For some reason, I kept thinking this test was called FOCUSSSSSS, but it actually has two C’s, not 2 S’s. Anyway, this is the Catholic* pre-marital test that is given to anyone who is getting married with anything vaguely Catholic-y as an overtone. (As I explained below, we are not being married within the Catholic church, though our officiant and Adam both have Catholic roots.)
*or as an annoying classmate of mine in college would say “Catholic with an upper case C.” There was one year where I had like four classes with her and in every single class, she managed to work in the question “Do you mean Catholic with an upper case or a lower case c?” Even to this day I am not totally sure what catholic with a lower case c means, or how one would use it. But moving on.
Anyway, you take it on the computer (or at least we did) and I think it’s some sort of secret trick test, because you’ll be going along, answering “Agree,” “Disagree,” or “Uncertain” to fairly normal questions like, “We’ve discussed our plans for children” or “We have talked about where we’ll live after we’re married” and then all of a sudden, it will ask you a fairly intense question. These included, “I am concerned that my future spouse has homosexual tendencies, which will overshadow our marriage” or “I fear my partner’s violent tendency will cause me harm.” Okay, so I totally understand loving the gay men, even inappropriately (or fruitlessly, I suppose), but I have several questions. First of all, and I guess this is obvious, the test is designed for heterosexual couples, because otherwise if you were gay, you would be “Hell yeah! My future spouse has homosexual tendencies!” And though I think that marrying someone who is gay, if you are not, may result in some challenges down the line, I can understand why you might still have gotten to the point of engagement. But if you click “agree” or even think of clicking “agree” to the statement that you fear your partner’s violent tendencies, well, you are not in a good relationship. Call me judge-y, but I think that’s a fact. Anyway, I was wondering if certain questions lead to automatic failure (even though they keep telling you that you can’t fail.) If I were a priest and someone clicked “agree” to the statement about violence, I would be like “Stop! In the name of love!”
I also think I probably overthought certain questions, and then I remembered, much like the many, many corporate HR sexual harassment quizes I have had to take over the years, you need to take these questions at face value, and not think about it too much. (That sounds worse than it is, but let’s face it–a computerized multiple-choice test is a computerized multiple-choice test.) And now, for is a funny story from the sexual harassment quiz area:
So, if you’ve never taken any sexual harassment quiz, then you probably have never worked in a corporate environment. In my first job out of college, I somehow fell through the cracks, and never ended up having to go to the seminar about sexual harassment, though my cubicle-mate did, and she was saying how the seminar leader told everyone that it was unlikely that they would meet someone at work (and thus should not try to date anyone at work), just as it was unlikely they would meet anyone at a bar. Then, hypothetically the seminar leader asked “I mean, who meets their spouse at a bar?” My friend said that basically half the room raised their hands and were like, “Um, us?” Ironically, when I came back to freelance for this company, I started dating Adam. Oh, Sexual Harassment lady, little did you know.
Posted: February 9th, 2010 | Author:Claire | Filed under:rants | Comments Off on Wedding versus marriage: a rant
Marriage King vs. Bridezilla?
Well, after Jess gave me a shoutout (thanks!), now I feel all this pressure to blog. Anyway, I do have a topic to blog about, which is weddings versus marriages. I am actually quite annoyed when people say, “Well, it’s about the marriage, not the wedding,” or “A wedding lasts a day, a marriage is a lifetime.” I feel these statemens are both obviously true and not true. It’s obviously true in that you can have a great wedding and a terrible marriage or alternatively, a terrible wedding and a great marriage. But I think the two things are linked and also not linked in ways that people are not thinking about.
GUEST ANGST (with many asides)
First of all, I think there’s something about weddings/marriages that bring out the angst in people. I mean, you don’t hear people saying, “It’s not about how you celebrate your birthday, it’s about how you live your year.” This is because everyone understands that a birthday party is about a celebration of that person, not some kind of judgment about how they should live their life. (Well, except for these self-righteous yuppies in Slate, who made their sons’ party guests exchange books with each other, against their will.) When you go to a birthday party, you understand that you’re there for that person to have a little treat on that day, to enjoy something special one day that year. So, in my opinion, is a wedding. It’s a day of fun for these two people, not necessarily a time to remind people to start improving their lives, or else.
[As I mentioned, I did not grow up within a religious tradition, but I suppose many religions and cultures have special birthday celebrations to mark or that coincide with the beginning of puberty: confirmation, bar/bat mitzvahs, donning of the veil, etc. So maybe for some people, once they hit a certain age, people could start saying “Now that you are 13, you better do X, Y, or Z.”]
Obviously, a wedding marks a larger change of status–from unmarried to married, in a way that a birthday does not–but I think that sometimes people see a wedding as a judgment on them, which leads their unsolicited commentary about weddings. I am here to say that weddings are not a commentary on guests.
[Which brings me to a sidebar about the internet. I feel that there are two main camps of wedding board participants: 1. Brides who are doing the full and traditional wedding and 2. Indie brides who are only going to play The Cure and wear black spandex and both camps seem to hate each other with a passion. The traditional brides feel a need to do all their stuff and deem everything not traditional “tacky,” while the indie brides (erroneously) equate a small budget with authenticity, sneering at any money that people might spend on traditional stuff. This actually drives me crazy and I think I need to form a board for middle-of-the-road brides.]
If a wedding is lovely and expensive and clearly cost someone an arm and a leg, then that is wonderful. It does not mean that if your wedding was cheaper or if you eloped or you are single or whatever that your marriage or life is less valid. However, some people obviously feel envious (and who doesn’t? We would all love an unlimited wedding budget), and end up saying stuff like, “I would rather use that money towards a house,” in a snotty voice meant to convey how silly these people were to try to organize a special event. Or “Their wedding cost a fortune, but” and then saying all schadenfreude-ishly “and it only lasted a year!” (or whatever.) So what? If people were able to to put their party planning skills to planning a lovely wedding, then look at it as a celebration of their partnership for that moment, instead of seeing it as proof that that money went to waste. Not to sound overly New Age-y, but sometimes I think happiness is so fleeting that we should be grateful whenever it appears, instead of demanding that it stand in as an omen of The Rest Of Your Life.
[Another thought: So many of our mothers and grandmothers had more inexpensive weddings, and maybe they find it hard to see all these things that contemporary brides want in their weddings, thinking that their marriages thrived despite a wedding without centerpieces, or whatever.]
If a wedding is held on a small budget or a couple elopes, it is also not very nice to be all condescending and say, “Well, you’re smart, what a lovely small wedding.” Or “That’s so smart to focus on the marriage.” One of my friends is having a private City Hall wedding this year, and she was groaning about all the judgment in people’s voices when they congratulate her saying, “Oh how great you’re not having a wedding.” People deserve the right to celebrate as they want to, whether very grandly or very humbly, and not getting a bunch of judgment about it. (At least to their face. And yes, I am judging the judgers.)
Also, I don’t necessarily think that the skills it takes to plan a wedding are so different that what it takes to plan a marriage. The things required to pull off a successful wedding are very similar to pulling off a successful marriage: luck, money, planning, and a good attitude. (In that order, more or less. Well, maybe a good attitude is first. Even though I often have a bad attitude.) If you have planned a wedding or have planned one in the past, you know that there are a lot of details and small bits to arrange. I make all of these decision with Adam. I wouldn’t say I have learned anything shockingly new about him during wedding planning, but I feel that we’ve been working as a team to do all the planning. Our wedding is a bit outside the city, so we’ve been going on long-ish drives on many weekends to visit and meet with vendors, and in the car, I always let him go first, and say, “Well, what do you think?” And generally, I find we have the same opinion. (And I don’t think it’s because I force him telepathically with my brain waves to agree with me.)
I think there’s this snotty undertone of the “wedding is only for a day” philosophy that is saying that planning the details of a wedding (like what kind of invitations) is less important than really spending time and planning for your marriage. Look! Your marriage is not all about some magical act of Wonderful Spiritual Connection and Amazing LoveMaking (TM)*, it’s about daily life, or in wedding speak, “for richer and for poorer, for better and for worse.” It’s also about really boring things. Like whether you should buy a new refrigerator. Or whether you can afford letterpress invitations. Which will turn into whether you should buy a new car, or send your children to public or private school, or what kind of health care you should take or whatever. Marriage is a series of somewhat boring decisions about finance, life, and dealing with each others’ families and friends. MUCH LIKE A WEDDING. So planning for a wedding is planning a marriage.
*Only part of the time. 🙂
Now if one’s wedding turns out terribly, it may totally be because of factors not in your control. That doesn’t mean that you’re going to have a bad marriage, it just means that that one day happened to not go so well. In the paraphased words of Miss Manners, saying that your wedding is the happiest day of your life sets an awfully low bar for the second day of your marriage. But saying that planning for a wedding–whatever kind you choose–is less important than planning for your marriage is stupid, because the planning process uses all of the same skills as actually BEING MARRIED.
Posted: February 8th, 2010 | Author:Claire | Filed under:counseling/faith | Comments Off on Pre-marital counseling
So, somewhat ironically, I am excited about pre-marital counseling. It’s ironic because I grew up in San Francisco, land of the wooo, where every year we had to do absolutely ridiculous things in service of “sharing our feelings” or “growing together as a community.” This was all stuff I hated strongly. In fact, I think I might have moved to New York to avoid any more of this crap.
(Though of course, all New Yorkers are totally into their shrinks. It’s a running joke because shrinks all go on vacation in August, and August is when all New Yorkers go nuts.)
Anyway, here is just a selection of crap that I had to do in school in San Francisco:
(1.) Using a brown paper bag, each of us had to draw on the outside how others saw us and on the inside, draw on an index card how we saw ourselves. AND THEN WE HAD TO DISCUSS. Blech.
(2.) Trust falls. Enough said.
(3.) Massage our own hands until we felt our “spiritual energy” flow between our hands. By the way, this was from one-named and self-named teacher, Zuleika. My friend Sarah and I still laugh, two decades later, about how Zuleika stopped in front of my jr. high science project–a super boring poster of how I wrote letters to congressmen about saving the Aluetian Goose–and then she waved her hands around and said, “Weeeeeird project.”
(4.) I think there were points where I actually had to hold hands with my classmates and sing “Kumbaya.” We definitely had to sing “Leaving on a Jet Plane,” of all horrible hokey songs.
So basically I am quite opposed to New Age-y stuff. In high school, I once helped out as a server for my friend’s mom who was hosting a small wedding in her apartment and the wedding couple passed a *rain stick* to each guest when it was their turn to talk. That same friend (who lived in the apartment) actually was married recently, and I jokingly asked her if she was going to have a *rain stick* at her wedding and she cackled and said “NO.” (Incidentally the same friend gave me a book she had bought for her wedding that is filled with very odd, and possibly fictional, wedding traditions from around the world. I’ll have to blog about it in the future.)
But I’m not opposed to therapy or counseling–I think that it can be useful. I think a lot of the crappy New Age stuff comes out of Californians growing away from more traditional religions, but still craving some sort of ritual and faith-based activities. Most premarital counseling is within a religious framework, but I think that it probably brings up issues that are useful regardless of your faith.
Plus a number of years ago I read this New York Times Magazine article about the “Love Lab” (Malcolm Gladwell also wrote about it, which is also on the nytimes.com site), and I became fascinated by this claim that this “Love Lab” doctor could tell whether your relationship was going to fail in 15 years or not with a 95% accuracy, which I think planted the seed in my mind about pre-marital counseling.
Adam has been okay with doing it (Catholics require it, actually, and we’re doing a version of the Catholic marital test through our officiant), though the reaction I’ve gotten from friends and family has been more mixed. Some people are for it, while others have been like, “Why would you do that?” I have decided to ignore these folks. Best case scenario is that we both feel we gained something from it, and worst case scenario is that we spent a day doing weird exercises. (Our officiant keeps calling the tests–FOCCUS and whatnot–“instruments” and we both were concerned that we would have to form a drum circle and drum out our feelings or something. Our officiant, who we both like a lot, is also kind of into the New Age-y stuff, but either I have become soft and lost my cynicism or he is less weird than my Californian upbringing, because I actually felt touched by a lot of the stuff he was saying.)
Anyway, here’s some resources for New Yorkers who may be searching for the same thing. We ended up not going with either of these, so I have no idea if they’re good or bad or what, but we did look into Engaged Encounter.
Posted: February 6th, 2010 | Author:Claire | Filed under:Uncategorized | Comments Off on The reason for the season
What if Wallace Shawn was your officiant?
So we had been having some problems with the officiant part of our wedding. New York has a lot of random arcane laws, many relating to various puritanical kinds of things. I grew up in California, where we sell hard liquor in 24-hour supermarkets, so I was confused when I moved to New York and I found out you had to buy alcohol for parties on Saturday (can’t sell liquor on Sundays*), or wait until noon to order a bloody mary at brunch. (Actually, I almost never drink at brunch–or in fact, ever, because I am somewhat allergic to alcohol–but I like knowing I *could* drink my bloody mary at 8 a.m. if I wanted to. Hmpf.)
*I think this law has recently been changed, but liquor stores (liquor is always sold separately in New York, never in a supermarket) must be closed on another day to make up for the Sunday opening. The laws are complicated and confusing.
Anyway, we are the only state left with no no-fault divorce (New Yorkers must have cause or separate for a year and then convert their legal separation into divorce) and we do not allow internet-ordained officiants. (It may be legal in New York City, but the laws are unclear, and it is illegal in the rest of the state. The New York Times actually had an interesting article about it a few years ago.) Plus, there were our own feelings. We have an interfaith relationship, in that I am without (organized-religion) faith* (though I do yearn for faith–many people have suggested the Yankees as a religious substitute, and I’m like “NO! I would never root for the Yankees! I’m not a native New Yorker, hmpf.”) and Adam is Catholic-esque. I guess we are an agnostic/Catholic couple.
*I was going to type “faithless” but that sounded kind of cruel and like “unfaithful,” which is a whole different kind of faith.
When we first were engaged, I was willing to contemplate a Catholic wedding, but I did a lot of research and I found that there were a lot of obstacles, and that my non-Catholic-ness (I was never baptized) would make our wedding non-sacramental. (If you’re Catholic, then you probably know what this means. If you’re not Catholic, I won’t explain because I don’t really understand, but there are certain acts that are considered sacraments in the church, e.g. baptism, last rites, etc.) So we have been trying to find an officiant that felt like he or she seemed to match our beliefs. This is actually way harder than you would think.
(If you are part of a religious community, this must be where weddings are a lot easier, because you would naturally ask your own rabbi or pastor or Wiccan leader or what have you.)
“Mawwiage is a dweam within a dweam…” For reasons unclear to me, my fourth-grade class was obsessed with this quote from the Princess Bride, and everyone would say it All The Time. Even today, twenty-odd years later, I say this quote in my head every time I hear the word “marriage.”
I delegated this task to Adam and he did a good job setting up meetings, but we found that lots of officiants were already booked months out from our date. The first officiant we met was a little intense in all sorts of ways. Plus we met him in a diner, in a rather small booth, and I swear, he kept smushing me. Anyway, I was like, oh, well, maybe this is what officiants are like, except that I just didn’t really feel like he understood us or how we felt about marriage. (There was one point where he started recapping the entire Protestant Reformation for 20 minutes, and it just felt kind of didactic and repetitive, rather than uplifting. He even started drawing a diagram.) Adam was sympathetic, but pointed out that we were running out of time since everyone was already booked. We did some more research, asked around for recommendations, and did research on the ur-wedding website THE KNOT (full disclosure: I’ve actually worked for The Knot and I think it can be a useful site, even though everyone in the online wedding world is like “oooh! The Knot! They’re so evil!”). We met with two more officiants today and we were both so happy that one of them seemed to be really great.* We’re going to be doing additional pre-marital counseling with him and his wife and working with him on our ceremony.
*Actually, we liked the other one too, though perhaps more as a person than as an officiant. I became convinced he should have his own talk show because he kind of had a great Southern accent and was kind of like an old-time fabulous preacher.
Once again, I can’t really imagine how brides plan weddings all on their own–I think that Adam and I have actually been pretty unified in how we feel about our vendor meetings, and it seems like these bride-centric weddings really are all about the bride throwing a party, rather than celebrating a marriage.* Which is after all, the reason for the season.
*I actually am not a big fan of the saying “It’s about the marriage, not the wedding,” because I think it conflating two different things. But that’s another post.
I don’t think this is actually a wedding photo, but it is sort of a fab photo of Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg in the 1960s. Now I will post an annoying “Back when I lived in Paris…” commentary. Sooo, back when I lived in Paris (1999), I listed to the French Oldies station all the time. (Nostalgie! You can get it on the internet.) Anyway, I would be brushing my teeth when all of a sudden the Serge/Jane collaboration song, “Moi, je t’aime” would come on and I would be like, “What is going on? Why is my radio having a sexual experience with itself?” That song is quite explicit and it was always unexpected when it came on at 8:00 in the morning. I was about to say that American oldies radio stations would never play such a lewd song, but then I remembered my deep hatred for all of the Big Bopper songs, which I feel are very inappropriate and always about young girls and creepy old men. (“Chantilly Lace,” “Little Red Riding Hood,” etc.). But the French, they’re casual about playing the sexy in the morning. Goes well with the shredded wheat.
My other Paris memory (well, related to this post, anyway) is about how once when I was walking to work (my internship) or maybe it was in the summer evening, back from work–ooooh, how I love Paris–I saw the most fabulous set up. On one of Paris’s bridges, someone had set up bunches and bunches of long tables with tablecloths and candlelabras and china and everything. I was like, “OMG!! How can I get invited to that dinner?!?” I never did figure it out, but it’s always been in my memory as an ideal party setup.
So, I was chatting with Adam about this crazy thread I was reading on Weddingbee. To sum up, the person writing the thread worked in sales at a hotel and gave a tour to a bride and her mother. They had come in to look at wedding packages and the bride had already bought her dress, picked out her bridesmaids, colors, etc., when the sales girl asked when she had gotten engaged and the bride said that he hadn’t asked yet and then turned to her mom and told her to keep the venue hunting secret from the boyfriend!
Now I was truly shocked about this. I was like, “What kind of person expects her future husband to have no input on his own wedding?” I know that the ladies tend to be more into wedding planning than dudes (Exhibit A: the many wedding blogs written by women and Exhibit B: This guy, who is like the only groom blog I can find), but how could you be like, “VOILA! Here is our entire wedding planned!” once you were proposed to? This just seems so strange in many ways.
Anyway, first off, it makes the whole thing have a weird dynamic (girls sitting around waiting to be proposed to, which I will discuss in another post). But more importantly, the planning!! But Adam shrugged and was like, “Men don’t care. I’m sure she can just be like, ‘Oh, my mom and I found this place, and it’s perfect,'” and he’ll be like, “Okay.” I found this impossible to believe, which led to another whole discussion where Adam informed me that I moved in a very narrow niche society of men. He categorized all the men I knew (including him) as gay and/or “coastal media elites” and/or “hipsters.”
Now comes the part where we disagree. Readers, all two of you, please weigh in.
Though I agree that the men I know could be described as falling into one of the above three categories (every name I kept throwing out led to him being like, “OMG. Think who you are talking about.” Like when I named my friend C., I was all, “Hey, he’s a major investment banker,” and Adam responded with, “AND GAY.”) Then I listed various men I had worked with and even I was forced to conclude that they were all “coastal media elites.” Then I thought of this other dude, with whom I had recently had a long and fruitful discussion about weddings with, and was like, “See?! That guy is a dude’s dude–he belches, he makes dirty jokes, etc., and he talked to me for twenty minutes about his own wedding favors (a homemade barbecue rub).” Adam sighed and claims that due to my limited educational upbringing (I went to prep school), I am unable to distinguish the various types of hipsters from an elusive species Adam calls “MEN.” According to him, there exist a group of MEN who do not care about weddings or aesthetics, and just like to scratch themselves and talk about manly topics. (My example of a dude’s dude was described by Adam as an aging hipster, but a hipster nonetheless, despite being a large, hairy, cursing, sports-loving guy.)
I disagree. I feel that this supposed group of MEN is a fiction, created by television and the media to besmirch men. I honestly think most men do care about expressing their creativity in some way, even if they don’t like calling it “expressing their creativity.” I’m not saying that they care about the difference between taffeta and chiffon, but they care about say, food (like the guy who made his own barbecue rub as a favor), music (my friend’s husband hired a band and sang an entire song to her during their wedding last year), invitations (Adam owns his own letterpress and keeps dissing examples I show him), etc.
Readers, please, I would like to hear from you on this topic. Do you know men who have zero interest in aesthetics and their own wedding? (Also, if so, how old are they? Because I think it might be partially generational.) Or is this concept of MEN a myth?
I am an obsessive wedding blog and boards reader and I found a really useful tip on the boards at weddingbee.com. For room blocks, sign up for hotelplanner.com.
It’s incredibly useful–just type in the town where you want to block off hotel rooms, and then the hotels bid for that date and then you can contact the different hotels directly. It’s much faster and easier than trying to contact the hotels directly, and the rates are often cheaper than what you would get by contacting the different hotels. You can enter what kind of hotel you want (2-star, 3-star etc.) and a bunch of other variables, and then you just sit back and let the bids roll in!
This was seriously one of the most useful things I found out about.
“Hello! I am a crazy old man! Don’t you want to have your wedding at my house?!”
While visiting potential venues, I realized that there is really a wide range of professionalism in vendor/caterer meetings. Here is a summing up of some venues we have recently visited:
(Venue X is this place I love so much, but I don’t want to get emotionally attached in case it doesn’t work out because of cost. Edited to add: I started this post so long ago that I put this disclaimer on, but now we are going with Venue X. Anyhow.)
Place A: Adam heard about this place from one of his work contacts, and it looked nice on the website. In my dark little heart, I hoped it wasn’t that nice, because I have my heart set on Venue X, and I root against pretty much everything else, which sort of defies the whole point of looking at other places.
This was probably one of the most organized places that we saw–they essentially had an open house, where each couple was brought around by a contact from the venue, and then people came around with hors d’oeuvres to taste, and we got a folder with different package prices etc.
I told Adam that I thought this place kind of seemed like a weird time-share scam directed at unsuspecting young couples, as we traipsed around in little knots, looking at different colored napkins and such, and that at any moment, the woman who was bringing us around would be like, “Free time-share in Cabo if you sign up now!”
I’m trying not to be a Bridezilla, but I am kind of a snob-o, and very anti- any of these Wedding Factory-places. So unfortunately for Place A, I held their organized planning against them. “Hmpf,” I thought, “Everyone is coming here, how boring.” Plus, I felt that their interior was a little tacky–not a lot, but a bit. Adam correctly pointed out that probably all of our guests would think it was lovely, and I was the only person complaining about the golden Chiavari chairs and reproduction Ye Olde Chinese prints. I slunk around grumbling, “This reminds me of when the mall decided to go with a Tuscan/banana plantation decor vibe for the food court.” The mix of fresco-ed flowers and giant Chinese prints (I think there may have been some cherubs as well) made me go blech.
Pros: The food was actually pretty good, the outside gardens were beautiful, and the costs were all inclusive (alcohol, rentals, foods, etc).
Cons: Not loving the vibe inside. Snottily felt that too many people came here, making it a wedding factory.
Place B: This one was eliminated right away just because it was really too far from the city. It was kind of a shack from the outside, but a quaint 1700s farmhouse on the inside. We also got a tour from an elderly gentleman who owned the farmhouse with his wife and ran it as a Bed and Breakfast. Since it was quite old, all of the ceilings were very low. I honestly couldn’t quite figure out who would have a wedding here–you would still have to tent, but anyone who lived nearby would have enough acreage on their own property to tent, I would assume, and it’s pretty far for anyone else. Plus, you had to rent the whole B&B for the weekend as well, and Adam grumbled that it smelled like used vacuum cleaner powder and mildew inside.
Pros: Cute–might be good for very short people having a 5-8 person wedding.
Cons: Remote location, and expensive.
Place C: This one was a barn that was part of a public park. I think it’s possible that this was an astounding and beautiful location, but since there was no staff available on the weekends to show us around, we just had to wander around the park (which had an amazing view of the mountains and river) being like, “And then we could get married here?” and “People could eat behind these closed doors?”
Pros: Really lovely location, though we never really saw the insides of the barn or museum.
Cons: This was backed up against a residential condo village–you kind of felt like you were in a weird M. Night Shalman movie. You know, what you thought was your wedding, was, in fact, a set where it is revealed that you and all of your guests are part of an elaborate hoax. Or something.
Place D: This was the house and estate of a very famous (dare I say, legendary*) New York author. This was really a nice house, and I envied this author for having such a nice house, especially because it overlooked the magnificent Hudson River. It now belongs to some sort of municipality and so there were costumed guides running around in Ye Olde Costumes, giving tours and explaining how people used to live in the past. The people who worked here were also super nice, including the lady at the gift store who was showing us this hilarious album of wedding photos, including ones where the groom was blindfolded. (She was all, “I have no idea what is happening in these photos.” I actually knew, because I read wedding blogs. I was like, “This is called ‘First Look’ and when the groom sees the bride before the ceremony.”)
Pros: This town was really cute, and the estate quite nice. This would be perfect for a Halloween/Fall wedding.**
Cons: Wedding are actually held near the entrance of the historic house under a tent (which is included, and definitely a pro), but not in such a nice spot. It felt a little bit like an event being sponsored by Amy Poehler in Parks and Recreation, or something. Plus, honestly, this was the last place of the day we saw, and by that time, we were so tired, we were like, fine, whatever.
*This is a pun that is hint about whose house it was.
** Clue number 2 about the identity of the author.
A wedding post where I touch upon many of my obsessions in a wordy manner, including Mary Todd Lincoln, race relations, and Gossip Girl.
Photograph by Gordon Parks
Yes, it’s none other than Anderson Cooper’s sassy mom, Gloria Vanderbilt. (Also Nate Archibald’s great-aunt, in some Gossip Girl universe, I am sure). Gloria is one of those rare Americans who has been famous her entire life–she had the kind of childhood that I always think must have inspired Louise Fitzhugh to write Sport–filled with dramatic custody battles and vast amounts of wealth, and then an adult life filled with many marriages and turns in the spotlight. She even recently wrote a pornographic novel. Anyway, this photo is from her third marriage in 1956 (I think she already has a very distinct face, instead of a kind of generic beauty someone younger might have had) at 32* to director Sidney Lumet. (Husbands 1 and 2 were, respectively, some Hollywood agent named Pat DeCicco and conductor Leopold Stokowski.)
* Incidentally, I will be 32 when I am married.
If you are thinking, hey Gloria, that dress looks awfully Mary Todd Lincoln and not so 1956, that’s right! Gloria decided to go WAY vintage, and wear an 1830 linen wedding gown. The 1830s were prime Mary Todd years, back when she was being courted by both hottie Abe and his shortie rival Stevie Douglas.**
** I have always wanted to do an US Weekly version of history. Here I am getting my practice.
Photograph by Gordon Parks
Modern touch: I’m not a hundred percent sure, but I think if you look at theLife magazine photos, I think she and Lumet had their wedding reception at their Manhattan apartment, which is rather chic, I think. And though I am not a fan of her leg-of-mutton sleeved wedding dress (much as I love Mary Todd), it’s actually quite restrained compared to her monstrosity that was her first wedding:
Photograph by Peter Stackpole
Good lord Gloria! And now we come to…
Groan-inducting bridal touch: A cake topper that is wearing the same outfit as the bride. Why, Gloria, why? First of all, your veil is hideous…and you made your mini-me wear it too! She clearly wised up by wedding number 3 and went with the much more chic orchids in her hair.
Also, some of you may be thinking to yourselves that Gloria and Sidney’s wedding photos are much nicer (dare I use the bridal photography trend word, “photojournalistic,”) than the Hollywood publicity photo look of her first wedding, you would be right. Gloria and Sidney’s wedding was shot by Gordon Parks, the well-known photographer (among other things–he also directed Shaft and co-founded Essence). This is particularly notable for two reasons, one gossip-y and the other historical/sociologial. The first and gossip-y reason is that Gloria actually went on to date Gordon Parks for a long time, and I find it amusing that one would invite one’s future lover to photograph one’s wedding. (One of my friends actually considered asking her ex-boyfriend to shoot her recent wedding, which I was intrigued by–but apparently, Gloria was there first!) Secondly, the historical/sociological reason is because Gordon Parks is black and Gloria Vanderbilt is pretty much the WASP-iest society-est person ever, so having a black wedding photographer in 1956 was already probably a bit unusual, but their later relationship is rather notable for its high-profile interracial love.
In fact, the two of them were interviewed for the New York Times somewhat hokey “How Race is Lived in America” series a couple of years ago, and I thought that their interview was actually quite interesting.