My debut novel, White Roses, is set in two tiny Arkansas towns seven miles apart: Romance (population 1400) and Rose Bud (population 1800). The church I used in all three books is in Rose Bud. I never even sent a picture of it to the cover artist and was amazed at how close she came to the real thing. I did add more stained-glass windows in my fictionalized version.
My fictional floral shop is in Romance, which is known for the post office re-mailing program and weddings. Romantics send stamped, addressed Valentine's cards and wedding invitations in manila envelopes which are re-mailed from Romance, AR with a hand-stamped postmark.
I wove this setting and local flavor into each book in the series and visited the area on several research trips.
• Each year, a unique postmark is designed for use from Feb. 1-15.
• Some brides request an invitation postmarked and mailed to her on her wedding day for a keepsake. The Post Office is happy to comply unless the date falls on a Federal holiday.
• People from as far away as Japan, China, Canada, Australia, Germany and Great Britain have sent wedding invitations, valentines and other mail to Romance for the special postmark.
• The 25-cent Love postage stamp was issued on January 18, 1990, in Romance, Arkansas. The stamp features two blue lovebirds over a deep pink heart and a decorative green garland. Designed by Jayne Hertko, this issue was the ninth edition in the popular Love Series.
According to Postmaster Angie Davis, they have three or four weddings a year on Valentine’s Day at the post office. Couples exchange vows in the lobby and outside the office. Someone carved a heart in the parking lot declaring it the Heart of Romance.
Angie gave me directions to The Romance Waterfalls. James (Buck) Weatherly has given me two tours of his privately owned property, which he and his wife rent to the public for weddings and events. Wisteria drapes over an archway leading to the landscaped garden with numerous flowers and bushes. A wooden walkway leads down to the waterfalls, surrounded by jutting rock/steps.
You can hear the waterfall long before you get there. Mr. Weatherly built two gazebos and balconies overlooking the waterfalls and he opens his home for receptions and family reunions. When real flowers are out of season, silk blossoms add beauty to heart-shaped flowerbeds and archways, along with numerous planters.
I couldn’t help incorporating the falls into all three of my books, including a proposal and a wedding at the site. Mr. and Mrs. Weatherly agreed to let me have my book launch party there.
So, if you’re ever looking for a beautiful outdoor place for a wedding in a town with the perfect name for romance, check out The Romance Waterfalls. There are at least three churches there also.
If you’re interested in the re-mailing program, here’s a list of post offices across the United States that provide this service:
Heart Butte, MT
Sugar City, CO
A teaser to wet your whistle:
Mark plopped on the couch. “So you’d met Grayson Sterling before?”
Just the sound of his name made her pulse flutter.
“At the shop a few weeks ago and then we sort of ran into each other at the park.” Adrea chose her favorite paring knife and sliced a tomato. The sharp blade cut clean lines through the soft pulp. “He’s had a standing order for his wife for six years.”
Until a hit-and-run driver carved his heart apart, just like the tender fruit in her hands.
“He still buys the flowers even though she died?”
A knot formed in her throat. “He takes them to the cemetery.”
“Sad.” Mark looked at the floor.
“He always comes to sign the card personally.” She arranged the slices on a saucer. “The salesclerks call him Prince Sterling, and his four annual appearances are the highlights of every year.”
What is your favorite flower and do you prefer a florist or home grown?