| 6.7°C Dublin

Chelsea's ground rules for her big day

It is a drama that has all of Washington agog this summer, shrouded in intrigue and deliberate secrecy.

Murky issues of calendar and geography have at last been narrowed down, although this has nothing to do with engaging the enemy in Afghanistan but rather with an engagement of the marital kind.

Bit by tantalising bit, details of the upcoming wedding of Chelsea Clinton, the former first daughter, to her long-time boyfriend (and son of a convicted fraudster), Marc Mezvinsky, have begun to seep out.

Clear your diary for Saturday, July 31 please. Or don't bother, because your invitation didn't just get lost in the post, it's never coming. Chelsea, who was just 12 when her father, Bill Clinton, was first elected President of the United States, and who turned 30 this year, long ago read the riot act to him and to her mother, Hillary Clinton, the Secretary of State.

This is not going to turn into a free fest for anyone who ever gave them a campaign dollar.

The placing by Chelsea of a 400-guest limit on the affair is one of a few new insights into the fast-accelerating arrangements. That is a big wedding but by no means a huge one. And all those registered as friends of the bride must be personally known to her. No Democrat Party stiffs, then.

Of course, the services of a wedding planner have been solicited. He is Bryan Rafanelli, of Boston, who has served as a fundraiser for the Clintons.


Presumably it is Chelsea herself who decides on the designer of her wedding dress. We won't mention the unkind internet postings about the usefulness or otherwise of her mother in this department. Days ago the buzz was Oscar de la Renta. Now we are hearing Vera Wang is the preferred seamstress. Asked recently whether negotiations to settle final arrangements for her daughter's wedding were as treacherous as those for Middle East peace, Hillary Clinton replied, "I'd probably call it a draw about now." Her husband, meanwhile, has allegedly been put on notice that if he is to give his daughter away, he had better lose some weight first.

"She doesn't think I'm in shape," the former president said. "You know, she told me the other day, she said, 'Dad, the only thing you gotta do is walk me down the aisle and you gotta look good'. So I said, 'Well, what's your definition?' And she said: 'Oh, about 15 pounds.' So I'm about halfway home."

Nothing is more sensitive than the small matter of the groom's father and his past. Marc Mezvinsky, a 32-year-old banker at Goldman Sachs, is the son of a former Democratic Congressman from Iowa, Ed Mezvinsky. His mother is Marjorie Margolies-Mezvinsky, who also served in Congress.


By rights the groom would be Democratic royalty but for the conviction of Ed Mezvinsky in 2002 on charges of defrauding friends and relatives -- including his own mother-in-law -- out of millions in phoney investment schemes.

After six years in prison, he was released in 2008 but remains on parole. If he attends the wedding ceremony, Ed, who also suffers from bi-polar disorder, may not be at the reception.

That Chelsea and Marc would at some point do the decent deed was an open secret long before they finally sent an email to friends and family a little after Thanksgiving last November.

They first met as schoolchildren in Washington DC and their paths crossed again at Stanford University in California. Reportedly, they didn't begin dating until five years ago, however.

"We're sorry for the mass email," the joyous missive began, "but we wanted to wish everyone a belated Happy Thanksgiving! We also wanted to share that we are engaged! We didn't get married this past summer despite the stories to the contrary, but we are looking toward next summer and hope you all will be there to celebrate with us. Chelsea & Marc."

Allegedly, everything will transpire beneath the canvas of a banqueting tent and not just because they are scenic. A canopy will ensure nothing will be captured by paparazzi cameras in helicopters above.


And we assume there will be no money-making deal with OK! or any other magazine for exclusive access. Possible venues could include the field near Woodstock where Bob Dylan once headlined in that most famous of flower-power festivals -- the father of the bride was once a hippy, of course -- or perhaps, more prosaically, the garden of Cottage Clinton in Westchester County.

That way it will be a short haul home to bed in Manhattan for the guests when the last cork is popped and America's third most famous White House daughter -- Malia and Sasha Obama share the mantle today -- will have been given away.