Couple to marry among the fish I (GLUB) WILL (GLUB)


The bride will wear white fins and carry a bouquet of lettuce and broccoli. She will swim past the barracuda and angelfish and join the groom and minister in the giant fish tank at the National Aquarium in Baltimore.

The bride and groom, Abbe Click and John Harman, will become the first people married underwater at the aquarium -- and the last, say aquarium officials. Click and Harman will take the plunge Friday night.

Aquarium officials agreed to an underwater wedding this one time, says Amy Woodworth, the public relations coordinator, because the couple met at the aquarium two years ago. They were volunteer divers, feeding the fish and maintaining the exhibits.

The aquarium normally prohibits underwater events. It turned down a request two years ago by "Late Night with David Letterman" to broadcast a show with Letterman and his guests in the tank, Woodworth says.

Click, 27, and Harman, 25, have loved the ocean since childhood. People who know them say their getting married among fish and seaweed is appropriate.

"When you think about it," says Harriet Click, the bride's mother, "this is the way it should be."

Click is from Frederick, Harman from Linthicum. They currently live in Florida, where Harman teaches scuba diving and is working on a college degree in recreational-diving management. Click is a first-grade teacher.

They plan to return to Maryland, and diving at the aquarium, after Harmangraduates next spring.

They expect about 250 guests at their wedding Friday. The guests will arrive about 8 p.m. and tour the aquarium, ending up at the Atlantic coral reef exhibit at 9. They will watch through the glass as the 850 or so fish swim by.

Shortly after 9 the best man, Matt Partovia, and the Presbyterian minister, Samuel McCoy, and the groom will climb down a ladder into the water and swim to one end of the 335,000-gallon tank. Partovia and McCoy are also volunteer divers at the aquarium.

Partovia will carry the rings in a clamshell.

The three men will wear black and gray wet suits, black fins, a mask and an air tank. Harman and the best man will also wear black bow ties. The minister will wear a clerical collar.

Then the maid of honor, Diane Harman, the groom's sister, who is also a diver, will descend the ladder and enter the tank. She will wear pink fins, pink wet suit and pink mask.

As she swims around the tank she will squirt brine shrimp (fish food) out of a squeeze bottle. This should assure an attending procession for the bride. The damselfish, triggerfish and sergeant majors, especially, love brine shrimp.

As Click, the bride, enters the tank, the "Wedding March" will play over the aquarium's loudspeakers. She will swim around the tank, past the feasting fish, to her place next to Harman.

She will be dressed in white -- white mask, white fins and mostly white wet suit. She will wear a short,white veil, which her mother made out of netting and lace.

Her mother thoughtfully sewed in lead sinkers, so the veil won't float up like a sail.

McCoy, the minister, will have a microphone in his mask, so the guests outside the tank will hear him. Click and Harman will respond to the vows by holding up slates that say, for instance, "I WILL."

This should all go smoothly, but weddings can have unexpected moments.

After the ceremony, the bride will leave her lettuce and broccoli for the fish to eat. But angelfish love lettuce and broccoli, and reportedly have little regard for matrimonial protocol. They may prefer to eat it out of her hand during a prayer.

McCoy says that not long ago he was in the tank when a blue angelfish, "as big as a big dinner plate," swam up to him and stopped. It stared at his face. It swam closer.

McCoy remained still, curious himself what the fish would do. It picked at his mustache.

Friday, after McCoy pronounces Harman and Click husband and wife, the wedding party will surface. Instead of throwing rice into the tank, the guests will throw krill, the fishes' favorite food.

And so it will go. The couple will eventually climb out of the tank and greet everyone in their wet suits.

Then they will go home. They'll need their rest. They plan to get married again the next day at a church in Frederick, the same church where Click's parents were married 28 years ago.

They fudge a little on which wedding will be the legal one, although when one is underwater and the other in a Catholic church, you can make a pretty good guess. Harman says this: "They both kind of count."

After the church wedding there will be a reception at the Holiday Inn in Frederick. It will be above water, but the centerpiece at the head table will be a treasure chest.

There will be fish bowls containing goldfish at each table. There will be fish crackers and coral arrangements and fish balloons. Atop the cake will be two dolphins dressed like a bride and groom.

And there will be a buffet with plenty of food, including crab puffs and salmon -- if, by that point, anyone still has a hankering for fish.

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