Mark Mezvinsky and Chelsea Clinton / Globovision / Image used under Creative Commons License Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0
It was eight years ago this summer that Chelsea Clinton married Mark Mezvinsky in the town of Rhinebeck, sending the upper Hudson Valley village into a bit of a weekend frenzy.
Not that the eighth anniversary is a significant milestone — five, 10, 25, and 50 are generally considered more prominent on the grand scale of matrimonial achievements — but eight years later Rhinebeck still reaps the rewards.
While the Clinton wedding cost a reported $3 million, according to InStyle Magazine, Rhinebeck earned a whopping $14 million in free publicity from it, according to the Ann Arbor, Michigan based firm, Joyce Julius & Associates.
“Fourteen million doesn’t surprise me at all,” says Maureen Missner, co-owner of the Rhinebeck store Paper Trail, which had an active involvement in the wedding. Paper Trail created the ‘Welcome Baskets’ for the more than 300 guests and the invitations for the day-after, invite-only Sunday brunch.
How was the $14 million figure calculated? Well, Joyce Julius tracks all media mentions from newspaper, magazine, television, radio, and internet stories, and, using its proprietary metrics, develops a dollar figure on what it would have cost to purchase such advertising.
That’s a lot of free advertising and a lot of shelf life eight years later.
Missner recalls how she knew it was initially a big deal when she received a phone call that week from a friend in Rome — and not the one in upstate New York.
“My friend was watching Italian TV and called me and said, ‘I just saw a report on Chelsea Clinton’s wedding and I saw you walking down the street in Rhinebeck in the background!’ It was crazy,” Missner says.
Claudia Cooley, executive director of the Rhinebeck Area Chamber of Commerce, says the wedding and the subsequent $14 million in free equivalent exposure actually enhanced — not created — Rhinebeck’s reputation and visibility.
“We were a wedding destination long before Chelsea’s wedding, but that really sealed the deal,” Cooley says. “This was proof positive that there is something to this place.”
Current Rhinebeck Mayor Gary Bassett agrees.
“It was another big event, just like other big events, that we’ve had here,” he says. “But it was different, for sure. It was interesting, and fun to be at.”
Though it obviously no longer has the same fever pitch, Missner says she still gets people who ask about the wedding.
“It put Rhinebeck on the map in a different way,” she says. “We went to a trade show in New York City recently and had our badges on. People were coming up to us and they were like ‘Rhinebeck, that’s where Chelsea Clinton got married!’ So, yeah, I think we’re still getting the good publicity from the wedding even after all this time.”