Breaking Down This Week’s Insufferable New York Times Marriage Announcement: January 17

This is a recurring PGP series. Catch up with all installments of Insufferable Marriage Announcements by visiting the archive.

Breaking Down This Week's Insufferable Wedding Announcement From The New York Times: January 17

It’s up for grabs which makes me want to barf more — engagement photos, or overwrought and cheesy wedding announcements in The New York Times. Either way, they’re both fun to tear apart. With that being said, let’s dive into this week’s insufferable marriage announcement.

As always, original text in quotes.

* * *

From a Fight in the Playground to a Proposal

Because shouldn’t every proposal start with a physical altercation?

It started out as many love affairs do in the fourth grade: not well.

When I showed up after 4th grade Christmas break with a Tickle Me Elmo, I was the toast of the town. Must’ve been an outlier.

Standing on the tetherball court at Jefferson Elementary School in Maplewood, N.J., James Livengood, 10, angered by something said or not said (depending on whom you ask) by Sara Okin, 9, picked up a fistful of mulch and sticks and threw it at her.

I mean, hey Sara, maybe you should or shouldn’t have said whatever you did or didn’t say. Can’t just be throwing shade at 10-year-olds and expect to not get a fistful of mulch and sticks to the face.

“One of the sticks hit me in the neck and caused a two-inch scratch,” said Ms. Okin, 28, a senior product manager for Refinery29, a fashion and lifestyle media company. “I started crying and went to the teacher. James got suspended. His mom made him write me an apology.”

All was forgiven.

I once got sent to the principal’s office for showing my Taz boxers to a couple kids in my 2nd-grade class after another classmate tattled on me. Still haven’t forgiven him, and I’m appalled James is now officially married to this Judas.

“I’ve always liked her,” said Mr. Livengood, 29, co-founder and director of production for Radicle Farm Company, a farm technology company that introduced a living, harvest-at-home salad concept. “When I was 11, I had a label maker given to me by my grandfather, and on it I printed, ‘I love Sara Okin’ over and over.”

Fuck. Not another one of these farm psychos like last week. If this guy has a Bigfoot fetish, I swear to God…

But she did not puppy-love him back.

For the next decade, their relationship would be on again off again.

Oh, really? She didn’t like the dude who shoved dirt in her mouth and printed creepy-ass notes on his label maker about her? Shocker.

“We would stop dating because I wasn’t interested in kissing him, and he moved on,” Ms. Okin. “He was a very sought-after boy.”

Finally, something respectable out of James. Sara not putting out? Deuces. Onto the next one.

As ninth graders, Mr. Livengood went to St. Peter’s Prep, a private boys’ school in Jersey City, and she attended Columbia High in Maplewood. Their relationship became more serious during his junior and senior years.

Ooh la la. This is like some reverse Romeo/Juliet shit. Homeboy went to prep school and she hung back at a public school? So she clearly knew that if she stayed hot on James’s prep school trail that she’d eventually be set up for life. Okay, noted.

“I did date other girls, but I specifically remember breaking up with them to date Sara exclusively,” he said. “Everything meaningful that happened to me was talked about with her, and I wanted to keep that in my life. She has always brought me a sense of calm and peace.”

Hold up, James. You’re tellin’ me you were away at private school with your raging high school hormones and you weren’t tickling the fancy of other girls because of your affinity for Sara, the bad-mouthing, tattle-taling public school chick? Yeah, okay, buddy. Bullshit.

But, as was their way, something would disrupt the relationship, and the two would part ways.

Read: other girls.

The summer before each started college, they got back together, but they spent their last night before leaving for school (she to Vanderbilt, he to Syracuse) laying on the lawn at her parents’ house wondering if they wouldn’t be better off separating and seeing how they managed without each other.

The part James omitted from the story — all of his buddies telling him, “Bro, if you leave for college with a girlfriend, you’re a fucking idiot.” Then he probably tried to explain to them that it was true love before they reiterated how much tail he’d get if he were single. Like, James had to play lacrosse at ‘Cuse, right? That just screams “ass.”

“We realized there was no substitute for being in the same place,” Ms. Okin said. “Each of us would be making new friends, starting different chapters and establishing independent lives. Being a couple was harder than we thought, so we broke up again.”

Yes, James! Yes!

At college, they realized they had something that was difficult to find elsewhere. And so once again, they reunited late in their first semester away, in December 2005. But when Mr. Livengood took his junior year to study abroad in Africa, once again they called it quits.

Classic male college freshman move. Dump the girlfriend before you head off to school, then right when you get back for a long Christmas break, you drunkenly see each other at a house party and get the old-fashioned feelings back where you just want to bone each other.

“Sara wanted to take a break,” Mr. Livengood recalled. “I was really hurt and frustrated. I remember being mean to her and thinking, ‘How could you say mean things to the person you love?’”

At this point, I can’t be the only person wondering how these two actually ended up married, right? I mean, this is tumultuous.

But this separation ended the on-again-off-again cycle, giving them space and time to see how they would fare without each other. The answer: not well.

In the summer of 2009, after college, both were living at home, less than a mile apart, and for the first time, an adult romance flourished. Evenings were spent talking, reflecting, cooking and sharing who they were and who they wanted to be.

This sounds like Joey Potter and Dawson Leary. Jesus.

“I didn’t meet anyone in college,” Ms. Okin said. “Something was always missing. I realized it was James. That was the moment things really shifted. He was always so sure about me, and us. I needed time to catch up to him. How could you possibly know when you’re 10 who you’re in love with?”

Yeah, I’m sure you spent your nights at college not drunkenly making out with Sig Eps after one too many pulls from a bottle of Boone’s. Stop kidding yourself, Sara. You guys were both 500 Days Of Summer‘ing each other and you know it.

In 2010, Ms. Okin and a friend gave up their Jersey roots for a large apartment in Manhattan, in Chelsea. A year and a half later, Mr. Livengood replaced the roommate.

These two need a reality show on Bravo called Livengood In Manhattan. Tell me that pilot doesn’t get picked up.

“In the past five years, there was no question in my mind they would marry,” said Hilary Neher, a childhood friend of both the bride and groom. “I think no matter how big the fights, there was never a moment I could say they were completely done. When one was ready to call it quits, the other wasn’t. They are both determined, hard-working people. And one would work really hard at mending things until the other was ready to give it a shot again.”

My mom would’ve told me how idiotic I was to still be in a relationship where we were constantly in flux, just breaking up and getting back together all willy-nilly like this. This is insanity, you guys.

Ms. Neher added that she knew things were serious when she no longer heard about the couple’s drama.

“I would always know both sides of the story,” she said. “Then that stopped. They stopped telling me all the minutiae and annoyances.”

Just like my Lion Whisperer always said, “No news is good news.”

It became clear to Mr. Livengood’s mother, Geraldine, that the couple would marry after Hurricane Irene hit in 2011. “We were at our lake house, and James and Sara were removing sludge from the water that the storm had brought,” Mrs. Livengood said. “I was sitting next to my mother-in-law and a family friend. The kids had spent the entire day hauling wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow of this gross goop. They were sweaty and laughing, and my friend turned to me and said: ‘If they can do that together, they must be made for each other. They’re getting married, right?’”

First, Geraldine Livengood sounds like a character from The Help. Second, there’s a “play in the mud” joke to be made here but out of respect for Hurricane Irene, I’m moving on.

In July 2014, Mr. Livengood hatched a plan. He told Sara he had to pick up something from his business partner, who lived across the street from their elementary school. When they arrived, Ms. Okin was hungry and not interested in taking a walk down memory lane, but she got out of the car to appease him. As the two of them reminisced about teachers and classmates, Mr. Livengood led her to the exact spot where the mulch-throwing incident occurred more than 16 years earlier. One snag: The tetherball pole was gone, though a vague outline of the court remained.

No, you have to be kidding me. He did not propose to her where he threw mulch at her face. Please tell me this story isn’t that cheesy.

“Coming to this spot was Sara’s dad’s idea,” Mr. Livengood said. “It never occurred to me that the playground would be gone and that they’d put picnic tables in its place.”

“James, ol’ boy, remember where you assaulted my daughter? Propose to her there.”

But Mr. Livengood needed no mulch underfoot for this moment.

“I thought, ‘This changes nothing,’” he said. “‘I’m still going to propose.’”

Oh, that’s good, James. I’m glad the removal of the mulch didn’t affect your decision to marry Sara.

On Dec. 31, the couple was married by Cantor Julia Cadrain at the Liberty Warehouse in Red Hook, Brooklyn, in front of more than 200 guests, including a dozen friends from their schoolyard days. Since Ms. Okin is Jewish and Mr. Livengood is Episcopalian, the Seven Blessings were spoken in Hebrew by the cantor and translated into English by the Rev. Dr. Canon Sandye A. Wilson, the Livengood family’s longtime priest.

Of course, these two had a New Year’s Eve wedding in a Brooklyn warehouse. Of fucking course.

As the evening wore on toward midnight, the reception transformed into a grown-up couple’s playground as Ms. Okin and Mr. Livengood were surrounded by the happy madness of the New Year.

I see what you did there, New York Times Writer. I see what you did.

Silver cone hats, paper gold tiaras, noisemakers and funky 2016 glasses became wedding-attire accessories as guests hugged and kissed. At midnight, fireworks exploded in the sky as guests spilled out onto the courtyard along New York Harbor to watch.

“Funky” 2016 glasses are a must at any Brooklyn warehouse wedding. Did James make all the place cards on his label maker that he used to write love notes about Sara with?

As the newlyweds held each other in the first moments of the New Year, the only thing aimed in Ms. Okin’s direction was a passionate kiss from her new husband.

“Maybe he’s been telling me the truth this whole time how he just knew, even at 10,” Ms. Okin said. “I’m grateful he didn’t give up pursuing me. We wouldn’t be here if he had stopped.”

I laughed out loud at “the only thing aimed in Ms. Okin’s direction was a passionate kiss” as if James randomly decided to run it back 20 years and heave a pile of mud in her face on her wedding night.

But actually, I probably would’ve enjoyed that just as much.

[via New York Times]

Image via Shutterstock

Email this to a friend


Will deFries (Twitter / Instagram) is a Senior Writer at Grandex and the world's foremost authority on Sunday Scaries (Twitter / Instagram). Email me at

9 Comments You must log in to comment, or create an account
Show Comments

For More Photos and Content

Latest podcasts

Download Our App

Take PGP with you. Get

New Stories

Load More