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CRASH-TEST WEDDING

"Wedding Crashers"  inspired The Post's Corey Levitan to infiltrate a posh affair at Tavern on the Green.

 

By COREY LEVITAN

PHOTOS BY JEFF GELLER


July 7, 2005 -- 'NICE meeting you, too," the bride tells me. I wasn't invited to her wedding. I don't even know her name. Yet I've convinced her I'm an old friend of her new husband's.

In the new comedy "Wedding Crashers," opening next Friday, Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn make a sport of attending nuptials uninvited, lying about every aspect of their lives to fit the crowd.

But their ceaseless quest for sophomoric thrills, free grub and bub and Mrs. Right Now in the Coatroom hits a snag when Wilson falls for one of his victims, Rachel McAdams.

True love may be elusive in real life, but crashing weddings is relatively easy, says producer Andrew Panay, whose own adventures as an interloper inspired "Wedding Crashers" and served as a road map for our mission at Tavern on the Green on a recent weekend.

"I'm in a Vegas hotel at 20 years old," he recalls. "I'm walking to the pool with my buddies, we look in a room and there's a bunch of people having a good time. They were all part of this wedding that just happened - but they were dressed casually. So we just wandered in.

"The next thing I know, I'm dancing with a bunch of girls and my buddy's drinking like crazy for free."

When I informed Panay of my crashing plans, he advised starting by procuring the names of the happy couple, either on 1) an announcement in the lobby, 2) a gift table with envelopes, or 3) a program.

The easiest crashing is probably a wedding factory like Leonard's or the Huntington Townhouse on Long Island. Knots are always tying all over those multi-tiered joints. And if you get busted, you have the perfect out: "Oh my God! I'm at the wrong wedding!"

Then there's Tavern on the Green, which proved more difficult.

When Post photographer Jeff Geller and I arrived on a Saturday, fewer than 100 guests milled about on the patio during cocktail hour. And Jeff and I stuck out for more than just arriving an hour late and not being greeted by anyone - the guests were mainly Korean, like the bride.

We beeline for a huddle of non-Koreans, who obviously came together. I ask if they're with the bride or groom. They're with the bride, so we say we're with the groom.

"How do you know Trey?" a woman asks me.

"We go back so many years, I can't remember," I respond.

Trey's name is all I need to open with the bride's grandmother and the bride (after confirming that no one nearby could remotely be Trey.)

Although a Social Security card and your mother's maiden name are required to visit Manhattan office buildings these days, Leo DeCaprio's "Catch Me If You Can" voice-over still applies to weddings - dress and act the part and people will believe you belong.

 

The waiters usher me and Jeff off the patio, along with the other wedding guests, into the Terrace Room.

"OK, we did it, let's go," Jeff anxiously whispers. But I want to see how far we can take this beyond three chardonnays and a scrumptious tomato appetizer. Hot Korean bridesmaids surround us.

The emptiest table is No. 8. We sit and chat with the bride's college friends, who reveal her name as Lisa.

"I thought this table was all Cornell people," one woman says.

"Apparently not," her companion answers haughtily. "Those guys are friends of Trey's."

Jeff and I wave hello.

The real fun begins when the ninth and 10th guests arrive; there are only eight seats. This persnickety couple would not be fun to beat at musical chairs. They summon the party planner. A blond woman named Lori circles the table with a clipboard, checking names against invited guests. Jeff starts sweating torrentially; I consider ordering our pan-seared striped bass with orange basil drizzle to go.

When our names don't appear on Lori's list, she consults Lisa.

Then security chief Colorado Guillermo arrives to politely usher us aside and out onto our rear ends. This can't be happening. Vaughn and Wilson were never unsuccessful as a team. And I haven't even danced with a bridesmaid yet.

After we reveal we're with The Post, Guillermo claims he was suspicious all along.

"But you were good," he says. "You started talking to the family, so I didn't say anything."

In an odd reversal of roles, Trey and Lisa emerge to pose for photos with and congratulate us. They invite us back inside, to attend their wedding legitimately.

We decline, graciously. What fun would that be?


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are trademarks of NYP Holdings, Inc. Copyright 2005 NYP Holdings, Inc. All rights reserved.

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