Learning How To Say ‘I Do’

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Beyond the cake, the dress and the “I do’s.” Ellen McCarthy tells us what she learned about marriage as the Washington Post’s wedding reporter. Plus: looking back at the life of blues legend B.B. King.

A couple enters a church in Budapest, Hungary before their wedding. (Fabio Penna / Flickr)
A couple enters a church in Budapest, Hungary before their wedding. (Fabio Penna / Flickr)

Love and marriage can seem old-fashioned sometimes these days. But they keep on drawing the crowd. Ellen McCarthy watched a lot of couples get hitched in her job as wedding reporter for the Washington Post. Every Saturday night for years, she was at a wedding. And over time, she saw what seemed to work, and what didn’t. Now she’s spilling the beans.  Just in time for the June wedding rush. This hour On Point: what works in love, from the reporter’s notebook. Plus, we’ll look back at the life and music of the ultimate blues man, dead at 89, B.B. King.
-- Tom Ashbrook


Ellen McCarthy, Washington Post style reporter, where she was previously the paper's wedding reporter. Author of the new book, "The Real Thing: Lessons on Love and Life from a Wedding Reporter's Notebook." (@ellenmccarthy)

Stephanie Coontz, professor of history and family studies at the Evergreen State College. Co-chair and director of research at University of Chicago, Illinois' Council on Contemporary Families. Author of the book "Marriage, a History," among others. (@stephaniecoontz)

From Tom’s Reading List

Washington Post: What I learned about love during my years of reporting on weddings — "It’s always seemed to me that being in a relationship is, in large part, about bearing witness. You take a front-­row seat to your partner’s daily trials and triumphs and they do the same for you. And then at the end of your life at least one person knows what you went through — ­how often you struggled, how hard you tried and how much goodness you created."

NPR Code Switch: Marriage Rates Are Falling, And For Some Faster Than Others — "The biggest takeaways from a new study on marriage by the Pew Research Center are these: Fewer Americans who are older than 25 are married than ever before, and by the time they're middle-aged, a record 25 percent will have never tied the knot. That might not be too much of a surprise, since marriage rates have been sliding for decades."

Kirkus Reviews: The Real Thing — "McCarthy became the weddings beat reporter for her newspaper in 2009—ironically, on the same day she broke up with her then-boyfriend. In the months and years that followed, she spoke with dozens of couples from all walks of life seeking insight on 'this thing called love.' The author delivers a compilation of the best of these interviews, which she interweaves with words of wisdom drawn from relationship experts, therapists, researchers and her own experience."

Read An Excerpt Of "The Real Thing" By Ellen McCarthy

Remembering The Sound And Story Of B.B. King

Preston Lauterbach, author and blues historian. Author of the books "Beale Street Dynasty" and "The Chitlin' Circuit." (@preslauterbach)

New York Times: B. B. King, Defining Bluesman for Generations, Dies at 89 — "Mr. King married country blues to big-city rhythms and created a sound instantly recognizable to millions: a stinging guitar with a shimmering vibrato, notes that coiled and leapt like an animal, and a voice that groaned and bent with the weight of lust, longing and lost love."

This program aired on May 15, 2015.


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