This couple's story is rooted in tradition, starting with the school they both attended, five years apart. In their four years as a couple, they've started many of their own traditions.
Wedding Date: June 16, 2012
Her story: Erin Berman, 27, grew up in Pikesville and is a Lower School teacher at Jemicy School, a school for students with dyslexia and other language-based learning disorders. Her father, Steve Berman, is president of Mid Atlantic Realty Management, Inc. Her mother, Susan Imber, is local sales manager for Comcast Spotlight. Her stepmother, Heidi Kenny Berman, is managing member of the Law Offices of Heidi S. Kenny.
His story: Jim Welsh, 31, grew up in Lutherville, and is a partner at Reliant Fish Co., with his two brothers and brother-in-law. His father, Patrick G. Welsh, passed away two years ago. His mother is Lois Welsh.
Their story: They met Memorial Day weekend, 2008.
"We met at Nick's Fishhouse in South Baltimore and he stepped on my toe," says Erin. "I told my friend, ‘Oh, he's really cute.’ "
"I was out with my cousins and there was this girl in a blue top," says Jim. "I was just awestruck. She was absolutely gorgeous. She had big beautiful eyes. She just beamed. She doesn't need to wear makeup. She just has a glow about her. I was immediately lovestruck... She was the most beautiful girl in the bar, and I couldn't keep my eyes off her. I went up to the bar to get a couple of drinks and stepped on her foot. I apologized and walked away. We left and my cousins convinced me to go a house party and Erin happened to be there, too. And I thought, 'Oh, wow, there's the girl I didn't have the courage to do anything about.’ "
"He started talking in a French accent and I thought, ‘Who is this kid?’ Oh my god, he's crazy,’ “ says Erin. “But, later on I found out he's just goofy. He asked me what I did for a living, and I said, "I am a teacher at Jemicy School."
"I said, ‘I went to Jemicy School,’ and she said, ‘So did I,’ “ says Jim. “We immediately hit it off and it's been great ever since."
Erin says, yes, she would call it love at first sight.
"It became a relationship right off the bat," she says.
"You know when you first meet someone and you're hesitant because there are a lot of crazy people out there?” she asks. “But, Jemicy is a small school and community, so we automatically felt very safe with each other. We always say a lot of it had to do with Jemicy School, because Jemicy has a very special way of teaching. We both have very similar morals and values so we refer back to the way we were taught — to think outside the box, and be creative. The way we communicate is very creative."
That creative communication included how they cemented their relationship.
The proposal: "On June 3, 2008, we were at the Corner Stable, which has amazing ribs,” says Erin. “ He put a rib in my mouth and said, 'I'll treat you as good as this rib tastes if you'll be my girlfriend.'
"Two years later, on the exact same date, at Corner Stable, doing the exact same thing, he asked me to marry him. He waited until I had rib sauce all over my hands.”
"I wanted to surprise her," Jim explains. "She's eating her ribs. I'm starting to sweat because I have this ring in my pocket, and I'm not eating ribs. She's asking me why I'm not eating ribs."
"I like to know everything," Erin says.
"Since he's usually a really romantic person, this was the least time I expected him to propose,” she says. “I expected something with rose petals and cheesy. But this was very authentic. It was important to him to surprise me. He had set it up, so that when he went down on his knee, they put it on the loudspeaker. I had to wipe my hands with the towelette because I had rib sauce all over them.”
The ring: "I bought the ring at Radcliffe,” says Jim, “But I shopped the diamond for months. I signed up for this diamond group that monitors the diamond markets. I followed that for just about a year. When I got serious about looking for diamonds, I knew what I was looking for. I looked at a lot of diamonds for about 2 -3 months before I found the right stone that was 2 karats...Erin knew she wanted a round diamond. Any time we looked at rings, she always loved everything. But she always came back to this setting that was timeless and beautiful. So, I had one built — modeled on a Tiffany ring with one baguette on each side and the round diamond in the middle."
The wedding: The couple decided to wait two years for Erin to finish grad school.
"I was working full-time and going to school part-time,” she says. “We wanted to wait when everything wasn't so crazy.”
But, on the year anniversary of their engagement, Erin and Jim had their engagement party at Nick's Fishhouse, where they first met.
"We're very symbolic people,” she says. “Everything has a meaning."
That's why they wanted to get married inSt. Michaels.
"Our first big date was going there on a boat Jimmy used to have,” she says. “We ate at the Inn at Perry Cabin. We just fell in love withSt. Michaelsand how quaint it was."
The ceremony, officiated by Floyd L. Herman, Rabbi Emeritus of Baltimore's Har Sinai Congregation, will take place waterside on the grounds of The Oaks inn. An outside cocktail reception follows. Then, guests will go inside for a seated dinner and dancing to the music of the band Millennium.
They're going for a "shabby chic" nautical theme.
"It's blue and white, with touches of green,” says Jim. “Green's my favorite color."
Erin says the linens will be navy and white with floral centerpieces surrounded by candy seashells.
Her maid-of-honor, four bridesmaids and one junior bridesmaid will be wearing navy silk organza one-shoulder Jenny Yoo short dresses from Hitched inWashington, D.C.They'll be carrying bouquets of white calla lilies. All the flowers are being done by Rennie Freidlander from Simply Beautiful Flowers in Owings Mills.
Erin will only reveal that her Augusta Jones dress from Betsy Robinson is "very flowy, very simple." Her bouquet will be white orchids.
The groomsmen will be wearing khaki suits, rented from Tuxedo House.
"I wanted khaki suits,” says Jim. “I didn't want to be in a penguin outfit."
"Jimmy's dad passed away about two years ago,” says Erin. “So, my dad has really been there for him. He took Jimmy to Victor Pascal [Custom Tailors in Baltimore] and got a khaki suit made for him."
"I'm very particular with what I wear,” says Jim. “We're going to be out in the sun inSt. Michaels— on the water with no tent. I didn't want something dark that would absorb the heat. I was trying to wear shorts, but that didn't work out so well."
While The Oaks is catering the affair, the seafood will be supplied by Jim's company, including the crabmeat in the entree surf-and-turf combo of filet mignon and crab cake.
"We're thinking about doing an oyster bar — maybe something with scallops and shrimp,” he says. “It's a good bet that there will be some great seafood choices during the cocktail hour."
The wedding cake is being made by Julie Bakes inSt. Michaels.
"It's so delicious, like a strawberry shortcake, with fresh strawberries and cream as the filling," Erin says.
An important part of the wedding will be the wedding favors.
"We're making donations in our guests’ names to the Lewy Body Dementia Association [912 Killian Hill Road SW, Lilburn, GA, 30047] in honor of my father," Jim says.
Favorite wedding "helpers": Erin says wedding planner Lorin Kline, of Celebrations Unlimited, has been "an absolute lifesaver."
"I felt like she was the guru of weddings," says Erin. "She was able to put all of our ideas and dreams that we had into a reality. I found Lorin because her mom [Celebrations Unlimited owner] Lynn Kotz planned my bat mitzvah."
Jim is particularly enthusiastic about Baltimore-based photographer Pete Redel.
"He's very, very, very gifted,” Jim says. “He's got a fantastic eye. When we had our original meeting and looked at his work, we were blown away. It was original, and amazing."
Future "tradition": Jemicy will most likely continue to play an important role in the couple's lives in the future.
"We're both dyslexic, so we'll be having dyslexic babies,” says Erin with a laugh. “And they'll go to Jemicy, too."