SUSAN + MARK
The moment I laid eyes on him I knew I had to bum a smoke and flirt with him.
Mark and I first met at a book party in 1992 (!) for "Cowboys are my Weakness" by Pam Houston. The party was at the literary agent's house on The Upper West Side. The moment I laid eyes on him I knew I had to bum a smoke and flirt with him. Our first date was fantastic. We met at my favorite bar back then, Automatic Slims, on Washington and Bank. We talked non-stop. Within minutes we discovered we loved all the same bands, songs and books. And I loved what he was wearing. I can still see the shirt--almost like a masculine, harvest-colored Liberty print with perfect Levis and Chucks. Mark was sweeter, genuinely interested in what I had to say and just all-around smarter and cuter than anyone I had dated, since high school. My early New York dating years were duds. I remember I had the flu (throwing up kind) shortly after we met. He slept over, took care of me and I never felt gross or self-conscience in front of him. I remember I told a friend it was like the same feeling you get when you drive up to your parents' house--I felt like I was home. I knew he was “the one” on our second date. We call it our second first date. We've been together ever since. I knew what was happening was bigger than the both of us. I remember lying in bed together late at night in my studio on University Place. We used to "interview" each other about our pasts. We first said “I love you” during one of these sessions. Unlike most guys, Mark loves to talk (and talk)--and I loved that about him.
After four years of dating, and living together for three, we weren't in a rush to get married but at some point, we just said that it was time to become family. The night be proposed he told me we had a holiday party to go to at the Soho Grand for a colleague of his. I believed him. When I got to the hotel I asked the concierge where the party was and he looked at me blankly saying there was no such party. I went to the front desk and they told me Mark was checked into a room. I went up to the room, slightly confused but cluing in--and there he was, with a small light blue box on the table and a bucket of champagne. He dropped to his knee and everything, and was just so sweet, cute, cool and proper about it all. Of course he had already called my parents and it was just such a fun night. We spent the night at the hotel, called all our friends, had a late dinner at the Odeon and were just so happy. When it came to the wedding… We'd been going to Woodstock for years at this point for weekend getaways and we just knew we would get married at The Bear, our favorite restaurant. That was the place, for sure. We got married on the restaurant's property--picture a red country barn-type building by a creek. Albert Grossman, Bob Dylan's manager, is buried steps away from where we said our vows (he financed the restaurant in the 60's)!
We got married on Sept 6th, 1997 so the weather was magic. We went for a run around a lake just a few hours before. And this is the best part--only 68 people, most of whom were friends. That day, all I really remember was the run around the lake really right before we walked down the aisle. I remember going out to lunch with Mark and Ethan but being way too nervous to eat. Both of my parents walked me down the aisle. We had beautiful candles creating a path to the creek. We had two violinists--I don't remember what piece of music they played. I didn't really know what else to do in terms of music for the ceremony since it was outside. Acoustic guitars seemed too Kumbaya. Classical music seemed right, although it really isn't us. We had no wedding party! We just wanted our siblings and parents under the chuppah with us. All family wore black. It was chic and understated--not funeral. For our vows, we read some letters that E.B. White wrote his wife that were just so moving. They were all about the friendship of marriage and what it's like to go home to someone at the end of the day. It meant a lot to us at the time although we haven't read those letters since. I need to go find that book--I think it lives in our basement! I love the photo of us walking back up the aisle. We had our little hippie wedding in the woods by a creek--no wedding party, just parents (those are mine in the background). You can't see the guests, unfortunately. But this really embodies the spirit of our ceremony. Walking back up the aisle, after you've just gotten married, is such an intimate moment. I was really emotional and kind of shy as we made our way pasts our guests.
I bought a dozen of my favorite Dyptique candles--Foin Coupe--and had them all over the room. The fragrance is fresh, mown hay. I love it. I 'm so happy that the room was fragrant--that was really important to me. I didn't want it to smell like a restaurant. A beautiful scented room leaves people with powerful memories. The dinner was beyond--such delicious, elegant comfort food served buffet style in another glass barn-like building on the property. We ate amazing tuna sashimi appetizers and other incredible food that I don't remember. The Bear is really such a delicious restaurant--the food wasn't "wedding food" at all. There was roast chicken, mashed potatoes, steak--just really well prepared, elegant comfort food--what you want to eat in the mountains. And top-shelf liquor. We believe in really tasty food and high-quality cocktails. The cake was made of edible flowers, buttercream and had a chocolate/raspberry inside. It still is the best wedding cake I've ever tasted. I wish I could have a piece now. Our friend Ethan deejayed and the three of us promised each other that we'd kick out the jams in a serious way--we wanted a Soul Train wedding--that was the mission. The music was incredible--just tons of funk, r&b and soul-- and everyone completely got down. At one point all the glass windows in the restaurant were fogged up. The dancing was the main event at our wedding. I remember everyone staying til around midnight. Then we went back to mountain motel where all our friends were and sat outside with them, smoked joints and howled into the moonlight. Our guests were drenched with dance-sweat. The next morning, we took off for Paris, Provence, Amalfi, Sienna and Rome. Mark looked so cute that day. He was 29 (I was 31). Sixteen years later he's still so cute--just grayer. Looking back, there isn’t one thing I would change. I just wish my daughters could have been there.
Pics by Miki Duisterhof