File this one under A Giant Fascinating Wedding That Was Definitely Not a Good Idea, a file which also includes, for example: Charles and Diana, obviously; Princess Margaret and Antony Whatever-Whatever, on both their parts; probably also Jackie Kennedy and Ari Onassis; definitely Drew Barrymore’s grandparents, whose relationship was A RIDE! (truly, if you missed that one, I highly recommend it); Mick and Bianca, at least one of whom regretted it immediately; and at least two of Elizabeth Taylor’s nuptials.
In this instance, this marriage was VERY much not a good idea — Mariah was 23 to Mottola’s 44; he was a massive bigwig at Sony who had discovered her, and had a lot of control over her career and was apparently also incredibly controlling in their personal life, and allegedly threatened her with a butter knife when she tried to leave him — and it only lasted three (seemingly highly stressful) years. He may or may not have left his first wife for her, and they met when Mariah was only 18, which is a lot to put on a woman. (Said first wife was also pissed.) By all accounts, it seems like he was (and possibly still is!) a total douche. Mariah even notes in her autobiography that she got cold feet before the wedding, and that lots of people also told her not to go through with it, but she couldn’t figure out how to get out of it. (She also claims that her affair with Derek Jeter was ““the catalyst [she] needed to get out from under Tommy’s crippling control,” all of which is a real peak mid-90s turn of events. Good for Derek Jeter!)
This was also a very expensive wedding — Wikipedia claims it cost half a million dollars — which is probably one of the reasons Mariah felt hemmed in by the situation. Ironically, this wedding was inspired by Charles and Diana’s, and Diana too felt hemmed in because so many preparations had already gone into hers and it felt too late to turn that ship around. You can definitely see the similarities between Mariah’s $25,000 Vera Wang dress and Diana’s, as well as their bouquets — and obviously Mariah is also wearing a tiara. (In June 1993, when the Carey/Mottola wedding happened, Charles and Diana were in the dirty middle of their massively scandalous divorce, so it feels like a bit of a cursed inspiration.) At the time, People wrote:
Sony Music chief Mottola, 43, is a prince of a guy—and his 24-year-old pop princess gave their New York City wedding royal attention. She viewed videotapes of the Charles-Diana ceremony and wore a family-heirloom tiara, redesigned in the fashion of Di’s to complement her ivory-silk duchess satin Vera Wang gown. Far from a barefoot bride, Mariah stepped down the aisle in $1.000-pius satin pumps; inside one: an 1893 sixpence for luck. After the ceremony at St. Thomas Episcopal Church on Fifth Avenue (Robert De Niro served as an usher), some 300 guests reveled at the exclusive Metropolitan Club. Among them: Queen Barbra (Streisand) and musical jester Ozzy Osbourne.
That was well-penned, anonymous People scribe, if very a spit-shined take on the whole thing without the benefit of hindsight. (I’m not sure if I believe the Carey family had a lot of heirloom tiaras floating around, though, as most Americans do not.) That is a beautiful and historic church — Mariah has long been a practicing Episcopalian — and fancy/rich folks have been getting married there for years, including Consuelo Vanderbilt and Charles Spencer-Churchill (also ill-advised). The Metropolitan Club was designed by Stanford White and it is also gloriously OTT. Fun fact, in researching information about this wedding reception, I discovered that you too can hire Mariah to play your own wedding reception for the low low low price of one million dollars, plus “travel and expenses.” (I actually feel like if I were extremely rich, I might do this, with the full knowledge that “expenses” might be high. Mariah is amazing!) In searching for the menu, I discovered that if you’re a collector, you can buy her wedding invitation. (And learned that both jumbo prawns and spicy chicken were on offer.)
And speaking of invites, I invite you to eyeball this event with me. The guest list IS very starry!
This piece originally ran on August 11, 2021, but it seemed worth a visit to the archives in case you missed it the first time!