Behind the Design ~ I Always Cry at Weddings

Posted By Roseanna on Mar 4, 2015 |

Recently I had a brand-new-to-me project on my plate–the cover for a spunky, urbane contemporary that would cross over between the Christian and mainstream markets.


I knew the job was coming for a few months but didn’t need to start it yet…but I was mulling. I knew this cover would stretch my creativity.

See, almost all my other fiction covers had called for a model photo. This one didn’t. On this one we wanted to avoid an actual photograph of a person. Something that featured either an object or an illustrations…or maybe a combination thereof. Maybe something like The Help.

Or Me Before You.

Or Girls Guide to Hunting and Fishing.

Once I had this guidance from the author, I could feel the creative juices get going. I started brainstorming. We toyed with the idea of an NYC stoop, which is important to the story…but that just didn’t mesh with these ideas. So instead I thought, “Let’s focus on the wedding part.”

My first thought was cake toppers…

I liked the irony of this one, which tied in with the fact that the heroine, Ava, breaks off an engagement. Of course, I didn’t want a line of grooms. And I thought it would be fun to put the bride in a red dress (which features later in the book) rather than a bridal gown. So I came up with this.

Of course, they needed to be on a cake.

And in casting around for a background, I decided an illustrated NYC skyline would be fun.

Putting it all together, I came up with this as our Option #1

A solid enough first try…but not quite it. I kept working, going at it from a different angle. This time, I starting thinking Statue of Liberty. Does anything scream NYC more than the Statue of Liberty? I found an actual photo, isolated, of Lady Lib.

I plopped her down in front of the same illustrated skyline.

You’ll notice she’s not holding a torch. That’s because I had an idea. Again, I wanted to draw on that rather crucial red dress. So what if, I thought, Lady Liberty is holding it up? In the book, the dress becomes a symbol of Ava chasing a dream through all its convoluted paths. The dress, in some ways, represents her liberty from expectations. I thought it was fitting. So I created an illustrated dress, a hanger, and had it flapping from the statue.

I thought this was great fun, so I slapped a title on there, and the author’s name. I chose the font Broadway for “I Always,” “at” and “Sara Goff,” and used You’re Invited for “Cry” and “Weddings.”

We very, very nearly went with this one. But early feedback got us some interesting perceptions. Like the one who said, “It’s too patriotic, having the Statue of Liberty.” And then the other who said, “It’s too un-patriotic, having the Statue of Liberty holding a dress.”

At the very least, it got a reaction, LOL. So we still very nearly went that way. But I thought, Okay, let me try one more thing. I went back to searching for illustrations and fond one of a bride on I hit on this one.

I liked the silhouette, though the colors were all wrong, and I knew all the swirlies and flowers would interfere with my simplistic design. But thanks to the wonders of Adobe Illustrator, I could open the file in there and select just the elements I wanted–the dress, the torso, the hair, and the veil. Copying those back into Photoshop, I then adjusted the color of the dress, again, to be a brilliant splash of red. Not a wedding dress any more, but I kept the veil because, well…it’s part of the story, LOL.

In this, I also changed the font of “cry” and “weddings” to Corinthia. And Sara and I both agreed that this was great. “But,” she said, “I’m concerned that it comes off at first glance as too sweet.”

I saw what she meant…and I thought it was the bouquet doing it. So I took it out of her hands…and then had to put those hands somewhere. “Attitude,” I thought. “Ava needs to have some attitude.” So I erased her current arms and drew her some new ones. And this was it!

See how that subtle change in stance changes everything??!! We both loved it! (As a note, I did have to fool with the title a bit more. With the bouquet deleted, “weddings” wasn’t centered anymore, so I nudged it over…and then figured I’d add one more cute touch and looped the D through the Y.)

And voila! Something totally new for me, but the reaction has been fabulous. Everyone loves the feel, the look, the colors, and the pop of red. And I know the book’s going to be a hit too. Written with a very modern voice, about a very modern woman, this is a story that tackles the realities of life for most women today…and then puts a unique spin on it all. Like so:

Ava Larson is going to bring all the other brides to tears.

to a wealthy NYC socialite’s son, Ava is ready to set the city abuzz
with her glamorous wedding. At least until she realizes her relationship
isn’t what it should be. Then, in a move as daring as a red satin
dress, she does the unthinkable–she calls it all off and makes a
promise to God that from now on, she’ll save sex for marriage.

convinced the future is hers for the taking, especially when an
undercover cop promises a new romance…and an unexpected friendship
with the homeless guy under her stoop brightens her days.

when her carefully balanced life teeters out of control, weddings aren’t
the only thing to make her cry. Ava has to figure out what life she
really wants to live…and what in the world love really means

Check it out on Amazon!
So what did you think? Do you like where we settled?