Working on the Hill has its perks. One of the more unusual ones: It’s easier to get your wedding announcement in the New York Times.
When it comes to their work in Washington, staffers are known for avoiding the limelight and working behind the scenes. But when it comes to love, they’re known for their very visible marriage announcements in the Sunday edition of the “newspaper of record.”
In the past year, legislative directors, committee counsels and those at the top of the Capitol career ladder have graced the Times society pages at an average of once every other week. And given the section’s stiff competition — it receives more than 200 submissions per week for about 30 slots — that’s an impressive showing.
For Washington power couples originally from the New York area, getting an announcement in the Times can be a statement of hometown pride.
And for couples looking to cut wedding costs (not an easy task, to be sure), it can also be an affordable option. Getting an announcement in the Times is free, while publishing in the Washington Post, by comparison, can cost anywhere from $200 to $2,000.
For most Capitol Hill couples, though, it’s the section’s elite luster that’s just too hard to pass up.
“As we were thinking about announcements, we thought about hometown papers, papers around here,” said Will Kinzel, then a staffer at the Republican National Committee and now a policy adviser for Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio). He and his wife, Marcie — who worked at the Department of Education at the time and is now communications director for Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) — were featured in the section three years ago.
They decided on the New York Times weddings section, Will said, because it’s just “an iconic kind of thing.”
It’s “the gold standard” of wedding pages, according to David Greengrass, counsel to Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.).
And that’s how it’s been since the paper’s inception, according to Nikki Usher, assistant professor of media and public affairs at George Washington University. The Times was established “as diametrically opposed to all of the other penny papers of the time,” she said.
In his 1851 prospectus, Times founder Henry Raymond promised readers that the paper would be distinctive and unlike other dailies, which were known for their sensational news coverage. It would be “decidedly superior to existing journals of the same class,” he wrote.
Reporting on the social scene helped the paper establish its exclusive image.
“Consistently throughout this time,” Usher noted, “society news would make [the] front page.” Stories about the comings and goings of presidents’ children or New York’s upper class would lead the daily headlines.