The Silent Parties in the New York Times’ Wedding Announcements

Is anyone else drawn to the not-quite-mentioned people in the New York Times’ Weddings & Celebrations write-ups? The faceless entities who appear only as “the bridegroom’s previous marriage ended in divorce” or “unfortunately, Ms. So-and-So was in a long-term relationship at the time, but …” Like, who is that former girlfriend/boyfriend/husband/wife who’s just a breezily acknowledged stumbling block or amusing footnote on the path to Perfect True Love? Does that person care about this wedding? Are they reading somewhere and laughing? Crying? Rolling their eyes, being like, “Ugh, that moron”?

Well, this week’s installment was a doozy if you’re interested in that sort of thing.

The featured couple, Kathryn and George, got together just months after his first wife died (at 31), shocking friends and family who thought he’d still be in mourning. These friends and family eventually come around, of course, because they’re just glad their son/buddy is happy again, etc., and the piece does its best to emphasize how the quickness was actually a good thing — loving his first wife so much allowed him to love this new woman so much, so rapidly etc. — but then I can’t help but think about the family and friends of the wife who died. They’re not mentioned at all, but they must be reading this 1,300-word love story somewhere, feeling … what? Mixed feelings?

Similarly, the ex-wife and children of the 61-year-old judge who just got married to a man 21 years his junior. Are they feeling mixed feelings? I don’t know, maybe! Who knows what anyone’s feeling — these Silent People are also Actual People who have real thoughts and lives that are almost certainly not what I’m imagining. And I’m not sure where to go with this, really, other than “Life is complicated, love stories are weird!” I hope this doesn’t come across as too mean-spirited, I’m just fascinated by the things that get glossed over when how-we-fell-in-love stories are packaged up so tidily.