At the December 2012 wedding of Leslie Lipinski and Devin Phillips, there were purple dresses for the bridesmaids. Purple Converse sneakers for the groomsmen. Purple-and-black decor. The 234 guests, many of them wearing Ravens jerseys, were invited to tour M&T; Bank Stadium. And halfway through the Ravens-themed reception, Devin and Leslie changed into jerseys. The best part? Posing for photos in a three-point stance on the line of scrimmage.
"We're both Baltimore born and raised and have been fans since the beginning," says Leslie, 27 a registered nurse. "What's not to love about the Ravens? It couldn't have been a better year for the Lombardi Trophy. We like to say it was because we had our wedding at the stadium."
The Perry Hall pair are among a number of Baltimore couples incorporating the Super Bowl champions into their wedding schemes. While some celebrate Ravens-style by saying "I do" at the stadium, others are more subtle about their Ravens love, adding hints of purple throughout the celebration.
Purple was a big color last year for weddings, says Ashley Amtmann, co-owner of Lemon and Lime Events in Baltimore. "Even before the Super Bowl win last season, our couples have been excited to have some sort of Ravens tie-in in the wedding," Amtmann wrote in an email. "Not being from Baltimore (though I've lived here for over 12 years now) I was instantly made aware of the love this city has for its sports teams. Whether they are doing good or bad, the fans always stay true to them."
About one-quarter of the weddings Lemon and Lime planned last year incorporated the Ravens somehow. Ravens cuff links, ties and shoes are big at such weddings, Amtmann says, as well as special Ravens-themed music, dances or food. Requests for Ravens wedding cakes are common at Baltimore Cakery in Fells Point, says owner Jill Williams. Purple-and-black accents with Raven silhouettes are common, but there's also the option of "peekaboo" cakes with little Poe mascots peeking out behind a flower on a traditional wedding cake.
"I think it was all the excitement leading up to the Super Bowl when we started getting more and more," says Williams. And about 80 percent of grooms' cakes are Ravens-related.
Sports-themed weddings are becoming more popular as brides and grooms want to add personal touches, says Hans Steiniger, owner of sportsthemedweddings.com, a site dedicated to accessories and ideas. "It's personal and fun for your guests. It's something they will remember forever," Steiniger says. "A traditional wedding can be sterile and stuffy, but a football wedding can put everyone at ease."
A Ravens-themed wedding doesn't have to be expensive or intricate. Frank Passman, 36, and Leslie Young, 47, of Pasadena had been engaged for two years when the Ravens won the AFC championship. They then decided for a quick Ravens-themed ceremony at the Annapolis Wedding Chapel. The guests wore jerseys; the officiant, Loveta Willen, dressed as a referee; the wedding started with a coin toss; and the couple celebrated their honeymoon watching the Super Bowl in New Orleans. "We were both into football. It was the Super Bowl. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience," Leslie says. "It was perfect."
We surveyed experts on how to pull off a Ravens-themed wedding, and here's what they said:
Keep it classy
Plan a wedding, not a tailgate, suggests Jamie Miles, editor of New York City-based theknot.com. "You want to differentiate from a sporting event. There's more formality involved," Miles says. "As long as it's not overdone and in bad taste, it can still be an absolutely beautiful event." Purple-and-black accents can go a long way; a Ravens garter or purple flowers can add Ravens flair without being obnoxious.
Wineglasses with Ravens logos are a nice touch, or purple-hued centerpieces and decorations.
Tell your story
A little explanation on a wedding website or wedding-day program can help guests feel more at ease with a football-themed wedding, says Miles. Grandmothers, aunts and uncles might feel disappointed if a wedding is less than traditional. "Put on a website or program some sort of cute thing that ties into why you're having a Ravens wedding," Miles says. "If you're going to do it and do it big, explain the context around it. Set up a table at the reception with photos and Ravens-themed memorabilia.
Set the theme
Clue guests into the Ravens-themed wedding early — through engagement photos, save-the-date cards or invitations. Incorporate hints of purple and black or use football lingo. A growing trend is an invitation that looks like a game ticket, says Steiniger. Grooms can wear boutonnieres made from football leather or erect banners or life-size portraits of favorite players.
Instead of programs, make a Ravens playbook, says Angie Hilz, owner of Annapolis-based AJK events. "Inside, make it say 'Game Plan' instead of program," Hilz says. "You can be as creative as you want."
Escort cards shaped like miniature jerseys or penalty flags in centerpieces are fun, says Hilz. Paint vases black, then paint jersey numbers on them, says Charlene Libertini, owner and event planner with Your Day Your Way. Libertini planned the Phillips wedding.
Sport the colors
At the Phillips wedding, there was no shortage of purple and black. The centerpieces were black wire Christmas trees with purple ornaments. Around the tree were black favor boxes with purple ribbons. Inside the boxes were hand-blown purple-and-black ball ornaments.
"Your decor needs to be purple and black," says Libertini. "There was definitely a lot of Ravens flavor and flair."
The cake is also an easy way to incorporate the Ravens. At SugerBakers Cakes in Catonsville, many customers choose purple-hued cakes without including the logo. "We definitely do a lot of Ravens-themed cakes for weddings, but not in the way you might think. Brides and grooms have incorporated the color 'Ravens Purple' into the wedding more than anything," says Jordan Ferger, sales and marketing consultant for SugarBakers Cakes. Cakes there run about $7 a person.
Involve the guests
Rock out to "Seven Nation Army," or do the Ray Lewis dance, or invite the guests to wear jerseys to the reception. Cheer on the bride and groom with purple-and-black pompoms.
"There could be a signature drink and call it Poe. Whatever the drink is, you could serve it in Ravens cups," says Libertini. Bring in Ravens-themed props for guests to pose with in the photo booth. "Photo booths are huge," says Amtmann. "The photo booth is a safe place to be a little more goofy at a classy occasion."
In place of a guest book, guests can sign Ravens jerseys, which the bride and groom can frame and hang later, Miles says.
Have fun with it
Whether it's a Ravens ice luge, a visit from Poe the mascot or a purple-hued cake, the wedding should be all about the bride and groom.
"It's a great way for the couples to make their big day a little more personal," says Amtmann.
Poe appearance: Reservations must be made at least four weeks in advance, and fees are $250 an hour for private events. For details, go to: baltimoreravens.com/ravenstown/mascots/appearances.html
Stadium access: M&T; Bank Stadium offers room rentals ($750-$4,000 per room, according to the stadium website); tours ($5 a person); cheerleader ($125 an hour) and mascot ($400 an hour) appearances and catering. For details, go to baltimoreravens.com/gameday/mt-bank-stadium/catered-events.html.