When Catherine "Cathy" Brown and Mark Myers decided to marry, they knew they would forgo much of the traditional pomp and circumstance of a wedding. Ornate gowns, a wedding party and an elaborate reception just aren't in their nature, say the couple, who met three years ago through a personal ad.
Cathy, a secretary for the Harford County government, placed her ad with a new dating service in the Bel Air area in 1995. Mark, a chemical engineer who is a civilian employee with the U.S. Army at Edgewood, had lived in Bel Air for only a few months when a friend dared him to respond to some of the ads. Cathy's was the last one he chose.
Cathy and Mark's first date - dinner at a neighborhood restaurant - went so well that the couple talked for two hours after they settled the check.
Though their relationship progressed slowly, Cathy and Mark say they gave their hearts almost immediately. Both knew long before they became engaged in May of this year that they wanted to spend their lives together.
The couple chose their wedding date to coincide with a Christmas visit by Mark's parents. The rest of the planning was as easy. Shrugging off modern trappings, Cathy and Mark decided their wedding would be marked simply by their faith in God and their love for one another.
And so on Dec. 19, Cathy, 30, and Mark, 36, gathered 50 of their closest family members and friends at St. Paul's Lutheran Church in Kingsville. (It was there that Mark, a lifelong Lutheran, had introduced Cathy - at her behest - to his religious faith. Cathy joined the church in August 1997.) Cathy's mother, Martha LTC "Jean" Brown of Joppa, sat in a front pew. Cathy's father, Ronald Brown, was not able to attend the ceremony.
The candles of the Advent wreath flickered on the altar. A pair of Christmas trees adorned with red bows and red ornaments were the only other decorations.
Cathy wore a long ivory robe trimmed with burgundy and gold, in the tradition of her African ancestors. Her hair peeked out from beneath a matching burgundy and gold headdress. (The gown was Mark's suggestion. He had seen similar dresses during his stint as a Peace Corps volunteer in Africa.)
Mark, waiting alone at the altar, smiled as his bride, also unaccompanied, walked down the aisle to meet him.
Taking his cue from the couple - who chose the biblical quotation "Whither thou goest, I will go" for the cover of their wedding program - the Rev. Michael W. Wollman discussed the joys - and the hardships - of committing fully to another person. And he emphasized the faith Cathy and Mark will need to keep that commitment for the rest of their lives.
"You're going to bind your faith to the promise you make to God and to each other," Wollman said as Cathy and Mark held hands in a pew beside the altar.
"That's how you can get 38 years out of a marriage - because you believe that God has given you a gift in a husband or a wife," Wollman continued, glancing appreciatively at Mark's parents, William and Satsuki "Kay" Myers of Fayetteville, Ark., who have been married 38 years.
After they were pronounced husband and wife, Cathy and Mark smiled and laughed as the minister explained to the guests the final portion of the ceremony: the African-American tradition of jumping the broom. The twig broom, wrapped in trim that matched Cathy's dress and intertwined with silk roses, lay waiting on the church floor.
"One ... two ... three," the congregation cried, children's voices echoing the loudest.
"Once you've jumped, there's no going back," quipped the minister after Cathy and Mark jumped smilingly over the broom.
The couple will likely take heart in some of his earlier, more eloquent advice.
"This is a great, important moment in your lives. Never forget it," Wollman said.
Pub date: 12/27/98