When Wedding Announcements Are Brutally Tactless

The tale-of-mutual-infidelity that's drawn such ire from "Vows" readers is dramatic, but an example of inevitable pitfalls of the modern age. Plus, as close Times readers know, it's not the first of its kind.

This past August, I was taken-aback to read the following in the wedding announcement of Nina Planck and prominent NYC cheese macher Rob Kaufelt.

So it was in April 2002 when Nina Planck, then 31 and the owner of more than a dozen London Farmers' Markets in England, first encountered Rob Kaufelt while traveling to an Irish Food Board conference in the fishing village of Kinsale, Ireland.

On the shuttle from the airport, Ms. Planck, who was scheduled to speak at the event, recalled thinking that Mr. Kaufelt, with what appeared to her as a broad, Cheshire cat smile and deep Florida tan, seemed a little too charming for her...Still, as Ms. Planck stood before the conference and laid out her thoughts on why butter is good for you, Mr. Kaufelt, then 55, the owner of two Murray's Cheese Shops in Manhattan, grinned up at her from the front row, correcting her on the finer points of regulations governing raw milk cheeses.

Later, at dinner, they bumped into each other again. By this time Ms. Planck, who is in fact the product of a hardscrabble childhood on a vegetable farm in Loudoun County in Virginia, had decided that Mr. Kaufelt "was incredibly handsome" and had rearranged the seating to move him to her table.

Late that night, Mr. Kaufelt walked Ms. Planck along a rainy pier and kissed her.

Now, consider this passage, from Tamasin Day-Lewis' culinary memoir, "Where Shall We Go for Dinner?" Writing about her romance with Kaufelt, she recounts:

It all started five years ago on a trip Rob made to Ireland in the April of 2002...Rob had strolled brazenly and late straight up to the front of the marquee where five hundred people were sitting waiting for the Irish Minister for Food and Agriculture to make his speech before I made mine, and had sat down directly in my eye-line so that when I marched up to the podium I had to avert my gaze...After the speeches Rob emerged from the back of the queue that was waiting to meet me and introduced himself....And, handing me his card, "It was a passionate and brilliant speech and I'd like to buy you dinner on the strength of it."

My plans for dinner were cast-iron unbreakable: I was guest of honor at a Bord Bia dinner with a group of chefs, so I tried my best to get him invited. But [the PR rep] wasn't biting.

Hm, wonder what he did instead! After reading the (featured) wedding announcement, I was indignant on Day-Lewis' behalf: wasn't it enough that he'd apparently been seeing both women for years and was now marrying the other, without rubbing his caddishness in her face? Plus, what a jerk! Tom-catting your way through a food conference is, I guess, a cheesemonger's prerogative, but didn't he have any control over what the Times ran? Did he have to make it so explicitly humiliating? And, for that matter, having been the (presumably acquiescent) subject of such a book, couldn't he have held back on the full-page featured wedding? (Although, having noticed Day-Lewis' book on a shelf next to his wife's at Murray's Cheese, I'd already mentally found him wanting in the "sensitivity chip" department.)

This is a dramatic situation — and one could argue that by making her private life public, Day-Lewis was not a wholly blameless bystander — but in a sense it throws into sharp relief the perils of publicizing generally. After all, even when there aren't published accounts of old relationships and bespectacled food nerds poring over them for similarities, there are, still, back-stories and exes for every happy married. Back in the day, people used to say that your name should be in print only when you're born, married, and dead — and presumably without meet-cute stories (or, for that matter, exes.) But nowadays every marriage announcement is also the story of breakups and of someone else's probable chagrin when they open the Sunday Times. This Sunday's fracas — in which the Times described the marriage of two people "married to others" when they met — may have been more blatant, but is it disingenuous to pretend this isn't somewhat inevitable? On the other hand, you could argue that discretion is the paper's job, and that's another issue entirely. The Times has been accused of "glorifying" the couple's infidelity with a blithe write-up (and, indeed, choosing to feature it) but is that fair? The couple came off as world-class jerks. Some would argue that the paper was just reporting the facts.

Related: Hubby Would Take Back 'Vow' [Page Six]