Hole in the Clouds
Oct 6, 2009
A wedding guest raises high his cellphone camera to snap a picture of a tiny red hot air balloon.
(Image credit: Patrik Maldre)
Inside the balloon is a scrap of paper bearing the bride's maiden name; since she is now acquiring a new name, her old name is set free to blow in the wind. Perhaps someone else can use it.
This scene is from a wedding last June in Estonia, where weddings and marriage are not as common as they are here in the U.S. I'm not sure if the balloon is an old tradition or a new one, but I am told it is an actual hot air balloon, heated above a small flame till it wafts away.
Jan 18, 2010
Neely and Damon were married on New Year's Day, 2010, in Tuscaloosa. The cake decorations are just what they look like: American childhood delicacies.
little debbie cakes
Apr 9, 2011
An apartment courtyard in central Kathmandu. The tent at lower right may be for a wedding.
Jun 25, 2011
One afternoon in Kathmandu, we saw the men and then the women and then the car, all dressed up with clearly some place special to go. A recent wedding we heard about had twelve hundred guests, but all we saw of this one was the procession on the street, complete with a marching band. The band looked and sounded just like a western marching band and is not pictured here.
Nepalis claim they have more official holidays than any other country on earth. They know how to party.
Sep 6, 2011
Note to wedding planners: When choosing a date and venue, do take into account the possibility that the city's annual Naked Bicycle Ride will roll past your event just as guests are leaving the ceremony.
Actually, when this wedding let out late Sunday afternoon, the wedding party did have just enough time to hustle into the limo and peel away before hundreds of naked bikers swarmed the street in front of the church. The young man shown here who was dressed to join the bike ride was a few minutes early; he was waiting in Rittenhouse Square for his fellow riders to reach this part of the route.
By the time the main body of naked bikers showed up, the limo was gone, and the wedding guests in their finery were standing around in front of the church with cameras and cellphones trained on the dressed-down action in the street.
The two young women on bicycles near the left side of the picture were friends of the young man's who met up with him here by accident; like the wedding guests, they were not aware that the annual naked ride was about to descend on Rittenhouse Square. By the time the riders arrived, the women had made up their minds; they pulled off their shirts, stuffed them in their backpacks, and joined the parade.
Naked Bicycle Ride
(Image credit: Ted Stein)
Jun 21, 2012
Just before our wedding in December 1975, a very young Norman sat for a picture on the back of the couch behind (from right to left) his mother, Helen, Helen's sister, Arlene, and Helen and Arlene's mother, Harriet.
Aug 2, 2012
Our son John Stein and Bonnie Strelitz were married last weekend in Seattle. I don't remember the rings sparkling quite this much, but the sun was smiling and the stars all a-whispering their warmest good wishes.
(Image credit: AreJay Vest)
Aug 3, 2012
Before last weekend's wedding, Bonnie the bride rehearsed with her attendants: her sister Caroline and longtime friend Katie. After the wedding, John the groom goofed around with his attendants: his brothers Ted, Joe, Allen, and Hank.
(Before photo by Christine Salera; After photo by John Strelitz)
Sep 7, 2012
At John and Bonnie's wedding this summer, guests were encouraged to pose for pictures in a photo booth. The people in these shots are pretty much all related to me in some way or another, most through marriage, either mine or my son's.
Nov 8, 2012
After the wedding venue kicked everybody out around midnight, the party moved to a bar across the street.
Jun 20, 2013
The day before Maggie and Colin's wedding, bridesmaids and friends were hard at work on table decorations. Flowers from gardens and roadsides filled about seventy little antique bottles rounded up from attics and garages and rubbish heaps. For the wedding itself, guests gathered on this balcony to watch the ceremony in the garden below next to the ferry landing on Peaks Island, Maine.
Jul 28, 2013
One year ago today, Bonnie and John, aka JJ, were married in Seattle. After the ceremony, we all enjoyed the toasts.
Now that the clutches of time have put in a claim on the newlyweds, we would like to mark the anniversary with words that are sweet yet also a little bit edgy; nothing appropriate comes to mind, but surely it was all said back then during those toasts.
Aug 12, 2013
Happily, it's a big year for weddings in this branch of the human family. And one of the best things about weddings is that the pictures are so many and so various and so thick with kisses and flowers and hopefulness. Indeed, every morning could be a Wonderfully Good Wedding Morning in this blog . . . if only Facebook didn't always have the jump on us.
Here today, however, are a couple of shots from Maggie and Colin's wedding back in June on Peaks Island, in Maine's Casco Bay. Above, the newlyweds focused on a joint engineering venture that went off almost without a hitch: as the sun went down, illuminated hot-air balloons soared up and away, floating into the future.
The first one rose and floated perfectly, above the island and out over the sea. The second one plopped down into the harbor. As did the third. The fourth balloon also looked doomed at first, but it somehow fought hard against gravity and wobbled skyward and . . . fell flaming into a patch of brush next to the island gas station.
Nothing bad came of it. The day and the night were far too gentle and elegant.
Maggie Stein Doody
Oct 22, 2013
A few hours before the really big moment on Saturday evening, our niece Melissa–now Mrs. Matthew Solomon–enjoyed a little moment with her Grandma Helen.
Melissa Koehler Solomon
Helen Ruskin Stein Behr
Oct 25, 2013
We went to Chicago last weekend for a family wedding, a proverbial happy occasion. The town was bustling with big goings-on; for example, the night before "our" event, there was another wedding at the same downtown hotel, a high-concept sort of wedding in which the bride and everyone else was wearing black. Also at our hotel, an MLS soccer team had taken up residence, visiting from Toronto for a game against the Chicago Fire (the Fire won, 1-0).
And then there was the happy occasion seen here, which included a Saturday morning photo session in front of Millennium Park's "Cloud Gate," aka the bean.
Seven years ago, when this tourist magnet first opened, photographers were required to get $350 permits and schedule their shoots in advance. Annish Kapoor, the artist who designed the bean, controlled his work's copyright and attempted to limit its reproduction. But the bean is nothing if not a photo op, and Kapoor quickly had to back off his restrictions; currently, you don't need a photo permit unless you are part of a film crew of ten or more people. The thousands of visitors every day who pull out their cellphones aren't breaking any laws.
The perfect shine and complex globular shape of the bean were inspired by drops of mercury, according to Kapoor, an Indian-born British sculptor. He thinks the popular name for his work, bean, is idiotic. He named it "Cloud Gate" because most of its polished stainless steel surface reflects, and distorts in odd ripply ways, sky and skyscrapers. Visitors are mostly interested, however, in how it reflects them, especially in the arched middle section, which reflects reflections of reflections in crazy, curvy ways much too complicated to figure out.
The plaza in which the bean sits is actually the roof of a restaurant and parking garage, and it had to be seriously reinforced to support 110 tons of highly polished stainless steel. After the reinforcing, computer-aided robots spent a year bending and welding together 168 steel plates, and after the welding, a crew of humans with sandpaper spent more than a year polishing the plates. After all the polishing, the welding seams became completely invisible, an accomplishment that won the work an Extraordinary Welding Award from the American Welding Society.
The lower part of the bean, where people leave fingerprints, is washed every day with Windex. The upper part, where air pollution and birds jeopardize the polish, is washed twice a year with liquid Tide.
If you want to rent it for a day just for yourself and your friends, the city charges $800,000. Twice so far, since opening day in 2006, people have paid that rent. The rest of the time, everybody's welcome, free of charge.
(Image credits: Little Fuji)
Dec 21, 2013
Out at Staglands wildlife park in the hills north of Wellington, New Zealand, amidst swans and doves and family and friends, our niece Gillian Stein married Mark Openshaw; husband and wife both changed their names to become Mr. and Mrs. Openstein.
There was a hora in the Staglands barn, following a waterfront ceremony and plenty of Wellington-style ukelele music. Flying with the doves in the last photo below is best man Ben Hart.
(Image credits: Von Photography)
Apr 29, 2015
(This is a guest post by Ted, the third in a series of three posts from Houston, Texas.)
When Hole in the Clouds sent me to Houston as a travel correspondent, the timing couldn't have been more perfect; my business associate Robert Fox happened to be getting married in Houston that very same weekend.
The wedding chapter of Rob and Shawna's story begins back in the winter of 2013, at the NASA Johnson Space Center. The two of them had flown from their home in D.C. to Texas, to spend some time with Shawna's parents. Unbeknownst to Shawna, Rob had been carrying a ring around in his pocket for the past few days.
At the space center, Shawna found a cool rocket and set up her camera on a timer, the way tourists do. But when she came back to pose for the snapshot, Rob dropped to his knee. The surprise on her face in the picture above was genuine.
This past Saturday they were married in Texas, in a wedding with a theme. The theme was brunch.
Shawna is a senior producer for NBC's Meet the Press, and there were lots of Washington media types at the wedding, including some of NBC's White House producers. This is how they party:
To help the media types feel at home during the moments between their tweets and e-mails, there was a newspaper for them to read, The Brunch In Love Dispatch (Hot Topic: "Washington, DC, Couple Weds in Texas"), with little NBC logos on each page.
The proposal was in Texas. The wedding was in Texas. According to the Brunch In Love Dispatch, the bride is "a Texas girl with the tattoo to prove it."
And yes, the bride wore cowgirl boots.
(Image credits, top to bottom: Shawna Thomas, Ellen Van de Mark, lil phone)
Feb 15, 2017
My grandparents Rose and Charlie–my father's parents–posed for this picture on their wedding day in Baltimore in 1905. They were Jewish immigrants from villages just down the road from one another in Lithuania, who had made their way to America as teenagers.
For their wedding attire, Rose wore a shirtwaist she had sewn herself. Charlie wore a celluloid collar that according to my father was stiff enough to shore up a house. And like many men in 1905, he wore an elaborate mustache. Unlike most men, however, Charlie kept that mustache all his life, and by the 1950s, when I got to know my grandparents, I thought he was the only man on earth who had a mustache.
Charlie never had a job in his life; he thought it would be stupid to work for a boss in a free country. So he started out in Baltimore working for himself, as a peddlar with a sack on his back; eventually, he got a horse and wagon, and then he and Rose went into business together, as equal partners, in a soda water store in a Jewish and Italian neighborhood near the Shot Tower, Baltimore's old cannon-ball works. My father recounted his mother's description of the business:
I used to make the soda; I had to work a hand pump to pump the gas into the water. Then we would serve the seltzer, supply a table and chairs, pay the rent and the light bill, and then I had to wash the glass. For that, I took in exactly one cent. When I did that a hundred times, when I washed a hundred glasses, I took in a dollar.
They learned to speak English, though not really to read or write it, but they spoke Yiddish at home and in the neighborhood. All their lives in America, they got their news from the Daily Forward, a Socialist Yiddish-language newspaper published in New York. They were not Socialists, however; my grandmother's politics were rooted entirely in neighborhood organizations, primarily women's clubs and loan circles, through which poor immigrants helped take care of each other; my grandfather, as a small businessman, understood government basically as a mob at City Hall extorting protection money in the form of taxes. For example, long after he had traded in his horse and wagon for a Chevrolet delivery van, he continued to pay his horse tax every year; he figured he was down in somebody's books for that amount.
They had five children who all grew up in Baltimore and lived there or nearby as adults. Then came sixteen grandchildren, who scattered across the country, from Maine to California. And then dozens of great-grandchildren.
This picture is the oldest family document we have; we have nothing from the old country, no names or stories or objects, with the possible exception of one battered copper pot. I remember thinking to myself when I was growing up that my family just didn't go back very far in time, just didn't have a history at all; in other families, there were ancestors back in the olden days, but the most ancient people I was related to were still alive, still in Baltimore, where that side of my family history seemed to have sprung to life.
Now, however, this is a really old photo, from a wedding more than a century ago. Rose and Charlie are gone, as are all five of their children, my father's generation. We in the cousins' generation are getting on in years now, and most of us don't keep in close touch with one another. But it's undeniable that the family goes way, way back before us.
And there's yet another generation now, Rose and Charlie's great-great grandchildren. Crazy, isn't it, how that keeps happening.
Rose and Charles Horowitz
Jan 8, 2018
Our son Joe and his Cuban sweetheart Yusleidy Perez Zanetti are getting married next month. They are planning a wedding in Havana, but meanwhile, they've got clothes to dry out on the balcony.
(Image credit: Joe Stein
Feb 26, 2018
The bride was beautiful, the bridegroom was grinning to beat the band, and when it came to throwing a party, the Cubans seriously schooled us Anglos.
Our new daughter--in-law is Yusleidy Zanetti, who goes by Julie. The newlyweds are living in Havana, where Julie was born and raised and where she met Joe a few years back, when he spent a semester in Cuba with a University of Alabama study-abroad program.
Everybody asks whether they'll stay in Havana, where Joe is now part of a tiny expat community, or try to move to the states. But that's a question for the future.
In the moment, Julie and Joe spent two days getting married. The first day was spent in a judicial building, dealing with paperwork and lawyers and then finally sitting down with a judge.
Sadly, we confess to knowing no Spanish. The judge had a lot to say, including numerous questions, to all of which Joe and Julie answered sí. Joe is fluent in Spanish, and Julie knows some English, more than most Cubans. They told us that the judge warned Joe that the decision to marry might be the most serious decision of his life–Was he really prepared to take such a step? He said sí. Then she turned to Julie and asked, "Are you sure you want to do this?" She said sí.
They exchanged rings and were pronounced husband and wife. We all cheered and clapped and hugged, and that was that.
In the judge's chamber along with the newlyweds were Julie's mother and grandmother, Joe's parents and two of his brothers, one of his aunts, and two friends of the couple, their best man and matron of honor.
Joe's last two brothers and his best friend from Alabama made it to Havana the next day, just in time for the big wedding celebration, with the white dress and the cake, the wine and the beer, the music and disco lights and dancing and singing and more dancing and more dancing.
There was also, of course, the traditional ride in a 1956 Thunderbird, through town and along the Malecón, Havana's seaside promenade, amidst cheers and honking horns.
And after that, there was the afterparty, back at the house, more dancing and more dancing.
And two families are now growing together, across barriers of language and culture and crazy, crazy politics. Nothing in Cuba is easy; this wedding was a major logistical feat that went off flawlessly, thanks entirely to Julie's organizational genius. And she and her family couldn't have been more welcoming to all of us goofy gringos.
Now that Joe is married to a Cuban citizen, he has the legal right to work there. Most jobs in Cuba pay about $30 or $40 a month. Life for the newlyweds will be very different from life in America.
The poverty is profound. But the streets are safe; there are no guns, no crime. No school shootings. Families are close. The flowers are bright even in February, blue and yellow birds sing in cages in people's yards, the cars are beautiful and there aren't too many of them–no traffic jams. The sun is warm, the sea is all around. And everybody can dance.
Mar 17, 2018
(Image credit: C. Fuchs)