Monday, July 1, 2013


DEBORAH CROMBIE: Our daughter got engaged two weeks ago. This was no big surprise, as she and her now-fiance have been together for five years. We adore him, and are thrilled for them both. But now we get to the tricky part... THE WEDDING.

Even as a little girl my daughter had no interest in weddings. As she moved into her twenties and began to do her stints as bridesmaid and maid-of-honor, she swore that IF she ever got married, it would be on a beach somewhere with no one but the groom in attendance.

The one sentimental thing she really wanted was her grandmother's wedding band, which she's now wearing as an engagement ring and will wear as a wedding ring. And she has pretty much stuck to the simple ceremony, although not on a beach. The wedding itself will be private, with the three sets of parents (two on her side; mom and step-dad, dad and step-mom) and the couple's best friends.

But the other stuff... oh, my. Now suddenly there's a DRESS. And a RECEPTION (AKA a BIG PARTY. A REALLY BIG PARTY.) A venue. Invitations. Catering. Music. Flowers.  Photos. Cake. A DJ.  And a registry, although it's on Amazon. The guest list is climbing towards a hundred.

I'm sure it will all be lovely (having made certain that I am not required to wear a mother-of-the-bride dress) and knowing my daughter's planning and organizing skills, I'm certain that everything will come off without a hitch. But how did the "simple no-fuss wedding" turn into a BIG DO????

So, fellow REDS, when you tied the knot, did you opt for the simple wedding, or did you go all out? And were you happy with the choice you made?

 LUCY BURDETTE: Congratulations Deb, to you and your daughter!

Ah, weddings...I've had two:). The first one truly was simple, with a dress I sewed myself and a pig roast in a field for the reception. Oh, and we made the cake too--a big Titanic of a structure--pounds and pounds of heavy butter cake frosted with whipped sugar and Crisco.

For the second celebration (and last I hope!), I wanted more of the trimmings I'd passed up first time around. So I had a real bride's dress and a veil and my sisters as bridesmaids. But as John and I were paying and trying not to act too young and silly, but still celebrating like we meant it, I made a lot of the reception food and we danced under a tent in the back yard. A wonderful time--and a keeper of a husband, most important of all!
HALLIE EPHRON: I did have a simple wedding. It was the 1960s and I wore a short white cotton lace dress from Mexico. It never occurred to me to wear a veil. We had it in my parents New York apartment which barely held all 50 guests, mostly my husband's relatives.

I don't remember much. It rained. My husband's brother's wife arrived wearing a white lace pantsuit so some of the guests thought she was the bride. The rabbi who presided had lost his job earlier that day and arrived drunk, went on for about forty-five minutes quoting from Kahlil Gibran. I walked down the "aisle" in tears, reacting to some constructive criticism offered by my sister Nora. The best part was Jerry who's turned out to be a keeper and the baby lamb chops which were delicious.

Two years ago my daughter let me help plan her wedding, go with her to shop for a dress... the works. It was lovely.

My advice: SLOW DOWN, enjoy everything about it, and don't forget to eat.

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: Well, HURRAY!! SO wonderful..and very exciting. So nice, and it just brings tears to my eyes.
As for me,  I've tried  all kinds of weddings... My first one, :-(  we got married in Acapulco, with a slinky white dress and lots of flowers from the central market, swooped up that morning. Family only...very chic but small and low key. Very very nice guy--but , honestly,  knew it was a mistake the moment I walked down the aisle. Which was over a swimming pool.

(This is me--Acapulco 1971. The woman with the purse is my stepfather's mother, who NEVER liked me. As you can tell.)

Wedding two--big blowout... Me in Carolina Herrera, LOVED the dress, white long flowey chiffon  skirt and heavy white silk suit jacket top. I'd wear it now.

You know about my wedding number three--and final--very small at the Four Seasons, then a big big party elsewhere with dancing. Black and gold wonderful dress. I did not have a DROP of food, but I hear it was wonderful.

My advice--almost nothing material matters. Whatever your daughter wants, or whatever you want... It'll be fine...Everything will be lovely. The production can take over the joy--one pal almost came to blows with her mother, because she didn't want to wear white gloves. I mean-please.

I tell all brides and moms:  during the reception, get a pal to PRETEND to talk to you--so you can take a moment  and look at everything--take it all in...this is a moment in your life that's full of love and friends...and you don't want to miss it..

RHYS BOWEN: Guess what, Debs? My son also got engaged two weeks ago (I found out about it on Facebook while I was in Greece). As mother of the groom I guess I back off and wear beige (only I'm not going to do the latter) and they want my help finding an outdoor setting in the middle of "nature". Did you know that holding a wedding at a winery costs $8000 before you have anything to eat or drink? We're hoping to find a friend with a meadow or ranch willing to let us invade.

My own wedding was also simple in the extreme. We got married in Sydney, Australia. We had few friends and even fewer family connections. I had an uncle who walked me down the aisle and John had a very elderly cousin. So about 10 people in the church, but we did throw a big party for friends instead of a stag night. My one regret was that I love music and there was none at the ceremony.  I also made my outfit--ivory linen dress and matching coat--something I could wear on another occasion, ever practical. But I loved shopping for spectacular wedding dresses for my daughters, one raw silk with a train and embroidered with pearls. And I'm already looking forward to the upcoming wedding.

ROSEMARY HARRIS: I'm loving the pig roast in the field...

Only did it once. And that's still the plan. I didn't think I wanted a wedding with all hoopla but I guess I had one. We got married at the boathouse in Central Park. After deciding on that, my husband's wonderful assistant, Mariella, did much of the grunt work. (When they asked me if I wanted sprigs of rosemary tied to the napkins my eyes may have rolled back in my head.) Somewhere there's a wedding pic of us in a gondola on Central Park Lake.

I tried to stay sane with the details. I did the flowers myself with the help of the folks at Pound Ridge Nursery, woven baskets with plants and flowers - I planted the hydrangeas in the garden. Didn't have a photographer, did the disposable camera thing. Told my bridesmaids to just find a long dark blue dress that they liked and they'd be fine. I didn't even have my hair done - Bruce and I went to a Knicks playoff game that afternoon so there was no time. Luckily it didn't go into overtime or we might have been late.

Congrats, Debs and Rhys!

JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: Congratulations, Debs and Rhys! And best wishes to the soon-to-be-newlyweds. I LOVE hearing all your wedding stories. Ross and I tied the knot on the front porch of my grandmother's Greek Revival house, with about forty family members and friends in attendance. It was a largely do-it-yourself wedding, which can be the best kind so long as you don't go crazy over details. ("Oh, no! I forgot twine for the hand-stamped rice-paper tags that go on the mason jar glasses!")

The wedding luncheon was served on dishes and linens that had been in the family for generations. My mother, grandmother, aunt and a dear family friend made the buffet-style meal, and we splurged on all-the-champagne-you-can-drink for the guests. I got an expensive bouquet, but all the rest of the flowers were potted plants from the local nursery. I had a Princess Di knock-off dress (it was 1987) that I picked up at JC Penney's for an amazing price because it had all this horrible tatty lace on it. Took it to a seamstress and once she'd stripped off all that stuff it looked like a million bucks - and I don't care what my daughters think, I STILL love those poofy sleeves.

The most memorable part was LEAVING the wedding. My grandmother's house sits on a country highway, just where the village speed limit of 35 changes to 50. Ross and I left in a hail of rice, got into his zippy Mazda RX7 sports car, peeled out in a cloud of dust... and promptly got pulled over by a NY state trooper, who had seen the wedding party and assumed that the departing groom was OUI.

My entire family came running up the road to lend their support. I sat in the passenger seat, sobbing, while my brand-new husband performed the roadside sobriety test and my uncles took down the trooper's name, badge number, name of superior, etc. I thought for sure I'd be spending my wedding night bailing Ross out of the pokey. Thank God, it had been a record-breaking hot day, and he had been guzzling water, not champagne. The rest, as they say is history.

DEBS: Oh, such great stories! Huge congrats, Rhys, on your new daughter-in-law-to-be! And we've checked out the winery venues, and almost had heart failure at the price. Fortunately, a friend of my daughter's family has a ranch up in the country that they rent as a wedding venue, and it's FABULOUS! Maybe your son and his fiance should consider Texas???

And such great advice, my fellow REDS. I love Hank's, "Have a friend PRETEND to talk to you so you can just take a moment and capture it." I will do that, Hank, I promise, and hope my daughter will, too. 

Julia, you and Ross totally crack me up... Rhys, where's the picture of you and John? I'm sure you were stunning. Ro, will you come do Kayti's flowers?

And I did manage to find a few pics of my wedding. Wedding #2, that is. Wedding #1 took place in a very dour Scottish Presbyterian church, with a very dour minister. No photos allowed!  No fun allowed, either. Not a good start.

Wedding #2 (and last!) was in the home of the justice of the peace, who was a friend of Rick's, and she wore jean cutoffs under her robes:-)  The photos, oh, dear. Not that there were many to begin with, but most were taken with my camera. After a wedding lunch at a local barbecue restaurant, we drove to a B&B in the Texas Hill Country. And I left the camera on the patio, where it got drenched in an overnight downpour. So the only pics were the ones taken by the best man.

The upside? The owners of the B&B, whom we met that night, have been dear friends now for almost twenty years.  We've been back to visit many times, although it is no longer a B&B.

Oh, and we're still married:-)

So dear readers, did you go for the simple or the grand, and whichever choice you made, would you have done things any differently?

(And do come back on Saturday, when we are going to visit the BRIDAL SALON!)


  1. Congratulations to both the engaged couples as well as to Debs and Rhys! It’s great to read all the wonderful wedding stories. Looking back on our wedding, I wouldn’t change a thing . . . .

    My mom and I went shopping for the dress; I remember that the bridal shop gave me the most exquisitely wonderful headpiece that fell all the way to the floor [but no veil over my face]. We had a late afternoon candlelight church wedding, then a small reception for family and friends. Since we were driving across the country [and there was lots of February snow], we didn’t leave for a few days so we were back in the church the next morning. I was really glad I had asked for silk flowers [fastened to my beribboned Bible] as it has become a lovely forever keepsake.

    My suggestion: don’t get caught up in the details, don’t let the “to do” lists take over. Enjoy the planning, enjoy both the day and the “happily ever after” . . . .

  2. Exciting news, Debs. Congrats, and have fun! Next stop is lots of grandkids -- the best part of getting old.

  3. Congrats to your daughter Deborah!

    Just take deep breaths and remember that everthing will work out in the end.

    I made my brother's wedding cake, along with being a groomsman. Don't ask me what I was thinking, but I managed to work it out. And now when we look back on it, they appreciate the effort I went to and I love the memory of being so frantic before someone else's wedding.

  4. Mazel tov, to the happy couples and their families. Such a fun time, but it can be fraught with anxiety, as well.

    First time: I made my gown, and my sister's and best friend's maids' gowns, and we had the reception down the street from my mother's house. That was 1970. The second (and last forever) time Steve was going to be lecturing in Las Vegas, so I flew out and joined him the night before. We met my aunt, who drove up from Phoenix to act as our witness, and walked across the street from Circus Circus to the Candlelight Wedding Chapel (which has since moved further down the strip), to get married. I wore a very chic emerald green silk sheath with a navy blazer. That was 1982.

    Two of my three daughters have gotten married so far. The first one just had her 13th anniversary. When she called to tell me they were getting married she phrased it this way: "What are you doing June 24th, 2000 (it was August 1998)?" When I said "I don't know, what?" She said, "You're making my wedding gown!"

    Well. All I can say is this. Don't make your daughter's gown, your own gown, and alter three of the seven maids' gowns, plus host the rehearsal party at your home the night before the wedding. The entire thing went by in a blur, and my poor daughter ended up wearing a gown without some small details that she wanted. It was a lovely, huge production, with a 13-piece swing band, but they should have spent the money on a downpayment for their first home.

    My youngest daughter got married November 2011, at Jungle Island in Miami, overlooking Biscayne Bay. We found a beautiful gown for her (that she has since donated to an organization that helps military brides find gowns), and her husband wore his National Guard uniform. Only 35 people were there, but we had a blast. The best part was the photo booth, and my then-six-year old grandson dancing his socks off the whole night.

    When my middle daughter gets married I hope she chooses something as sensible as her little sister did.

  5. Love your stories, Karen -- what we do for love! So glad no one thought I could sew.

    Roasting a pig, now, that's something I could get into.

  6. Congratulations to the betrothed! I hadn't ever really thought of weddings of "portents" for marriage as many of you have written. Another reason they are terrifying!

    I was 38 when I got married, with only immediate family in attendance. The site was the one really special thing: the very cozy library in a small boutique hotel near my hometown. The hotel was one to which my great-grandmother had taken her daughters for tea (we know this because it was helpfully noted in the local newspaper, God bless small town papers!). The hotel was beautifully renovated in quartersawn oak and stained glass a couple of years before we were married -- great timing!

    It was always sort of a given that I would never get married and I was completely petrified when the day finally came. I remember absolutely nothing of the ceremony -- I wish I'd asked the minister for a copy of whatever it was he said! The marriage has worked out just fine but weddings still make me twitchy.

  7. Congratulations to you all!

    This is a timely topic for me, as tomorrow is my 13th anniversary. My husband and I did the simple version: married in my mother's front yard in the wine country, with excellent catered food and almost no other expenditures. My mother made my aunt's wedding cake, so my aunt made mine (and my mother has continued the tradition, making them for my aunt's two daughters). My grandmother made her famous punch, and my in-laws donated the wine.

    I did the full bridal salon trip with mom to have the experience, but then I found a vintage dress from the 1910s in an antique store and wore that.

    The whole day was perfect because it was just what we wanted, without anyone else's needs taken into account. That's my advice. Make it what the bride and groom want. Enjoy!

  8. Congrats, Deb (and Rhys)! What an exciting time with lots to think about. My advice, having only been through one and not having been the one to do all the planning and not having had to pay for it all and not having any idea about the subject is to enjoy the moment! How's that for good solid advice from an unreliable source? :D Anyway, congratulations to you both!

  9. Congrats, Tammy!

    And great advice, Terry!

    I'm just glad no one has asked me to sew or bake, as I do neither:-)

  10. Congratulations to your offspring on their decision to marry. All best wishes to them!

    Quebec was ahead of Maine on same-sex nuptials, so we went north on Memorial Day weekend in 2005 and were married on Ile d'Orleans, across the St. Lawrence from Quebec City. We had about 40 guests, distance being the limiting factor. (You love us enough to come all the way to Canada, right?)

    We said vows on the porch at a lovely inn, then had a formalish luncheon after many rounds of heartfelt and hilarious toasts.
    Later that night we hosted another dinner at a bistro in the old part of Quebec City. We'd made arrangements to have the entire charming, stone-walled place for the evening, and it was an absolute blast.

    This past Memorial Day, we had a bigger party in Portland to honor the fact that our marriage is now recognized in Maine. (And now under federal law thanks to last week's wonderful decision on DOMA!)

    About 100 people came to this fete, which was considerably more casual. It rained (which made the cookout a cook-in) but that did not matter a bit. All of our family and friends who have been cheering us on all this time were there, which made us so happy.

    I endorse Hank's and Hallie's advice about taking it all in, and slowing down so you (and the brides and grooms) enjoy the process. It is over in a blink, so you need to keep your eyes wide open.

  11. The only photos of my wedding are stuck in a big scrapbook--taken by my uncle's wife (who was an awful photographer, so no way of scanning them on my scanner.

    But I loved seeing all those fresh faced and hopeful pix of my friends.

    One thing I forgot to mention about my wedding. We were leaving for the USA next day and the US consul would not give me my green card until I was married. So we had to drive to his house, miles out of Sydney, after the ceremony to pick up my passport. Then we left on a ship and spent two weeks sailing to Hawaii, then a month in Hawaii. Not a bad honeymoon. No money but a really cheap little room and a beach.

  12. Congratulations, Tammy !

    And I'm so with you on the sewing thing I DiD make Jordan almonds tied in tulle with satin ribbons..but it was kind of zen to do it. We still have some as souvenirs..fifteen year old jordan almonds. Hmm.

  13. So many lovely stories being shared. While I love to go to big weddings I wanted a tiny affair. So when after 15 years of living together we decided to make our union legal we invited our parents to dinner and told them about the wedding part of the evening when the JP arrived. However it made my mother-in-law both happy and sad. She was overjoyed we were "finally" married but sad at the size of the wedding. She planned big stress filled weddings for each of her 4 daughters and was looking forward relaxing and enjoying a big wedding for her son. We are approaching anniversary number 17/32 next month.

  14. Congratulations, Deb, on your daughter's engagement. And Rhys, for your son's.

    Blog posts like this one remind me that I'm in the minority when it comes to relationships. Never been married...Don't know that I ever will.

    I picture eloping. Yep. Leaving life behind for awhile, traveling, then returning and throwing a big party for my friends and family. I care about the party, that's about it. The ceremony doesn't mean anything to me...(I say all this now, but when/if the time comes...?)

  15. We did small and simple. I made my dress--big skirt and puffy sleeves. (It was the 80s.) The best part was the honeymoon. Okay, that didn't come out right. The honeymoon was in Florida; ten days of gorgeous weather.

  16. Congratulations -- I love weddings and wedding stories.

    My own was simplish . . . I made my dress and the three bridesmaids' dresses. May 31, 1969. Church wedding at 11 a.m., lunch in the church basement. On each table one bottle of Sparkling Burgundy (we had our rehearsal dinner at Mohonk Mountain House, where, back then, there was NO LIQUOR). My main focus was keeping my father sober.

    Still, it was a nice day and we are married 44 years!!

    I have hosted two weddings, and truly had a wonderful time with each of the two daughter brides. Good luck, and when the day comes, just enjoy it.

  17. Lisa,

    I can honestly say, having been a bride, a matron of honour, and bridesmaid (the latter two several times) the absolute BEST thing to be at a wedding is a guest. I've had more fun at friends' kids weddings than I think I ever did at one where I had a featured role. (Not that I didn't enjoy me own wedding, mind - but oh, my goodness, the work and stress for even a small at-home affair is something fierce.)

  18. We got married in our living room. We had planned it so that my parents, visiting from Pennsylvania, would be here. They backed out of the trip. A colleague who teaches with my husband was married to a judge who agreed to perform the ceremony. At the time, I was teaching at a different law school, and my dean was into photography; so, we invited him and his girlfriend and asked him to take the pictures. Our one dog was flower girl, and the other dog was ring bearer. I'll never forget Bill telling the florist he needed flowers for someone blond and hairy. She was a pup at the time and spent the ceremony trying to remove the flowers tied around her back (the ring bearer performed perfectly). I wore a black skirt with fringe, a gold and white beaded bustier, and a gold sequin jacket (I wanted something I could wear and use again, not just to go in storage). We and our 4 guests opened some champagne, then went to a private room at Tony's where we had invited 10 - 14 others for dinner. We've been married 20 years and still have not seen any wedding pictures from our photographer. Fortunately, the judge's wife had taken a few informal pictures, or we wouldn't have any photos. Later my parents threw a huge party for us in Pennsylvania (belated reception).

  19. Hi Julia! I concur -- I've had some of the best times as a wedding guest. I like going to weddings, truth be told. I'm a secret sap...I'd be too impatient to deal with the long-term planning for myself. I can barely get it together to celebrate my birthday! For example, born in January, but just celebrated it with a few friends this past weekend. :-)

  20. Darlene Ryan -- I think that came out perfectly!

    Nancy, we don't have but a couple of pictures, either. Even the bad ones are really special, though, aren't they? Are there any pictures of the ring bearer and flower girl?

  21. My first marriage was to a perfectly great guy, and I had the big white dress, and like Hank, I knew walking down the aisle it was a mistake.

    My second wedding was to my wife (and there's the problem with the first one, right?) which was on the rooftop of a Quaker couple's house overlooking Lake Washington in summer heat. We were barefoot and had friends and family.

    Well, okay, technically that was our commitment ceremony. The actual wedding was the following year in California in a JP's office right before we jumped back in the car and headed home for work. Not romantic, although the hotel in Redding was gorgeous, so we tend to think of the rooftop ceremony as the actual wedding.

    Pictures here, if anyone's bored enough to want to look:

    Congratulations, Deborah and Rhys! My your children's weddings be beautiful and great fun!

  22. Love all the stories!

    So mine was one of those big (300+ people) Southern weddings, the marriage at the LSU chapel and the reception down the block at the Alumni House. Since it was a beautiful spring day, the whole wedding party walked down the long block to the reception. Which would have been fun enough, but across the street is the big parade ground. That day was Jambalaya Jamboree, which meant 1,000 frat boys packed the parade grounds playing intramural sports (with hangovers). So when our big wedding party appeared on the sidewalk, we were treated to 1,000 raucous cheers as we walked down the sidewalk. It was a hoot.

    Oh, and earlier, leaving the hotel, my groom got stuck in an elevator for a half hour. But he was with my two brothers so it was okay. Nobody told me for about a month, though.

  23. Wonderful stories all--thanks for sharing!

    But what an awful feeling, to walk down the aisle knowing this is a mistake. My father had one of those marriages and we tried to talk him out of it, but he'd gone too far...

    My husband has gotten a bit of a reputation for taking stressed out young relatives aside and letting them know it's not too late to back out.

  24. Congratulations Debs and Rhys!

    Our wedding was very simple with just our immediate families attending. We went back to my parents apartment in West Hollywood where we had great homemade food and a party. We spent the night there.

    The night before we had driven up to Mulholland Drive in Steve's Volvo P 1800. He looked like The Saint. We parked and looked out over Los Angeles. While we were making out, police officers pulled up beside us and stuck flashlights in our faces. Perfect.

  25. PS --Sorry I haven't been around much. I've been busy getting my paperwork finished for retirement. Today is my first day of not working for Harvard since I went there as a student in 1992.]

  26. Reine, congratulations on your retirement!!!

    And we've missed you!

  27. Kristi -

    I think she got one of the flower girl and ring bearer - catching the flower girl in the process of ripping off her arrangement.

    But you're right - even the bad ones are precious!

  28. I love all these photos. And Hallie, that dress is so fun! Perfect to wear right now.

    I had such a simple wedding that I've got no photos.
    Shin and I were going to do something simple in Hawaii, but ended up getting married at city hall for visa reasons. My best friend Beth was our witness.

    The kicker was that Shin and I had just gotten new jobs.
    So after the five minute ceremony, Beth drove us all to work.

    Deb, your smile in that photo is priceless!

  29. Fran, I love your wedding album. You and your wife look so happy and you can see the joy and excitement of your family and friends. Plus, I love Ducky! At my sister's first wedding, we passed around a rubber chicken - an OLD family joke.

  30. Yay!! I'm so happy for you Debs and Rhys, and for your children. Such a happy time ahead for you all.

    I've been married twice, and my first wedding was much more fun than the marriage. We did it on a shoestring, with no help from my parents because they disapproved of our living together. I made my dress of lavender satin and my groom's shirt was red satin. My three attendants made their own dresses in flattering styles of their choice. The only flowers were those in my bouquet and my hair. My best friend made our cake and another childhood friend gave us the gift of the champagne for our reception. About 50 family members and friends attended, and the ceremony and reception were held in a gorgeous outdoor venue that's quite popular now, but wasn't in 1970 when we married. Villa Montalvo is in the foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains in Northern California and it was perfect for us. Too bad the marriage was such a disaster. :))

    The second time I married was even simpler, and under bittersweet circumstances, but has turned out WAY better. We celebrated our 28th anniversary this past April Fool's Day. When we decided to marry, my dad and an aunt were both being cared for, primarily by my mom, through their final stages of cancer. We were all in California, but our plan was to be married by our minister brother-in-law in Topeka, KS the day after he performed our niece's confirmation. All fifteen members of Ron's immediate family would be there, and I was meeting them for the first time. It wasn't possible for Mom to leave Dad or Aunt Hurley, so I had to suck it up and remember how fortunate I'd been to have them at my first wedding. I bought a pastel blue dress at Nordstrom's that I wore for several years afterward and that was that. I was incapable of planning anything beyond that, and besides, I never had Bridal Barbie or any of the fantasies that many little girls do.

    My new sisters-in-law had other ideas, however. They ordered a silk flower bouquet for me, composed of pastel flowers and ribbons, "So it would match whatever color your dress might be. And you can take it home and show your family." One of them made dozens of tiny candies in a myriad of shapes - bride and groom, hearts, flowers, our wedding date numerals, wedding cakes, etc. They also made a reservation for lunch at a positively wonderful restaurant in Topeka (who knew?) where they'd ordered a cake for us, and the management presented me with a dozen blood red roses when they discovered we were a bridal party. Such wonderful memories and the best welcome into the family I could've hoped for.

  31. Lynda... such a sweet and sad story still filled with hope. xoxo

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