from Sandy Needham

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Wedding Dispatch

There was a bus to take wedding guests from the hotel in Tarrytown, New York to the Sleepy Hollow Country Club for Jake and Larissa's wedding. The first thing I saw when Newton and I boarded the bus was two of my closest friends smiling and chatting enthusiastically...except, Lucia Gratch and Nancy Taylor had never met! They sat down next to each other, immediately perceived the fabulousness of the other, then discovered that they went to the same school in Michigan! My joy at these two human gems becoming friends could not be separated from the joy of the evening that ensued: buoyant conviviality on a luminous Hudson River summer night, with Jake and Larissa becoming husband and wife! The wedding was perfect.

The Vanderbilt family estate that became the Sleepy Hollow Country Club offers a magnificent setting on the river. Larissa's good taste was evident everywhere, from the elegant flower arrangements to the exquisite colors that came together with the bridesmaids, to her stunning wedding gown and classic, chic chignon. She was a dazzling bride.

Here are Elise and Zak, my friend Lucia's son, about to lead the wedding party down the aisle.

The two front rows feature my precious relatives

Alan Rosenberg, a "blood brother" from Camp Unirondack - where Jake and Larissa met - officiated the ceremony with encouraging words and an English literature teacher's aplomb.

Jake is the very incarnation of grace and coolness. I just love the way he was so calm, so engaged, and so happy with the day and with his bewitching bride. He is such a composed, confident, fun-loving and utterly cool guy. I am very proud.

Here they are with Larissa's grandfather, Sylvan, and mother, Danya.
Here they are with Larissa's dad, Bruce, and stepmother, Vicky.

This group was SO darling and fun.
Cocktails and hors d'oeuvres were served on the lawn. There were spectacular friends and relatives all around, yet frustration at such fleeting time to really engage with them. I wanted so much to hold on to the evening and to them!

L to R: Our fabulous grandniece Emily Tarpley from San Diego; Elise's close friend, the creative Stephanie Janecek from NYC; Ken McPherson, the adorable husband of my first cousin, the incomparable Cynthia Needham - seated next to him, from Stowe, VT; and my one-in-a-billion sister, Donna Needham Wilder of Lawrenceville, NJ.
Our ingenious brother-in-law, Larry Wilder, of Lawrenceville, NJ; our nieces: beloved HS German teacher, Sara Wilder of Freehold, NJ, and the most promising face government will ever have, Amy Wilder Sweeney of Gaithersburg, Maryland.
Beautiful Elise with our grandnieces, the astute Allison and the big reader Paige Sweeney of Gaithersburg, Maryland.


My inspiring sister Janet Needham Kohler of Denver with her granddaughter, teenager extraordinaire Lauren Hall of Phoenix.
Our grandnephew, another teenager extraordinaire Samuel Tarpley and our brilliant nephew, Todd Tarpley (the children's author!) of Manhattan.
Our longtime partners-in-crime: Guadalupe and Joe Warren of Cleveland, Ohio and Buenos Aires.
More longtime partners-in-crime: textile designer par excellence - David Barrow of Easton, Connecticut, and world citizen par excellence - Nancy Taylor of Manhattan.
When we gathered inside for dinner, Jake and Larissa landed this big dance surprise (like I said, the very picture of grace and coolness!). Watch till the end, where there are a couple of ambitious flourishes:

See if you can name who is singin' this swingin' version of "Wonderwall" with these obviously consummate musicians (answer below*).

We were surprised, amazed, and have very high expectations for Larissa and Jake's dancing future. (Something to fall back on.) Five lessons or no five lessons, not everyone can dance like that!

The Best Man, Charlie Wettlaufer, brought his special brand of wit: during the ceremony he initially pulled a banana shaker (from the rehearsal dinner) out of his pocket in lieu of the wedding rings. During this toast, he characterized the first evening the wedding party got together in Manhattan at a raucous Broadway show, then closed a bar at 4:00am with choral singing - as "a quiet evening at the theater."

A sumptuous dinner was served.
My big sisters Donna and Janet.
Grandniece Emily Tarpley with her second cousins (or something like that) Sara Wilder, Allison Sweeney and Elise.
Our  very fun nephew-in-law, Sean Sweeney of Gaithersburg, Maryland; our lovely niece, SW Airlines' best: Amanda Hall of Phoenix with her daughter Lauren; our multi-talented, intrepid niece-in-law, Jennifer Tarpley of Manhattan. 
With my phenomenal friend Lucia Gratch of Nyack, NY.
Our grandnephews, the singular Ethan and Samuel Tarpley of Manhattan, with our niece Amy Sweeney and her daughters Allison and Paige. 
Joe and Guadalupe Warren with my longtime friend Helen Webb, designer par excellence and wife of David Barrow, of Easton, Connecticut.
To add to Larissa and Jake's duck collection!
Samurai Groom
After dinner, we all had turns on the dance floor and turns at the funny photo booth:

Dancing to Bruce Springstein (Larissa's Dad's doppelgänger!).

            Ugg, shoes. (With Anthony Strube of NYC and Thomas Schulzee of Germany). 


                                                                                                         Sis and Bro, Larry and Donna Wilder.           
Amelia Barrow, yet another teenager extraordinaire, with her parents Helen Webb and David Barrow.
Helen Webb, Nancy Taylor and Amelia Barrow.
The band was great!
Shenanigans with Bruce and Vicky Plotsky and friend.
Cutting the rug in turquoise behind Larissa and Jake: Lena, Larissa's Scottish grandmother from Sarasota, FL. 
Pirated version of Elise and Stephanie Janecek
Wild men
Here's the gang who all met at Camp Unirondack, camping it up in the fun photo booth.
In character (I mean it!), David Barrow, Joe & Guadalupe Warren, Helen Webb
Another banana shaker opportunity.

The darling groomsmen never missed a chance to reveal how they are totally at the top of their game! (Can you tell they were recently in Vegas?) (Oh, banana shaker siting.)

Well, if six hours of merrymaking had to be compressed into two hours - which is precisely the way I perceived the whole event - I must say that the wedding was pure mirth - intensified. If only it could have lasted 24 hours! Otherwise, like I said: perfect.

Here's my toast to Larissa and Jake: 

What is better than a kindred couple? You two are superb together, and I congratulate you both and all of us on our good fortune. 

I cannot wait till our next chance for fun together!


*Paul Anka


  1. Wow, Weddings are without a doubt what brings families and friends together. We've had our last one and that's a shame because they have this magical affect on all of those involved. It was certainly the best "first" dance, ever. They obviously didn't take their dance lessons at Skelly's in Utica Square. And what a magnificent location and obviously perfect weather. I would list reading this Dispatch as a positive moment from today.


  2. Larissa is absolutely a most beautiful bride! What an absolute beauty she is. And I can tell that Jake inherited his mother's dancing genes! What a beautiful wedding. And i so agree with you- I always want to the wedding to go on and on and on. They always end too early. I'm so glad you had such a wonderful time.
    PS You looked so stunning in your dress!


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