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Big Chuck

August 2, 2010

I Was Just Thinking: Dads are doomed when daughters become brides

Stop the presses. All is good in the world. The gusher of oil polluting the Gulf of Mexico has been stanched (for the time being), unemployment is down to 9.5 from 10.2 percent (still awful), Spain has just banned bullfighting (at least in Catalonia), Betty White is still everybody's sweetheart and Chelsea Clinton is now (finally) Mrs. Chelsea Mezvinsky.

The oil thingy, the out-of-work Americans, the ending of a thousand-year-old Spanish tradition and the anointing of an 88-year-old sitcom star to Hollywood Saintdom, well, those are the easy ones. The Clinton wedding, however, is one for the books!

Chelsea, now 30 years old, and her beau, 32-year-old investment banker Marc Mezvinsky, tied the $5 million knot in the upstate New York town of Rhinebeck over the weekend.

How do you spend $5 million on a wedding? None of us will ever know, of course. This is not some routine hitching, obviously. Dad is a former president and Mom is a this-close former president and sitting U.S. secretary of state. So, natch, this was going to be a humdinger of a wedding from the start.

All we have are rumors, so far. Five hundred guests? (The big news flash last week was: The Gores aren't coming! The Gores aren't coming!) Those attending included international political figures (thanks Mom), deep-pocket Democratic fundraisers (thanks Dad), half of the last decade's Houses of Representatives (both of the groom's parents are former members of Congress), Hollywood stars and an A-list of bluebloods and American royalty the likes of which have never been seen in tiny, tony Rhinebeck.

More whispers. A $35,000 cake? Each invitation costs $150 bucks to make? $200,000 for flowers? Every limousine in Dutchess County booked for the arrivals and departures? I don't know, but add it all up and it still comes a long way from $5 million. Oh, I forgot. The photographer. Nah, he can't be more than $1 million. Can he?

Don't be misled by the patina of sour grapes displayed in this column. Far from it. Actually, I think the excess is hilarious. But the Clintons have it, they can do it, they have one child, they have sacrificed much of their privacy over the decades, so yeah. Go ahead, Bill and Hillary, and do the Chicken Dance in a $400,000 air-conditioned tent. Knock yourselves out. Oh, and the Salad Shooter from Walmart is from me, Chel!

On another note, my youngest daughter, Katie, is just home for a brief summertime visit from South Carolina. I picked her up at the airport in Albany. She is usually a bubbly and vivacious young lady, but she seemed more so this time. As we chatted our way down I-88 to Oneonta, she could finally hold it in no longer. She thrust out her hand with a delicate diamond ring on it and said, "I am getting married, Dad!"

And now, as I drifted through the blurred towns of East Worcester to Worcester to Schenevus and onward, listening to her chirp away about wedding plans and future dreams, I couldn't help but be drawn, siren-like to the extravaganza that just took place in Rhinebeck. This would be the first wedding where I would be the father of the bride, and suddenly I felt a kinship to Bill Clinton.

"Yes, dear. Yes, honey. Whatever you want, sweetie." I kept hearing myself repeat it rote-like along the interstate. Of course Bill and I are alike. We will (and did) do whatever we could to make our little girl's perfect day even more perfect. Mr. President's efforts manifested themselves in a (rumored) $250,000 champagne bill.

And while Katie's nuptials will not be held in John Jacob Astor's $3 million Hudson Valley playground, they will be held in a place of graceful and serene Southern dignity.

Katie will have a quiet wedding for a small group of close friends and immediate family at the historic 190-year-old Beaufort Inn in Beaufort, S.C. It will be a Christmas wedding. No long-term secret plans. No hidden guest list. No $200,000 flower bill. And no honeymoon, either.

Before the last hues of a Southern sunset have flickered out, Katie's new husband, PFC Robert Duncan (U.S. Army), fresh out of a tour in Iraq by way of Dallas, Ga., will be jump-seating it to Germany for his new assignment. From there he will no doubt Skype wedding memories with his young bride at any available opportunity. She'll join her new husband in about a month. They make a great couple and I wish them a wonderful life.

So, all of a sudden, somewhere around Richmondville on my ride back from the Albany Airport with Katie the other day, it hit me. Me and President Clinton. First-time fathers of the bride. Wedding plans elbowing their way into our daily lives. Tuxedos to rent. Bills to pay. Caterers to interview. Toasts to prepare. One-time little girls to make and keep happy. It is a joyful burden, to be sure. And Mr. President and Madam Secretary, believe it or not, we will share one thing between us regarding our daughters' weddings.

The Gores aren't coming to ours, either.

I'll catch you in two ...

'Big Chuck' D'Imperio can be heard on weekdays beginning at 6 a.m. on WDOS-AM 730 in Oneonta, and also on Thursday nights from 7-9 p.m. on WSRK-FM 103.9 for his "Oldies Jukebox Show." You can find "Big Chuck" on Facebook under Upstate New York Books. He invites you to contact him at His columns can be found at You can find "Big Chuck" on Facebook under Upstate New York Books.

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