With “great pride and overwhelming emotion,” Bill and Hillary Clinton announced that Chelsea and Marc Mezvinsky were officially wed. Chris Wilson and Jacob Bernstein report from the day after on the father-daughter dance, Bill and Marc's heartfelt toasts, and the late-night reception. Plus, VIEW PHOTOS of the wedding.
Everything went according to plan—and it has been an impressively prepared quasi-military operation: nuptials as the Normandy Invasion. They are now officially husband and wife.
Investment banker Marc Mezvinsky (this will be a rare mention of the groom in this story, and the only time he’ll get top billing) married the former president's daughter Chelsea Clinton in the sleepy upstate New York village of Rhinebeck, on the banks of the Hudson River. Accounting for the bride and groom’s disparate religious heritage, Rabbi James Ponet and Reverend William Shillady conducted the interfaith ceremony.
Click Below to View Wedding Day Photos & VIPs in Rhinebeck
“It was fabulous,” one guest told The Daily Beast’s Jacob Bernstein on Sunday morning. “Do you want to know how many times I cried? The service was so beautiful and warm and loving. There was a minister and a rabbi but it wasn’t hokey."
According to the guest, it was “the usual vows,” and the wedding party was sizeable. “There was an adorable little boy and girl bearing the rings they had to walk all the way down the aisle and they were adorable, adorable, and adorable. Hillary looked just beautiful. It was happy, happy, happy.”
Then the father of the bride made a heartfelt toast. "Bill's toast was just so beautiful. It was Bill at his best," a member of the wedding party told The Daily Beast's Chris Wilson on Sunday morning. "He made it through without crying. He just said what a fantastic kid Chelsea was and also how much he loves Marc."
A second attendee said the secretary of State also gave a toast, although both were upstaged by the groom. “The best toast was the groom’s to the bride,” said the witness. “He gave this long, beautiful toast about the relationship, and meeting her and how wonderful and special she is, and how blessed he is. I don’t want to tell you any more because I’ll ruin it.”
A wedding guest said there was a 20-some piece orchestra band and they had a gigantic white wedding cake. "We didn't get back until 4 a.m. It was an incredible evening." Shooing The Daily Beast away, he added: "But we were really asked not to divulge any details, I'm sorry."
The bride wore a strapless gown with beaded waist, designed by Vera Wang, who showed up in Rhinebeck Saturday, fueling speculation that she was the chosen dressmaker for the royal American wedding. The mother of the bride was dressed in a plum-colored Oscar de la Renta, in a shade complemented by the bridesmaids' dresses.
As far as celebrity sightings, it didn’t wind up being quite as Hollywood high gloss as some had predicted. In the end, there was no Oprah or Tom Hanks or Jennifer Lopez, as some outlandish reports had suggested. But maybe that was for the best, our source said. “You really had to have a personal relationship with Chelsea or Marc. It was about family and close friends.” Afterward, everyone cut up, to at least two bands, and possibly a third. Chelsea danced with the groom, and then with her dad, to Frank Sinatra’s “The Way You Look Tonight.” "Marc is a very good dancer," the person said, "but the dancing award went to Chelsea." Food on the menu, catered by the St. Regis Hotel, gave guests the option of steak, salmon, and a vegeterian offering, which our source didn’t pick and couldn’t remember the name of. The person also didn’t try the vegan cake catered by La Tulipe Dessert. “Whatever travails were there, they were not evident,” the person said.
• Read our Full Coverage of Chelsea Clinton's Wedding"Today, we watched with great pride and overwhelming emotion as Chelsea and Marc wed in a beautiful ceremony at Astor Courts, surrounded by family and their close friends,” Bill and Hillary Clinton said Saturday night in a joint statement. “We could not have asked for a more perfect day to celebrate the beginning of their life together, and we are so happy to welcome Marc into our family. On behalf of the newlyweds, we want to give special thanks to the people of Rhinebeck for welcoming us and to everyone for their well-wishes on this special day."
The ceremony included readings of the Seven Blessings, a Jewish wedding tradition, and a friend of the bride and groom read the poem "The Life That I Have," by Leo Marks. ( Read it here.) Mezvinsky walked down the aisle in a suit designed by Burberry creative director Christopher Bailey and wore a tallit (prayer shawl) and yarmulke.
The rumored fireworks display did not come off, but that didn't dampen anyone's enthusiasm. There were reports that the DJ had been hired until 5 a.m. It was a late night for even the early birds. The cake wasn't cut until shortly after midnight. Guests didn't begin returning from Astor Courts until 1:30 Sunday morning. A few hours after the sun came up, Marjorie Margolies-Mezvinsky, mother of the groom, was spotted in the parking lot of the Delamater Inn, looking like she just emerged from the shower and sporting a cinched white towel, which looked tres fashionable on her. She was possibly on her way to an exclusive, post-wedding brunch at the Grasmere Estate.
There were few outward signs that the coupling had been accomplished—that is, until later in the night, when Chelsea’s famous and powerful parents released a few precious photographs.
The media mob waited to descend on some 400 guests returning to town from the exclusive celebration at Astor Courts, a gated estate in the woods, protected by Secret Service, private security and the local cops. Cellphones were confiscated by the agents as well.
“Chelsea has lived in the shadow so long. This is finally her big day,” said a woman who claimed to be a wedding guest from Arkansas, who identified herself as a cousin of President Clinton, but, in the spirit of omerta pervading the occasion, declined to give her name. ”I’m not at liberty to say,” she told The Daily Beast’s Chris Wilson.
A poufy-haired, fortysomething blonde, wearing what looked like a black-and-white Versace gown and a string of pearls, she seemed to be readying herself for the festivities—from which she said she didn’t expect to return until well past midnight—by sipping from a tumbler of whiskey and taking discreet puffs on a cigarette. ”They just better not cut off our open bar,” she declared, “‘cause us Arkansans like our liquor.”
Before disappearing back inside the Beekman Arms, the historic hotel where many of the wedding guests were housed, she claimed that the former president—quick to tears and trembling lip in the best of times, and assuming he could pull himself together after the emotional catharsis that befalls all fathers at their daughters’ weddings—had picked out a special tune to play on the saxophone. (Perhaps wishful thinking... it proved untrue.)
Even Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, by far the more publicly composed of Chelsea’s parents (so much so that when she got a tiny bit weepy just once during the 2008 New Hampshire primary, the political press played it like a full-on breakdown), was likely to be wet-eyed. By many accounts, Chelsea is the glue that has held the Clintons together—especially during the difficult days of White House scandal, a rabid special prosecutor, and an ill-advised impeachment proceeding.
During Hillary’s failed presidential campaign, former White House Press Secretary Mike McCurry, who served President Clinton in those dark days of his second term, recalled the iconic image of Chelsea, then 18, gripping both her parents’ hands as they trudged toward Marine One on their way to Martha’s Vineyard. It was the day that the president publicly acknowledged an inappropriate relationship with a White House intern.
Click Below to View Images of Bill Clinton and Rhinebeck Townspeople Celebrating
“I was sitting on the helicopter watching them all walk toward me,” McCurry said. “They all looked miserable except Chelsea. Chelsea looked determined. She was determined not to let these two parents that she loved get away with goofing up the marriage.” Another Clinton loyalist, Paul Begala, marveled: “Another person might have gone through the same things and come out extraordinarily bitter. Does she strike you as a woman who got bitter or got better?”
In 32-year-old Mezvinsky—a former investment banker at Goldman Sachs (at least in this respect, an atypical bonus of positive PR for the greed-driven firm)—Chelsea seems to have found a soul mate. They have known each other since they were teenagers in Washington, where Marc’s mother represented a blue-stocking Pennsylvania congressional district, and his father, Edward, had been a congressman from Iowa. As Chelsea was going through her own parent-created crucible, Marc watched as his mother lost her reelection (a deciding vote for Clinton’s tax hike, ironically, sealed her fate) and his father went to prison for fraud.
In other words, they are both properly jaundiced about the business of politics and public life—although Chelsea, an effective, eloquent, and relentless surrogate for her mother in 2008, may in the end be unable to resist the call. “She has her mother’s character and her father’s energy,” Bill once observed.
Editor's Note: This story has been updated to reflect the latest reporting on the event.
Lloyd Grove contributed to this report.
Chris Wilson has written for Page Six, Playboy, and Maxim, where he was the deputy editor.
Jacob Bernstein is a senior reporter at The Daily Beast. He has also written for New York magazine, Paper, and The Huffington Post.