A Very Civil Affair
The bride, preceded by her five sisters and her mother, descended the stairs to the strains of Wagner's wedding march. Some of the 140 guests climbed on chairs to see the couple exchange secular vows (though a distant cousin, Father Michael Kennedy, stood nearby). Alter the ceremony a moist-eyed Sen. Ted Kennedy declared, "Our joys are your joys, our love is your love," before everyone broke into "When Irish Eyes Are Smiling" and "God Bless America."
Guests, including exiled Haitian President Jean Bertrand Aristide, then adjourned to the backyard for a sumptuous buffet, including, at the special request of the bride and groom, Triscuits with peanut butter and bacon bits. Joe and Beth, who met in 1982 while she worked for Joe's Citizens Energy Corp., which provides low-cost fuel for the needy, chuckled through the first dance ("Unchained Melody" crooned by R&B singer Chris Walker).
Though first wife Rauch has said she is determined to fight Kennedy's request for an annulment, the wedding guests were hardly in the mood for recriminations. Said Kennedy biographer Doris Kearns Goodwin of the happy couple: "Everyone had the feeling that this was the right thing for them."