Robert and Colleen said their vows recently during an outdoor service on the shore of the Chesapeake Bay in Annapolis, Maryland — a ceremony that remained, technically, outdoors after the minister moved the proceedings under the hotel patio's awning.
We all knew that the 5:30 p.m. start was going to be steamy, but the forecast that morning called for partly cloudy skies and only a slight chance of rain. The heat was no problem for the couple: both are athletes (Rob has finished the Boston Marathon), so both can make themselves comfortable in climates that average folks find insufferable.
The Annapolis Ice Cream Company kept the crowd brain-frozen.
A lot of family and friends came out, and they sat down in the sun to watch the union happen. I was already impressed: At most outdoor weddings, a few guests stray inside the dining hall for some air conditioning, or at least under a tree for some shade. It looked to me like either Robert or Colleen meant a lot to each member of the audience.
The ceremony began — and that was when a single, menacing storm cloud moved east from behind the hotel's roof. The audience, facing the bay, could not see what was coming…they just saw the suddenly vexed look on the groom's face.
I say this without exaggeration: The first raindrop fell exactly as the first bridesmaid began her walk down the aisle. Watermarks start appearing on the gentlemen's shoulders, and the ladies started covering their hair with their programs. A few well-prepared guests, who must have read a more recently updated forecast than mine, pulled out umbrellas.
No one got up.
Colleen walked out...and the sky opened at the same moment. As Robert watched his bride coming toward him, I'm not certain that all the wet spots on his face were raindrops.
After a minute of steady precipitation, a few guests got up and took shelter. I remained impressed: So many of these people cared more about Robert and Colleen's moment than their own comfort.
But halfway through the already-abbreviated proceedings, steady rain turned into a downpour, and the minister instructed everyone — especially the bride, who had been standing under an umbrella held by her groom — to move under the hotel's large awning behind them.
It was dry, but everyone had to crowd in, and it was plenty steamy. On the opposite side of the banquet room's glass doors, air-conditioned and spacious comfort with a view of the couple was available.
No one took advantage. Through heat, rain and shoulder-to-shoulder herding, Robert and Colleen were surrounded by family and friends who displayed the kind of loyalty one does not see often.