintage Rolls Royces and a reception for two hundred at the local country club...’
No. A dress made by her new mother in law, an heirloom veil from her Irish grandmother (the original Kate Walker). A reception of about twenty family members and close friends. ‘I didn’t really care who came...’ she admitted, and I knew what she meant. Because Steve was there and that was all that mattered. I guess that’s all that matters still, forty years later. And that’s why Sheffield was as good a place to celebrate as St Lucia.
Happy anniversary, Kate and Steve, and thank you for sharing your celebration with us here, and in Sheffield at the weekend.

I'd love to hear about other people's wonderful, low-key or spontaneous celebrations, whether for weddings or anniversaries or birthdays or anything else, and have two books from my back catalogue (the
wartime wedding book being still in progress) that feature the most understated weddings to give away: Spanish Aristocrat, Forced Bride and Mistress: Hired for the Billionaire’s Pleasure – plus chocolate, because books and chocolate go together like books and chocolate.

With three daughters of my own fast approaching wedding age I could do with storing up some ideas!


kimmyl said...

Being silly with the girls during pictures and waiting to walk down the aisle with my dad was so memorable for me.It was such a beautiful event, but the best part, for us, was that it brought together people from different parts of our lives.
I think celebrations are as memorable as you make them. THe best part is the having pictures to look back and remember.

traveler said...

Cherishing the memory of the day and the events preceding the wedding are wonderful. When family meet for the rehearsal dinner and the warmth surrounding the festivities is very important.

petite said...

Photos that capture the emotions, the extended family and focus on the individuals whose lives are changing is a treasure.

Jane said...

Hi India,
My cousin got married in Vegas and it was pretty informal because she planned it in two weeks. Our bridesmaid dresses were prom dresses that we found on sale at the department store. Instead of having a catered dinner we ate at the Bellagio buffet.

Ty Pree said...

Hi Kate...

I love your passion and continuous efforts with your blog & it is INSPIRATION!!! #Salute!!!

~TyPree aka @Preenump

India said...

I'm SO sorry to be late to the party, but I just got back an hour ago from a long weekend of family celebration. While my husband finishes unpacking the car I've enjoyed reading about your favourite memories. Kimmy, I totally agree about the uniqueness of all those special people coming together in one place - I remember being blown away by that too. Who needs handcrafted table favours when you have that kind of magic in your day?

Traveler, that's a good point about enjoying the run-up to a special event too, and another reason why simple is nice, so you don't find yourself stressing over complicated arrangements and losing sight of what it's all about! The pleasure of anticipation is one of life's underrated joys.

Petite - I think photos have come on so much since the days of the stiffly posed ones we had. I remember resenting the amount of time they took up and just wanting to be able to talk to everyone properly! In all of them our smiles have a sort of fixed, desperate look, but the ones our friends took really sum up the emotion of the day.

Jane, I love the sound of your cousin's Vegas wedding - it definitely belongs in a book! It sounds fun and romantic and like a great celebration of love and friendship. Memorable for all the right reasons, and perfect.

Ty, agreed!

Mary Preston said...

Low key sounds ideal to me. Mine was WAY over the top. I had my MIL idea of a perfect wedding. Oh well!!

India said...

Oh no Mary, poor you! But so easy to get pulled in by the pressure of outside forces, especially when you want to please your new family. Any chance of a very low-key vow-renewing ceremony sometime....?

bn100 said...

meals at restaurants


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