Each and every wedding is unique. Each bears the markings of the people involved, but a Baltimore wedding seems to have a few distinct identifiers: a sense of humor for one, artistic expression and a little bit of grit.
One of the most Baltimore-style weddings I had the pleasure of officiating was for a beautiful couple who met when both were in transition from other states. Philip was here from New Orleans and Jessica, from South Carolina. She had dark hair and eyes and a stunning fashion sense that appealed to the photographer in him. He had a gentle nature and a sweet dog that would get along fine with hers.
Baltimore had an atmosphere and a vibrant art and music scene that appealed to both of them, so it was here, in a small underground art gallery on Saratoga Street, where they tied the knot. The artwork on the walls added a splash of color to their theme, which was black and white, as in photography and film noir. The centerpieces on the tables included black and white rats—the stuffed animal kind. Among the guests were dozens of artists and photographers and musicians and at least one magician, David London, who cast a spell on the guests that ended with a windfall of confetti and cheers.
The bride and groom were spiritual but not religious. Their wedding had to reflect the energy of the crowd as well as the sensibility of their quirky city. I, as their minister, stood before them and their guests with a large, intricately designed book that had the heft of a bible but was, instead, the book revered by creatives all over the world: “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare.” I spoke about how creativity was their faith, collaboration their lifestyle, music their language. I didn’t need to say that Baltimore was their home. That was clearly evident when the whole group, including their dogs, marched out of the gallery and around the block playing guitars, trumpets, washboards and sticks and singing a joyful song. The people on the street joined in, marching and singing with them in a second line reminiscent of the groom’s Louisiana home—but with a certain flare that can only be found in Baltimore.