Marriages that Mattered, 5 October 2014

Listen to this while reading.

There’s a lot to love about my favourite featured story in this week’s New York Times Weddings section. The bride went to a private school in Los Angeles. She followed this with film studies at Columbia. This may have been a mistake, since her surname is – get this – Yale. If she wanted an even greater connection to the best Ivy, she married a chap who went to Exeter and grew up in New Haven. (New Haven, Vermont, that is.)

The groom, Rhys Marsh, worked at Citibank (and then moved to Lehman before its collapse). Like many a 22-year-old recent Duke graduate working in finance before and since, he was at a bar in the Meatpacking District on a Friday night in February in 2006. He had lost his phone, so did not try to take her number after they struck up a conversation at the bar. (I am fairly sure that he was not being disingenuous. My out-of-date iPhone 4S often dies on me after a late night out. Few people have called or emailed me after I’ve handed them my card in such circumstances, but perhaps they just need an excuse.)

It was sleeting and a garbage truck drove by as they were waiting outside at the end of the night. This was fortunate for Mr Marsh. Don’t get me wrong: this isn’t all that unique a situation. It often snows in February in New York. And garbage trucks often drive by at inopportune times on 8th or 9th Avenue late at night and splatter people with a mixture of snow and mud. These things do not often happen when you’re standing next to a 19 year old Columbia student with loose butterscotch hair, with surname  Yale when you’ve grown up in New Haven, and with whom you’ve recently struck up a promising rapport. So Mr Marsh is a lucky man. He persuaded her to go back to his place to dry off. (That wasn’t good fortune. It was just smooth.) She persuaded him to go into renewable energy. She makes films in Burundi and involves him in finance when doing so. He proposed in Antarctica. Fingers of mist crept over the ridge as they said their vows.

Everything about this couple is perfect. By rights I should hate them, with the sneering jealous contempt of someone fated never to traipse down the yellow brick road of perfection. Even the timing of their wedding is perfect, though, since my vitriol right now is reserved for other weddings (which, fortunately, the Vows section had the good taste not to cover) right now. In the circumstances, I can only wish Mr. Marsh and Miss Yale every happiness.

Other wedding announcements I enjoyed this week include the story of Mary Birnbaum and Justin Shane. The bride and groom are both teachers. She teaches acting for singers at Juilliard. He teaches middle school science in the Bronx. Earlier, though, he was a lawyer. He has now recovered, and Miss Birnbaum has a husband with whom she might spend meaningful time in the evenings.

Diane Delgado, the new bride of Duane Loft, a 34 year old Boies Schiller partner who splits his time between London and New York, may not be as fortunate. The painter bride may have to get used to long conversations with her sculptor father-in-law as her husband takes calls at family dinners. There will likely be compensations. I don’t see her struggling to find the cash for canvas or paints any time soon.

And, to round off the weekend, some more traditional Weddings Section fare. In my primer to the section late last year, I ought to have mentioned that a major rule when reading is to scan the surnames of couples for Presidential or Founding Father surnames. You might just hit gold. Such was the case when it came to the union of Virginia Taft and Robert Powell this week. (They happened to meet at Union College.) The bride is a great-great-granddaughter of President William Howard Taft. The groom goes one better, claiming descent from John Howland, a signatory to the Mayflower Compact.

On the subject of American History, it’s Columbus Day in a shade over a week. This ought to remind us that not all marriages – whether between two people or two races – wind up being preternaturally happy. I mention this not because of the Times’ section – I hope and am sure that all of the people whose weddings featured this week will have the most blissful of marriages – but because of that other wedding. For her own sake, I hope that Miss Alamuddin has taken plenty of advice from Jemima Khan on the do’s and don’ts of being married to devastatingly handsome men with accomplishments in their chosen fields, determined to make the world a better place.

If you haven’t, are reading, and ever need to talk, Amal, feel free to drop me a line.

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