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What’s Two ‘Yentas’ Plus One Senator? A Lifetime Together.


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What’s Two ‘Yentas’ Plus One Senator? A...

Soon after Adam Michael Topper met Jordan Cole Manekin in the spring of 2019, he started to compare him to another man in his life: Senator Cory Booker, Democrat from New Jersey, who was then Mr. Topper’s boss.

During Mr. Booker’s presidential campaign, Mr. Topper had served as his director of scheduling. Like the senator, Mr. Manekin came across as deeply empathetic to Mr. Topper. “They both, to other people, almost seem too good to be true,” he said. “They don’t make sense until you get to know them.”

It was in Mr. Booker’s orbit where Mr. Topper, 34, met the people through whom he became acquainted with Mr. Manekin, 36.

The two were set up by a pair of women they call “the yentas”: Karen Sacks of Montclair, N.J., and her friend Joanne Klapper of Summit, N.J. Ms. Klapper’s son Matthew Klapper, a senior adviser to Mr. Booker during his presidential campaign, had introduced his mother to Mr. Topper years earlier, when Mr. Topper and Mr. Klapper were both working in Mr. Booker’s senatorial office.

“I had seen Adam in a prior relationship, and they weren’t the right fit,” said Ms. Klapper, who sought Ms. Sacks’s help to fix Mr. Topper up. “Do you know any fabulous gay guys?” Ms. Klapper recalled asking her friend.

Ms. Sacks said she did, and immediately contacted Mr. Manekin, who was working with her husband, Eric Sacks, at the New York law firm Grubman Shire Meiselas & Sacks. Then an entertainment lawyer at the firm, Mr. Manekin first met Ms. Sacks several years before at its annual holiday party. “He’s so dynamic,” she said. “He’s the most charming, most handsome, most outgoing person.”

Perhaps because they were intentionally paired, it didn’t take long for sparks to fly when Mr. Manekin and Mr. Topper met for a first date in April 2019 at the restaurant Loring Place, in Lower Manhattan.

“Adam came walking through the bar, and I saw him, and he shrugged his shoulders,” Mr. Manekin said. The gesture stole his heart. “I can’t explain it other than there was a comfort and a familiarity to it,” Mr. Manekin added. “I knew I was going to marry him.”

But any excitement he felt was soon tinged with embarrassment. Mr. Manekin had booked their table through a friend, Richie Jackson, an investor in the restaurant, which resulted in the V.I.P. treatment. “Complimentary this and complimentary that started rolling out,” Mr. Manekin said. “Dan Kluger, who owns Loring Place, came up to greet us.”

“I was mortified,” he added. “This is not how I live my everyday life.”

Though the display made Mr. Topper uncomfortable, he wasn’t totally put off by it. Four hours later, the two were huddling under an umbrella as Mr. Topper walked Mr. Manekin home to his West Village apartment. Before Mr. Topper caught the PATH train back to his apartment in Newark, N.J., where Mr. Booker’s presidential campaign was based, they kissed.

Two weeks after their dinner at Loring Place, Mr. Manekin invited Mr. Topper to a black-tie fund-raiser at Cipriani Wall Street. “Adam walks into this event, and he sees firm clients like Martha Stewart,” Mr. Manekin said. “It was a heavy second date.”

Lucky for him, Mr. Topper knew his way around a tuxedo. At age 12, he secured a work permit and started selling them at a shop in his hometown Hanover, Pa., after school and during summer vacation. That job wasn’t his first; by then Mr. Topper had already mowed lawns, babysat and cleaned up after bingo nights at a local church hall.

Work was a form of escape for him growing up. “I knew from a very early age that I didn’t belong in Hanover,” Mr. Topper said. “It was a very conservative town.” Raised Roman Catholic by parents who divorced while he was in high school, he recalled a ninth-grade religion class that extolled conversion therapy. “I lived my life figuring out how I was going to get out,” Mr. Topper said.

At 18, he enrolled at Point Park University in Pittsburgh. Two years later, in 2010, he came out following a semester abroad in Madrid, where he had discovered a thriving and welcoming gay scene. “That was the first time I had had an opportunity to feel safe,” as a gay man, said Mr. Topper, who decided to leave college that same year as he came to terms with his sexuality.

In 2011, when he went to visit a friend who had landed a job in Washington, Mr. Topper ended up staying at her place before moving into a house in Chevy Chase, Md., with four roommates. “I had never experienced such a vibrant gay community where people are hard-working and driven and motivated by a mission,” he said of Washington. “I became myself there.”

His first job in the city was as a coordinator for the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, which he had applied for at the suggestion of another friend. “I’m incredibly over organized,” Mr. Topper said.

Binge more Vows columns here and read all our wedding, relationship and divorce coverage here.

Mr. Manekin also started working before he could get a driver’s license. A self-described “nice Jewish boy” from Baltimore, he was reporting on local bar and bat mitzvahs for the Baltimore Jewish Times at 15. College at Georgetown followed, then Mr. Manekin enrolled in what was supposed to be a five-year program to earn a law degree and M.B.A. at Fordham. He finished the dual degrees in three and a half years, in 2010.

At 28, he was on legal teams representing Madonna, U2 and Lady Gaga. When he came out four years earlier, at 24, “it was internally difficult,” Mr. Manekin said, “but once it happened, it was actually very easy.”

By May 2019, about a month after their first date, he and Mr. Topper had entered a committed relationship. But Mr. Topper’s commitment to living in Newark wasn’t as certain. A master planner, he had already started thinking about the future of Mr. Booker’s presidential campaign and whether his next move might involve a return to Washington.

That June, Mr. Manekin surprised Mr. Topper with a gift. It included a Jo Malone pomegranate noir fragrance, the same scent in a candle that Mr. Topper had received as a birthday present from Ms. Klapper, his yenta, in 2017, and had restricted himself to lighting only on special occasions. With Mr. Manekin’s gift came with a card that read, “every moment with you is a special occasion.”

According to Mr. Manekin, the gesture was an effort to communicate love but tread lightly. “Every cell in my body was telling me I’m going to marry this person,” he said of Mr. Topper, whose potential return to Washington “was alarming to me.”

By the fall of 2019, Mr. Booker’s presidential campaign had started to falter. “I knew we could drop out at any moment,” Mr. Topper said. Recognizing that the time for treading lightly had passed, on Sept. 30, Mr. Manekin asked Mr. Topper to move in with him.

For Mr. Topper, the prospect was at first overwhelming. “I had never had that level of commitment offered to me,” he said. But by December 2019 he had decided to accept Mr. Manekin’s offer. The following month, in January 2020, Mr. Booker ended his campaign for president.

Less than a year later, on Oct. 17, 2020, Mr. Topper proposed to Mr. Manekin on the rooftop of their West Village building in front of Mr. Manekin’s parents, Susan and Steve Manekin, and Mr. Topper’s mother, Wendy McMaster, and stepfather, Troy McMaster. Following his proposal, Mr. Topper surprised Mr. Manekin with a socially distant engagement party for 18, which he had organized with the help of their yentas at FlowerSchool New York, a floral studio and events space in Manhattan.

Mr. Manekin, who left his job at the law firm in late 2021, is now working on a start-up business called Entente, which he said combines entertainment, finance and tech. Mr. Topper, who in 2021 completed his bachelor’s degree at Park Point University, is now the senior director of West Wing Operations for Vice President Kamala Harris. On May 31, days before Mr. Topper started his job at the White House, the couple moved into a new home in Washington’s Logan Circle neighborhood.

Two weeks earlier, on May 14, they were married at Lavan541, an events space in Manhattan, before 250 vaccinated guests. Mr. Booker officiated from a stage set with a huppah made of flowers. Additional bouquets were hung overhead throughout the length of the room so that all guests would feel they were situated beneath the huppah, which Mr. Booker told the crowd is “a symbol of the home the couple will make together.”

“They wanted you to understand you will be a part of their home,” Mr. Booker added.

Mr. Manekin and Mr. Topper made their entrance holding hands. Before they exchanged handwritten vows, Mr. Booker invited the couple’s friend Jim Obergefell to the stage. Mr. Obergefell, the lead plaintiff in the 2015 Supreme Court case that legalized same-sex marriage, read from Justice Anthony Kennedy’s opinion in the case.

“No union is more profound than marriage,” he said, “for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice and family.”

Moments later, guests wiped away tears as Mr. Topper told Mr. Manekin that he had shown him a future he never thought possible. “I’m better because of you,” he said. Mr. Manekin called Mr. Topper his best friend and his North Star.

Mr. Booker closed the ceremony by explaining that the power vested in him as officiant was granted by the U.S. government. “Thank you, Jim,” he said, swiveling to Mr. Obergefell. He also acknowledged a different power that made the moment possible.

“By the power of your love, I now pronounce you married,” he said.


When May 14, 2022

Where Lavan541 in Manhattan

Next Customer Before the ceremony, Mr. Booker said he had never officiated a wedding for a more complementary couple. “They’re yin and yang,” he said. “They’ll soar.” Told that the yentas were planning to make him their next candidate for a fix-up, he said, “I hope so!”

Their Song for Real At a reception following the ceremony, the newlyweds’ first dance was to “Loving You 88” by the singer Vincint, who took the stage to perform the song, which he had written for the grooms. The artist, a friend, said he wrote it just after they met. “I remember Jordan telling me, ‘I think I’m going to marry this man.’”

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Adam Topper and Jordan Manekin were set up in 2019 by two women they call “the yentas,” and later married by Senator Cory Booker.

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