At the wedding of Angelique A. Pefinis and Joel Newport, guest Ben Wattenberg had trouble keeping his professional cool. The wedding was too much fun. "He was so excited, he must have kissed me five times!" Ms. Pefinis-Newport says.
The wedding, which took place in Baltimore in November 1990, is featured in "The First Universal Nation," tonight's episode of "Ben Wattenberg: Trends in the Nineties" at 10 on Maryland Public Television (Channels 22 and 67.)
The inter-religious marriage of Ms. Pefinis-Newport, one of three daughters born to a Greek family with close ties to the Greek Orthodox church, and her husband, a Presbyterian whose ancestors arrived on the Mayflower, is indicative of America's increasingly mixed cultural heritage, Mr. Wattenberg says in the program. In turn, America, a melting pot of cultures, races and religions has become a model of universality abroad, he says.
In addition to the Pefinis-Newport wedding in the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Annunciation in Baltimore, the program examines a Gaithersburg school at which the majority of students were either born in another country or are the children of immigrants. Mr. Wattenberg also interviews one of those students, John Ngheim, a Vietnamese student and his family.
The presence of television cameras did not disrupt the couple's traditional Greek wedding. During the program, viewers can glimpse the ceremony in the magnificent cathedral, as well as the traditional dancing that took place at the festive reception which followed in the Belvedere Hotel.
Mr. Wattenberg also interviews Ms. Pefinis-Newport and her parents. He spoke as well with Mr. Newport and his mother, but their comments were left on the cutting room floor.
For Mr. Newport, 30, the challenges of inter-marriage are no greater than any other marriage. No matter what, all new spouses must adapt to the "idiosyncrasies of that person and that family."
Mr. Newport, an attorney with Semmes Bowen & Semmes, does not attend church regularly with his wife, but he enjoys the culture that she remains a part of. "It gives you an understanding and appreciation of where Angelique comes from. As husband and wife, it's important for me to know these things," he says.
Even before a discussion of marriage came up, Ms. Pefinis-Newport, 33, made it clear she would raise her children in the Greek Orthodox church. For her, it is as much the "culture and camaraderie as it is religion itself. . . . To me it provides a base, especially in today's world," she says. "There are so many bad things; it's nice to go back and have a support group," she says.
"WASPS have that, too," Mr. Newport breaks in with a laugh: "The Republican Party."
What: "The First Universal Nation," part of "Ben Wattenberg: Trends in the Nineties"
When: tonight at 10
Where: MPT (Channels 22 and 67)