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
Posted at Mar 13, 2015 7:02 am
Hello there! This is Laurie, Shelley’s assistant. This month we’ve invited some of your favorite Amish authors to share where their wedding ceremonies and receptions were held. First I’ll share my story.
When Travis and I were planning our wedding, my parents had recently started attending St. Paul United Methodist Church in Cincinnati. One Sunday, they invited us to join them for the service. We were immediately impressed by the brilliant stained glass windows that lined both sides of the sanctuary. Their new minister agreed to allow our former pastor to join him in officiating our ceremony. After the wedding ceremony, we invited our guests to head across the river to continue our celebration at The Madison Event Center in northern Kentucky.
What a fun question!
Since my wedding was rather plain and simple in the Methodist Church, I try to give my characters an interesting wedding venue. In my latest romance, The Last Heiress, my happy couple gets married on a blockade-runner at the close of the Civil War by the ship’s captain. This model from the Wilmington Historical Society gives you an idea what that kind of ship looked like.
We had a small wedding in my husband’s parents’ house. When you only have three months to put a wedding together, your options narrow. It was sweet of them to offer. They chose to give us the gift of a reception at a nearby party house because my mother-in-law, like my husband, is extraordinarily neat and she couldn’t bear the idea of food and wedding cake on her carpet. Knowing my newspaper reporter friends and Tim’s TV news reporter friends, as I did, I heartily concurred with the decision. I think the most memorable thing about the ceremony for me was that my sister—my only family member to attend and my maid of honor—was late. Very late. The minister had another ceremony to get to after ours and he was literally pacing the floor, wearing holes in the carpet. I was dressed and ready to go, flowers in my hair, guests waiting in the dining room, and no sister. When dear sister arrived with her hubby and toddler in tow she informed me that some day when I had children I would understand. And 27 years later, I do.
My third daughter wanted a unique place for her wedding reception so we reserved a secluded city park surrounded by lots of trees. Unfortunately, it was a very dry spring, and the city’s irrigation efforts were woefully ineffective. There were dry patches of grass everywhere, and I was excessively annoyed. I kept calling the city, asking them to please fix their sprinklers so that the grass would be a lovely green color instead of dried-out brown for my daughter’s wedding reception. In desperation, my children, husband, and I went to the park almost every day and used buckets to bail water from a small stream nearby to water the dry lawn by hand. The whole thing was a little ridiculous, but the lawn was presentably green by the day of the reception.
Weddings…Once again, I’m certain, that I am the most romantic of the bunch. See, I got married in the very glamorous courthouse in Sebastian County, Arkansas. We had to wait almost two hours for the JOP to come back from somewhere (it’s been too long and I can’t remember where he had gone), but by the time he got back to the office, I was ready to give it all up. But they (the other seven adults we had taken with us) managed to convince me that since I was already there, I needed to go ahead and marry him.
Oh, it wasn’t that I didn’t love him. Or that I didn’t want to get married, it was just so stressful! It didn’t help that my groom’s brother and his (at the time) girlfriend kept saying, “Do you take this man for the rest of your life?”
But somehow we made it through the ceremony, even though my groom almost backed out when he had to “plight thee my troth.” I secretly think he thought it might have something to do with raising farm animals. And we managed to say our vows to each other while my nephew cried, “Mommy, daddy, mommy, daddy,” the entire time. He was three then, and we’ve had a while to forgive him for the interruption.
Last week we celebrated our twenty-fifth wedding anniversary. So despite the lack of a formal reception (we ate at Pizza Hut on the way home, then had champagne and cake once we were back at my mother-in-law’s) and missing a fancy venue with a hundred plus guest list, I think we may have done something right.
Shelley Shepard Gray
My husband Tom and I were married in downtown Houston in July! We had a formal evening wedding~everyone attending wore tuxedos, suits, and long gowns. After the service at the church, our wedding reception was on the second floor of the Houston Museum of Fine Art. It was all very glamorous and beautiful~and So Very Hot and Humid! All these years later, that’s what everyone still remembers-having to be very dressed up in Houston in the middle of summer! Our groomsmen still jokingly remind Tom and me that they didn’t think they were going to survive all the photos taken in front of the church.
We hope you check back with us next month when your favorite Amish authors tell us what they wore for their big day!