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Katherine Vaz and Christopher Cerf: Kermit Will Attend

The bride wore white. The groom wore Kermit the Frog.The smiling face of the green amphibian dotted Christopher Bennett Cerf’s tie, as he stood next to Katherine Anne Vaz while their marriage rite was read to them in the leaf-strewn garden behind the townhouse they share on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.


As each word was pronounced, Mr. Cerf’s smile seemed to inch wider, competing with the Muppet’s for biggest grin. Next to him Ms. Vaz listened intently as their friend, the former editor and publisher of The Nation magazine Victor Navasky, led the ceremony with the assistance of Emily Jane Goodman, a former justice of State Supreme Court in Manhattan. As the proceedings moved along, the bride’s patchwork, tea-length wedding dress swayed slightly in the breeze.


“Christopher asked me to be funny,” said Mr. Navasky, who had been ordained by the Church of Spiritual Humanism previously to officiate his daughter’s wedding. “Katherine asked me to be serious,” he said. “Sounds to me like they are already married.”The Sunday morning ceremony was the culmination of a relationship built on fun, as filled with jokes, pranks and humor as are the bookshelves in their home on East 62nd Street.



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Though neither has children, their library, in which the guests clustered before the ceremony outdoors, could be the envy of any toddler: filled with picture books featuring creatures like the rapscallion Cat in the Hat and the benevolent Big Bird.Mr. Cerf, 73, is a son of the late Bennett Cerf, a founder of the publishing company Random House, which counted Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss, as an early star author, and where the younger Mr. Cerf began his career working as an editor. His mother, Phyllis Cerf Wagner, worked closely with Mr. Geisel, but not always easily. In herobituary in The New York Times, Mr. Cerf said: “They had some disagreements which were memorable. They were both perfectionists and would argue about every comma that went on the page.”


Perhaps perfectionism runs in the family; for all his appearance of freewheeling fun, amphibian neckties notwithstanding, Mr. Cerf, Mr. Navasky said, is a “secret pedant.”


Everyone with an address on Sesame Street is close to Mr. Cerf, who wrote or co-wrote more than 300 songs for the show. The golden gramophone-shaped Grammy Awards gleaming from the fireplace mantelpiece on the first floor of the townhouse, near where guests sipped grapefruit Perrier and ate fresh fruit before the ceremony began, are testament to his long career, which includes such playground hits as “Put Down the Duckie.”


But interspersed among the playful books are tomes of a more serious nature: They are the works of Ms. Vaz, 59, who has written extensively on the Portuguese-American experience, including two novels, with far darker tones than the stuff penned by Mr. Cerf, the president of Sirius Thinking, a company that creates interactive learning tools for young students. And he is an author of various books on language with Henry Beard, of the National Lampoon magazine, which Mr. Cerf helped start.


Yet to paint the couple standing beneath a bower of slightly dripping trees — having hastily moved their wedding from the rose garden in Central Park to the flagstone patio at home because of predicted bad weather that fortunately failed to materialize — as a yin and yang of fun versus serious would be incorrect.


“We’re both just two big kids,” Ms. Vaz said in an interview before the wedding, as she worked on the relocation details. “That’s why it works.” (At the ceremony, a friend, Sean Kelly, said of Mr. Cerf: “He’s like a 5-year-old. It’s a compliment.”)


Ms. Vaz added: “It’s not just a fun-and-games household, it’s just a quiet loving. We have reached an age where we have a lot of joy together. Joy is a serious thing. He and I were really alone for a long time, so this is kind of, ‘Oh, my God, life has given us this incredible gift,’ and we take it very seriously.”


When they must travel to the many conferences at which one is invited to speak, the other will invariably tuck among the folded clothing a tacky figurine, to be discovered later. It is one of the many in-jokes the couple share, references to which they are constantly leaving for each other around the house.


They are “jokes that no one else gets, but we find hilarious,” Mr. Cerf said, filling the relationship with levity. But the pair also respect solitude, as two writers must, often retreating to separate rooms to write, with a deep understanding that such seclusion is part of their work — something Mr. Cerf said was lacking in his other relationships.


“Love means being the guardian of each other’s solitude,” Ms. Vaz said.Their first date was in 2007 at a book party — at Bellevue Hospital, a site weird enough to intrigue Mr. Cerf, who had initially become intrigued with Ms. Vaz 22 years earlier.


They had first been introduced at the home of Mr. Beard. Mr. Cerf recalled having spoken with Ms. Vaz about Portuguese dance and having found her ravishing.But that was as far as it went. They married other people, yet somehow they never forgot each other. Each had later divorced amicably, before being reintroduced by a mutual friend.


After the hospital date, they carried on to the literary hangout, Elaine’s, now closed, where they talked for hours, then, unexpectedly, kissed madly before parting.Ms. Vaz recalled, “I sat on the edge of my bed afterward and realized my life had just changed.” Then the phone rang. It was Mr. Cerf. He felt it, too.


Mr. Cerf said Ms. Vaz radiates kindness, in life and work. “She once showed me a letter a student wrote saying how Katherine’s generosity and love had changed her life, and it almost made me cry, because it’s so true that she has that effect on people, certainly on me,” Mr. Cerf said.


Of their former marriages, Ms. Vaz, in an email, wrote: “Neither of us regard a past marriage as a mistake. In fact, my ex, Michael, was instrumental in helping me organize the paperwork I needed to obtain the license to marry Chris, because he has always cheered me on. We’ve been apart over 10 years, but it was a matter of deciding with true affection to allow each other to go in different directions. His ex-wife, Genevieve, helped us clear out parts of our house to help me move in.”


Their wedding took place on the anniversary of their first date, the first day of summer. It was also Father’s Day, chosen in homage to Ms. Vaz’s father, August Mark Vaz, who died two years earlier. Her chin trembled when Mr. Navasky mentioned her father’s name. Beyond her, in the small crowd, stood her brother-in law, Jon Goodfellow, wearing the same necktie Mr. Vaz had worn on his own wedding day.


The ceremony was a mix of poetry and Portuguese: Ms. Vaz wore a custom dress that was a blend of different fabrics, chunks of lace and linen falling beneath a sweetheart neckline. At the hem, she had asked the designer, Mary Adams, a New York-based couturier, to incorporate swatches of antique doilies and a pillowcase that had been a family heirloom, into which a matriarch had stitched the words “I love you very much” in pink, in Portuguese. The words trailed Ms. Vaz down the curving metal staircase as she descended from an upper floor to the garden level for the ceremony. Mr. Cerf beamed from below as he watched her spiral down the stairs.


The role of paparazzi was played by Phil Donahue, the former talk show host, who snapped photos incessantly with his iPhone at the direction of his wife, the actress and activist Marlo Thomas, who had collaborated on an album and a book with Mr. Cerf.


The ceremony was followed by a reception in the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s patrons lounge, where guests listened to some of Mr. Cerf’s songs liltingly plucked by a harpist. Guests marveled at what the couple had seemed to achieve, beyond all others: a life of continuous laughter, now solemnized on a Sunday that in the end turned out to be a sunny one.“They will have a laugh-filled life,” Ms. Thomas said. “And I think that’s the cushion of life, after all.”

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04:48 Publié dans wedding | Lien permanent | Commentaires (0)


Big day, huge price tag: The skyrocketing cost of a wedding

If you're about to get hitched, hang on to your wallet.


Each year, Weddingbells Magazine surveys thousands of brides- and grooms-to-be for a glimpse of their wedding wants and needs. Then, it crunches the numbers to forecast trends, including how much the average wedding will cost, and releases an annual survey.


The forecast for 2015? A cool $31,717, this year's poll indicates. [That's up from $27,899 forecast that the magazine made just three years ago.] The online survey involved more than 2,000 participants, between June 2014 and this March.


Before you decide to elope, consider that whopping figure includes some big bells and whistles: a honeymoon averaging $4,489 and an engagement ring at $3,125.


Weddingbells editor Jen O'Brien says that average gets skewed by larger cities. Booking a venue in downtown Toronto will cost considerably more than one in Corner Brook, N.L., for instance.


Canadian couples will typically spend more than $30,000 to pay for the costs of their wedding, a Weddingbells Magazine poll indicates.


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The pressure of Pinterest


Both the betrothed and those in the wedding business point to media, especially social media, as having a massive influence over spending. In particular, Pinterest — the popular site where users share photos and inspirations like a virtual clipboard — is widely used for wedding inspiration.


"[Couples are] spending a lot of time on Pinterest before even becoming engaged, so they're not really willing to compromise on their dream days — they have an exact vision of what they want, and they're going to get it at all costs," says O'Brien.


Online site drives up wedding expectations, costs


She adds that 75 per cent of people surveyed by her magazine end up blowing their wedding budgets.


Andrea Hounsell, owner of the St. John's-based wedding planning company Something Borrowed Something Blue, agrees.


"I think that people are seeing a lot more photos of weddings than they used to before, and a lot more inspiration pictures," Hounsell said.


That inspiration adds up.


Wedding photographers routinely charge upwards of $3,000 for one day of service. With widespread exposure to professional photos in unique locations, couples now want unique mementoes of matrimony: one Corner Brook-based photography company has worked with couples who have booked helicopters in order to get the perfect shot — on a mountaintop.


The big cost ... of chair covers?


Even scaling back to simple decor might not be the answer.


"If you have 300 guests, or 250-plus guests, it doesn't matter how simple your decor is. Just chair covers alone are $4 to $5.50 per chair cover," Hounsell said.


"Times that by 300 people, and you have a very large chunk of your decor budget probably eaten up already by that point in time."


The Weddingbells survey cited venue and catering costs as the single largest expense, up to one third the total cost for the event.


And if you're wondering who's footing this bill?


"About half the people we surveyed said they're relying on their parents to chip in," O'Brien said.


"And actually 61 per cent of brides indicated that cash donations are an important part of their wedding budget. So people really are relying on those envelopes full of cash on the big day to pay for everything."


Consider the winter wedding


One way to save big is to skip summertime.


Half of the 2,600 marriage licences issued by the Newfoundland and Labrador government in an average year are handed out in just two months: July and August.


O'Brien said venues can charge a premium during that period, and couples can score better deals negotiating during the off- season.


Hounsell adds it's important to plan ahead, and shop around. "Get a little idea of how much things cost from decorators beforehand," she said.


"Then set a realistic budget for what you want your decor to be, before you get into the nitty gritty details of picking out centrepieces and linens, because you really can go from zero to 60 very quickly."


'Everything was kind of a shocker'


Bride-to-be Faith Parsons has taken some of these tips to heart.


She's on track for an October wedding, with a $5,000 budget.


"We did a lot of the DIY. We got a lot of things from the dollar store, and spray-painted them ourselves, and did glittering ourselves. Just to keep costs down rather than get somebody else to do it."


But even then, Parsons was caught off guard by the price of planning.


"I found everything was kind of a shocker. I didn't expect it to be so expensive," she said.

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07:55 Publié dans wedding | Lien permanent | Commentaires (0)


Tell Me About It: Weddings, pregnancies are not competitions

I’m a single 44-year-old woman and am horrified by bridezillas and their equivalent mommy monsters. I don’t recall ever seeing a man write in to complain about his best friend getting engaged first or scheduling his wedding the same summer or his wife thoughtlessly getting pregnant so he couldn’t attend a wedding or having a baby first or stealing his favorite baby name. Being fortunate enough to find a partner and sharing the joy of children should be appreciated on their own terms, not done to win a perceived competition with friends or family members. In a world where many women just hope to stay safe and have children survive infancy, I’d like to think American women could celebrate their friends’ special life events with pure joy and selflessness. — Singleton for Sisterhood




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Decades ago when travel wasn’t what it is now, at the same time my boyfriend from Oregon proposed to me, an East Coast girl, his younger brother proposed to his California girl. Because of various career-related circumstances, they planned a large wedding for about a month before we planned to marry, which meant not even his family would be able to attend ours. My very wise husband-to-be took an incredibly kind and long-range view. We talked about the kind of people we wanted to be and what we wanted our marriage to stand for — generosity toward others, support for their happiness, not just ours. We went ahead with a small wedding and never looked back. My husband is gone now, but we had a very happy marriage and nothing but the best relationships between his family and mine. — J.


On people who comment constantly on your weight:


My mother and brother do this obsessively, and I tried everything, over many years, to place appropriate boundaries. Smiles, brush-offs, polite requests — nothing worked. They knew about my decades of weight struggles, but never stopped going on about it. They also added in comments about my father and grandmother, who were both heavy.


Assertiveness is the skill of using adult, confident, polite, logical and clear communication. I finally said, “I am tired of your apparent assumption that you have the right to comment on my weight, or to grill me on what I eat, how much I exercise or anything else related to the topic. You cross a line into my space in doing so, and I want this to end. I cannot change your behavior, but if this happens again, I will leave immediately.”


It solved the problem partially.


They continue to comment on other people’s weight and exercise — rather like the way people with drinking problems notice everything people drink. I’m trying to work on an oblique approach, too. I’ve tried: “I find myself counting the number of times you mention weight and exercise in a negative way in any conversation, when it has nothing to do with the topic. Why is this such an overwhelmingly important yardstick in so many situations?” Or: “Is this story about how fat everyone is and about their bad food choices, or is it a story about your Seniors outing?”


Some people need boundaries. Sometimes you have to give them some.

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05:30 Publié dans wedding | Lien permanent | Commentaires (0)