Magical moment at wine festival

JUST MARRIED

Mary Ray And Tim Whiting

May 23, 1999|By Joanne E. Morvay | By Joanne E. Morvay,Special to the Sun

Mary Ray and Tim Whiting met in May 1996 when they attended Howard County's annual Wine in the Woods Festival with a group of their friends.

The meeting was not a setup. But the festival was the perfect setting for a new friendship to blossom. Sitting under the trees in Columbia's Symphony Woods, listening to music and sampling wine and gourmet treats, Mary and Tim found they had much to talk about.

When some folks in the group decided to continue the fun at Tim's house in Laurel that evening, Mary went along. And when Mary's ride decided to leave early, Tim gallantly offered to drive her home later.

About a month later, the couple had their first official date -- an outing to another wine festival. Mary soon invited Tim over for dinner to meet her son, Robert, from her previous marriage. Soon after that, Mary met Tim's extended family.

The couple continued to date and to discover the similar view they shared of the world. "There are just a lot of things that we have the same answers for," says Tim. "We say the same things. We even took a personality test and found many of our responses were identical."

In May 1997, Mary and Tim went back to Wine in the Woods. In August of that year, Mary and Robert moved into Tim's townhouse. It was supposed to be temporary while Mary waited to settle on a new condominium. But Tim persuaded Mary and her son to stay.

In October 1997, Mary's father died of cancer. (Her mother had died unexpectedly in 1996, shortly before Mary and Tim began dating.) Tim still remembers one of the last conversations he had with Mary's dad. "I just let him know that Mary and his grandson would be well taken care of," Tim says.

Tim, Mary and Robert moved into a new home in Elkridge in January 1998. The couple both work in Columbia; Mary as a project manager at ADC Telecommunications, Tim as a technical sales engineer at Insight Electronics Inc.

Once they settled in, Tim and Mary began joking about getting engaged. But Mary never really believed the jests, thinking that Tim wasn't yet ready for marriage.

Last May, Tim surprised Mary by proposing to her at the Wine in the Woods Festival in an elaborate scheme that involved tricking her into thinking she had won a door prize.

The festival committee was in on the fun. A photographer long associated with the event who is also a friend of Tim's took pictures of the couple as Tim presented Mary with her "prize": an engagement ring.

On May 15, Mary, 35, and Tim, 36, were married at the 1999 Wine in the Woods Festival. Their wedding invitations bore the festival logo and included a heartfelt poem Mary wrote in memory of her parents, Wallace and Sally Huling.

Robert, 12, walked his mother down the aisle and served as the couple's only attendant. The 40 or so guests under the private canopy included Tim's parents, Robert G. Whiting of Woodstock and Geri Westervelt of Panama City, Fla., as well as the couple's siblings. Other friends and some curious festival-goers ringed the outside of the tent, watching the proceedings.

After saying the vows they wrote themselves and exchanging rings, Mary and Tim presented Robert with a crucifix in honor of their marriage and their new family.

During the "community sharing" part of the ceremony, Mary and Tim's relatives welcomed the bride and groom into their respective "new" families. Other guests stood to offer the couple their best wishes.

And as their marriage ceremony wound to a close, Tim and Mary -- in keeping with the theme of the festival that had brought them together -- toasted their family and friends with wine specially chosen and commemoratively bottled just for the occasion.

Pub Date: 05/23/99

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