Since Jasmine Guillory's debut novel, The Wedding Date, came out back in 2018, she's had one of those years of which most newly published authors only dream. Her first book was adored by critics (NYLON included), while her second, The Proposal, spent more than a month on The New York Times bestseller list and was selected by Reese Witherspoon for her super-popular book club. All to say, in just a short time, Guillory has cemented herself as one of the most exciting modern-day romance writers around (all while keeping her day job as a lawyer)—and she's continuing her hot streak with her latest, The Wedding Party.
Almost picking up where The Wedding Date left off, this new book centers around characters Maddie and Theo as they get their best friend, Alexa, ready for her wedding. Only problem is the two hate each other. That is, until they start sleeping together.
If you're familiar with Guillory's other books, you'll find peace in knowing this one has all of the workings of her prior novels: It's fun and cute and includes a couple more sex scenes than usual. More than anything, it'll leave you satisfied, and perhaps even filled with hope that your own frenemy with benefits relationship might just evolve into love.
Ahead, we chat with Guillory about her favorite parts of the book, what she's taken away from being in her own wedding parties, and her fascination with the royal family.
This is the third book in your series; did you know while writing The Wedding Date that it would evolve into so many subsequent books?
When I wrote The Wedding Date, I didn't know anything. [laughs] I didn't have an agent, I didn't have a book deal, I was just writing a romance novel because I wanted to. I certainly hoped that more would come from it, and there were parts where I wrote this book that I wanted things to happen. Like, the first scene of The Wedding Party is a scene that's in The Wedding Date, and when I wrote that, that is when I realized that I wanted to write a book about Maddie and Theo together. I didn't actually know that much about what the book would be except that I knew that they would hook up later on that night, and I knew they had never really liked each other. I actually wrote the first few sentences of it a month or so after writing The Wedding Date, and then didn't write the rest of the book until another, I don't know, three years.
Are there parts of The Wedding Party that you enjoyed writing the most?
There are a few scenes that weren't supposed to be there, and I kind of came up with just as I was writing. There's a scene where they're all in Alexa's backyard drinking margaritas. I wrote that only because I struggled a lot with writing this book. I was writing it in the midst of The Proposal coming out; I was doing a lot of press and book tour stuff, and it was the first time where I really had to get writing in between so many other things, because I was also still working at my day job full-time. I was used to writing and having a day job, but I wasn't used to my writing career taking up so much time. So, I wrote that scene only because I was starting to feel like I was losing my love for the book. And I was like, I'm just going to write a scene for myself, and it's not going to end up in the book, I'm just going to write this for fun, and then I'll bring myself back to the book. And it really worked. It really made me realize that these are the characters I love.
And then there's also a scene where they go and help Alexa pick out her wedding dress. I think I wrote that scene three or four times. The first few times I wrote it, it didn't have the right feeling to it. And then I went with a group of friends to help a friend pick out his girlfriend's engagement ring. And, when we went, I was feeling really stressed about taking an afternoon away from writing to go because it was one of my weekend days, I had a lot of stuff going on, I knew I had this deadline coming up. But that experience just really inspired me, as far as the feeling that I wanted this scene to have. I wanted it to be a bunch of people who all love this person, coming together, and wanting her to have something that was the best for her. And also show how the relationship between Maddie and Theo grows throughout that scene. So I really loved both of those scenes just for how it was to write them.
Speaking of the wedding dress scene, it stood out to me also because it shows how much of a struggle wedding dress shopping can be for someone who's above, say, a size 6. Talk to me about your decision to include that.
I always knew that that would be a part of it because I've been in a lot of weddings, and so I've seen the full range of how people get treated at bridal shops. And that can really change based on your size and your race. Whatever they think they can put you in, or "oh, you won't fit into any of this," or they think you can't afford what they're selling, all sorts of things. I knew that would be in there also because it would feel unrealistic for someone who was over a size 12 to walk into a wedding shop and have them all automatically treat her well. I've talked to too many people who've had terrible experiences with so many of these stores.
Did you pull any other scenes from real-life situations?
A few tiny little things. There are definitely some friends of mine who will recognize little bits, but I more pulled the feeling that I know a lot of brides have, where everybody makes you feel bad no matter what your choices are for a wedding. If you don't do certain things, the older people in your family will get mad at you. If you do do certain things, everyone will call you a bridezilla and say you're spending too much money. I think this is one of the many ways in life where, no matter your place, women will get slammed for what they do. And I think a lot of the narrative around weddings is all about "oh, these silly frivolous women, I can't believe they're doing all of this," no matter what the choices. So, that's sort of a lot of what I pulled: That a lot of people get stressed about their weddings, not because they particularly care about it, but because everyone else is telling them that whatever choice they make is going to be bad. At least, that's a lot of the feelings that I got after being in a bunch of weddings.
The relationship between Maddie and Theo, more so than the couples from your other two books, is very sexual. Sex scenes in books can sometimes come off as cringe-worthy and gimmicky, but I didn't find that to be the case with your writing, so I'm wondering how you approached writing their many hookups.
There were a lot of things that I wanted the scenes to be. I wanted them to feel fun, I wanted to understand why two people kept coming back to each other even though they didn't really like each other, and I wanted you to get an idea of their characters through that. Some people who have read the books have met both of them already in The Wedding Date, so there are things that you find out about them in this book that you didn't know about them, and that Alexa didn't know about them. As a friend of mine who read this book early said, "I never thought that I'd find Theo sexy, but I find Theo sexy now."
The conflicts that arise between the couples in your books have involved miscommunications via text and, in The Wedding Party, it involved general stubbornness and ego. Both seem like very modern-day issues people have with relationships. Another, for a lot of couples, is social media which I've noticed doesn't play a major part in the books. Is that purposeful?
It plays a role for each of the characters for individual parts about them, but not so much about their relationships. And I have found that social media does a number on your self-esteem, and so sometimes that can come out in relationships because you see what other people are doing or you see what you feel like you have to be doing or what you should be doing or what people think of you, and that can kind of make you more stressed out or more paranoid or just more worried about everything. So that was some of what, especially in this book, I think affected both Maddie and Theo. For Theo, there's something where people kind of came at him on Twitter. For Maddie, because she's a stylist, and Instagram plays a big role in her life, she feels like she has to portray a certain role to the world. And so I think that that was something that I tried to show a lot for both of them.
I read that you moved the deadline up six months for your upcoming project, The Royal Holiday, because you were so excited to finish it. What about this particular book revved you up so much?
Right when I finished the first draft of The Wedding Party, I had been thinking about writing something for Vivian, who is Maddie's mother. I kind of thought that I wanted to write a story about her falling in love, but I hadn't read a lot of romances about women in their 50s. I didn't know if people would want it, I didn't know if my editor would want it. And then a friend of mine tweeted a thing about "oh, I want a romance with Meghan Markle's mom falling in love with someone who works for the queen," and I was like, Oh, that could be it.
But I still didn't know if anyone would be interested. I ran it by my agent, and I remember thinking maybe it could be a novella or e-book or something, and my editor was like, "No, I want this as a book. Can you get it to me by April, so we can have it out by October?" And I was like, "Sure." I don't know why I said that, I was just excited.
Is the royal family, and the monarchy, something that's always fascinated you?
Oh, absolutely. I've always been fascinated by the royal family and royals in general. The whole idea that there are still modern monarchies is fascinating because it's like, What do they do now? Why do we still have princes and princess and queens and kings? I'm just fascinated by the whole concept and what all of these people do and how it works in the modern world.
And I think that that is one of the interesting things about the way Meghan Markle has been received. People were furious about her because she kind of doesn't accept some of the things about monarchies that have been there for so long. And it's like, "I can't believe that she doesn't believe in our traditions of, like, wearing pantyhose." Obviously, a lot of the backlash is racial, and then a lot of it is that she's this American, but some of it is just... there was this whole story about how the people who work for her in Kensington palace don't like her because she sent too many emails about work. [laughs] And it's, like, is it a job or not?
I know Meghan Markle's Mom, Doria [Ragland], was a jumping-off point for the book, but does she influence the novel in any way?
Not really. I didn't model the character Vivian [Maddie's mom] after Doria, but there are some things that could be similar about the two of them. Like, for example, Vivian is a social worker in The Wedding Party [like Ragland was], but she always was when I was writing. The funny thing is, anyone who knows me and reads The Wedding Party knows that a lot of this stuff about Vivian and Maddie's relationship is about my relationship with my own mom. So that was not really based on Doria, but it still worked out well.
Now that The Royal Holiday is done and about to come out, has Netflix come knocking yet?
I mean, keep your fingers crossed. [laughs] I feel like that would be wonderful. You never know.
The Wedding Party is available for purchase, here.
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