The Spectacle Of Matrimony

There have been reams of speculation about just how private Chelsea Clinton wants her marriage to Marc Mezvinsky to be this weekend in Rhinebeck, N.Y.

Private, semi-private, really not private at all — but feigning a desire for privacy. When you have to invite several hundred people to please the relatives or the company or Congress before you've invited even one friend from grade school, your wedding has about as much intimacy as Times Square on New Year's Eve.

Almost six years ago, getting married for the first time, I realized that I would have to invite 175 of my husband's beloved Irish-American relatives to our nuptials before I had even one friend or relative of my own on the guest list. These people were all dearly welcome, but we just couldn't afford a 300-person wedding and, to be honest, didn't want one. I just didn't want to look out at a sea of humanity on my wedding day.

Our solution was to go across the sea, then, to Ireland — where we both had friends and family — marry there, and invite everyone. About 100 die-hards made it to the ceremony. We celebrated all night long, with the bartender and the musicians slumped over glasses of Guinness come morning.

But that won't work for Chelsea and Marc. Irish bookies at Paddy Power are taking bets on everything from who will be the first to cry at the ceremony to the length of Bill Clinton's speech. Bill is also "tipped for tears" as the first to cry. It's all meant to be amusing, of course, but I find it depressing. For us, Ireland was a sanctuary. But we aren't celebrities.

Weddings are increasingly notable for their amazing lack of intimacy, their evolution into industry. Especially for celebrities, they've evolved into must-haves and appointment-list mega-spectacles. I'd be surprised if some part of Chelsea Clinton doesn't want to just kick over the traces, start again and elope on horseback with her bridegroom.

I’m sure she'll have — I hope they'll both have — a great day, a day that's more than a blur, but I know we'll all be expecting the pictures, if not a bite of the cake. Perhaps we should all have two weddings — one for the public, friends and family, and posterity. And the other — some ceremony under a tree, nobody there but a faun playing a flute. No pictures, just us, Orpheus and Eurydice.

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