When the Fall Is All There Is

The Greatest Trick Comedy Ever Pulled

Sasha Radosavljevic/Getty Wedding

Wedded Blitz! Autumnal Equinox

While the air is turning colder, things are just heating up in a special double-month review of the New York Times 'Vows' section

Oh hello, it’s been forever! How have you been? Long time no see! I’ve been following you on Instagram — congratulations on the new place! I hear that’s a really up-and-coming neighborhood — good for you.

What have I been up to? I know, I know, it’s been two months since we last — oh, did you not hear? Well … I don’t really like to talk about it these days, but in late September I … I read something. I read something awful, something just so senseless that it basically left me speechless for these last six weeks. I’m still getting over it, really. Yes … I read the love story of Erika Halweil and Corey De Rosa.

[Breaks down weeping.]

Honestly, it’s not even worth it to go line by line through this announcement because it will make me too angry, but suffice it to say that this is an article that includes an unhappy marriage and an unhappier mortgage; the graphic and borderline cinematic death of a 5-year-old girl; the questionable demise of a relationship; an overshare about “perfect sexual chemistry” placed just two paragraphs away from a description of a sleeping child; and a wedding dress described spookily as “pigeon-blood red” — and yet you still get the sense that the people involved read this story and turned to each other with longing in their eyes and were all “Oh, honey, it’s just perfect. It’s so us.

Let’s turn our attention instead to perhaps the greatest correction ever to grace the pages of the New York Times “Weddings & Celebrations” section. It was hard to make a column about Jacques-Yves Cousteau’s grandson and an E! correspondent getting married near Versailles any more absurd, especially when it already included the line “For Mr. Cousteau, serious relationships were a rarity on the order of sighting eagle rays slipping through a Caribbean reef.” And yet this — THIS — is a stand-alone work of art:

The Vows column last Sunday, about the marriage of Ashlan Gorse and Philippe Cousteau Jr., misstated the name of the designer label of the bride’s dress. It is Lazaro Perez’s company, Lazaro — not Azzaro. The column also misstated the timing of the seaplane crash that killed the groom’s father, Philippe Cousteau Sr. It happened six months before the birth of the groom, not when he was a baby. And it misstated part of the name of the Daft Punk song played at the couple’s Sept. 28 ceremony. It is “Get Lucky,” not “Get Funky.”

I like to imagine it was the members of Daft Punk themselves who complained.

There’s no offseason when it comes to the New York Times wedding announcements; you always have to be on your game, especially if you want to win top honors in our proprietary NUPTIALS ranking, based on the scoring algorithm outlined here.

For example, you can’t rest on your laurels and think that merely having Supreme Court justice Sonia Sotomayor (your old boss!) officiating your wedding gives you a head start. There will always be someone there to one-up you: Not only did this pair get Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg to do their wedding, it was “her second gay ceremony following the court’s decision striking down laws that had denied federal benefits to same-sex spouses.”

But wait, what’s this? Couple no. 1, Jane Kucera and Paul Nitze, are putting up a good fight — their story includes Harvard, Yale, “secretary of the Navy,” “deputy assistant secretary of state,” “Justice Department,” “first congresswoman to be elected from New York State,” and, most ominously, “the chairman of … an underwater tidal power company and … a company … that produces explosive detection equipment.” All together, it’s enough to earn them the top spot on the September/October Society Scorecard, with a total of 42 points.

In second place were Kate Heinzelman and Jonathan Cooper, whose Parents score of 13 was surpassed only by their Universities score of 18. Rounding out the podium in third place were Stephanie Psaki and Adam Frankel, who earned 11 Locales points on the strength of having an announcement that mentioned Bermuda, Greenwich, and Aspen. (The groom in that one was a former speechwriter for Obama; the bride, according to the announcement, “found the small gap in his front teeth charming, and his intelligence engaging.”)

Other noteworthy folks who made the two months’ combined Top 25 included: the great-grandson of Richard Nixon’s former running mate Henry Cabot Lodge Jr.; two former hammer throwers on the Harvard track team; the son of the former ambassador to Costa Rica and Brazil; and a descendant of Peter Stuyvesant.

And just missing the cut? A pair of lawyers from the SEC and EPA, and a girl with good, rich Mayflower blood.

There’s a writer named Taffy Brodesser-Akner (I recently loved her piece on Gaby Hoffman) whose Twitter bio is perfect in its low-level but targeted shaming: “Making fun of my name,” she writes, “demeans us both.” My dopey thoughts and I slunk away like bad puppies the first time we read that. But still, Taffy’s words of caution are not going to stop us from celebrating the best names of the fall season. Some things are worth the debasement.

• Here’s a groom (to be fair, he’s German) named Thorsten Trimpop (we’ll note that “Ms. O’Grady, 38, is keeping her name”).

• “Sibyl Stevens Fenwick and Wixon Adler Greenwood were married Saturday at the home of the bride’s uncle, Peter S.H. Grubstein, in Montecito, Calif.”

This announcement involves the names Cecily Stokes-Prindle, James W. Stokes-Buckles, and Dr. and Mrs. Wallman-Stokes. I’m trying to figure out which in-law I’d have to marry to introduce a “Bakes-Buckles” branch into the family.

• Of course Oliver Edwards the Seventh is marrying a girl from Maine whose last name is “Summers.”

• And the best announcement, whose cast of characters in order of appearance are Hadley Herrington Debevoise, Bradley Theodore Allen, Stuart A. Kenworthy, Heidi Herrington Debevoise and Eli Whitney Debevoise II, Eli Whitney, Thomas Willett, Eli Whitney Debevoise, C. Lee Browning Allen and Dr. Yorke Allen III, and “Miles Standish, the military leader of the Plymouth colony.”

And now a roundup of some of the best and worst in weddings this September and October …

This is the best concluding paragraph to an announcement that I’ve ever read: “Neither the bride nor groom plan to move to their spouse’s respective cities, but instead plan to meet wherever and whenever their work coincides.” Super chill — is it any surprise to find out this is a union between a folk singer manager and a Norwegian? This is otherwise known as The ¯_(ツ)_/¯ Marriage.

Judah Friedlander would be a pretty badass wedding guest. William Hurt? I’m intrigued — he’d definitely give a great toast. But never have I been more jealous about a famous attendee than when I read about the couple who met in sailing class and whose mutual friend was Julia Louis-Dreyfus. That’s not fair! I’m not even going to point out that a full third of the announcement skirts the uncomfortable issue of the guy’s ex-wife, because I’m so enamored of the mental image of teensy JLD doing the Elaine dance and then sneaking cigs out back like Selina Meyer! Can you imagine how much fun she’d be to gossip with in the ladies’ room?! I’m going to be thinking about this for months.

• There were several proud Pittsburgh couples getting married this fall — Heinz Chapel held the wedding of this Washington Post reporter and her lawyer beau and was also the venue for the union of a dermatologist and an architect. But none of them beat these Yinzers, whose ceremony included “a canopy and the breaking of a glass wrapped in a Pittsburgh Steelers towel.” (This was the weekend of September 1; let’s hope they went somewhere without TV access for their honeymoon.)

• What does your dad do? “Oh, he’s in the baby-bird business.”

• One bride works at “Uncharted Play, a New York company that makes a soccer ball that stores energy while being used and can then, according to the company, power electrical appliances.” Such perfect passive-aggression in that description — it’s like your mother saying “So, your brother’s interviewing for jobs again!” all too brightly at Thanksgiving dinner.

• This month’s Wedded Blitz Book Club selection: The Debutante Detective.

• The description of this couple’s earliest dating forays back in high school (“they talked on the phone for hours about poetry, history and French culture and watched old Grace Kelly movies while drinking ginger ale out of champagne flutes”) kind of sounds like the date that Cher goes on with Christian in the movie Clueless, right?

• Two Internet celebrities got hitched this fall: Dennis Crowley, the mastermind behind Foursquare (and its beloved predecessor, Dodgeball), used his own app to casually stalk his girlfriend, while the great Jessica Coen of Jezebel is now tragically off the market for good.

• Doesn’t this look like a guy posing with a photo of his past self?!

• The great-great-granddaughter of “George Fisher Baker, the chairman of the First National Bank of New York, a forerunner of Citibank, who provided the initial endowment for the Harvard Business School” married a descendant of “the financier Nicholas Biddle and Joseph Wharton, who in 1881 established the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.” This is like the time the family that founded the Hamptons and the family that founded Nantucket became one.

• Thing that “Sealed It,” according to a New York Times headline, Part I: “A First Kiss (the Second One).”

• Thing that “Sealed It,” according to a New York Times headline, Part II: “An 11-Hour Train Ride.”

• I love that the daughter of Jim Grant — who wears a bow tie and whose publication “Grant’s Interest Rate Observer” is exactly as free-spirited as it sounds — lives in Jackson Hole and is “the creative director for Mountain Trails Gallery.” That’s my kind of rebellion.

• Hey, who’s that righteous minister of the Church of Spiritual Humanism who officiated the wedding of an animator and a former Ricki Lake producer? Why, none other than Grantland’s Wesley Morris! A true Renaissance man.

• This wedding announcement reads like a deleted scene from Matthew Gallaway’s The Metropolis Case, and includes this amazing story:

Mr. Klein recalled that he and Mr. Hebert had just seen the movie “Fantasia,” with its classically derived soundtrack, including an excerpt from [Igor] Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring.” On the way home, crossing 57th Street in front of Carnegie Hall, they ran into Mr. Stravinsky; his wife, Vera, and the conductor Robert Craft.

“They all greeted Bliss with great happiness and many kisses,” Mr. Klein said, adding, “Stravinsky was tiny and glowing with electricity.” Mr. Hebert immediately introduced Mr. Klein to Mr. Stravinsky.

Tiny and glowing with electricity! Igor Stravinsky: my new bridal inspiration.

• It’s from August 30, but I would be remiss if I didn’t point out the most amazing parenthetical aside I’ve ever seen: “(Geranium from Chicago wrote about another rug, and more, that got away: ‘In 1977, when my maid of honor didn’t send a gift, she instead sent the promise of a hand-hooked rug to be finished soon. She is married to my now ex-husband and never did finish the gift.’)” I refuse to believe that “Geranium from Chicago” isn’t actually Jonathan Tropper writing in as his latest character.

I’ve read this story like three times and I still have this sense that all the people and details were made up by Charles Nelson Reilly.

• Mazel tov to the Chosen Couple of this fall! Miriam Ganz and Rabbi Daniel Horwitz met when she was working as a sign language interpreter for a deaf participant attending one of his summer retreats. The rabbi — who has degrees from Brandeis, Gratz College, Hebrew College, and Michigan — made an important observation.

He next noticed the tattoo on the top of her right foot. “Beshert, and in Rashi, that’s sexy,” she recalled him saying, as he deciphered the medieval Rashi typeface for the Yiddish word “beshert,” which means “destined” or, in the romantic sense, “soul mate.” “It kind of took my breath away,” she said.

Rabbi Horwitz didn’t have an issue with her tattoo, which is traditionally taboo in less liberal Jewish circles.

I know, I’m blushing.

• Two athletes transitioned from Olympic rings to wedding rings. Cliff Bayer, an aerospace investment banker, was a two-time Olympic fencer for Team USA, while Neil Weare represented Guam in the 1,500-meter race in Athens.1 He is now “the founder of We the People Project, an organization in Washington seeking equal rights and voting rights for Americans living in United States territories and the District of Columbia.” What have you been up to lately?

• “The bride and groom first met as toddlers at a Baltimore country club where their mothers were tennis partners.” That’s pretty good, but it has nothing on “The couple met in 2010 while working on a production of ‘My Mother’s Lesbian Jewish Wiccan Wedding.'” Game, set, match.

Let’s conclude with a roundup of the most important subgenre of newlyweds: the descendants. Which scions have the best bloodlines? Here is a ranking of five of the most prodigious progeny …

5. “The bride is a granddaughter of Mario M. Cuomo, the governor of New York from 1983 to 1994.”

PROS: Dinner reservations are probably pretty easy to come by.
CONS: Have to stomach Sandra Lee’s straight-from-a-can concoctions at family gatherings.

4. “The groom is a descendant of Andrew W. Mellon, the Pittsburgh industrialist and the secretary of the Treasury from 1921 to 1932.”

PROS: “Robber baron or captain of industry?” is a pretty fun dinner-party game.
CONS: The Steelers :(

3. “The groom is a grandson of the late Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, the former publisher of The Times and chairman of the Times Company, and a nephew of the current publisher, Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Jr.”

PROS: Punch’s Grandson would make for a sweet band name and/or specialty cocktail.
CONS: Getting married in the same month as Jill Abramson’s daughter kinda gets your Grey Lady thunder stolen.

2. “The bride is a descendant of Roger Williams, the founder of Rhode Island.”

PROS: Rhode Island contains Newport; pretty much the whole state has a view of the ocean.
CONS: Roger Williams has mad descendants, yo!

1. “His father is a founder of FreshDirect, the online grocer based in New York.”

Unquestionably the winner — it’s what allows so many modern marriages to survive.

Katie Baker is a staff writer at Grantland.

Archive @ katiebakes