...mother of the Bride
When Cokie Roberts's daughter Rebecca, 27, producer of the public radio show Beyond Computers, got engaged to financial consultant Daniel Hartman, 28, in September 1996, two things were certain. First, that she would marry in the garden of her parents' stately Bethesda, Md., home, where Cokie had wed journalist Steven Roberts 31 years earlier when it was owned by her parents. ("I never considered any other place," says Becca.) Second, that the mother of the bride would plan the whole shebang.
The National Public Radio commentator, ABC News anchor and author of We Are Our Mothers' Daughters soon realized she had taken on another full-time job. "Our son Lee was married in June, but with Becca, I was doing the whole thing," says Cokie, 54, who turned to four capable friends for help when the guest list reached 600. Caterer Susie Hoskins designed a Cajun menu that honored Cokie's Louisiana roots; floral designer Jeune Jaffe provided the summer flowers; freelance photographer Vivian Ronay shot the ceremony; and sister-in-law Barbara Boggs, a corporate party consultant, assisted with last-minute details.
Cokie communicated with Becca, who lives in San Francisco, via e-mail and faxes, but the bride didn't mind deferring to her mom. "We have similar tastes and we really like each other," says Becca. Besides, as she told Cokie, "I've known since I was born that basically all I get to pick for this wedding is my dress and my groom."
Finding the groom, whom Becca met while working in Philadelphia, was the easy part. Mother and daughter went to Manhattan to look for dresses, but, says Cokie, "I didn't know until then that you had to make appointments at Vera Wang, Bergdorfs and Saks." Becca returned to D.C. and bought a silk organza Christos gown from Rizik Brothers. Cokie got her turquoise silk Gene Roye there as well. As plans for the Aug. 31 wedding solidified, Cokie realized there was one thing beyond her control—and she began calling the National Centers for Environmental Prediction on a daily basis. "Ed O'Lenic, the research meteorologist, and I became close friends," she recalls. "He would say, The chances of rain are very slim.' "
The day turned out bright, and the guests sat under white tents, as Rev. James Ford, chaplain of the U.S. House of Representatives, performed the ceremony. Since Becca is half Catholic and half Jewish and Dan is Methodist, the marriage was observed by celebrants of the three faiths.
At 2 a.m., Cokie returned to the garden "to say a prayer of thanksgiving," she says. "And the skies just opened up and rain poured down. It was just for a few minutes, but it was basically God saying he could have done it anytime."