The weather was not great. The mood of the country was worse.
But love endures.
This past Friday — in the midst of a frightening pandemic — Steven Rawlings and Reka Reisinger got married on Old Mill Beach.
The plan had been to wed on June 27, in upstate New York. But with so much uncertainty about the future, the couple decided to make it official now.
They did not want to get a license at still-crowded City Hall in Manhattan, where they live. Steven is an attorney with the SEC; Reka’s a photographer, and sells and restores pianos in her family business.
So they enlisted the help of their Compo Cove friends Isaac and Ellen Sonsino.
Their daughter Genevieve is a close, longtime friend of Reka’s. Reka’s dad has passed away, so she’d already asked Isaac to walk her down the aisle in June.
Amazingly, the Sonsinos’ next door neighbor at Old Mill Beach — 92-year-old Wally Meyer — is a justice of the peace.
Also amazingly, his housemate Clark Hanford does costume work. He said he’d alter any of 3 gowns. Reka decided to wear a traditional Hungarian dress, but that offer epitomized the amazing spirit of the wedding.
Isaac contacted Westport Town Hall. Officials promised to make arrangements online. When the license was completed, Isaac met a woman from the town clerk’s office in the back parking lot. Wearing gloves — and keeping her distance — she placed it on a picnic table, for him to pick up.
On Friday — just 24 hours after planning began — Steven and Reka were wed.
Fewer than a dozen people were present: Steve’s parents, Robert and Ronnie; Reka’s mother Klara and her partner Rob Botti; the 3 Sonsinos, and 2 close friends of Steve’s rearranged their schedule on a few hours’ notice to attend.
Robin Tauck — an Old Mill neighbor — happened to wander by too. She couldn’t resist!
All kept an appropriate social distance, as Meyer led the vows with grace and joy.
There was lovely oboe music, courtesy of Bach and Botti. Amazingly (again!), Reka’s mother’s partner plays with the New York Philharmonic.
There were Champagne toasts. A cake too, of course. And of course, everyone ate it carefully, one at a time.
“It’s a wonderful way to start life,” Steven says. It’s poignant in another way, besides taking place amid a pandemic. Friday marked 6 years to the day that Reka’s father had died.
After the ceremony, the newlyweds took a walk on the beach. They were heartened to see other people enjoying the water — all at a safe distance from one another.
They’re spending their honeymoon at the Delamar in Southport. Everyone there has been great, Reka says.
And the restaurant is open for takeout.
(Video courtesy of Genevieve Sonsino)