The path to the altar isn’t all rose petals.

The Wedding: A Novel

By Dorothy West

West, active in the Harlem Renaissance as a teenager, received critical acclaim for her 1948 novel The Living is Easy. Almost half a century later she completed her second book, the story of a black wedding on Martha’s Vineyard in 1953 that goes awry when the bride wants a white jazz musician to perform. When this intricately woven tale was finally published in 1995, it proved the 88-year-old author remained keenly alive to the subtleties of her characters’ lives.

The Member of the Wedding

By Carson McCullers

Frankie, 12, is bored out of her mind until she hears about her older brother’s wedding. Then things get interesting. McCullers creates a full, vibrant inner world for Frankie, as her adolescent imagination sweeps her into a fantasy of stowing away on the couple’s honeymoon in search of something grander than the limited life she has known.

Monsoon Wedding (DVD)

Directed by Mira Nair

This 2001 charming arthouse hit features an Indian woman who has just exited an affair with a much older man and now faces the marriage her traditionalist father has arranged for her with a man from Houston. Along the way, the story introduces a sweetly comic cast of characters at all stages of the love continuum.

Something Borrowed

By Emily Giffin

Rachel has always been a “good girl.” She chucks it all on her 30th birthday when she ends up in the sack with her longtime best friend’s fiancé. Oops. In a story as much about the nature of friendship as about romance, Giffin handles the touchy subject of her heroine’s predicament with trademark humor and grace. Her real feat: the way she lets Rachel become a full-fledged adult in these pages.

Delta Wedding 

By Eudora Welty

Welty’s flowing first novel chronicles the seemingly everyday goings-on of a large Mississippi Delta plantation family in 1923 that is readying for a cousin’s nuptials. It is instead an engrossing study of the complicated world of the Deep South of the era—and of the eternal human need to belong.