How the legend of the Levy-O’Meara wedding began

Later on, once the tale of the wedding weekend of Rachel Levy and Aaron O’Meara had settled into legend – to be told and retold across countless dinner tables and bar stools – an amused listener would eventually ask this question:

“How in the world did they end up picking Christmas weekend as the date?”

PART 1 OF 10

Jan. 13, 2010 

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

Later on, once the tale of the wedding weekend of Rachel Levy and Aaron O’Meara had settled into legend – to be told and retold across countless dinner tables and bar stools – an amused listener would eventually ask this question:

“How in the world did they end up picking Christmas weekend as the date?”

The legend demanded that one answer be given. It was a joke that had first fallen from the lips of Bubbe Peskin, Rachel’s grandmother: 

“Because we were tired of always the same thing that day, Chinese food and a movie.”

In truth, the reasons were many. Rachel loved her kids in the third grade at Mifflin School in East Falls too much to desert them for a honeymoon, so it made sense to time the wedding for winter break.

Plus, Aaron would never dream of getting married without his great-aunts Duffy present. Those three school-teaching nuns would not fly, not for all the shamrocks in Ireland. So they would have to meet up around Chicago and drive east together. Slowly. Very slowly. With this date, they could grade those blue books and still make it to the wedding.

Finally, to lure business that holiday weekend, the Downtown Club in Old City was offering steep discounts. While Seth and Suzanne Levy had no intent of stinting on their only daughter’s wedding, that cheaper cost per cover did mean each family could invite more people.   And that would lead to fewer wrenching guest-list choices, such as “second cousin vs. summer-camp friend.”

Valid points all.

A pitch with a catch

So, on the January evening when Suzanne and Seth called Mike and Molly O’Meara to float the Dec. 27 wedding date, Suzanne pitched those benefits hard.

She sold the date like a Realtor trying to coax first-time buyers into plunging on a fixer-upper in Drexel Hill. Which, of course, was what Suzanne did for a living. She was good at it, really good.

Still …

“I’m not buying it.”

So declared Molly O’Meara an hour after the call, as she propped herself up on elbow facing Mike on their Posturepedic king in suburban Ohio.   Outside, it was snowing like a son-of-a-gun, which it tends to do next to the Great Lakes in January. Sick as she was of snowdrifts, Molly thanked the night skies for helping to make her point.

“December!” Molly said. “I don’t care what song and dance Suzanne Levy wants to give me about those mild Philly winters; it’s crazy to have a wedding in December. And Christmas weekend! Think how complicated that would be. It’s never going to work. The rehearsal dinner, Mickey, we’ll have to hold it on Dec. 26. The 26th! “

(Only Molly got to call Mike O’Meara by his childhood nickname of Mickey.)

“I never knew you were so attached to Boxing Day, Mol,” Mike said dryly, as he tended to do. “Boxing Day’s a Brit thing. We’re Irish.”

With well-practiced aim, Molly punched him, square on the biceps.

“C’mon, Mickey. Think of all the rigamarole our guests will have to go through, traveling that weekend. Think of what plane tickets will cost! Might as well just give Useless Air our 401(k)s, what’s left of them … Mickey, do you think they’re doing this on purpose? Could this be some kind of passive-aggressive protest that their daughter’s marrying a … goy?”

Mike’s launched into a singsong: “‘That Suzanne Levy is the sweetest person; we’re so lucky that Aaron is marrying into such a nice family.’ … And I quote one Molly O’Meara, from not three weeks ago. Now, all of sudden the woman is Cruella de Vil? C’mon, Mol, think of the bright side: We won’t have to go to my sister’s for Christmas dinner.   No six hours of listening to our Bridget brag about her brilliant grandkids. That, alone, is reason enough to do this.”

Mike switched to a well-practiced brogue: “Sure and the date would be a blessing to the great-aunts Duffy. “

“Michael O’Meara, why do you have to be so damn reasonable all the time?”

“It’s a gift, I grant you. A gift. Now come on over here and warm a body up.”

Hope has a place in Narberth

Four hundred miles away, the Levys were in the midst of their own marital-bed post-mortem:

“I think that went OK, don’t you?” Suzanne Levy ventured.

“If you count 23 full seconds of silence from Molly after you delivered the news as going well, sure, hon, it went super. Just super,” Seth said.

“It wasn’t 23 seconds. Couldn’t have been.”

“Sorry, hon. Counted every last one on that quality digital timepiece you bought me for my birthday.”

“They’ll come around. They’ll adjust. It just makes too much sense on so many levels.”

“Dunno, Suze, we may have to call in George Mitchell to mediate this one.”

“They’ll come around, I’m sure of it. They have to. Just you wait.”

For Pete’s sake

At that moment, a few miles away from the Levys’ Narberth home, Aaron settled into his precarious perch on Rachel’s narrow bed. She shared a Manayunk rowhouse with Meredith Detweiler, her best friend from college and maid of honor.   Aaron, as usual, was up for the weekend from Baltimore, where he worked for a financial firm.

“Sooooo, Mom made The Phone Call tonight. How do you think it went?” Rachel whispered into Aaron’s massive, muscled back. He’d played tight end at Villanova.

“My Mom? Your Mom? Not to get ethnic, but probably like Belfast and the West Bank, all rolled into one.”

“C’mon, they got along together great when we had the big meet-the-fam dinner.”

“That was just the pregame warm-ups, all twinkly smiles and cheek pecks and ‘That’s so lovely, Suzanne,’ ‘That’s so clever of you, Molly.’ Now it’s game on, with real stakes. Look, with both my brothers, Molly still somehow managed to call most of the shots at their weddings. The brides’ families just folded. It’s a habit with her. A hard one to break.   She is not going to like having this date rammed down her throat.”

“Well, my Mom can talk anybody into anything. I’m sure she made Dec. 27 sound like the greatest idea since lox on a bagel.”

“Well, my Mom is like the Texans at the Alamo. She can hold out forever. So it’s irresistible force meets immovable object. Should be an interesting few months. I’ll be safe and out of the way down in Baltimore. Feel free to text me updates. Anytime.”

Rachel’s tiny fist pummeled his shoulder. “No way, dude. You are with me every step of the way on this one. You’re going to be part of every tough call … And speaking of tough calls, have you decided yet on best man?”

A long silence from Aaron.

“Just did. Now that you bring it up. Pete.”



“Trip won’t like that.”

“Trip can go fu…. twist himself into a pretzel and dip himself in mustard.”

Aaron had sworn off cursing – at least in front of Rach.

“Jeez, what is it with you and Trip? Always, with you two, it’s like two cavemen fighting over the last bite of woolly mammoth.”

Aaron turned and narrowed his eyes in what Rachel recognized as his “don’t go there” look.

“So … Pete … You’re sure about this? You know I love Pete, I do, but he is … a bit … scattered.”

“He’ll pull it together for this. He’s been my best friend since the first day of freshman year. He’s been there for me time and again.   If ‘best man’ means what I think it means, he’s my best man, no contest. I’m not gonna let my family’s crazy traditions stick me with Trip. He’s been a pain in my butt since we were kids.”

“Well, then,” Rachel said, snuggling into Aaron’s chest, “that settles it. Pete it is. Hey, now that I think about it, he and Meredith are just about the same height. They’ll look sweet together. Well, that’s enough decisions for one day; I’m going to sleep.   ‘Night, Big Dude.”

“‘Night, Little Cat.”

Part 2 “Gen. O’Meara arrives at her Philly wedding HQ” – will post on Monday afternoon.
Radio play – Listen to a dramatization of “Whiteout Christmas” this holiday weekend on WHYY-FM. The play, with Tony Auth, Chris Satullo and WHYY staffers acting up a storm, will air on 90.9 FM at 8 p.m. Friday, 1 p.m. Saturday and 4 p.m. Christmas Day.

WHYY is your source for fact-based, in-depth journalism and information. As a nonprofit organization, we rely on financial support from readers like you. Please give today.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal