The wedding of Sally Quinn and Ben Bradlee's son, Quinn Bradlee, to Georgetown yoga instructor Pary Williamson has been moved up by six months, from October to April 10.
"We found out that we have a little one coming on the way and Pary didn't want to be a big mama walking down the aisle," the father-to-be told me by phone from La Sammana, the posh Caribbean resort on St. Martins, where the four are on vacation. Asked if he's excited by the prospect of fatherhood, Quinn said, "I am, very much so." The wedding will be held at the Washington National Cathedral.
The new date has caused some family friction because it's the same day as the long-planned California wedding of lawyer Greta Bradlee, who very much hoped her grandfather would be there. Ben's firstborn grandchild (he has 10) and the first to marry, she is the daughter of journalist and author Ben Bradlee Jr. of Cambridge, Mass., and his former wife, Washington-based ABC News correspondent Martha Raddatz. Ben Jr. is the oldest of the three children the longtime executive editor of the Washington Post sired during his two pre-Sally marriages.
The parents of the bride declined to comment on any aspect of the dueling weddings, but other sources told me there was no advance word from Sally about the scheduling change, nor any explanation provided as to why she had settled on a date for her son's ceremony that will prevent her husband from attending his granddaughter's wedding in California.
Sally, who writes extensively about both social and moral matters, briefly mentioned her son's April nuptials in her Feb. 11 Washington Post column on entertaining, but for the most part she waxed rhapsodic about the quiet beauty of the city's record snowfall and the cozy comfort of meals at home with family and friends. When I called La Samanna seeking more wedding details, Quinn said his mother was asleep. When we did speak later, she had little to add. "We have decided together, we weren't going to talk about the wedding." That news blackout includes how she arrived at the April 10 date. "We have a lot of great things that will happen that day and we want them to be a surprise."
I do know, however, that Sally has some experience in wrangling wedding guests away from a competing event. In "The Party," her 1997 book on entertaining, she wrote that after marrying Ben in a judge's chamber in 1978, the newlyweds planned a celebratory dinner at their home for 30 or 40 friends. Trouble was, half of them had already committed to dining with the British ambassador, Peter Jay, and his wife Margaret. Ben and Sally were also invited, she makes clear, but had begged off. She might have simply explained to pals why they should bail on their diplomatic hosts, but she contends Ben "didn't want to get scooped" by the rival Washington Star if word leaked out.
"When I called everyone to invite them to 'dinner,' they all declined, and I had to coerce them into coming without revealing why....What I did tell them in my sternest voice [was] that I was calling in my chits, that this was extremely important and I wanted them to get out of the Jays' party and come to mine. They must have heard the resolve in my voice because they did it. We had to contend with a number of grudging guests at the beginning of the evening, but once they saw the wedding cake and the white lilies everywhere, heard a few mushy toasts, and drank several glasses of champagne, they were mollified, and it turned out to be a wonderful evening." Quinn makes no mention of whether the jilted Brits were equally amused.
Her son Quinn and his fiancee Pary started dating in January 2009 at the suggestion of New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd, who is among Pary's yoga clients. (Other down-dog students include White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel and Washington Post publisher Katharine Weymouth.) Last May, four months after they met, Quinn, now 27, popped the question, and Pary, 32, said yes. Politico wrote at the time that Quinn "proposed over the phone at 11:30 p.m. Sunday after they'd been in a fight, and he told her his life wasn't the same when they were apart." The couple share a house in Georgetown.
Quinn Bradlee was born in 1982 with a hole in his heart and complications over the years ranging from seizures to problems with memory, speech and social development. He was 14 when doctors finally gave a name to his series of disorders: velocardiofacial syndrome (VCFS), a genetic condition second only in frequency to Down syndrome. Last year he chronicled his difficult journey in "A Different Life: Growing Up Learning Disabled and Other Adventures," which he worked on with ghostwriter Jeff Himmelman. Quinn also contributes to FriendsofQuinn.com, which helps those suffering from VCFS and their families understand more about the syndrome, which occurs in one of 3,000 to 4,000 live births in this country.
Oh, and one last question for the mother of the groom. Will the baby call her Granny? Nope. "It's going to be 'Mama Sal,'" she explained. "Quinn and I go once a week to work with learning-disabled kids at a small school in Anacostia, and that's what they call me."
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