It all started when I asked a kind of nosy question. A few years ago, I was sitting in my Amish friend’s kitchen having coffee with her and one of her daughters. It was late February and we were talking about the snow on the ground, the freezing temperatures, and how spring just couldn’t come soon enough.
Then I noticed how tan her daughter was.
I knew I shouldn’t ask why she was tan in February, but after a while I couldn’t help myself. With a smile, she told me that she’d just gotten back from a week’s vacation in Pinecraft.
I had never heard of it.
Right away, the conversation took a sharp turn. Soon, we were talking about Siesta Key and sugar-sand beaches. Riding bicycles instead of driving buggies. Smelling fresh flowers, eating strawberries, and playing volleyball and shuffle board.
It all sounded wonderful to me!
And it is. Pinecraft stole my heart last February when I visited. My husband and I walked on Siesta Key, visited Pinecraft Park, and stood in line at Yoder’s for slices of key lime pie. We had pizza with Amish friends and ice cream cones in the afternoon.
It was warm. It was beautiful. By the time we boarded the plane, I was already planning the Amish Brides of Pinecraft Series. It launches with The Promise of Palm Grove in February.
So, pour yourself a glass of iced tea, slip on a pair of flip flops, and get ready to be charmed by a lovely place located in the heart of Sarasota, Florida.
Maybe, like me, you’ll be anxious to return again and again.
With blessings to you,

The Latest from Shelley's Journal

The Bride’s Entourage

Posted at May 13, 2015 10:54 am

We’ve all heard the phrase, “Always a bridesmaid, never a bride.”  And I’m sure many of us have heard our share of bridesmaid disaster stories.  For years, Hollywood has capitalized from these tales–from a the bride’s sister donning an ugly bridesmaid dress so as not to steal the show to a best friend ensuring Bridezilla gets her dream wedding to a Maid of Honor who is secretly in love with the groom…  It’s probably safe to say that we’ve all shared some laughs while watching weddings fall apart on the big screen. 


I (Laurie) am relieved to say that I don’t have any bridesmaid tales to share from my own wedding.  I was, however, Maid of Honor in my girlfriend’s wedding.  The dresses she chose for us were gorgeous!  I immediately fell in love with this two-piece, floor-length gown in a beautiful shade of cloudy blue–and the embroidery!  The only problem with “the look” was due to a miscommunication with the stylist who did my hair before the ceremony.  I envisioned a few thin twists of hair held back with a sparkly accessory, curly tendrils romantically falling toward my shoulders.  As is clear in the photo, I ended up looking like a character from Star Trek.  One of my college mentors happened to be in attendance, and she approached me after the ceremony and said, “You look beautiful, but you might want to choose a different hairstyle for your own wedding.”  Gee, thanks!  Shelley’s Amish author friends have contributed their own bridesmaid stories for your enjoyment.


Beth Shriver

Here’s a picture of my SPIKEY headdress that looks more like a prickly pare. Because I’m the only one with one on it really stands out! Yikes! The things we think are a good idea at the time… 

Beth Shriver May

Mary Ellis

Since I married at the end of the flower-child era, my four bridesmaids wore very bright floral dresses with wide-brimmed hats. Name a color and it was included in that wild print. Right after the service we went to the local park for pictures. A swarm of bees deviled us the entire time we were there. Two girls got stung, while I carried one bee back to the reception inside my bouquet.

Jennifer Beckstrand

I love elegant weddings and definitely knew what I wanted my own wedding to look like. While looking for a wedding dress, I walked into a bridal shop and saw the perfect bridesmaids dresses. Pink and fluffy and elegant. I fell in love. I don’t know if anybody else loved them, but I still think they are absolutely gorgeous. The four blondes in the photo are my sisters. It was truly a perfect day.

Jennifer May

Kelly Irvin

I had a small wedding so no entourage. No bridesmaids. Only my maid of honor, my sister, and as I mentioned before she was late. Very late. The pastor had another wedding after ours and he was anxious and ready to bolt by the time Pam arrived with her two year old in tow and her husband. She was expecting baby number two. She said I would understand some day. Looking back, I’m just so glad she was there. She was the only member of my family able to be at my wedding. In the bigger scheme of things, being late was no big deal. Having my sister at my wedding was a very big deal.

Shelley Shepard Gray

We had a formal evening wedding. It was actually black tie, so all the guests wore tuxedos and gowns. To go with this theme, I decided to have my bridesmaids wear black dresses. This was in the late 1980s, so I felt very daring to have my wedding party in all black and white!  The best story about my bridesmaids  was my bridesmaids’ luncheon. It was the day of the wedding, and in a café in a fancy department store. Unfortunately, the power in the whole store had gone out right before we got there. Since we had no place else to go, we had our luncheon in a darkened restaurant, and everyone had salads. Weeks later, I discovered that many of the girls in my bridal party got sick from the food they ate there! Ack! It just goes to show you how sweet everyone was…no one said a single thing during the lunch, wedding, or reception. I guess I’ve always been secretly thankful that I was too nervous to eat much of that lunch…getting food poisoning on my wedding day would have been such a disaster. 
Shelley May

Amy Lillard

Amy Lillard MayA wedding as fancy-schmancy as mine doesn’t simply happen overnight. It takes hours of planning, steadfast dedication, and tons of preparation.

Such was the case with my bridesmaids. If it wasn’t one thing it was another as we tried to get ready for my big day. Farrah took forever getting her bangs just right, Michelle was on the phone talking to some third world country while someone else
styled her hair, Reese was as gracious as ever. And J-Lo? Well, she was J-Lo. 

But what’s a bride to do when her bridesmaids are famous? Keep calm and carry on. After all, it was my big day. Regardless of the fact that I was surrounded by divas, I was determined to make the most of it. In fact—

What do you mean the photo looks faked? Of course it’s not faked! I’ve told you the truth all along haven’t I? I told you about my oh-so romantic proposal and my incredi-dress that I spent days trying to find. Why would I concoct some story this late in the game? Unquestionably not because I eloped and had no bridesmaids. That would mean no bridesmaids’ dresses and no lies about how they would be able to wear it again.

Why would I tell such tales? Obviously not because I didn’t want to be left out of the blog this month. And certainly not because if I didn’t come up with some story, then Shelley wouldn’t have included me.

Nope, here’s my very real wedding photo of my celeb-studded wedding party.  Don’t be jelly!

Haters gonna hate!

In June, love is in bloom, and these authors talk about the flowers they choose for their wedding ceremonies.


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