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So, How Did You Meet?

New York couples from the past four decades open up their wedding albums.


1960s


Rita & John Modica
VFW Hall, Brooklyn
November 29, 1969

The Meeting
Rita: God, it was so long ago! We met at a dance.
John: I was 14 years old. I was from the other side of Atlantic Avenue—they called it South Brooklyn back then—and Rita was from the Heights. People who lived in the Heights were a certain class, and we were another. The first day my now-mother-in-law saw me walking across the street to pick up her daughter, she started yelling, “You’re not going out with my daughter! You’re a gangster!” So when Rita came down to our social club with a couple of girls from the Heights, it was considered very taboo. But I asked her to dance, and that was it. We just never left each other’s side after that.

The Proposal
R: It happened at Woodstock. We were so young and naïve—we just thought everything would be flowers and beautiful. John turned to me and said, “We should always do this.” And I said, “Yes.”
J: Our parents weren’t crazy about it at first; we were 19. We never set a date until I got that letter for Vietnam. Then everything happened really quickly, because my parents thought I was a goner.

The Wedding
J: My mom orchestrated the whole thing, or else Rita and I would have been married by some guru in Woodstock. We were trying to appease our parents, but it ended up being quite an event.
R: The wedding was very big. We invited probably 200 people, but it was more like 300 because so many crashed.
J: We had a band, and in the late sixties to watch your parents and their friends get drunk and dance to the Rolling Stones and the Doors, as opposed to Frank Sinatra, was quite something. My mom got the VFW for a minimal donation, and we put it all together ourselves. We even hand-delivered the invitations … though if you didn’t get one, that was cool too.
R: I actually wanted to leave early. The Rolling Stones were playing that night and I wanted to see the concert, so I packed jeans and sneakers in a suitcase and brought it along to the reception. When I went to open the suitcase, all my clothes were gone. My mother had hidden them so I wouldn’t go.

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