What do Olympic gold medalists in nordic skiing do in the summer? They get married. Join Olympics nerd and Gawker wedding expert Phyllis Nefler as she parses today's New York Times weddings announcements. She goes for the gold every day.
Earlier this year, a small group of US athletes pulled off one of the more unlikely Olympic runs and came away with some unexpected medals. It wasn't the hockey team, and it wasn't the skiers: it was the guys competing in the nordic combined, a quirky little event that merges ski jumping with cross country skiing and garnered little-to-no attention here in the United States.
But in my default winter position as a lump on the couch, I watched the nail-biting finish. And was then maybe moved to write about it:
Seconds ahead of him, winning the US's first-ever Nordic gold, was Billy Demong. It was a few days earlier than the February 27 date predicted by Astrology Zone to be "the luckiest day of the year" for an Aries like Demong, but consider that a rounding error: after winning the gold, he proposed to his girlfriend Katie Koczynski-smart move; there's no way she could say no!-and then learned he'd been selected as the American flag bearer in Sunday's closing ceremonies! Always trust content from Susan Miller.
The proposal story of Billy Demong and Katie Koczynski (herself a member of the US skeleton team) is even more happy-making than that: he apparently brought the ring with him to the race in his gear bag (it was "wearing a hole," he later quipped) and surprised not just Katie but a huge crowd of happy pals when he popped the question:
The U.S. Ski Team House in Whistler, BC was packed tonight as friends and family gathered to celebrate Billy Demong's Nordic Combined gold medal and U.S. Teammate Johnny Spillane's silver.
When Demong took the mic many expected him to thank his loved ones for their support in helping make his Olympic dreams come true. Demong's gold is the first ever Nordic Olympic gold medal won for the USA.
Instead, Demong called his girlfriend Katie to the stage, and as he got down on one knee, onlookers screamed. The cheering was so loud in fact that Demong's proposal was barely audible.
(dabbing tears with hanky) Anyway, I'm highlighting this because I wish the Times had devoted more space to this story. Maybe it's just my inner Olympics geek speaking but I thought they were by far the most interesting couple this weekend. Everyone else made me yawn a lot. We had some youngs, some olds, some subway encounters, a few overeducated strivers.
The featured Vows column, which focused on Perla Farias and David Portugal, Jr., was the only other story of note, touching as it did on the issue of immigration reform by way of explaining that "nearly two dozen relatives — aunts, uncles, and cousins of Ms. Farias, all originally from Mexico and all undocumented — were missing from their June 19 wedding" due to fears of being stopped and deported.
It's always a little weird when some Hot Button Issues get all mixed up in my Weddings and Celebrations — I'm trying to , and so I'll skip over the politicizing and get to the important meat of the story:
Shortly before Christmas 2007, Mr. Portugal presented her with a poster-size portrait of her that he'd painted, using a photo from her MySpace page showing her in a T-shirt that said, "Think: It isn't illegal yet."
"I remember being really impressed, but being weirded out at the same time," she said of her friend, who seemed at the cusp of becoming something more.
I actually loved that, because it was so honest — sometimes you read these Vows things, and in the same situation the girl would be like "I looked at the painting and immediately recognized the Warholian influences, which grabbed my attention because, as you know, Edie Sedgwick used to babysit me in Santa Barbara, and later sold me drugs. Anyway, what a coincidence, right? That's how I knew he was the one for me."
Meanwhile, today's girl is all: "for serious?"
He was for serious. After they started dating, Portugal wanted to ask her father for her hand in marriage and had his roommates teach him enough Spanish so that he could ultimately "stumble through it, in front of three generations of the Farias family." Aw.
Farias and Portugal are babies — 21 and 22, respectively — and are one of several young pairs featured this weekend. Rebecca Reisner and Zachary Manchester met at Cornell, "from which both graduated and where the bridegroom also received a master's in aerospace engineering." (He is currently working on his doctorate in same.)
Ivy League-branded love also blossomed between Jennie Eskin and Kristofer Ekdahl, who are 25 and both graduated with honors from Princeton. I don't know if I'd want to get married so young. Your friends would all be poor and give you shitty wedding gifts, you know!? Then again, they'd probably actually enjoy your nuptials because it wouldn't be their sixth time in as many weeks dancing to "We Are Family" in a hotel banquet hall. Hmm.
On the other end of the spectrum, Ollie Ball and Robert Dempsey met online and discovered that both of their beloved long-time spouses had sadly passed just months apart. They decided to meet out in Sag Harbor:
That night he arrived early at Ms. Ball's home to pick her up, but before he could leave his car and ring her bell, he noticed a woman walking her bichon frise. He correctly discerned that it was Ms. Ball, and he recalled feeling a little awkward about seeing her in such an unguarded moment."
"I recognized her from her white hair," he said. "I turned the car around and I had to wait until she got back to the house."
The woman who re-emerged from her front door was a "very good looking woman," he said, a graceful figure in a fur coat.
As someone who is never not running late, I say he played this impeccably. I shudder to think what a man might find if he showed up early to pick me up for a date. Hahahahahah as if anyone has ever come to PICK ME UP FOR A DATE. That happens!? Oh yeah, because these people are in their 70's.
Two couples this weekend have the good old New York City subway to partially credit or blame for their unions. Shahin Gharib first noticed Rachna Sultanian on the subway before finally spotting her once again in the emergency room in which both worked.
And Tara Copeland — a female comedian, omg, but where does she stand on the Daily Show? — and Andrew Eastwick first met in a small screenwriting class (she "had written about a shy custodian falling in love with a naive grade-school teacher") but it was six years later that he saw her again, on a crowded rush-hour F train. Not able to reach her in time, he made sure to be forward when he saw her again a week later, and the two became friends and then something more. LOVE THAT COLOR, by the way.
(This announcement gets bonus points for having the kind of groan-tastic kicker that Vincent Mallozzi can be relied upon to deliver week after week: "Ms. Copeland seemed to be reading from the same script when she added, "This time around, we were ready for each other." Honestly, whenever V-Maz or my girl Rosalie R. Radomsky bring me one of those epic lines, I read them in David Caruso's voice, pausing to put on my sunglasses and cue up some The Who.)
Elsewhere this weekend, two people bond over their love of spoiled New York City rich kids; a couple "had a Quaker-style self-uniting ceremony that incorporated elements from their Methodist, Jewish, Syrian Chrstian and Indian backgrounds"; one mother of the bride is described as "a tapestry weaver in Providence"; two ladies met at the 2006 gay pride parade; and one lady specializes in study of Fluxus, which looks to me like something not all too dissimilar to the similarly-named Festivus.
Oh, and on the heels of this NYT staffer lamenting her lack of wedding photo due to eyebrow mis-alignment, two couples illustrate that there's plenty of room for creativity even while maintaining ideal brow-latitude: you can use a wall to create a funky "decapitated head" look, as Sarah Burns and Timothy Funkhouser do, or you can do … whatever it is that Shadi Khadivi is doing here.
What higher spiritual power do you think she is gazing upon? Probably one that, like her architecture and graphic design studio "shadiworks," does not concern itself with paternalistic constructs like proper capitalization.
This week's Faceoff:
* The couple were wed in a ceremony at "Buttermilk Falls Inn": +1
* Back in October, "Thich Nhat Hanh, a Buddhist monk, led a marriage blessing at the Blue Cliff Monastery in Pine Bush, N.Y.": +1
* The bride graduated from Duke and received a master's degree in public affairs from Princeton: +4
* The groom graduated from Harvard and received both a medical degree and a master's in biostatistics from Columbia: +9
* The groom works at Sloan Kettering: +1
* The bride "is a term member of the Council on Foreign Relations in New York and a fellow of the Truman National Security Project Educational Institute in Washington.": +2
* The groom's father is a surgeon: +1
* The bride graduated with highest honors from the University of North Carolina and the groom graduated from Princeton: +6
* The bride received a master's degree in classics and English literature from Oxford and "later received a medical degree from Harvard": +6
* The groom received a master's and PhD from Princeton in physics, as well as a master's in mathematics from Cambridge: +9
* "The bride's father is a professor of surgery at Duke University and has retired as the chief of endocrine surgery at Duke University Medical Center.": +2
* "The bridegroom, 32, is a theoretical physicist who works in the Center for Particle Cosmology, a part of the department of physics and astronomy at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia": +1
* The groom's father "is also an adjunct professor and the chairman of the undergraduate program in architecture at Penn.": +1
* A Baptist minister performed the ceremony: +1