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Posts Tagged ‘weddings’

A Few Notes on Presiding over the Punch Bowl

March 21, 2014 | by

A_Midnight_Modern_Conversation

William Hogarth, A Midnight Modern Conversation, 1730

March 21st was my maternal grandparents’ wedding anniversary; they were married in 1946 in Silver Spring, Maryland, my grandmother’s hometown. As a child I loved to pore over the Silver Spring Standard wedding notice in her scrapbook, which contained lines like, “The church was massed with spring blossoms, a fitting setting for the exquisite beauty of the bride herself, in her ethereal white marquisette gown and flowing lace.” (“TERRIBLE write-up,” my grandmother had written in the margins.)

What struck me lately, as I reread the notice yet again, was the range of tasks assigned to the wedding guests. The maid of honor and best man were duly accounted for, but there was also this: “Mrs. Elizabeth McLean presided at the coffee urn and Miss Mary Roberts at the punch bowl.”

A cursory Internet search shows that this was indeed a thing: if you google “presided over punch bowl” or “presided over coffee urn,” you’ll come across a raft of vintage wedding and party notices, all of which describe the dispensing of beverages. What I really wanted to know is, was this duty—which sounds dull, potentially messy, and interminable—considered an honor, or was it a sort of booby prize for extra relatives? “Presides” has a regal ring, but the task itself sounds akin to light drudgery. Read More »

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A Bookish Wedding

February 8, 2013 | by

slide_279226_2071811_free“The library has always been a sanctuary for me. I always felt validated as a child when the librarian went to, what I believed at the time, great lengths to attend to my inquisitiveness,” says Barbara Morrow, who on Friday married David Kurland in the Northwest History Room at Washington’s Everett Public Library. “Today, when I walk into a library, I feel calm. I look around at the stacks and know I can find out about anything. There before me, shelf after shelf, are ideas and knowledge.”

Added the groom, “Libraries are full of ideas. A person needs lots of ideas. And we both love words ... We are the ultimate nerds.”

The two, who met on Match.com after he decided he “just wanted to have lunch with the woman who could write like that,” and who enjoy reading aloud to each other, were married by children’s librarian Theresa Gemmer. Librarian Joan Blacker acted as a de facto wedding planner.

The bride sported book-shaped earrings; the groom a bookshelf-patterned tie. Following cake with the staff, the bride renewed her library card.

Hearty congratulations from everyone at 62 White Street!

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What We’re Loving: Dune, Anno, Common Prayer

November 9, 2012 | by

Not long ago I had the honor of officiating at the wedding of a Swede and a Russian Jew. It was not a religious ceremony (unless you count the Universal Life Church), but when the three of us sat down to discuss vows, the bride and groom agreed that the Book of Common Prayer couldn’t be beat; we just had to kill the “obey” clause and the stuff about God. It felt funny, crossing out words in my great-grandfather’s prayer book, but according to a new monograph by Daniel Swift, Shakespeare did pretty much the same thing, repeatedly. Shakespeare’s Common Prayers: The Book of Common Prayer and the Elizabethan Age makes a case for the Anglican liturgy as a work of politics and art and as a crucial influence on English literature. It made for perfect candelight reading after lower Manhattan lost power. —Lorin Stein

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Books for the Subway, Reading at Weddings

August 6, 2010 | by

Can you recommend any books that will make interesting people approach me if I read them on the subway? During A Moveable Feast, people came up and quoted entire passages verbatim, and it really enhanced the reading experience. —Alexandra Petri

The trick is to choose books that have cult followings, and so create a sense of secret fellowship—but that large numbers of your fellow-riders have actually read. That's why it depends somewhat on your subway line. As Philip Roth is to the Seventh Avenue trains, so Jonathan Lethem is to the F. For the Q I might carry either story collection of Edward P. Jones (impress your new friend by pointing out that the two collections are linked, story by story) or anything by Lipsyte or Shteyngart. (Each of whom is also beloved on the L.) On the Lexington Avenue line, The Transit of Venus. For the G train: War and Peace, A Dance to the Music of Time, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, 2666, Gravity's Rainbow, the complete works of James Michener, etc., etc., etc.

Of course, certain writers are good bets anywhere. Thanks to my bike, I have no particular subway, but I will instantly take a friendly interest in anyone I see reading Ta-Nehisi Coates's memoir The Beautiful Struggle, Norman Rush's Mortals, IJ, anything by Adam Phillips, or the essays of Charles Lamb. Possession of these books is sufficient cause for me to ask which part you're at. Maybe for others too. All of which is to say: be careful what you wish for.

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