Vows, vacations, memories and more
From the frolicking green hills of Ireland to the painted desert of Santa Fe and back to London’s legendary Holland Park, WL was there to celebrate with some Washington’s best known newlyweds.
Chris Murray and Carlotta Hester
Lower Lavey, County Cavan, Ireland
It’s hard to know when to start the story of a wedding. The happy day itself? The prenuptial parties, backdated to the original engagement? In the case of this summer's union of Govinda Gallery maestro Chris Murray and Carlotta Hester, we have to start in 1888, when 15 year old Matthew Murray walked down a country lane in Lower Lavey, County Cavan, Ireland. He was taking the first steps of the emigrant journey to New York, and the last wave from the end of the lane, his family knew they would never see him again.
That might have been the end of that, except that, three generations later, Chris Murray took the trouble to scour the lakestrewn Cavan countryside in search of his roots and found them in Grandfather Matthew’s birthplace. The Murray farm came complete not only with long lost cousins but also the ruins of an ancient chapel in a dell just beside the house—a perfect spot to marry the beautiful Alabama-born Carlotta.
Thus it was last July that Chris brought part of his enormous circle to Lower Lavey, including Bill and Alison Paley, Carol Gray and Joel Ludlow, Washington Post critic Paul Richard, and Smithsonian Under Director for Art Ned Rifkin. At the ceremony in the grassy ruins, Donovan Leach, a famous ‘Sixties’ singer song writer, read a prayer by St. Francis of Assisi. Later, at Redhillls House, the transatlantic multitude was wafted into a Celtic twilight by the Sonia Leonard School of Irish Dancers and the twinkling fiddles of the Gaeghan Sisters. As the last guests floated away, cousin Francis Murray summed it all up. “Jesus, Chris,” he said, gripping the groom by both arms, "you put on a powerful show."
Julia Moffett and Toby Constantine
Orangery in Kensington’s Holland Park, London
It’s said that people in love will follow each other to the ends of the earth. In the case of Londoner Toby Constantine and former D.C. native Julia Moffett, this turned out to be true—and not only because they lived an ocean apart.
Not long after their transatlantic romance began, Toby–a media and marketing veteran who runs his own firm, Market Evolution—set off for the remote island in Indonesia he co-owns with several partners. He suggested that Julia—a former Clinton aide who now works as Director of Strategy and Development for the BBC World Service Trust—consider joining him. With the help of two jets, a small plane, a motor boat of questionable buoyancy and a steely nerve, she did just that.
Two years and a great many plane trips later, the globetrotting couple were wed on July 9, on a perfect summer’s day at the Orangery in Kensington’s idyllic Holland Park, accompanied by a small gospel choir that had the assembled guests dancing in their pews long before the DJ started spinning at the reception, held at the Belvedere.
Participating in the picture-perfect ceremony were, among many others, Best Man Paddy Byng; Lopo Champalimaud, who introduced the peripatetic bride and groom, Susannah Constantine, the groom’s first cousin and creator of “What Not to Wear”; Julia’s father, former United States Congressman and chief executive of the Livingston Moffett International Practive Group Toby Moffett; her seven siblings; Toby’s young son Finn Constantine; and the very joyful presence of a prominent bump under Julia’s Proenza Schouler gown. (The happy couple are now proud parents of Calla and Estelle, born in London in early December.)
Honored guests included the groom’s father, Robert Loudon Constantine and the bride’s mother, Suzanne Cliver. Among many Washingtonians past and present who joined the festivities were Liz Bernstein Norton, James P. Rubin and his wife, Christiane Amanpour, Jake Siewert, Carrie Goux, Jonathan Spalter and Jordan Tamagni. The bride, who will keep her name, and groom (who says he plans to keep his, too) will continue to reside in Notting Hill Gate–in between trips across the Atlantic and around the world. The twins’ passports are in the works.
Henry von Eichel and Monika Apponyi
Germany, Munich Countryside
As part of the raucous wedding party that traveled from Washington to Germany last June to enjoy the celebration of Washington’s favorite son Henry von Eichel to Austrian super interior decorator Countess Monika Apponyi, I can say for all of us, that the experience was unforgettable (as well as an interesting experience in international diplomacy).
Henry and Monika actually took their marriage vows during Christmas 2004 in a quiet ceremony at Henry’s Rappahannock farm– this gathering in Germany then was more in the European tradition of a wedding celebration. The party was held in Henry’s magnificent family castle (replete with moats and onion-shaped turrets) just outside Munich. Not surpringly, the setting was prepped perfectly–Monika is an international designer, whose collection ARTABA is available in Switzerland and London, and soon in the U.S. Her pieces are handmade in Italy and finished in gold and aluminum leaf (www.artaba.comor email@example.com.)
At first, our European counterparts eyed us warily, at times apparently amused that we too could behave on special occasions. Despite endless commentary on American foreign policy, both groups enjoyed each other’s company enormously. Over succulent food, serious rock and roll, and thousands of twinkling candles, us “Yanks” scrupulously avoided eating with our hands and laid a variety of killer dance moves on the bemused Europeans.
Monika couldn’t stop smiling all evening and Henry was delighted and exhausted when we crawled off to bed as the sun rose. I was reliably informed that Henry and Monika’s families got along famously. Other Washingtonians attending included Leslie and Andrew Cockburn, John Henry, Ann Crittenden, Amb Richard Burt, Joel McCleary, and Veronique Bardach.