MOD Society Magazine Triad: July/August 2022 Triad: July/August 2022 - Page 39

The Wedding Writer

Cate Doty never imagined she ’ d meet her husband while writing for the wedding pages at The New York Times . The North Carolina native had just graduated from UNC- Chapel Hill and moved to the city both to pursue a career in journalism and to be closer to her college boyfriend .
Not long after arriving , that career really began to take off after she was hired by the Times to write and edit wedding announcements . At the time , this was one of the most popular features in the paper . That experience led Cate to write a memoir , Mergers and Acquisitions : Or , Everything I Know About Love I Learned on the Wedding Pages , which was published last year .
Cate says the idea for the book came almost immediately after she started working at the paper in 2004 . A good friend pointed out how Cate ’ s life as a young woman working at a major media outlet mirrored popular culture at the time , and the stories she heard and edited would make great fodder for a book .
“ That was of course in the middle of Sex and the City and that time period when there are all these tropes of young women moving to New York , wearing Manolos and all of that stuff ,” Cate says .
But Cate says it took moving back to North Carolina and being removed from the situation to allow her to write the book .
“ It really took coming home ,” she says . “ It took being away from New York to have the perspective to understand what that story was and how these events that happened to me formed the life I have now .”
The life she has now — wife , mother and adjunct professor at UNC-Chapel Hill , living in Raleigh — is quite different from the one she lived in New York .
As a reporter on the weddings desk at The New York Times , Cate was responsible for writing and fact-checking wedding announcements , a role that gave her an inside
look at the formula for choosing which couples made the cut . While Cate acknowledges the process has changed over the years , during her tenure there were several important factors that would bring certain couples to the top of the sometimes-hundreds-deep submissions pile .
“ At that point , they always looked for where you went to school , where you worked , who your parents were , who your ancestors were , which is a very big thing — especially if you were descended from the founder of the New York Stock Exchange or something like that ,” she says . “ Public service was a big deal . The weddings editor really liked people who had served in the military or worked for the government in some way . Of course , we had a lot of Senate aides and White House advisors — that sort of thing .”
After the couples were selected , Cate and the other weddings desk staffers would reach out to the couples and their families to get additional details beyond their resume highlights . For Cate , these conversations often proved quite revealing , telling her a great deal about not only the individuals but also their relationship .
“ I always loved hearing what the couples had to say about each other ,” she says . “ The women generally were super-effusive , and they couldn ’ t wait to get married . And the dudes were mostly like , ‘ Yeah , I ’ m getting married next week ,’ which is very weird because I would talk to these people two weeks before they got married . Anybody who ’ s been through that knows the two weeks before they get married are just insane for a number of reasons .”
But while it might sound glamorous , Cate says the job wasn ’ t as sparkly as one might think . She particularly felt that way after she began writing for the Times ’ “ Neediest Cases ” series , which highlighted the impact of poverty on New Yorkers . Seeing that economic dichotomy between her wedding subjects and those she wrote about for “ Neediest Cases ” made her keenly aware of the divide between the wealthy and poor .