Minus the would-be guests who snared tickets to the Ravens-Colts playoff game, nearly 200 well-wishers will witness Holly Adkins and Don Slack's wedding tomorrow evening at the Engineers Club. The Baltimore ceremony is scheduled to begin at 6, but carefully orchestrated dawdling could compel a 6:15 start - which Adkins calculates should coincide with halftime.
As she slips into a Maggie Sottero gown and poses for photos with the wedding party, Adkins will keep an eye on the game, courtesy of her mother's portable television. Then, to the strains of a brass quintet, Adkins, bearing a bouquet of gardenias, will start down the aisle.
"I've been wanting to keep the ceremony short. It's not going to be more than 10 minutes," says Adkins, who lives in Severna Park. "No singing or readings, just getting to the point." That way, the service won't drag into the third quarter.
It's raining purple on weddings, bar mitzvahs, youth sports, concerts, conferences and any number of events that overlap with the Ravens-Colts game, scheduled for a 4:30 p.m. start.
Fans of NFL teams whose seasons are over would love to have such a hassle (and those of the eight teams that remain would love to face it a couple more times.) Still, not everyone is as amenable as Adkins, a pre-school music teacher who has become a zealous convert to football under her fiance's tutelage. As Ravens fans are forced to square their need to see the game with long-standing commitments, expect public lamentations, a few family feuds and large-screen TV rentals to spike.
After complaining on air Wednesday morning about their respective conflicts (overseeing five girls' basketball games and a memorial service), MIX 106.5 FM jocks JoJo and Reagan heard from callers, including sisters Melissa Lamar and Jeri Hilker, from Middle River, with their own sorry tales.
When Hilker's wedding starts at 1 p.m. tomorrow, her sister will be there, but not for long. Around 3 p.m. she'll dash from the Essex celebration to the stadium, where she'll catch up with tailgating buddies before attending the game, says Lamar, contacted by phone. "I'm really hoping traffic will cooperate."
"I was really, really hurt at first," Hilker says of her sister's divided loyalties during a phone conversation. "Now she's saying she's going to be able to stay longer. I'm not that upset. But I'm still pretty upset that she would choose a game over her family. I'll eventually get over it, but it still hurts."
Weddings will go on, with or without loved ones intercepted by Ravens mania. Other occasions can wait, such as Baltimore's first annual Beer, Bourbon and BBQ Festival, produced by Moorea Marketing in Towson. The event, originally scheduled for tomorrow at the Maryland State Fairgrounds and expected to draw about 5,000 enthusiasts, has been postponed until March.
The reason? Moorea is "100 percent in support of the Ravens," says Greg Nivens, the company's president.
The real reason?
"I'm going to be at the game," he says.
Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. was also supposed to be the host for an event tomorrow afternoon at the Timonium fairgrounds, a thank-you party for supporters. That has been postponed until Sunday, "due to the Ravens game," according to an e-mail from the Maryland Republican Party. Calls to Ehrlich's office to confirm that he, too, will be at the game, were not returned.
Friends of Ryan Major, a 2003 Towson High graduate critically injured in Iraq, are planning a bull roast tomorrow to help defray medical expenses for the soldier, who remains in the hospital. They have nimbly resolved the game-day dilemma.
By the time the Ravens-Colts game was finalized, they'd already sold tickets to the Saturday night event at St. Pius X in Towson, where Major attended elementary and junior high school.
"We didn't want people not to come because of the game," said Corey Fick, one of Major's friends. So, the group scrambled to rent large-screen TVs. "What else can you do?" Fick said. "It's the Ravens."
The Baltimore Dachshund and Friends monthly gathering will take place as planned, organizer Jamie Doubleday says. One member canceled on account of the game, but Doubleday expects others in the 111-member group to arrive with their doxies clad in Ravens gear, as her dog Tinker will be.
"We'll watch the dogs just play, and we'll sit around and watch the game," says Doubleday, a home health care nurse who lives near Patterson Park.
Nathan Dize, a junior at City College High School, will be representing "Japan" at a Model United Nations Conference in Virginia that runs through tomorrow afternoon. When he and his classmates realized that they would be returning to Baltimore in the middle of the game, Nathan, an avid Ravens fan who wakes up to ESPN's SportsCenter, says his first thought was "I'm not going."
Instead, he negotiated a solution with his Model U.N. coach and his mother, Deborah, one of the group's chaperones. The van full of kids will find a place to watch the game in Virginia before returning home.
"My mother's jumping through a lot of hoops for us," Nathan says.
Adkins, who boasts Ravens quarterback Steve McNair on her fantasy football team, might be unusual in her willingness to share the big day with the hometown team, but her parents have followed her lead. Adkins' father, Edward, has arranged to have a large-screen television brought up to the Engineers Club atrium so guests can watch the game amid the festivities.
"It's certainly added some problems, but at the same time, we can go with the flow," says the bride's mother, Cheryl Adkins. It's an opportunity to "share some of the excitement of [the] day."
As for wedding invitees who sent their regrets at the last moment, "They didn't say it was because of the Ravens game, but it's kind of obvious," the bride says. "I can't really say I blame them."
Sun reporter Laura Barnhardt contributed to this article.