Their big day was a big secret


Terri Charles And Raynard Bolling

April 25, 1999|By Joanne E. Morvay | By Joanne E. Morvay,Special to the Sun

Ingrid "Terri" Charles and Raynard Bolling met four years ago when she backed into his friend's car.

Terri and Raynard didn't end up in court together, however, until April 16 when -- unbeknown to all of their family and friends -- they were married at the Baltimore County Courthouse in Towson.

The couple caused quite a stir as they entered the building: Terri wearing a full-length ivory gown and pearl-studded veil and Raynard sporting a sleek black tuxedo.

They began their wedding day as if it were any other day in their lives. Terri, who works in the corporate-affairs department at NationsBank and lives in Woodlawn, took her 16-year-old daughter, Tiani, to school as usual. She made the trip in her typical attire of jeans and hair rollers.

In nearby Randallstown, Raynard, who works in the information systems department at the Baltimore Gas and Electric Co., woke his 16-year-old daughter, Rayshawnda. He helped her get ready for school and helped his 11-month-old granddaughter, Asya, get ready for her baby sitter.

Neither Terri nor Raynard breathed a word about the elopement to their daughters. Keeping the secret in those final hours was difficult, because "the girls" have always been a primary focus of the couple's relationship.

Tiani and Rayshawnda were 12 (their birthdays are just three months apart) when their parents met. Terri was a single mom. Raynard was divorced.

Very early on in their relationship, Terri and Raynard realized they were both devoted parents who had similar values and goals for their daughters. Terri was impressed with how Raynard made his daughter a priority in his life.

"He's a real Mr. Mom," she says proudly. "And when I met Mr. Mom, I equated Mr. Mom with Mr. Right."

Raynard was equally struck by Terri's thoughtful ways. "She goes out of her way to make sure her daughter and my daughter are well-informed," he says.

Terri routinely subscribes to various magazines for the girls, takes them to cultural events, encourages them to explore little-known historic areas of Baltimore and urges them to give of themselves by volunteering for community projects.

More than two years after they began dating, Raynard proposed to Terri on his birthday, June 27, 1997. They took their time planning a wedding and even considered a large affair at one point, but decided against it.

"We wanted to do something personal, private and special for the two of us to treasure forever," Terri says. That's when they hit upon eloping.

And so at 9:30 a.m. on April 16, Terri, 32, and Raynard, 36, stood in the small room that serves as the wedding chapel in the Baltimore County Court-house. Landscaped with silk shrubs and trees, the room is a breath of spring in the otherwise antiseptic government building.

Hands clasped, the couple faced one another as Marlene P. King, supervisor of the county's Licensing Department, led them through their vows.

Terri and Raynard pledged to love and honor, comfort and keep each other, in sickness and in health, in prosperity and adversity.

"You're legally married," King pronounced, smiling as the newlyweds exchanged a sweet kiss.

The elopement was the beginning of a planned "vacation" (really their honeymoon) to Cancun, Mexico.

Terri and Raynard returned to Baltimore late this past Saturday night, just hours after friends and relatives -- including Terri's parents, Sheryl Charles of Woodlawn and Irving Charles of Richmond, Va., and Raynard's parents, Agartha Campbell and Randall Bolling, both of Baltimore -- opened the wedding announcements that were mailed late last week.

Pub Date: 04/25/99

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