Marriage may have changed, but love has not. It still makes people say crazy things. And it’s still a glue that no one has control of.
May 20, 2012 2:44 PM   Subscribe

The New York Times' "Vows" column is turning 20. Lois Smith Brady revisits some of the first couples covered in the column which she has written since its inception (alone for the first decade, and as one of several writers in its second). A companion article describes how the column came about and how it (and the couples it covers) have changed over the years.

Here are links to the original "Vows" columns of the six couples Brady profiles, and snippets from both the original columns and their updates:

Kelly Irwin and Saro Liotta-Mangio

Then: "Mr. Liotta-Mangio, who is 50 years old and was born in Sicily, has lived in the boat basin, a community of houseboats connected by driftwood-gray docks along the Hudson River shore of Manhattan, for six years; Ms. Irwin, 29, has lived there for five. They got to know each other well two and a half years ago, after Mr. Liotta-Mangio, a guitarist and composer, found himself boatless."

Now: "At the time of their wedding, Ms. Irwin, then 29, and Mr. Liotta-Mangio, then 50, were a free-spirited artistic couple who lived on a houseboat in the 79th Street Boat Basin in Manhattan. They seemed too bohemian for marriage; I figured they would drift apart sooner rather than later."

Diana Pizzuti and Robert Iovino

Then: "Afterward, the newlyweds paused on the sidewalk outside, where even more passers-by gathered, a few peering into the waiting limousines, others taking photos of the couple. 'There were all these tourists and a million cameras,' Lieutenant Iovino, 33 years old, said later. 'We don't know them, they don't know us, but they'll go home with a picture of the bride and groom from St. Pat's. It's humorous.' Captain Pizzuti, 34, said: 'It's fun. Someone even came up to me and said something in a foreign language. I just kept repeating, Thank you! Thank you!'"

Now: "She climbed the department ladder faster and higher than he. 'My wife has made more money than me pretty much most of my career,' he said. 'A lot of men can’t deal with that. But at the end of the day, we put it all in one pile and we all benefit from the pile.' She added, 'I’m a chief, but I’m not a chief at home.'"

Kathy Phillips and Jake Daehler

Then: "After they were pronounced 'wife and husband,' most of the guests headed down to the loft, but Patricia Scanlon, a playwright, lingered. Wearing a black-velvet dress and lavender boots, she said: 'That was such a funny, unpretentious ceremony. It was so Jake and Kathy. They didn't hide the fact that having a relationship is tough stuff.'"

Now: "Their married life, he said, became too exciting. By 1999, they had two children, Malcolm and Lola; seven cats; two dogs; pigeons; hermit crabs; and bunnies. 'It was just insane,' Mr. Daehler said. They argued operatically. 'Sometimes resentments fossilize, they turn into rock, they petrify and you just can’t chip your way through it,' he said. He moved out in 2003 and lived on a friend’s couch for a while, in misery."

Francine Friedman and Arun Alagappan

Then: "In Indian terms, the couple's is a 'love marriage,' not arranged by parents. They met seven years ago through friends. Despite their different religious and cultural backgrounds, the bride said: 'We both have an ecumenical view of the world. We believe in strong, extant religions and enduring traditions, but we also feel that ultimately everyone is the same.'"

Now: "The Alagappans’ apartment is decorated eclectically, and their religious life is eclectic, too. Though she is Jewish and he is Hindu, they put up a Christmas tree every year. 'We have raised our children to believe that different religions are but different paths to the same God,' Mrs. Alagappan, 50, wrote in an e-mail."

Mimi Lister and Sheldon Toney

Then: "The bridegroom, a computer specialist in Bridgewater, N.J., didn't seem to have any fears about the green-grass syndrome or marriage in general, even though for a wedding present, friends gave him a bowling ball with a chain attached and messages like 'You are no longer a free man' written on it. As he said: 'I'm real happy about the ball-and-chain part of marriage. I have nothing bad to say about it.'"

Now: "They are living in Byram, N.J., with their two children, Jeremy, 17, and Dominique, 14, neither of whom were easy to conceive. 'I would get depressed every month when I realized I was not pregnant,' said Mrs. Toney, a social worker. 'Sheldon would say, As long as we’re together, we can get through anything.'"

Susan Hawe and Marc Parent

Then: "Four years ago, Marc Parent and Susan Hawe were living in a tiny, crowded apartment in Greenwich Village. 'There were three guys, two bedrooms and three girlfriends,' Mr. Parent, an actor, recalled. Many of the roommates -- Mr. Parent and Ms. Hawe among them -- had moved to New York from rural Wisconsin, and at night they would play country music together, with two of the guys on guitars, one on pots and pans, and Ms. Hawe, now a teacher at St. Luke's School in the Village, singing."

Now: "Each year, they celebrate their anniversary this way: Ms. Parent puts on her wedding dress and wedding cowboy boots for a few nostalgic hours. Describing the dress, which they never considered preserving in mothballs, Mr. Parent wrote in an e-mail: 'It’s in the back of a closet hanging with the boy’s shirts. If anything, it smells like them, which is fitting, I guess. Susan is not a perfectionist, which is one of the nicest things I can say about her. She is forgiving, of me, of herself, of life, and of a loose wedding dress in a closet.'”
posted by ocherdraco (16 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

* joy *

I love weddings, but not as much as I love marriage and being married. I really enjoy sitting down and reading through a backlog of Vows a few times a year. I know it's a very imperfect representation of class and ethnicity but I am a sucker for a happy wedding. I don't even rate them on how likely they are to stay married!
posted by DarlingBri at 3:18 PM on May 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

I want to hear the worst stories, how the cheery "it was meant to be even thought we were married to other people and met at our toddlers' preschool"* turned bad.

Yeah, all aboard the Schadenfreude Express, baby! No shame!

* (They shouldn't force readers to read that tripe. It's kinda horrifying.)
posted by discopolo at 3:40 PM on May 20, 2012 [2 favorites]

Thought I should mention they didn't revisit that particular story. Too recent. But what about Jessica Sklar/Eric Nederlander (bride left for Jerry Seinfeld), or the Candace Bushnell/ballet husband guy and all the awful stories from the vows? Lindsay Einhorn/David Gray....

Maybe I'll research vows column failures in my free time. Or bizarro stories from vows that can't make the State of the Union column.
posted by discopolo at 3:45 PM on May 20, 2012 [2 favorites]

If you actually read the first link, and see what those couples have gone through (death, suicide, etc.), you might not wish for the horror stories quite so fervently.
posted by Ideefixe at 4:00 PM on May 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

I want to hear the worst stories, how the cheery "it was meant to be even thought we were married to other people and met at our toddlers' preschool"* turned bad.

Ooo, I remember that couple; I totally want an update on them!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 4:20 PM on May 20, 2012 [2 favorites]

But what about Jessica Sklar/Eric Nederlander (bride left for Jerry Seinfeld)

You piqed my interest, so I looked- here's the announcement for the Sklar/Nedarlander wedding. Mr. Nederlander's second marriage to Lindsey Kupferman (Vows column) has also ended, and, to put it midly, things aren't going very well.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 4:33 PM on May 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

But do they talk about Veiled Conceit?
posted by kenko at 4:42 PM on May 20, 2012 [3 favorites]

Oh man, I really kinda want domestic dramadies about the Pizzuti-Iozinos and Friedman-Alagappans. Police chief mom and stay-at-home-copdad! Slightly-guiltily-wealthy Hindu-Jewish Christmas trees!

And for everyone else a little miffed at Not Enough Lavish Wedding Pictures, I present the loveliest cherry blossom wedding in the world!
posted by nicebookrack at 5:28 PM on May 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

discopolo: "I want to hear the worst stories, how the cheery "it was meant to be even thought we were married to other people and met at our toddlers' preschool"* turned bad. "

Sorry, the only Vows couple I know, who happen to have a story somewhat like that, are still happily married.
posted by wierdo at 6:16 PM on May 20, 2012

My favorite column of Vows was the two circus performers marrying. Their circus friends threw them a mighty bash straight out of "For The Benefit of Mr. Kite." Jugglers! Sword swallowers! Trapeze artists flying through the air! Officiated by James Randi! That wedding would have been fun to attend.
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 7:21 PM on May 20, 2012

You piqed my interest, so I looked- here's the announcement for the Sklar/Nedarlander wedding. Mr. Nederlander's second marriage to Lindsey Kupferman (Vows column) has also ended, and, to put it midly, things aren't going very well

DAMN. I guess a part of me thought Seinfeld was a bad guy who caused mucho problemos. This is depressing.
posted by discopolo at 8:08 PM on May 20, 2012

Despite being a lavish Jewish ceremony with several quirky twists, the nuptials of Josh Greene and Alyssa Mandel Sunday was deemed not quite lavish, Jewish, or quirky enough to make it into the New York Times’ ‘Weddings & Celebrations’ section. -- The Onion
posted by schmod at 10:29 PM on May 20, 2012

All the years of reading these, I never realized you had to 'submit' a request to be in the vows section. I thought it kind of just, you were just nominated because you know someone who knows someone - and so you weren't embarrassed to list all the crap about your family and etc. that otherwise you would be to modest/decent to blab about.
That you have to volunteer all that stuff... kind of a let down.
At the same time I was always a little, secretly hurt that when we got married we weren't asked if we wanted to be in the vows section. (There's actually no reason at all that we would be, it was just, you know, one of those Rupert Pupkin moments.) About a month after our wedding I read a 'vows' piece that just, damn, just almost could have been us. The similarities were eerie and a touch, uh, I thought we were more unique than we turned out to be. It was odd (the guy wore the same suit as I did, their ceremony was at the place we decided not to use, the weather on their days was similarly, epically bad) and has given me something to thinking about while flossing more than once. Knowing that this ersatz couple had to fill out some form, had to petition to have a reductive, trite, silly filler piece written about them, makes me feel better. Why we weren't in there, because neither of us would have ever thought to ask.
posted by From Bklyn at 2:00 AM on May 21, 2012 [2 favorites]

Related (and hilarious): a a points system for the NYT Weddings section.
posted by naoko at 9:48 AM on May 21, 2012 [2 favorites]

I never realized you had to 'submit' a request to be in the vows section

You don't apply to Vows, you just submit your wedding details for publication. Most newspapers in the US do this, or used to. Some also have a section where you pay to have your write-up published, like obituaries. Vows is different, because the reporter then calls you up and asks questions, but the usual college, job, parents, etc. info is pretty standard.
posted by Ideefixe at 1:47 PM on May 23, 2012

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