Mary Margret Daughtridge, Guest Post

7:56 AM

Please I'm thrilled to welcome Mary Margret Daughtridge to Marta's Meanderings today. She's the author of the wonderful SEALed with a Promise, published by Sourcebooks Casablanca, and released this past week. Don't miss my review of SEALed with a Promise following this guest post.

Breakfast at Aunt Lilly Hale’s

By Mary Margret Daughtridge

In SEALed With A Promise Caleb and Emmie, my hero and heroine meet at a wedding breakfast. I didn’t know wedding breakfasts weren’t customary everywhere. However, it turns out that people not from the South haven’t experienced them so I thought I’d give your readers a little background.

The South is special to me, particularly that little corner of it in eastern North Carolina that I hale from. The days of Southern aristocracy, if they ever existed, are long gone, but in that area, the traditions of culture and gracious living exist still.

Unlike the English wedding breakfast which is more like what we Americans would think of as a wedding reception, the breakfast, as practiced in the eastern NC, comes before the ceremony. It is morning meal, though it’s served closer to noon. Most of the guests were up late the night before at the rehearsal dinner and dance.

To understand the tradition you need to understand two things about the area.

Having family is important. Notice I didn’t say a family. The concept of family is broad and deep, extending far beyond the mother, father, child triad. Eastern North Carolina has been settled since the early 1700’s. Where people have lived together for generations, family is a context in which people are understood. In fact, background is a common synonym for family.

Romantic considerations aside, the people of Eastern North Carolina are aware that a marriage creates a new family and adds connections and obligations to already existing ones. It’s important for the parties to get to know one another. There have been parties for every possible combination of people, but this is the party specifically for those who are closest to the bride and groom.

Another reason for a breakfast, a party on the morning of the wedding, is simple necessity. Towns are small. Hotels and restaurants few. Many of the guests, possibly the majority, have traveled from out of town. All sorts of favors have been called in to arrange housing for them. However, a bed to sleep in is not enough. Guests must be entertained and to an Eastern North Carolina hostess that means food. And what food! A meat and two vegetables is only a start—it’s not a meal. A wedding breakfast answers the question, what are we going to do with all these people until it’s time for the ceremony?

Caleb, the best man, has no family. He was raised by a single mother and she is dead. He shed his background the day he joined the Navy. These days if he has any allegiance, any ties of loyalty or obligation at all, it would be to his fellow SEALs. He is a Southerner, but he’s from a very different South. He himself says he was trailer-trash.

Not all trailer parks are slums. Some offer hard-working people decent, low-cost housing, the pride of ownership, and a sense of community. However the one he grew up in was nothing more or less than a rural slum. The complex relationships that exist in the bride’s family baffle him.

Emmie, the maid of honor, spent the first twelve years of her life abroad with her missionary parents, among people she always different from. Her parents are still in the “mission field.” She sees them, at best, every couple of years. Seeing she had no close family, and recognizing her intrinsic worth, the bride’s family “adopted” her, and treat her as one of their own.

Aunt Lilly Hale, the bride’s great aunt lives in the homeplace, and it is there on a warm, sunny day on the Saturday after Thanksgiving the wedding breakfast takes place.

People often ask me, since my people and places seem so real, how much I have drawn from real people. I’ve known many Aunt Lilly Hale’s in my life. The South has a long tradition of women who yield not one iota of their femininity, but who don’t know the meaning of meek. They are sure of their authority to act in behalf of the family, and will exercise that authority without a qualm or regard for whether it’s their business. If it affects the well-being of the family, it is their business.

Caleb doesn’t know it; he doesn’t miss it because he never had it; but what he needs is a family. Emmie doesn’t know it but what she needs is roots. Aunt Lilly Hale became a more important character than I originally intended because she holds the key to what both Caleb and Emmie need in addition to love for one another, and what must be supplied if they are going to find their happy ending.

To learn more about SEALed With A Promise, and me, visit me at

Here’s a question for you. Do they have wedding breakfasts where you come from? Do you have an Aunt Lilly Hale in your family?

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Every year we lose more people to AIDS. It hasn't disappeared and it's not going away anytime soon. I urge you to seek out and support your local AIDS Organizations. Encourage everyone you know to practice safe sex and to get tested once a year. Even if you don't think you are at risk, get tested. I didn't think I was at risk either, and I almost died before I was diagnosed.


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