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SUNDAY BRUNCH | Celebrations

Reporters Collaborate on a Love Story

June 14, 1998|MARNELL JAMESON | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

"Marriage should be nearly impossible, like the docking of spaceships." So wrote David Van Biema in an essay on marriage published in Life magazine in 1991.

A sentence like that would send most marriage-minded women packing. But not Allison Adato, who had been dating Van Biema for a year by then and, eventually, docked with his spaceship at an outdoor evening wedding May 23 at the Ebell Club in Los Angeles.

Van Biema's writing, after all, is what attracted Adato, 30, in the first place. Working as a reporter at Life in New York, Adato, who was born and raised in Van Nuys and attended USC, read a paragraph in a story Van Biema had written. She thought it the most beautiful string of sentences she'd ever read and went searching the halls of Life for this man's office.

"Oh, look, he's cute too," she recalls thinking.

On their first date, they played Elvis basketball, and Van Biema remembered thinking the activity--like his date--was nutty and wonderful. Then they watched "Twin Peaks." That was a long time ago. "It took me awhile to come to my senses," Van Biema, 42, now admits.

Three years after their first date, he took a job as a senior writer for Time magazine, and Adato stayed on at Life, and they forged yet another Time-Life union, which reminds Adato's mother of the romance that began an empire between Time's founder, Henry Luce, and his wife and inspiration, Claire Booth Luce.

The bicoastal couple (he was raised in Tenafly, N.J., and is a Wesleyan man) drew wedding guests from many states and even a couple of other countries. The four bridesmaids flew in from four states, and each wore a black cocktail dress of her own choosing, "because I think it's cruel to make women wear matching dresses," says Adato. They carried simple stems of pink and white tulips.

The ever-original Adato wore a floor-length pale green gown of raw silk with an ivory veil.

"The green matches our parrot," she jokes. "I didn't want our wedding to be a reinterpretation of what everyone else has done."

While awaiting the ceremony, the East-meets-West congregation of 100 or so enjoyed the mild California spring evening and took in the sounds of the Golden State Klezmers band, which played Eastern European Jewish folk music from the terrace.

The couple exchanged vows, which they had, of course, written, under a chuppa. Rabbi James Lee Kaufman waited for the traffic copter to clear from overhead before pronouncing them husband and wife beneath the landmark green neon Wilshire Ebell Theatre sign.

The reception featured more klezmer music, dancing and much food, but the wedding feast included "nothing that walks," said the bride's mother. Then the couple was off to Turkey. It's where her father's from. It has beaches along with history and archeology. And it's original.

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Do you have a joyful event coming up? We will report on selected special moments--weddings and other milestones--in the lives of Southern Californians. You may write Celebrations, Life & Style, Times Mirror Square, Los Angeles 90053, fax to (213) 237-4888 or e-mail to lifeandstyle@latimes.com. Include your name and telephone number.

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