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Wedded Blitz! United Couples, Nations

The distinct international flair of the November offerings in the New York Times 'Vows' section

There are, when it really comes down to it, two types of people in this world: Those who get retired Supreme Court justices to officiate their wedding … and those who opt instead for the original Cosmo Kramer.

That’s right, Kenny Kramer — an “affable guy” who lived across the hall from Larry David back in the day and “had no visible means of support and a lot of free time to spend on projects that didn’t work out exactly as planned” — has now hit upon what must be one of his more lucrative schemes. For a fee ranging from “$5 to $5,000, depending on the situation,” he’s happy to deem you a couple in the eyes of the law.

He “prefers not to be called the Rev. Kramer but rather Irreverent Kramer,” he’ll joke about your impending divorce moments after celebrating your current nuptials, and he joins other (in)famous online-ordained ministers like Stephen Colbert, Kathy Griffin, Jason Segel, and Kevin Smith. If you want a dude blessing your union while wearing a hockey jersey and making cracks about Stan Lee, I’d opt for the latter. (And speaking of Dudes, you could also go with someone ordained by the “Church of the Latter-Day Dude,” which I’ve covered before.)

While the Times quotes a priest as disapproving of this sort of practice, it sounds about right for a certain segment of the population:

For some, these celebratory oddities do not lessen the sincerity of the event.

“I had over 30 bridesmaids, and they were zombie schoolgirls,” Julie Muz said of her 2012 wedding to Mat Fraser. “It was awesome.”

Ms. Muz and Mr. Fraser, who are burlesque performers, met at a Coney Island burlesque show. They said that no church suited them, but that Manhattan’s Abrons Arts Center was more sacred than practically any church for a wedding. “If there was a Church of Satan, then maybe we would have gotten married there,” Ms. Muz said, “but Mat and I are both outsiders and belong with outsiders.”

Dianne Espaillat’s wedding, planned for next April, will include friends and family members dressed as the Joker, Batman,1 Poison Ivy, Thor, Max Pain and the X-Men. Ms. Espaillat will be Wonder Woman, and her fiancé, John Nieves, will be Superman.

Catwoman, or, rather, DonnaMarie SanSevero, will officiate. She was ordained online in 2010 by Open Ministry.

If novelty officiants aren’t your jam, perhaps you’d be interested in the other Hot Wedding Trend: Indian wedding tourism! That’s right, with the help of a guide company, you, too, can gawk at the henna-spackled, elephantastic marriage of complete strangers, right there in their native land! “Don’t miss the kanyadaan, when the groom promises to the bride’s parents to be just (dharma), to support her (artha) and love her (kama),” the Times notes. And if this all “reeks of colonialism to you,” fear not — “many Indians are especially warm and welcoming to visitors and … many relish the chance to show off their English.” The author of the piece never even met the bride and groom at his destination wedding (of sorts), but he was fine with that — “Since they didn’t invite me personally, it didn’t bother me at all.”

Between these travel tips and the couple who met at the U.S. embassy in Nairobi, November had quite an international flavor. One groom was formerly part of the Peace Corps in Senegal; another used to work in the Costa Rica embassy to the United States and is now “the country program coordinator for Ukraine, Moldova and Belarus at the World Bank in Washington.” (Bet he’s been busy lately, and also that these two are glad their Kiev ceremony wasn’t scheduled for the past couple of weeks. Oh, and IN OTHER IMPORTANT UKRAINIAN WEDDING NEWS: Did you know that Hayden Panettiere is the soon-to-be sister-in-law of the Ukrainian opposition leader?!?!!!!!)

You never know just how the global village is going to affect your life. There are the pair whose third date was a weeklong trip to Japan (hey, his OK Cupid profile promised that he loved to travel!), the bride who met her groom after the post-graduation “fellowship to study the roots of American music in Africa” on which she had counted fell through, and the lovebirds who first met in Luxembourg and later reconnected in Sarajevo. Their announcement also includes references to Germany, the Netherlands, Britain, Liberia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Italy. More on that particular global village in a sec.

Here, with many thanks to beloved Friend of Grantland Alex Morrison for the graphic design prowess, is this month’s Society Scorecard. As always, this ranking represents the most exquisitely elite couples of the month, as calculated using our proprietary NUPTIALS algorithm. Let’s count down the top three finishers, all of whom eclipsed the 30-point barrier.

In third place was a groom descended from “Wallace C. Dayton, who lived in Wayzata, Minn., and was one of five brothers who founded the Target Corporation.”

Finishing second were punk rocker Tom Thacker and pathology resident Dr. Huai-Bin Mabel Ko, whose Instagram feed sure sounds like a must-follow:

“Mabel sees art in the mundane,” said her sister, Cindy Ko. In the last few months, her social media feeds have featured the following photos: a squirrel corpse that looks like it’s pointing at the car that hit it, a constellation of pins on a map marking homicide locations in New York City, and a tiny pale pink crustacean she found in Manhattan tap water. The latter was something she found on a slide under her microscope: Dr. Ko is a fourth-year pathology resident at Mount Sinai Hospital.

Where some see dead and ailing body parts, she sees prostate glands in the shape of hearts, or gallbladder stones that look like diamonds.

“She’s a visual artist specializing in medicine,” said her mother, Fon-chiu Mia Chen. Dr. Ko had started out pre-med at the University of California, Los Angeles, but then decided to study art instead.

“She loves pretty much anything you’d find at the Mutter Museum in Philadelphia: weird fetuses or syphilitic heads,” said Thomas Suberman, her best friend from her days at Columbia, where she enrolled when she decided she wanted to go back into medicine.

I can just see it now. “The bad news, Mr. Smith, is that you’ve got an inoperable tumor. The good news is that it totally looks like a Kandinsky, and the slides have already gotten 17 reblogs on Tumblr!”

(In fairness, I actually loved this announcement, because it includes references to AOL and pagers and has some great moments regarding her parents’ musical preferences: Her dad is a fan of “traditional Chinese music and Barbra Streisand,” and “a serious conversation took place when [her parents] heard the words ‘cop killer’ in an Ice-T song she played.” Also, I completely relate to this: “She resisted using the word ‘fiancé.’ ‘It just sounds pretentious,’ she said. ‘Like you get engaged and all of the sudden you’re French?'” I’m still not entirely sure where the em-pha-sis is meant to go.)

And, most importantly, in first place for November are Anne Koch and Robert Sibson.

Look, it’s simple math. When your milliner-in-Beijing sister named Elisabeth van Lawick van Pabst-Koch2 remarks that you just “[love] to travel and will hop on a plane to Bahrain or wherever just to visit somebody”; and when your announcement brags that you were “listening to Bjork before anyone else was”; and when on a lark you decide to meet up with a dude you used to hold hands with back in ritzy expat secondary school by flying to Sarajevo and then “mak[ing] the trek to a birthday party a friend was giving in Puglia, Italy”; and when, “wishing to be as close to nature as [you] could,” you spend your wedding night “in a tent lined with Indian saris in a bamboo grove” on your parents’ property in Atlanta (and then go to Waffle House for breakfast the next day, thoroughly scandalizing your new British mum-in-law, who is visiting America for the first time ever and deems the scattered/smothered/covered/chunked/diced/peppered/capped/topped fare “not my kind of food … but the service was friendly”); and when your wedding cake is designed to evoke blood and it’s not even shaped like an armadillo … yeah, you’re goddamn right you’re in first place for November.

Oh, and for good measure:

The word “starling” holds multiple meanings for the couple, who believe they are creatures from the stars. It is engraved inside their rings. The groom gave the bride a gold band ringed with black diamonds. One is missing. It can be found inside his platinum ring, a way to keep a part of her with him when work separates them.

The bride also “unabashedly expressed love for unicorns, flying saucers and all things related to outer space.” Björk completely approves.

Can we all agree that the best part of a wedding is a tie between the cocktail hour and the late-night after-party where the couple (and/or their parents) spend a fortune on tiny grilled cheeses or a novelty taco truck? Small bites just can’t be beat. So here are a handful of our own …

• So much to process in embattled young St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Shelby Miller’s wedding announcement. For one thing, it suggests that “interact[ing] with women” means getting pedicures and fake-baking (both things are nice, but I prefer antiquing with mom); for another, it opens with a lament about the Cardinals not playing him during the World Series. There don’t seem to be any hard feelings; Mike Matheny, the team manager, “recited a prayer before the buffet dinner,” and several teammates were in attendance. The bride “wore pink cowboy boots, to match the bridesmaids’ bright pink, above-the-knee strapless dresses,” and is now settling into a life of being referred to as “#wifey.”

Not only does my new colleague seem pretty cool, she’s also this month’s winner of the Lesley Stahl Lipstick Award. Good job, hiring managers!

These two “met in 2007 in Farmington, [Connecticut,] when both joined a soccer team made up of boarding-school teachers.” I imagine Times wedding reporters cover that circuit like beat writers covering the Yankees’ minor league affiliates. Who will get called up to the big leagues next?

• Not going to lie, I’m angry at the Paper of Record for not shoehorning into this announcement a sentence along the lines of “the groom was a founder of IvyGate, a web log which bravely chronicles the misadventures of the world’s best and brightest — a sort of Peyton Place for the ivory tower set.” I’m chalking it up to sheer jealousy.

• After reading this Q&A with Knicks owner and destroyer Jim Dolan, in which it was revealed that hotshot consultants are partially responsible for this sinking ship, it’s impossible for me to take in any McKinsey-related wedding announcement without spiraling into an uncontrollable rage. Congrats, though?

This couple (a) got married at the Plaza, (b) had their wedding officiated by a rabbi and a cantor, (c) are comprised of a bride who teaches pre-K at the Jewish Community Center in Manhattan (as we say about my very Catholic mother who teaches 5-year-olds at a Catholic school: Get ’em while they’re young!), and, BY FAR most importantly, (d) “met during the summer of 2004 as counselors at Camp Walt Whitman in Piermont, N.H.”3 MAZEL TOV, THIS MONTH’S CHOSEN COUPLE!

• I get that it’s notable, but still: It’s always an uplifting situation when a wedding announcement includes the grim details of a murder.

• Love is mysterious, man. Like, sometimes it brings the most unlikely people together. For example, this bride hates horses, thanks to some understandable daddy issues:

In her early years, her father, then an insurance executive, encouraged her to ride his Arabian horses and clean their hooves. She tried, but said she hated it and stopped.

… and yet she ended up with a professional polo player! “Despite the sport’s glittery history and reputation for attracting blue bloods like the Prince of Wales or historic Social Register names like Tommy Hitchcock Jr.,” warns the Times, “there’s nothing terribly gentlemanly about playing polo.” At least this couple is on the same page when it comes to equestrian exploits.

• I want to know how one determines that another driver is “deep in thought.” Is that a euphemism for “picking his nose”?

• There needs to be a Showtime series revolving around the life and times of Frances Mulligan Duff.

• I loved this “State of the Unions” column revisiting the marriage between a lady and a Bozo, though I don’t recommend clicking on the photos in the original 1999 article if you’re easily frightened by clowns.

• Uh, speaking of “State of the Unions” —

Dear Amy,

What’s the etiquette on reaching out to your stepdaughter after the most widely read paper in the world has made an implicit “village bicycle” reference about her?

It was not long before the roller-coaster feeling began. A few months after the wedding, one daughter, a senior in high school then, became pregnant. Mr. Schickel remained calm and upbeat. He had grown up in a family with 12 siblings, who all shared one black Schwinn bicycle. His reaction? “The more the merrier. There’s always room for one more.”

Signed, Speechless in San Francisco.

• I can’t stop gazing at this gauzy photo. In other news, Barbara Walters just fired her personal photographer after seeing that someone else smears even more Vaseline on the lens.

• This bride had “a list of seven nonnegotiable items for a prospective partner and [her new husband] met all of them.” Somewhere Julia Allison is cackle-crying and wondering why her 88-point checklist4 hasn’t panned out just yet.

• Being in charge of Delta SkyMiles must be one of the more annoying cocktail party jobs — everyone you meet probably starts sounding like a jaded FlyerTalk Forum poster. “Oh, you run SkyMiles? Yeah, I’m gonna end the year like 4,000 miles short of Platinum. So frustrating — the big problem for me was that a lot of my flights were through United hubs, which really cut into my bookings. I’m considering buying MQM but they’re sure not cheap, if you know what I’m saying. Of course you do! Wanna cut me a break, ol’ buddy, ol’ pal? We had some good times at HBS, didn’t we? Wait, where are you going?”

• A challenge for the Times wedding section in 2014: Less “I thought he was very adorable in his tux” and more, much more “Our mutual friend told me to take care of his buddy Clyde.”

• “She’s very effervescent and spirited and very cantankerous, which I found very attractive” is basically the most romantic thing I’ve ever read and I’m being totally serious here. Also, that thumb-over-the-birth-year trick? Just genius.

• In other adorable comments regarding age-gap romances: “I thought Susan was a nice person; her good looks and everything else is secondary to that,” Mr. Millstein said. “I just sort of cottoned to her.” Brb, I’m finding a late octogenarian to wed. If he calls me the bee’s knees in his vows, that’s just gravy.

• Burning questions left brutally unanswered: WAS MARILYN VOS SAVANT INVITED TO THE WEDDING?!

• I was genuinely surprised that the “Nantucket Cottage Hospital” didn’t somehow turn up in this piece for the ages. I guess they’re already set on the brass door knockers.

In closing, I present the three oddest excuses to email someone on whom you have a crush, in order. I wouldn’t recommend trying any of this at home, except maybe the wine:


Mr. Smith, who was preparing for his first triathlon, in San Diego, was chatting with several reporters about it, and someone mentioned that Ms. Benjamin had completed an Ironman competition. He found himself standing behind her in the crowd and noticed the Ironman tattoo on her calf; he tapped her on the shoulder and introduced himself.

A few hours later, he sent her an email, suggesting that they get together for training.

She was intrigued by the audacity of Mr. Smith’s athletic aspirations, which involved an Olympic-distance triathlon two months later.

“It was nutty what he was planning on doing,” she said. “He had never worn a wet suit, had never swum in the ocean, the bike still had nubs on the tires.”

So she agreed to meet.


Just weeks later, Dr. Roullet coincidentally eased the way by inviting Dr. Bak to her Beaujolais nouveau party — an annual event inspired by the appreciation she had developed for French wines under the tutelage of her French-born father and her grandmother, who still lives in Le Havre, France. Her party is scheduled for the Saturday after the wine goes on sale each year, on the third Thursday of November, a week before Thanksgiving.

Dr. Bak was the first to arrive at the party and just about the last to leave. On Thanksgiving, he sent her a text message including a photo he took of the bottle of Beaujolais nouveau she had inspired him to buy for his family.

“It was an excuse,” he said. “I wanted to keep the lines of communication opened, and transition into a date.”


He told her that one of his former girlfriends was marrying a man in New York who kept in touch with 30 of his former girlfriends. When Ms. Buurma said she did not believe that story, Mr. Rappoport asked for her e-mail address so he could pass along more details.

Why do I get the nagging sense that 30 Ex-Girlfriends Man is the same guy as 300 Sandwiches Dude?

Happy engagement season, y’all!

Filed Under: Movies, Ted

Katie Baker is a staff writer at Grantland.

Archive @ katiebakes