In 15 years as a Howard County Circuit Court clerk, Esther L. Wall has performed thousands of wedding ceremonies.
But the one that stands out in her mind the most was last July: She waited for more than two hours at Howard County General Hospital after work --waiting for the groom to be released so she could perform the ceremony.
The bride and groom -- Evans D. Taluy of Baltimore and Carol I. Evans of Ellicott City -- were having a string of bad luck.
Last January, the bride was in a serious car accident that forced her to undergo extensive physical therapy to be able to walk again.
The good news: She fell in love with her therapist -- Taluy.
But then, more bad news: On the way to the courthouse last July to tie the knot, Taluy was in a car accident. Taluy and his best man were carted off to the hospital in an ambulance -- white tuxes and all.
The bride, who passed the wreck on the way to the courthouse and went back to see her fiance put on a stretcher, returned to the courthouse in tears.
Wall said it was already 4 p.m., and the courthouse closes at 4:30 p.m.
Normally, civil marriage ceremonies are performed only during business hours at the courthouse.
"She was all upset, worrying about this big reception they had that night," Wall said.
After learning that the groom's injuries were not extensive, Wall offered to go with Evans to the hospital and wait until the groom was released.
"It was more than two hours before they released him," she said. But the best man was still being treated.
The couple decided to go ahead with the ceremony, with a stand-in for best man. But right as Wall started the short ceremony, the original best man hobbled in.
The couple made their reception, albeit a few hours late.
Wall, 52, works as the supervisor of juvenile causes for the clerk's office.
About 13 years ago, she was approached by then-Clerk of Court C. Merritt Pumphrey about adding marriage ceremonies to her duties.
"I believe marriages should be in churches, so I initially said no," she said. She later changed her mind.
Now marriages are a highlight of her job. She and another deputy clerk perform about 10 weddings a week, which sometimes doubles during weeks before holidays.
On Aug. 31, the Friday before Labor Day, she set her one-day record -- 18 marriages.
Over the years, she's married all types of couples -- some dressed in shorts and others in formal attire. She's married 14-year-olds, which she said makes her sad, and senior citizens.
"I find it rewarding with many people," she said. "I get satisfaction out of helping the people out."