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Ivy Weddings: Size Isn’t Everything
But in more than one area, the last shall be first. Too many folks at Harvard and Princeton — far more proportionately than at the College — seem to place a high value on seeing their picture in the paper. There are better things to aim for in this world.
Addendum: David Brooks traces the evolution of the content of what many call the “mergers and acquisitions” page:
In the 1950s the wedding section could spread out over 16 pages. Then, as now, it carefully identified the crucial elements of elite status. In those days, however, it wasn’t jobs and advanced degrees. The wedding page of that time almost never listed the profession of the groom or bride, or of the parents of the happy couple. Instead, the Times listed connections: a distinguished ancestor, all the ushers and bridesmaids, colleges and prep schools, and whether the bride belonged to the Junior League, say, or the groom to the Yale Club. The wedding gown came in for description in loving detail, as did the floral arrangements at the ceremony.
As you read through the wedding page of that time, sentences jump out that would never be found on today’s wedding page: “She is descended from Richard Warren, who came to Brookhaven in 1664. Her husband, a descendant of Dr. Benjamin Treadwell, who settled in Old Westbury in 1767, is an alumnus of Gunnery School and a senior at Colgate University.” Or, “Mrs. Williams is an alumna of Ashley Hall and Smith College. A provisional member of the Junior League of New York, she was presented to society in 1952 at the Debutante Cotillion and Christmas Ball.”
The wedding pages of the 1970s serve as a pretty reliable midpoint between the WASP elite pages of the 1950s and the high-pressure meritocratic pages of today. By 1977 the Times no longer described the wedding gown or the floral arrangements. But it still regularly mentioned Junior League memberships and which ball was the scene of the bride’s entry into society. But overlaying these old-fashioned references were the résumé items that we’re familiar with from the current pages. There are more couples with careers in the media, adding a little variety to the normal parade of bankers and lawyers from white-shoe firms….
During the 1990s a new elite has coalesced, and it is found—as much as anywhere—on the wedding page of the New York Times. Whereas the old establishment was based on birth and breeding, this new establishment rests on education and career. Whereas the old establishment had connections, this establishment has ambition. Whereas the old aspired to good manners, the new aspires to enlightened consciousness. The old establishment cultivated reticence (the 1957 page listed no ages); the new establishment cultivates candor (ages now appear, as do divorces). To put it another way, the New York Times no longer just reports the doings of the society set—it is part of the society set, along with the lawyers, brokers, publicists, architects, and gallery owners to whom high-flight journalists now tend to be married.
Addendum: A faithful reader and friend notes that the NYT wedding announcements are fertile ground for parody. Katie Baker, a Yale alumna, covers hockey for the Grantland section of ESPN.com; she is also fixated on the weddings section and writes hilarious pieces about it.
October 18, 2009
When Love Beckoned in 52nd Street
We were at San Francisco’s BIX last evening, enjoying prosecco, cheese, and a bit of music. A full year of inhabitation in Northern California has unraveled to me no decent venue for proper lounging, but…
October 9, 2009
D Afraid of a Little Competish
So our colleague and Dartblog writer Joe Asch informed me that the D has rejected our cunning advertising campaign. Uh-oh. The Dartmouth is widely known as a breeding ground for instant New York Times successes,…
September 4, 2009
How Regents Should Reign
As Dartmouth alumni proceed through the legal hoops necessary to defuse a Board-packing plan—which put in unhappy desuetude an historic 1891 Agreement between alumni and the College guaranteeing a half-democratically-elected Board of Trustees—it strikes one…
August 29, 2009
Election Reform Study Committee
If you are an alum of the College on the Hill, you may have received a number of e-mails of late beseeching your input for a new arm of the College’s Alumni Control Apparatus called…
August 23, 2009
Fare Thee Well, Tom Crady
And now Dean Tom Crady has precipitously announced his departure from the College after only 20 months on the job. How to read this? By way of background, prior to coming to Dartmouth, Crady had…
May 31, 2009
Kangaroo Court, Indeed
In an interview with The Dartmouth, alumni-elected trustee T.J. Rodgers ‘70 explained his reasons for declining to participate in future evaluations of trustees up for “re-election,” namely the “kangaroo court” nature of such discussion in…