A small group of dearly beloved and snow-dusted friends gathered together yesterday afternoon in the front pews of the Grace Lutheran Church, on upper 16th Street, to witness the Valentine's Day matrimony of Karen Yvette Dotrice and Alexander Punch Hyde-White.
Two blocks up the street, where the wedding reception was to be held, an American flag and a British flag floated and folded into one another with gentle snaps, calling to the guests' attention the international union of Dotrice, a British actress, and Hyde-White, a Southern California actor.
Socialite Steve Martindale was prepared to play the role of godfather to the groom with fairybook splendor. But the best laid and heady plans of a godfather oft go awry. "Snow," he said, worriedly glancing out the church door.
A guest list studded with the likes of Dudley Moore, Stefanie Powers, Grace Jones and Christopher Plummer, the pomp of a choir and the motorcade-arrival of the bride and her entourage failed to materialize.
Instead, Martindale got a nice little Washington party for a sweet bride and groom who wanted a friendly place to get married. And the Washington contingent was represented by Roger and Christine Stevens, Lady Marjory Wright, Ina Ginsberg, Mark and Sharon Moseley, Selwa Roosevelt, Madame Wellington and Superior Court Judge William Thomson.
It's just a small town after all, and a kindly one at that. Moseley met Hyde-White at a golf tournament several years ago. They "got to be good friends," said Moseley, "and we love them to death. We're just country folk from Texas and it was nice to find out that movie stars are normal people too."
What the occasion lacked in Hollywood fizz it made up for in a tightly threaded sentiment and detail. For example, it was Valentine's Day, and thank God, a Friday too. "You see, in England it's de rigueur to get married on a Friday. Nobody marries on a Saturday. The Prince and Princess of Wales were married on Friday," said Dotrice.
The reception began with heart-shaped cassis cubes afloat in glasses of champagne. The cake was flown in from England, un-iced but well-soaked over six months with brandy and whiskey -- "so all the fruit absorbs the alcohol, and you are absolutely tiddly-poo on one bite," explained Dotrice.
She met Hyde-White in Los Angeles on St. Patrick's Day 1980. He had been on a ski holiday, broken his leg, and was returning a pair of ski boots borrowed from a friend. Dotrice was there visiting. She answered the door. "If it wasn't love at first sight," says Hyde-White, "then there's no such thing."
Dotrice, the daughter of actor Roy Dotrice, was Jane in "Mary Poppins." She was in "Masterpiece Theatre's" "Upstairs, Downstairs": "They asked me to be upstairs, and I said, 'No way. The only fun happens downstairs.' " And downstairs she went, into the role of Lily. When "Othello" came to town, with Plummer and James Earl Jones, she played Desdemona.
Hyde-White, the son of Wilfred Hyde-White, is finishing a film called "Untitled Comedy" -- produced by Warren Beatty, directed by Elaine May and costarring Dustin Hoffman.