Weddings and Memories


Nothing makes my heart melt quite like weddings. I ALWAYS cry. There’s something about two people starting this new life together. They’re full of hopes and dreams, unable to see the trials and hurdles to jump over ahead. But I know they’ll be there.

Getting married was serious business with me.

M&R2I’ve been married twice and both husbands have now passed over.

The first time was a private ceremony with a preacher. No guests. The second was at the Justice of the Peace. So I don’t know anything about being married in a huge church with hundreds (often thousands) of guests except through my oldest daughter. This is a picture of her with her new hubby.

My parents married during the Depression on April 14, 1934 at the JP. They were homeless and living in a migrant camp. Mama had to borrow a pair of shoes from one of the women because she didn’t own any and she wore an old dress. Daddy wore overalls.

They faced hard times aplenty. But they dreamed of owning a real house someday.

It took them seventeen years.

Though the doctors told my daddy he was sterile from having rheumatic fever when he was a boy, they had a baby girl two years after tying the knot and went on to have five more. One was stillborn. (In the lineup, I was kid #5.)

Twice a Texas BrideIn my newest, TWICE A TEXAS BRIDE, Rand Sinclair and Callie Quinn married the first time so they could keep an orphaned baby. Callie borrowed a dress from Delta Dandridge who married Cooper Thorne in the previous book.

Neither Rand or Callie voiced love for each other, though they had it tucked deep in their hearts.

Callie made it clear she wouldn’t sleep in his bed, but Rand made her promise to kiss him each night before they went to their separate rooms.

They married again at the end of the book for real in front of lots of guests and the three children who made up their patchwork family.

Now, I’d like to hear about your wedding tales (either yours or someone else’s.) I’ll give away one copy (any format) of either book in my Bachelors of Battle Creek series.

And don’t forget…Book 3 of the series- FOREVER HIS TEXAS BRIDE – will be out on December 1 of this year! I’ve saved the best for last!

Bridal Showers Then & Now

 My oldest son is getting married!!!!  Yes, we’re excited.  Before I get into bridal showers, can I brag a bit? He pulled off one of the best proposals ever.  He went to grad school in Egypt, and he’s done a lot of travel in the Middle East. He and his soon-to-be fiance were backpacking in Syria where he took her to the highest tower of the Crac des Chevaliers, a castle from the Crusader era.  At the top, he asked a British tourist to take a picture.  Clever to the core, he faked having a rock in his shoe. When his girlfriend turned around, he was on bended knee with a ring on display, asking her to marry him.

She said yes and we’re so glad she did.  She came to Lexington this past weekend for a family bridal shower and we had great time.  We shopped for my “Mother of the Groom” dress together, ate Chinese food for lunch and came home to presents, games, food and Skype.  My son is still overseas, but we got things set up so he could watch the festivities via webcam. 

Imagine Skyping to a bridal shower. The world has sure changed . . . or has it? We had a kitchen themed shower much like mom had in in 1954.  As a kid I remember looking in the hope chest she’d filled with sheets and towels and an assortment of what-not for her new home. As long as I can remember, she had special things in that chest.  The history of hope chests would be an interesting blog. Since I have weddings on my mind, maybe I’ll do that next.  Today, though, I’ve been thinking about bridal showers.

My husband and I got married in 1980.  We practically eloped so we skipped the bridal shower tradition, though we made up for it with baby showers a few years later.  We started out with a set of everyday dishes, pots and pans, bedding and a lot of hand-me-downs. What we didn’t have, we bought at Pick n’ Save.  It’s been 30 years and would you believe I’m using the same red-handled can opener?

Bridal showers are a special time for the bride and family alike.  The custom as we know it in America originated in the 1890s.  It’s a gift-giving party for the purpose of getting the bride and groom set up in their new home.  In some cases, where the bride’s family was poor or perhaps opposed to the marriage, the bridal shower made sure the wedding could take place. It provided the bride and groom with what they needed to set up house and sustain their marriage.  Bridal showers also have ties to old dowry practices.  If a woman’s family refused to support her decision to marry, friends would come together and bring gifts to fill in the lack of a dowry.

Did you ever wonder why we call these events “showers” and not just parties”?    I figured it referred to showering the bride with gifts, but the word has more literal roots.  In the 1890s, it was the custom for the bride’s family and friends to put small presents in a parasol and open the parasol over her head.  Small should be the key word.  We gave my future d-i-l a set of pots and pans.  If they’d hit her in the head, she’d have been knocked unconscious . . . Same with the flatware! 

Bridal showers started as an urban tradition among wealthy families, but the custom quickly moved to rural America. Over the years, showers have evolved into a celebration that can be anything from a couples party to a bachelorette party to the traditional kind of party my mom enjoyed.

What about you? Have you given a bridal shower?  Been the bride at a shower in your honor?  What did you like best?  My favorite moment was watching my son on Skype as he joked with his bride-to-be.  It was just so sweet . . . I’ll never forget it.

Tanya Hanson: History and Romance, the perfect combo


 Well, there is something downright romantic about darling little birds flying in to California from Argentina on the same March day year after year to build their nests in the eaves of a jewel-like California mission. In the 1940’s, the hit song “When the Swallows Come Back to Capistrano” delighted radio listeners around the world. 

Truth is, the swallows have barely been seen at the San Juan Capistrano mission for years. Maybe it was all exaggeration. Or maybe the tiny birds got ticked off when work to preserve the mission started up ten years ago. Or…maybe their absence is just the tragic dearth of birdlife all over my fair state—the unhappy result of excessive building of houses and strip malls as far as one can see. Today, swallows are more likely to be seen building their mud nests on freeway overpasses even though mission-keepers try everything to lure them back to the grounds with ceramic nests and recorded bird songs.  

But there is definitely something romantic going on in San Juan Capistrano as you’ll soon see, after I enlighten (bore?) you with a few facts about the mission itself.

The founder of California’s mission system, Junipero Serra instructed Father Fermin Lasuen to found a mission between San Diego and San Gabriel, and Fermin did so in 1775. He named it for St. John of Capistrano, Italy. The local Indians, the Juaneno, were friendly and helped construct the buildings, church, and belltower. In its heyday, 1811, the mission grew 500,000 pounds of wheat, 303,000 pounds of corn, and had 14,000 cattle, as many sheep, and some 800 horses.


However, an earthquake in December 1812 destroyed the church and killed 40 natives; Pirate Hippolyte de Bouchard provided further destruction in 1818 when he raided the California coast. bouchard

(To be honest, I didn’t even know a blackguard buccaneer had raided my beloved home coast! Grrrrrrrrrrrr. Sounds like future blog material?)


In 1834, after Mexico won independence from Spain, the Mexican government ended the mission system and sold the land. Don Juan Forster became the owner of the mission in 1845, and the Forster family lived there for years.

When President Abraham Lincoln returned mission lands to the Catholic church in 1863, Mission San Juan Capistrano was in ruins, and Frank A. Forster, Don Juan’s grandson, lived in a small home on the site. In 1910, he decided to build an elegant mansion for his family.  And a good thing he did, for the Forster Mansion was the gorgeous site of our daughter’s wedding just eleven days ago.  forster-mansion-historic


The Forster Mansion was the first stucco-covered home in an area of adobe homes, and a historic wall of the mission still defines the property.The wall is the focal point against which a flower-bedecked arch is positioned during  wedding ceremonies. wedding-arbor-day-of


At a cost of about $10,000, Frank constructed a mansion of 6,000 square feet that soon became the hub of high society. Sadly, by 1983, the mansion was considered nothing more than a “tear down” until foresighted buyers restored it to its original elegance, making it one of the premiere event sites in this south Orange County area. And the mansion even has a ghost! Owners swear to cigar smoke, inter-changed portrait on walls…and the stub of  one of “George’s” cigars is enshrined under a glass dome in the parlor. Georg has been seen in moustache and khaki clothing and the bedroom upstairs credited to him has a “crack” in the wood door so he can keep an eye on things.

Today the mansion is listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Properties.  

I couldn’t have been happier with Christi’s choice of wedding venue, lover of history that I am. The fountain directly across from the historic wall is the starting point for processionals, including a ringbearer who did the job great even though he refused to wear his tux jacket. His shiny shoes, however, did make the cut. 


 To the artful music of a string quartet playing the same Bach air I marched up to 35 Augusts ago, my hubby escorted his daugher in a misty, poignant moment. With her cousins, her sisters-in-law, her brother, and her sorority sisters waiting for her at the altar, it was a family moment ever etched in my  heart.


 The bride wore her godmother’s garter and the sixpence from my wedding shoe.

 Later, the yellow Livestrong theme garnished with lemons graced the event.  livestrong-theme


And with beloved friends and family surrounding us,  a special pastor blessing us all, I know the newlyweds will have a HEA even better than anything I could pen.


Truly, a day to remember. History. Romance. Love. Family. Friendship.


Now, how about you? Have you ever visited a California mission? How about a historic church or cathedral, a shrine or otherwise sacred ground? To me, battlefields and cemeteries count! Let’s hear from ya today!


To order my latest release, click on the cover. Many thanks!