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Wedded Blitz! Summer Has Arrived

The über-season of love is here, so let's catch up on two months of the New York Times 'Vows' section

I honestly don’t even know where to begin. So much has happened since we last saw each other. California reinstated gay marriage. Amar’e Stoudemire turned into a Chinese bride. Napster’s Sean Parker spent umpteen figures transforming a redwood forest into a J.R.R. Tolkien–inspired fantasyland for his special day. Kim Stoltz from Cycle 5 of America’s Next Top Model got hitched. (I always loved Kim, and also how they called seasons “cycles” on that show.)

Thanks to the Stanley Cup playoffs taking over my life for two months, I’ve missed the most important time of year: May and June, the beginning of Wedding Season, when everything happens. May and June are when the temperatures rise, the ceremonies move outdoors, and the calendars begin to fill up with a bachelorette here, a yacht club reception there, a wedding that began with “a two-ton sand sculpture of an underwater scene that featured Ariel, [a] favorite childhood character from the movie ‘The Little Mermaid'” used in a proposal — you know, standard summertime stuff. Even the merry-go-round operators are filled with the matrimonial spirit!

You can watch the transformation in the New York Times: The wedding announcements that took up just a page or two in March now feel like they comprise a full half of each Sunday’s paper. And so it’s only fitting that we do a supersize version of Wedded Blitz, one that covers all that went down in both May AND June. Consider it a palate cleanser for what’s to come: The true high season of July and August. It feels like we’ve seen it all, but we ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

A confetti-filled congratulations to Gwyn Welles and Benjamin Gray, whose 41 points placed them atop this unprecedented 30-person-combined-May-June-Society-Scorecard-mega-spectacular (determined, as always, using our proprietary NUPTIALS algorithm, and presented here with big thanks to Friend of Grantland Alex Morrison).

Everyone always thinks Yalies are a bunch of collar-popping prepsters, but the truth is that this couple is a way more representative example: Sort of offbeat artistic types from New York City who go on to earn MFAs and/or MBAs at Columbia and who direct documentaries about Uganda and supermodels (different documentaries, unfortunately) that are screened at Sundance and whose parents own landscape architecture firms “specializ[ing] in roof gardens” and whose grandparents include “the late Halsted Welles, who … wrote screenplays for film and television, including the original and remake of ‘3:10 to Yuma.'” That should be the stereotype, really. (Or they are Bristol-Myers scions with a “passion for Indiana Jones movies” and a wedding at their parents’ summer home on the Vineyard to someone they met at “a dinner party for young venture capitalists in Boston.” OK, FINE.)

The second-place scorers were Brynn Jinnett and Lowell Putnam, of the mutual fund Putnams, who met at Harvard and got married in Manchester-by-the-Sea, thus earning the coveted “by-the-Sea” bonus Identifier point. (A favorite of mine!)1 She’s a former ballerina who founded fitness program Refine Method, while he is the son of a woman who works at “a nonprofit organization in Mountain View, Calif., that finds and tracks asteroids that may be on course for Earth.” This is so the plot of an Independence Day sequel.

Effectively tied for third are two couples whose grooms, fittingly, have a III in their names. Charles Mikell III and Isadora Botwinick have one of those wonderfully efficient announcements in which each and every word is meaningful. Seriously, try to find a word in there that doesn’t earn some sort of NUPTIALS point. It’s impossible! I guess “married Sunday” … no, wait, they were married over Memorial Day weekend! That’s a point! Savannah, Georgia, doesn’t earn you anything, but it should. Then there’s Cristina Roosevelt and Edward Duggan III. So, you’re wondering casually, like it’s no big deal, is that Roosevelt like as in —

“The bride is a great-granddaughter of Eleanor Roosevelt and President Franklin D. Roosevelt.”

Yep. Oh, and who’s that in fifth place, with the dad who’s the former legal adviser to Colin Powell? Maria Taft? Surely it isn’t —

“She is also a great-great-granddaughter of William Howard Taft, the 27th president and a chief justice of the United States, and a great-granddaughter of Senator Robert A. Taft of Ohio.”

May and June do not mess around.2 Just making the cut at no. 30? “The bride is a descendant of Henry Ford.”

There were two major recurring themes over the months of May and June: By and large, many of the featured couples were (a) immensely creatively and/or intellectually simpatico, and (b) originally seeing other people when they first met. Hey, no judgment, man! When you “[feel] an intense zing” the moment you look at someone, you gotta pursue it.

That’s what happened to Lindsay Benner, a professional juggler, when she met Dan Das Mann, a sculptor whose “creations are monumental sculptures set ablaze, and capped by fireworks and explosions.” (They had first crossed paths at Burning Man, obviously.) Ultimately, that “zing” turned into a wedding invitation sent via a laser-engraved river rock and “eight hirsute groomsmen in gold-and-purple faux fur coveralls cut like tuxedos.”3 This is one of many “Vows” articles that makes me wish every few months or so we could hear from a consortium of “Weddings and Celebrations” exes to hear the other side of the story of things like “a teary breakup call … freeing [her] to follow her heart.”

Then there were Anna Schuleit and Yotam Haber, who were both seeing other people when they first met at the MacDowell artists retreat. It’s unclear what happened to those folks, but soon the two of them were sharing bourbon and chocolate and kisses and their “mutual fascination with Thomas Bernhard, the Austrian playwright and novelist.”

(Side note: These people are all way too smart for me.)

Exhibit A: “‘She had Shostakovich playing on her stereo. I mean, really, how many girls listen to Shostakovich on a Friday night?’ he said.”

Exhibit B: “The couple met in 1997 at Princeton during a seminar on Virgil.”

Exhibit C: “She suggested that they attend an art history lecture on Bernini and Caravaggio … [he] was fascinated by the lecture and called it ‘the sexiest thing she’s ever done,’ even to this day.”

Anyway, in each other they saw a kindred spirit: He is a musician who has “written haunting pieces like ‘New Ghetto Music,’ inspired by reel-to-reel recordings of Roman cantors made decades ago,” while she is an installation artist with a “fascination with Northampton State Hospital, a vast, abandoned mental institution near Mount Hermon.”

I think my favorite part in the piece is when they are described as “sometimes inhabit[ing] a different plane than do other people. Their eyes and minds are not fixed on smartphones or other gadgets, and pop-culture references and slang do not creep into their conversation.” Shades of the opening line from the greatest announcement in modern “Vows” history! “Alexandra Sage Mehta and Michael Robinson do not seem to belong to the Facebook generation that expresses itself in sentence fragments.”4

But not all the like-minded souls had to spurn someone else to be together. A pair of poets initially saw other people, but nothing was as great as their phone conversations recapping dud dates and discussing their great love of poetry. (“The bride said her marriage reminded her of Eleanor and Amory in ‘This Side of Paradise.'”) Two performers — she someone who did things like play the left arm of a gorilla in a puppet play, he a guy with “experience putting on short plays between stops on the F train” — wound up collaborating professionally and romantically. I genuinely love their vows:

“I promise to always be in your corner: to be your cheerleader, confidant, honest critic and biggest fan,” the groom said.

“I vow to be your sous-chef, your collaborator, your first reader (when you want me to be), your wife, and your family,” the bride responded.

Not to be a nitpicker, because I certainly screw things up all the time, but hoooo boy were there some weddings-related correction doozies in May and June. A pair of Amazing Race–winning cooks have a show, The Fabulous Beekman Boys, on the Cooking Channel, not on Planet Green. It’s Kimple, not Kimpel (although the copy doesn’t look like it’s been changed). The guy from America’s Test Kitchen is on his third marriage, not his second.5 And then there’s this poor couple, whose announcement is 195 words long and is followed by 122 words’ worth of whoopsies. Here it is, in full:

A report last Sunday about the wedding of Elisabeth Bernstein and Drew Moody referred incorrectly to the bride’s paternal grandfather, Robert L. Bernstein. He is still alive. Because of an editing error, the report also misstated the year Mr. Bernstein became president at Random House. It was 1966, not 1975. In addition, the report misstated the jurisdiction presided over by the officiant, Judge Barrington D. Parker Jr. He is a federal judge on the United States Court of Appeals, Second Circuit, not the Second District. And, finally, the report referred incorrectly to the bride’s photographs that are at the Halsey McKay Gallery in East Hampton, N.Y. They are part of the gallery’s inventory; they are not on exhibit.

Damn. Is Alessandra Stanley writing these things or what?

Strike up the string quartet and its Coldplay covers, because it’s time to begin the procession of two months’ worth of madcap matrimony. Like a Catholic service, this might take awhile.

• At least four grooms this month brandished a IV on their names like a crisp pocket square. The highest-scoring was George Painter IV. I’m really intrigued by this “Hall of Mirrors” in which he was wed. For the bridesmaids’ sakes, hope they were skinny mirrors! Then we have John Hammond IV, whose father and wife are both involved in the Republican National Committee (he’s a deputy chief of staff to Indiana representative Marlin Stutzman). Walter Jones Laird IV goes by Jason and is living the good life down in Florida. Finally, there is Josiah Orne Low IV, the Yalie and founder of “Spin the Bottle, a New York television and new-media production company that created the ‘Pop Up Video’ program on VH1.” But don’t call him that: “The groom, 46, is known as Tad.”6

• I kind of want the couple who met “in December 2000 as members of the cast of the national tour of ‘Blue’s Clues Live'” to hang out with the guy who “is a director of the Next Ice Age, a figure skating ensemble in Baltimore.”

• Whomever the PR guy is for The Bitter End, one of those bars along Bleecker Street with daily live music, give the man a raise! Two of the latest brides mentioned the venue as proof of their singer-songwriter bona fides. This bride, who wasn’t wowed by her guy’s OkCupid profile until he updated it to include “glassblowing and mozzarella-making” as hobbies — does anyone else feel like that sounds like code?? — performed at the spot. So did this lovely future-organic-juice-bar-in-Aspen-owning young woman. (She married a Rudin, which means we get a bonus reference in the announcement to the NYC fiscal crisis of the ’70s. Never not a fun trip down the halls of history!)

Preserved in the Paper of Record for all eternity: “He was the executive producer of the reality television shows ‘Pregnant in Heels’ on Bravo and ‘I’m Having Their Baby’ on the Oxygen network.”

• Does anyone else get a little bit of a Never Let Me Go vibe7 when they read the sentence “she helps coordinate and prepare the first-year associates”? PREPARE THEM FOR WHAT?!

• Another weird bit of corporate-speak: “[He] is a founder of Footbridge Partners, a start-up investment firm in New York looking to acquire and operate a business.” (You have to pronounce the “a business” there the same way Wayne says “a gun.”)

• Similarly, you have to imagine the words “Here we were, a bunch of prepsters, having it out with a strobe light” as spoken by Pete Campbell.

• Wedded Blitz book club! I’m trying to decide between Reinventing the Chicken Coop: 14 Original Designs (in light of the bursting of the backyard chicken bubble, maybe now’s the time to buy); If the Egyptians Drowned in the Red Sea, Where Are Pharaoh’s Chariots?; 11,002 Things to Be Miserable About (of course the author of this one writes questions for the Educational Testing Service); The Peanut-Free Café; or Restless Virgins: Love, Sex, and Survival at a New England Prep School. (Puts out cigarette, says in raspy voice, Honey, I don’t need to read it, I lived it.) I think we know which is the winner. And furthermore, the winner’s new husband does corporate crisis communications and “is also a freelance D.J. in New York under the name Nat_X.”

• Wedding announcement sentence or the opening to a new novel set in turn-of-the-century Manhattan? “In September 2011, Dr. Hasbani received a text from a co-worker asking her thoughts on dating thin men.”

• It was a pretty big letdown when I clicked on this announcement and didn’t see any rainbow-colored, unicorn-adorned binders and stickers. Um, but NOT AS BIG OF A LETDOWN as this devastating article! “Her spiral notebooks, stickers and pencils with butterfly erasers are a rarity on store shelves … Outside [the factory] stands a silver unicorn missing its horn.” Sobbing.

My notes on this announcement read simply: “WOLF DOGS WOLF DOGS WOLF DOGS WOLF DOGS.” Nothing more to add.

• Between Alex Kuczynski‘s stepdaughter getting married in one wedding and Hud Morgan officiating another one, it’s like a Gawker 2006-08 reunion! Looking forward to Julia Allison wedding Paul Janka to close the loop.

• Mazel tov to the latest Chosen Couple, whose announcement includes the name Shoshanna and references to “Boston’s Jewish Safety Net,” the “Hornstein Jewish Professional Leadership Program at Brandeis University,” the “National Museum of American Jewish History,” and “not humorless, just shy.”

• Her: “Right away he was a little interesting looking. He looked a little bit like a rock star, long hair styled like Rod Stewart.” Him: “Who’s that hot chick?”

• Imagine telling your boss that your fiancé owns a restaurant named Tequila Sunrise when your boss is Mike Bloomberg?

• If this doesn’t sound like a Bond villain description, I don’t know what does: “The groom’s father retired as the president and chief executive of the Asian operations of International Space Brokers, a satellite insurer; his office was in Singapore.”

I want to be adopted by this bride’s parents: Her dad used to be a U.N. rep and then the director of arms control and disarmament under Ronald Reagan and now, he and his wife “run Movers & Shakespeares, an executive coaching and training consultancy that uses Shakespeare’s works as leadership tools.” The idea of a bunch of D.C. lobbyists reciting “Hell is empty and all the devils are here” in a hotel ballroom somewhere is just a delight.

• Oh sure, it sounds lovely that this bride’s mom “is the director of the Far Hills Race Meeting Association, the organization in Far Hills, N.J., that puts on the annual steeplechase there.” How pastoral! How lovely! We’ll ignore the coked-up heathens in horseheads who insist on calling it “The Hunt” and are characterized by police as being in a “riot state of behavior.” (I’ve been; this is accurate.) After all, “these rowdier parties” are “not to be confused with the more well-heeled and catered affairs on the grounds’ hillside.” Duly noted.

Big Data is a pretty perfect band name.

• There were a few strong contenders for the Lesley Stahl Lipstick Award, but the winner goes to Laurie Thomas, who ALSO wins the Helen Mirren Award for … well, just do what the photo caption says and click to enlarge.

This groom has a law degree from Harvard, cum laude. And an MBA from Harvard, with high distinction. And a regular ol’ degree from Cal Tech, with honors. And a master’s in engineering from Cambridge. And a master’s in applied physics from Harvard. And a master’s in biomedical physical chemistry from the Imperial College London, where he was a Marshall Scholar. Oh, that last one was also with distinction. He’s 29 years old.

These people are really into volleyball.

• Duke students are really into waiting in long lines and making an outrageously big deal about it.

• I’m really into this couple. First of all, the woman is my style icon. Second of all, how badass is this? “From the 1970s to the 1990s, dozens of her paintings were on covers of The New Yorker.” Finally, this is how they met:

“The couple met during a doubles tennis match on the Brown campus in 1998. Dr. Baird aimed a serve at Ms. Simpson because he thought she was standing too close to the net. It just missed striking her in the stomach. Rather than being offended, Ms. Simpson was intrigued. “It was a boring match, so that perked it up a bit,” she said.

• If ever there were a sentence from a wedding announcement that would make a perfect personal mantra, it’d be this one: “I was fueled not by liquor but by this great community feeling in the air.” I’m using that gem in lieu of apology next time I black out.

• The sentence “the couple met when they were in nursery school at the Dalton School in New York”8 led me to go looking for the incredible clip from Baby Boom when they talk about preschool admissions at the sandbox, which led me to something even better: This 1989 New York Times article headlined “Dalton, Easing the Toddler Rat Race, Closes Its Nursery.” (I guess that couple made it just in time!) Everything about this paragraph is so great:

Dr. James W. Wickenden, a former dean of admissions at Princeton who was co-chairman of the admissions and scholarship committee that proposed phasing out the nursery school, said: “It is difficult enough to judge academic competence and strength of character with people age 17. To do that at 2½ is asking the impossible,” he said, referring to the age at which candidates are seen for places in a 3-year-old class.

The words “travel on the fast track from nursery school to the Ivy League” are also in there. The more things change, etc. Jack Grubman’s twins are probably applying to college soon!

• Thousands of women throughout history have breezily said “I’ll be there with bells on!” when invited on a night out. But only one woman was lucky enough to say it to this madman. She must have been … thrilled. (As proposals go, I think I might prefer the Dance Dance Revolution enthusiast who got down “on one knee with a ring, asking: ‘Will you be my player two for life?'” though maybe it’s just because the couple’s meet-cute story involves an arcade and McDonald’s.)

• Whyever might this bride and groom, an eighth-grade teacher and a newscaster, BOTH be taking “the name Reiss, which is his paternal grandmother’s maiden name”? I’m stretching to come up with an (admittedly misspelled, but whatever, I’m immature) answer, but I just haven’t been able to break through.

You’ve read this far, so some personal news: I’ve become a cog in the Wedding Industrial Complex. That’s right, I got engaged back in May. Writing about weddings and planning your own wedding are two entirely different monsters; I kind of feel like the friend who gives really blunt, no-nonsense, “he’s just not that into you” relationship advice yet is a complete and absolute horror show when it comes to her own dating history.

Like, I thought I was immune to all of this and yet here I am, with my secret wedding Pinterest and my Googling of things like “lace illusion necklines” and “taco truck rentals” and my anxiety dreams in which I don’t have time to get my hair done before walking down the aisle. Luckily the “big day” is a year-plus away — no playoffs-precluding weddings for THIS bride — which means I have plenty of time to learn the important distinctions between “white” and “ivory” and “cream.” (Blush and bashful, on the other hand, I totally get.)

Still, I’ve gleaned a few valuable lessons even in this short time frame. For example, there’s an iron law of economics that stipulates that the instant the word “wedding” is mentioned during the course of an otherwise run-of-the-mill transaction, the price automatically doubles and a disembodied head appears and begins chanting “deposit.” There’s also a rule that reading a bridal magazine will be the death of you, particularly when you see photo captions that chirp things like “It may be a splurge, but you’ll wear this brilliant bracelet long after the wedding day!” next to an $80,000 bauble. Yeah, for that much money you’re goddamned right. You’d have to pry that puppy off my cold, dead wrist.

And then there’s the Weddingbee boards. Oh, the WeddingBee boards. One day I will perform slam poetry based solely off the subject lines and usernames from the Weddingbee boards. I just clicked over and these are all actual active threads from the front page alone:

• Can I get some yellow diamond ring porn?? by prettyinpink11 7 hours ago in Rings

• +1 requests, is this bitchy? by Toeternityandbeyond 6 hours ago in Beehive

• A grumpy vent about hair color by MrsPaulsBabyBallerina 20 hours ago in The Lounge

• Custom Handkerchief for Mother from Etsy! SO HAPPY! by Vandykins 6 hours ago in Gifts and Registries

• [Poll] A Girl Has Needs You Know! by Karlajlc 8 hours ago in Intimacy

• Am I overreacting or justified? by dogloverforever 1 day ago in Emotional

That “Intimacy”-related poll was too terrifying to even contemplate. Oh, and confidential to dogloverforever: You’re definitely overreacting. But don’t feel bad: When it comes to weddings, most of us always are.

Katie Baker is a staff writer at Grantland.

Archive @ katiebakes