Sookie and Jackson’s Wedding

This episode is centred around Sookie and Jackson’s wedding day, and the first shot is the poster the couple are using for the celebration. It’s a huge blown up photo of Sookie and Jackson against a field of flowers (possibly a standard photography studio background?), with Sookie holding a wedding cake, and Jackson in a Hawaiian shirt holding a bunch of bananas. It’s typical sweet goofiness from this so-far adorable couple.

Note that the wedding date is prominently displayed as May 19 2002, changed from the earlier May 15. And May 19 really was a Sunday in 2002! This is the first time we’ve got a rock-solid date for anything that actually fits into a real world time frame.

If you keep an eye out, you will see other photos of Sookie and Jackson used on decorative throw pillows and what not in this episode – I imagine that Jackson’s cousin with the printing business was called in to do these, and he quite likely made the poster as well.

Rory is Delayed on the Bus

Rory has a nightmarish bus journey back to Hartford, which begins with the bus unable to even leave the terminus, as an accident has temporarily closed the interstate. We don’t get much of an idea as to how long that took, but in such cases, the interstate is usually closed for at least an hour or two (sometimes more than a day).

Rory sends Lorelai a pager message to say that she’s been held up, and will try to get to the ceremony by seven, but might be later than that. This sounds as if the bus was delayed from starting for more than an hour. It’s annoying, but Rory can still make the graduation ceremony at this point, even if she misses the first part of it.

The problem is that she soon discovers to her dismay that the bus is making many stops on the way back to Hartford – she caught an express bus in the morning that went directly to New York, but this is a local bus service which picks up passengers and lets them off along the entire route, meaning travel time is much longer.

In real life, buses are often delayed or take longer routes, something Rory may not have known but probably should, since she catches an intercity bus every day to school. Reviews for the New York to Hartford bus service complain of lengthy delays, often taking four hours to arrive, so this is a believable situation. If Rory was delayed from starting by two hours, and the trip took four hours, she might not be getting into Hartford until somewhere between 8 and 9 pm.

Note that Rory’s backpack on the seat beside her looks remarkably flat and empty – did she throw all her school textbooks away while she was in New York???

The Ritz

ZACH: Enjoy your champagne and caviar at The Ritz, Your Highness.

Zach refers to the Ritz-Carlton chain of luxury hotels, first begun by Swiss hotelier César Ritz, and perhaps most famously, the founder of the celebrated Hôtel Ritz in Paris, opened in 1898. The name was bought and franchised by Albert Keller in the US, with the first Ritz-Carlton hotel opening in New York in 1911.

Zach may be specifically thinking of the Ritz Hotel in Manhattan at 50 Central Park South. Originally the Hotel St. Moritz, it was bought in 1999 and had just opened the previous month to this episode, in April 2002.

Ermenegildo Zegna

JACKSON: Oh, thanks to my best new friend Ermenegildo Zegna.

Ermenegildo Zegna (born 1955), Italian entrepreneur and CEO of the luxury fashion house Ermenegildo Zegna, founded in 1910 by Zegna’s grandfather, after whom he is named. Ermenegildo Zegna Group is the largest menswear group in the world by revenue. Although there are only a few Zegna boutiques in the USA, Jackson could have bought his suit at any number of department stores, including Saks, Bloomingdale’s, and Neiman Marcus.

44th Street

TOURIST: Excuse me, I’m so sorry to bother you. Which way is 44th?

RORY: Oh, um, that way.

44th Street is two blocks north of the bus terminal, and Rory has sent the tourist south instead. As Jess says, they will hopefully soon notice that the street numbers are getting smaller rather than bigger, and turn around. (The tourist made a rookie mistake by not asking at least one other person for directions!).

44th Street is in the theatre district, with numerous hotels, clubs and restaurants the tourist may have been looking for. It’s also the site of The Algonquin Hotel, at 59 West 44th Street, so this minor interaction feels like a hidden homage to Dorothy Parker.

Rory Finds Jess

[Jess is reading on a bench as Rory walks up behind him]

RORY: Hi.

JESS: How ya doing?

After all the effort Rory has made to come to New York, apparently on a whim, she seemingly just walks in a side gate of Washington Square Park and finds Jess straight away (Rory is looking pretty fresh for someone who’s been on a bus for hours and just had a long walk). He’s sitting helpfully on a prominent park bench right at the entrance. It is now presumably somewhere between midday and 12.30 pm.

I know Jess was very lucky, phoning Rory when Lorelai was drunk and had the stereo on loudly so they could talk in private, but it’s nothing to Rory’s luck in finding Jess! All she had to go on was that he often hung out in Washington Square Park, and without making any plans to meet at a particular day, place, or time, it looks as if she turns up and Jess is right there. I mean, even if Jess was in the park, it’s ten acres – it could take hours to search for him. And lucky he hadn’t gone to the toilet or to lunch just as she arrived!

It would have been more believable if Rory and Jess had some sort of agreement to meet in New York, but that would have made Rory much more sneaky, treacherous, and selfish. It has to seem completely spontaneous, so that the relationship between Rory and Jess can remain innocent.

None of the scenes in this episode were actually filmed in New York – they were all shot at the Warner Bros lot in California. This scene takes place in New York Park, Burbank. There is no side gate such as the one Rory walks through, and if she approached Washington Square Park straight down Fifth Avenue, she would come to the main entrance, with the famous archway. Needless to say, it doesn’t look like Washington Square Park, and the real park is far more crowded, especially on a sunny spring afternoon around lunchtime.

Directions to Washington Square Park

[Rory gets off the bus and looks around. She walks out of the station and onto the crowded sidewalk.]

RORY: Could you . . . um, excuse me, sir, do you know . . . do you know where Washington . . . excuse me, ma’am . . . Washington Square Park?

PASSERBY: End of Fifth.

RORY: Thank you! [to someone else] Excuse me, where’s Fifth?

Rory gets off the bus at the Port Authority Bus Terminal at 625 Eighth Avenue, in the heart of Times Square. She asks strangers for directions – because the super organised Rory has of course headed off to New York without a map, or even looking at a map! Impulsive Rory has taken over, and she doesn’t check anything!

Someone eventually tells her that Washington Square is at the end of Fifth Avenue, upon which Rory starts asking people where Fifth Avenue is. Basically, Rory has been directed to walk along West 41st Street and across (or past) Bryant Park until she reaches Fifth Avenue – it’s three blocks and perhaps 10 minutes walk from the bus terminal. Once on Fifth Avenue, she can walk straight there – but it is a distance of almost two more miles, almost forty blocks, and more than half an hour on foot, carrying a heavy backpack!

Google Maps tell me it would be slightly quicker (by about five minutes) for Rory to walk straight down Eighth Avenue and then approach Washington Square Park on an angle via Greenwich Avenue, but I think the directions she received were less likely to get her lost or confused – just straight across, then straight down. The numbered grid pattern of Manhattan streets makes it relatively easy to navigate the city.

It’s more than two hours from Hartford to New York City by bus, so, presuming Rory was able to get a bus fairly quickly after leaving Chilton, it might be around 11.30-11.45 am when she arrives at the bus terminal. She still has quite a bit more of her journey ahead of her.

“Ask a New Yorker” informs us that New Yorkers are actually very ready, even eager, to give directions to tourists and strangers in town, but you should always ask at least a couple of people, because sometimes their directions aren’t that great. (They know their own small part of the city very well, the rest of it, not so much).

New Yorkers walk an average of five miles a day getting around the city, and they walk fast, so Rory is getting straight into New York mode by hitting the pavement and wearing out shoe leather. Hopefully all that walking around Stars Hollow has kept her fit – although at the start of the episode, she moaned about getting sore feet just walking to Sookie’s house …


Chateau Jean Georges la Jean Georges in Paris

RORY: You’re the graduate. You get to be pampered.

LORELAI: Okay, then I would like to go to Chateau Jean Georges la Jean Georges in Paris.

Lorelai refers to French chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten (born 1957), who arrived in the US in 1985, and moved to New York the following year, earning immediate plaudits for his innovative approach to classic French cuisine. Having already opened ten restaurants around the world, his first American venture was the bistro JoJo in New York, opened in 1991. He has since gone on to command numerous other restaurants in the US and internationally.

His restaurant Jean-Georges opened in the Trump Tower, Manhattan in 1997 to critical acclaim, and his Paris restaurant opened in 2001, the year before this episode broadcast. It is actually called Market, and it serves French-Asian fusion food.

I don’t think it’s quite as fancy as Lorelai imagines – it is decorated simply, and the dishes are fairly reasonably priced (considering it’s a tourist trap in Paris). I think she is imagining it to be like the Jean-Georges in Manhattan, which is haute cuisine, very sophisticated, and costs hundreds of dollars per meal.