services 02.10.06

The New American Wedding

MUG asked Diane Meier Delaney to share what she discovered while planning her wedding — which eventually led her to write The New American Wedding. Here's what she told us.

By Diane Meier Delaney
Three years ago as I approached planning my own wedding, every piece of Bridal Media outlined a pat ritual designed for a young girl. Not young, nor wasp-waisted with no parents on this planet, I managed, with my soon-to-be groom, to pull off an event of real style and authenticity on our Connecticut farm. But were we alone in feeling left out?

I am a marketer; so when the wedding was over, I set out to learn just what was going on beyond the radar of a business reportedly larger (and healthier) than the American Automobile industry (the wedding industry accounts for sales between 70-130 billion dollars annually).

What I found was stunning. Here's a hint: Who is actually getting married? They're ten years older than you might have thought, they're not first time at the altar, 70% of all second marriages include children and the father of the bride isn't paying for the shindig. These couples are creating New American Weddings; more sophisticated, more creative and far more authentic. Let's face it, a marketer finding a huge, unserved market on her own front porch is like a paleontologist finding a dinosaur bone in her garden. So I wrote a book about it.

The Engagement Ring
Is it always a diamond? Is it always a solitaire? Is it always a ring? Mine was a swimming pool! Melvin Kirtley, senior gemologist at Tiffany, 5th and 57th 212.755.8000 and Joan Boening, the estate jeweler at James Robinson, 480 Park [58th/59th] 212.752.6166, both recognize that meeting the needs of this New American Bride often suggests more stylish, more personal, more sophisticated choices than a 'debutante-diamond'. They both have brilliant ideas, from modern to ancient and are willing to talk about the subject!

Bridal Registry
If second marriages now come complete his-and-her dining room furniture, what are the New American Registry Rules? Here are the true-to-yourself trends we're seeing:
· Good-works: From donations to work-pledges
· Themes: gardens (everyone brings a rose bush), home library (everyone gives an important book)
· Focused Fractions: Add to the new kitchen or the African photo-safari in shares or bits

The Dress
Q: If you don't look like a boudoir pillow, how will the photographer know you are the bride?
A: Don't capitulate, think smarter: Think luminous, light-catching sportswear! It's real-life-style, turned up a notch. Some great resources:

· Chado Ralph Rucci. You can find his beautifully made pieces off the peg at Saks or Bergdorf Goodman, or go all-out and mortgage the farm for couture from his own salon: 536 Bway [Prince/Spring] 6th flr. 212.819.9066.

· Zoran. Consider his cool, minimalist sportswear shapes in white or champagne gazar, charmeuse or satin, available at Saks and Bergdorfs.

· Reem Acra has a line of evening wear with a separates approach and no loss of her signature ornament and drama. Reem Acra Salon, 14 E. 60th [5th/Mad] 212.308.8760.

The Ceremony
The mixing of cultures, the blending of families or simply the idea that ritual needs to be real to have resonance, can lead New American Couples to re-invent the rite.

Brooklyn doctor Fiona Gallahue married New York graphic designer Retsu Takahashi in a ceremony that blended her Catholic-Celtic heritage with his Buddhist-Japanese traditions. Connecticut realtor, David Bain and his wife, Debby, crafted a very brave service that faced and introduced their past as children, ex-in-laws, and even ex-husbands and wives were united to create a new and inclusive family.

Was any of this easy? It was not. But Unitarian minister, Rosemary Bray McNatt, First Universalist Society 160 CPW [75th/76th] 212.595.1658, joins me in believing the design of New American Weddings can help to heal families and maybe even cultures.

The Reception
· Comfort food: Caterer Andrea Giardino, 212.595.5654, knows the genre as high-art, no matter where your comfort came from.

· Cupcakes are a huge trend threatening to displace the traditional wedding cake. Ann Warren's Cupcake Café, 212.465.1530, might be the best examples, this side of Kansas.

· Wedding paintings instead of photos? Think fine-art, fine-tuned to the day. Call the brilliant Anne Watkins at 212.866.0057.

· Zezé, 938 1st [52nd] 212.753.0067. New York's chicest florist, offers a small but magical carriage house as a private dining room fit for the keeper of a secret garden. Around the corner find his glorious shop with soaring ceilings to rent for a very glam, very New York event.

The New American Wedding - Ritual and Style in a Changing Culture is available on Amazon. Please feel free to share your own stories at The illustrations in this article are from the book and are by Donna Mehalko.

We thought Eric Asimov's piece on malbec wines in Wednesday's Times frankly ridiculous. Mr. Asimov and a few tasters try out 13 bottles of Cahors and 12 from Argentina and come to the conclusion that malbec should be thought of as a 'supporting player'. Mr. Asimov writes that "'thrilling' is a word that can describe any number of wines, but rarely if ever a malbec." That's just out-and-out wrong — faulty methodology leading to bogus conclusions.

Malbecs frequently don't show well without age — in their youth they can be both tight and tannic. We had a 20-year-old malbec last year that was absolutely thrilling. Most of the wines sampled by Asimov and crew seem to have been from the past three or four vintages. Cabernet makers have changed styles over the last 20 years to make their wines much more drinkable when young. But, at least until recently, if you took 25 random bottles of young cabernet, you could have reached the same conclusions about cabernet that Mr. Asimov and crew did about malbec. And you'd have been equally wrong.

And what are we to make of the panel's conclusions about Catena Alta Mendoza 2002? We've written before on Nicolas Cantena's wines and virtually everyone (else) agrees that Mr. Catena is making world-class wines. These tasters find the wine just passable: "sweet and juicy, but with an artificial cough drop aroma." James Molesworth in The Wine Spectator gives the same wine 93 points and writes that it is "deftly toasted, with vanilla and mocha suavely intertwined with lush plum, blackberry, and boysenberry fruit. Long, plush and smoky through the finish, with the fruit taking an encore. A beauty." Parker gives it 91 points.


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