GRAND RAPIDS, MI -- When Erica Dyer went about making her wedding website at www.mywedding.com, she did something that didn't surprise her friends. Along with the rest of the wedding party, she listed New York Times bestselling novelist Karen Kingsbury as her Matron of Honor. Dyer, 24, is a longtime Kingsbury fan and has quoted Kingsbury's books frequently in a journal of letters to her future husband that she's kept since she was 17.
So Dyer posted a photo of herself and Kingsbury taken at one of Kingsbury's events, and beneath that she wrote simply: Matron of Honor - Hopeful. For a while, everyone who knew Erica had a good chuckle over her wishful thinking.
"About a month later, my mom told me I should write Karen and at least let her know that she was my Matron of Honor," Erica said. "So I emailed Karen, but the whole thing was never meant to be serious. I knew Karen would never even have time to read my email."
But that day, Kingsbury was sitting bedside with her husband who had undergone surgery to repair a hole in his heart. "I had more time than usual to read letters from my reader friends," she said. "Of course the subject line caught my eye. 'Matron of Honor?'"
Kingsbury showed her husband – who has since completely recovered. He noted that the wedding was smack in the middle of Kingsbury's upcoming tour to promote her new release, Take Four. "You'll be on the road, anyway," he told her. "You should do it."
Kingsbury has a mission statement when it comes to writing books and dealing with her fans: Always love and serve the readers. On Facebook, she refuses to use the "fan" word, preferring instead to call her readers, "friends." She also regularly gives phone calls to sick and terminally ill readers and even invites one reader to spend a day with her and her family every year. So it took only a minute for Kingsbury to fire off an email to Dyer.
"Erica, I'm honored you would ask – even if this is all a little tongue-in-cheek," Kingsbury wrote. "Still, you have to live outside the box sometimes, so maybe my husband is right. Where's the wedding?"
Within hours of receiving Kingsbury's email, all of Odessa, MO, knew about Dyer's shock and disbelief. She writes a column for the local paper, where she detailed the saga of events, and she teaches Spanish at the local high school – so literally she told everyone she knows. Aside from her column, Erica kept all of her friends, family and wedding party up-to-date on her website at mywedding.com.
It's like Kingsbury tells readers after they stand in lines up to five hours to meet her, "There won't be autograph lines in heaven! We're just here to be friends."
On June 25 in an old church with stained-glass windows in Odessa, MO, in front of 400 guests, Kingsbury made good on that promise.
As a gift to the bride and groom, Zondervan and mywedding.com sponsored a 3-day pre-honeymoon trip to New York City where Erica and her husband, Ryan Shippy, were able to go to Broadway shows, sight see, and enjoy time together.
"It's a dream come true," Dyer said. "A day doesn't go by that I don't tell someone the unbelievable news: My favorite author was my Matron of Honor!"