Weddings are something we rarely see in YA fiction — probably because most of the protagonists are in high school and aren’t ready for that yet, or they’re too busy saving the world from imminent destruction. But that’s not to say we don’t see them at all. Whether they be cringe-worthy or cute, I’m here to talk all about weddings in YA.
Probably the first YA novel I read that contained a wedding was the infamous marriage between Bella and Edward in Breaking Dawn. Yeah, that one was… weird. I mean, I always preferred Edward to Jacob, but I think what followed the wedding in the rest of the book kind of tainted my memory of it. I’m sure it was meant to be really sweet, but that whole book left a sour taste in my mouth. And besides, Bella was like 18 at the time? And Edward was something like 200 years old? Talk about an age gap.
And then I moved onto my dystopian phase, and so I think you’ll know which book I’m talking about her. Matched by Ally Condie. Set in a dystopian future where society chooses who you are to be paired with, there wasn’t really any way of writing that book without it coming off as a little unnerving. I only actually read the first book of that series, but that whole concept is something that’s still stuck with me. And it creeps me out.
Next we have The Selection, a rather guilty pleasure of mine. This series was all the rage about four or five years ago, and I couldn’t help but be swept up in the excitement. As what I call The Bachelor meets The Real Housewives of Melbourne, this series is full of cattiness and girl hate as all of the contestants vie for the attention of the Prince whom they get to marry if they win the contest, I couldn’t help but be addicted to this series. Don’t get me wrong — it’s pretty poorly written in parts and the protagonist annoyed the heck out of me sometimes, but I did enjoy it. It’s the kind of thing you can read without really having to pay attention to.
Probably one of my favourite YA novels that contains a wedding is The Upside of Unrequited — whereby two parents get married. Maybe I enjoyed this wedding a lot more than the other ones I’ve read because it’s not teenagers getting married, or maybe it’s because this book was actually really well written — and one of my favourites of 2017. While the wedding is definitely not the main focus of the novel, it was adorable and happy and made my heart sing. I’d love to read more contemporaries with weddings for the older characters! Adults deserve happiness too.
And I can’t not mention the wedding in the Bloodlines series. I don’t want to namedrop who actually got married, because apparently, spoilers have no expiration date, but I really loved how things ended up between them. I adored the two characters and I’m not ashamed to admit that I had a crush on both of them, and even though people my age getting married weirds me out a bit — mainly because I personally can’t fathom getting married right now — I loved that wedding between them. Ah, now I want to reread it!
Finally, a book that definitely needs to be mentioned is When Dimple Met Rishi — another one of my favourite novels of 2017. As the two main characters have an Indian heritage, it was really interesting to see that it was the idea of an arranged marriage was what threw their lives together. Although it served as the catalyst for the narrative, it definitely wasn’t the main focus of the novel, and I just loved seeing the relationship between Dimple and Rishi grow into something that left me swooning. They were just adorable together.
Once and for All by Sarah Dessen
Louna, daughter of famed wedding planner Natalie Barrett, has seen every sort of wedding: on the beach, at historic mansions, in fancy hotels and clubs. Perhaps that’s why she’s cynical about happily-ever-after endings, especially since her own first love ended tragically. When Louna meets charming, happy-go-lucky serial dater Ambrose, she holds him at arm’s length. But Ambrose isn’t about to be discouraged, now that he’s met the one girl he really wants.
Sarah Dessen’s many, many fans will adore her latest, a richly satisfying, enormously entertaining story that has everything—humor, romance, and an ending both happy and imperfect, just like life itself.
So because of my long history with reading about weddings in YA, I was really interested to pick up Once and for All by Sarah Dessen. While here it’s not about the protagonist getting married, she works as a wedding planner, which was fascinating to see. That’s something I’d never read about before in YA, so it was fun to be surrounded by so much talk of weddings and love and happily ever afters, specifically when they weren’t in relation to the protagonist. And I mean, being a wedding planner sounds like an intense job. Not only does that require these people to have everything right for the happy couple’s perfect day, it can make them more sceptical about love because of what they’ve experienced. That whole idea really drove the narrative, and I loved seeing that element explored.
Completely with charming yet real characters and a light atmosphere, Once and for All is the perfect summer read that you’ll want to devour in one sitting. It’s sweet, it’s funny in parts, and it’s centred around the themes of family and friendship while containing messages about life and love that we’ll all be able to relate to and take something from. The relationship between the protagonist and the love interest wasn’t at all as one-dimensional as he first appeared to be. Their romance was adorable and I loved getting to know both of them. If you’re looking for a quick, easy contemporary to devour and you like the sound of the wedding elements, I highly recommend picking up Once and for All. It’s the first book I’ve read by Sarah Dessen, and it certainly won’t be my last.
Have you read any of the books I’ve mentioned? Will you be picking up Once and for All? What’s your favourite or least favourite bookish wedding? Are weddings something you like to see in YA? What aspect of weddings in YA would you like to see explored more? I’d love to know!
Thanks to Penguin Australia for providing me with a copy of Once and for All in exchange for an honest review!
Open book used in header sourced from Download Clipart.