Brides of New York

Thanks to Vindicator reporter and my new Facebook friend Shelby Schroeder for pointing out that The New York Times has its wedding stories online now. This has made my day, my week and quite possibly my 2009. I foresee my future spent in front of the computer reading about rich New Yorkers marrying other rich New Yorkers in pretentious settings. Life is so good, it’s unfair.

When I lived in New Jersey I had The New York Times delivered to my door every day and my most selfish, self-indulgent hour was on Sunday afternoon, when I would sit with the Weddings & Celebrations section and read the romance stories.

The New York Times stands alone in how it treats weddings. Other newspapers run a photo of the bride and the groom with a formula, fill-in-the-blanks article that Joe Blow was married to Judy Blew at whatever church, officiated by Some Minister, whenever. Then they tell the parents’ names and the cities they live in and what the bride and groom do for a living.

When I got married, The Vindicator had an old fashioned society page, with its own section cover where if you were Caucasian and not real fat, you could get a photo as large as 5-by-7 with your write-up. The photos never had the grooms in them. (Can you spell tacky? I thought so.) The article would tell who was in your wedding party and what the bride’s dress was made out of (organza and/or Alencon lace) and even what the bridesmaids wore, what flowers everyone carried and how the altar was decorated. It was a major score to make the front page of Society. Other people had tiny pictures inside. Some of their dresses were not made of organza and some were even “street length.” (That’s ‘pregnant’ when read between the lines.)

Because my husband was a reporter at The Vindicator when we got married, and because I think he brought a chocolate doughnut from Ray’s Cafeteria to the society editor about once a week during our engagement, my wedding photo was in the upper left corner of the front society page. I was huge, in two sense of the word.

But then wedding stories started to go the way of obituaries and there was a formula and it had to be followed. You had to be in a major motion picture or the president of the United States to get your occupation listed in your son or daughter’s wedding announcement. Society editors became bitter women with big hair who didn’t want any romantic nonsense in their papers.

But not The New York Times. Through all the years of journalistic turmoil, the Times held onto details like an ugly girl who catches hold of one of the ribbon streamers on the bridal bouquet. In the Times, you’ll read about how the couple met, how he stood her up on their first date, how she saw him in the park with his dog and walked up to him and they ended up having soup together and then dated, despite the fact that his ex-girlfriend is the bride’s cousin.

“I was too cool for school,” one bride gushed, when describing what she wore to a sorority party where she met her groom-to-be.

Online, it’s even better (if that’s possible). Instead of just plain old written interviews, some of the featured couples have video interviews. They actually have professionally shot video footage of the couple at parties, walking their dog, having dinner in a restaurant. And talking about how they met and fell in love.

The stuff these people tell to The New York Times - The New York Flippin’ Times! - is surrealistically hard to believe.

“Is this a joke?” I yelled from behind the paper the first time I discovered Weddings & Celebrations. “Is this the April Fool’s edition of the Old Gray Lady?”

“Who cares?” my husband would yell back. “Who even cares about these people and how they met?”

I care! Deeply, I care! I am fascinated as all heck over these people and their weekends in the Hamptons and their morning jogs in Central Park and their fathers’ occupations and their golf lunches.

Under one video snapshot is this caption:

Gerard Cattie Jr. and Peter Watt speak of their first meeting at a Bridgehampton, N.Y., restaurant on Memorial Day 2005, when Mr. Cattie's attempted flirtation with Mr. Watt went poorly.”

How can you not click on the arrow and watch that!?

Here are some other lines from recent wedding announcements: Don’t accuse me of cheating by taking them out of context. Trust me, there is no context that could make these just OK.

Yet that meeting was not quite as spontaneous as it seemed, because more than two years of attempts at introductions, e-mail exchanges and long-distance telephone calls had led up to it — easing the wariness on both sides. And there was Mr. Self’s autobiography, “Self Abuse,” which went into great detail about his childhood, divorces, addictions and his struggles to be a better parent than his eccentric parents had been.

Ah, yes, the old autobiography about self abuse. A first-date ice-breaker if there ever was one.

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First came an exchange of pictures. She sent a faraway view of herself at an equestrian event. His was taken with the Dalai Lama in India, where he had gone to do a newspaper article about his first wife, a former Playboy bunny who became an artist and was painting the Dalai Lama’s gardens.”

You couldn’t just say, ‘Me in India?’

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As the balls flew — Zing! Zang! Zoom! — their chemistry grew, and they chatted and flirted between matches. Ms. Raney said she found herself staring at the sweaty Mr. Spigel during his post-match interviews. “I said to a friend, ‘You know that guy Art? I’m into that,’ ” Ms. Raney said.

But what if he hadn’t been sweaty?

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“We kissed in the closet with the silver 1940s wallpaper, the feathered hats and fur coats.”

“ . . . And I was Barbara Stanwyck and he was Monty Clift. Oh and it was lovely, I tell you, lovely!”

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"We bought a blowup sled on Atlantic Avenue," Ms. Schoeffel recalled. So as to gain momentum, Mr. Murphy suggested that he get a running start and that Ms. Schoeffel jump on his back. He ran. She jumped. And they both went tumbling. Mr. Murphy plunged headfirst into the snow. "And my head went into his," Ms. Schoeffel said. The blow knocked her out. Mr. Murphy said, "I took snow and cleaned the blood off her nose and mouth." Seeing his date bruised and bloodied had a strong impact on him. "I got this overwhelming need to protect and care for her," he said. Ms. Schoeffel regained consciousness, and they went to a hospital emergency room, where the doctor said her nose was broken.

Seeing his date bruised and bloodied leads to a wedding. This is not good.

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“She’s a wonderful mom. That turns me on.”
TMI. Please, just - - TMI.

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Correction: November 23, 2008 The Vows column last Sunday, about the marriage of Gillian Laub and Tahl Raz, reversed a phrase that the couple borrowed from the 1998 film “Shakespeare in Love” and used in their vows. It should have read, “come ruin or rapture,” not “come rapture or ruin.”

Hey Mr. New York Times, with mistakes like that, you’ll be lucky if you can sell ads to the hot dog vendors this year. I don’t know why we put up with this.

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