7 September, 2010
by Katherine Rose
The Story Begins
Maryann and Evan first met 5 years ago on another Titanic Expedition in August of 2005. At this point they were both working for different organizations, but soon after Evan accepted a position at the same WHOI imaging lab where Maryann worked. They were both in relationships but began a working friendship over the next few years. As so often happens, their outside relationships didn’t work out and they found themselves single. Working in this type of field there are long hours, stressful situations combined with exotic, beautiful shooting locations and once-in-a-lifetime moments. Their close friendship grew into love and about a year later, they moved in together, bought a house and a boat (sans engine, but who’s counting).
Evan was unsure when he wanted to propose, but he knew he wanted it to be sometime during this trip because it was 5 years ago on a similar expedition to Titanic that they met. As can happen during hurricane season, the weather turned and a string of hurricanes forced us off the site and back to St. Johns. During our last night out at sea on the trip back home, I saw Evan and Maryann gather up their jackets and head outside. I figured they were just taking advantage of a brief moment to break away from work to have some time together. I didn’t notice how long they were gone, but I did notice something different when they returned. From where I sat, I could see Maryann beaming, looking starry-eyed up at an equally happy Evan. They casually entered the lab where a few of us were attending to various tasks. Maryann caught my attention from across the room, raised her hand and stealthily pointed to her newly acquired ring. I was overjoyed but had to keep it together so as not to alert the entire room and, most importantly, our boss. Luckily, I didn’t have to contain it long. They told a few others sitting nearby and the news quickly spread from there. In fact, one of the independent videographers made an announcement to the room without realizing that Maryann’s and Evan boss was sitting right there. They had hoped to privately share their news over a beer with him but fate let him know just as it did everyone else. Maryann and Evan are well-loved by everyone they meet and so it did not take long for the great news to travel around the ship. People started coming up to the lab to congratulate them. At some point, someone even jokingly suggested that the captain could marry them while at sea. To everyone’s amazement, neither of them voiced any objections - Evan even seemed excited by the idea - and so an impromptu morning wedding was quickly set in motion. Hours of celebrating, toasts and photos lasted well into the night. The captain generously brought out his personal stash of champagne to share with the couple.
As you may expect, they are laid back and simply happy to share a special moment with new and old friends. But Maryann is my best friend, so I wanted to try to put something special together. I gathered a few helpers and left the festivities to search the ship for possible supplies. I pulled out a few nice tops but all we had were jeans and dirty work pants to wear. On a long-shot, I headed to the linen room and pulled down a single white bed sheet. I had a small travel sewing kit, a bed sheet and a cashmere scarf I found in my bag. With these small beginnings - and a little help from me - I felt secure that Maryann could make even this look beautiful.
With the dress settled on, I headed upstairs where several others were working on making a paper flower bouquet. It was truly a collaborative effort with everyone helping to cut out the flower shapes, color them, tape them on to tie wraps and color all the tie wrap stems green. Ryan, another coworker from the lab, even made Evan a matching flower boutonnière. And I have to give special thanks to Tony, from the ROV team, who created some beautiful tissue carnations. We used one as the centerpiece in the bouquet and used the rest as backdrop decorations for the wedding location. We fashioned a sort of garland from strips of white paper and colored scraps of a very expensive insulating tape (sorry Bill!) Mark, another videographer, offered his blue dress shirt for Evan to wear and even gave it some time in the shower to steam out any wrinkles. The kitchen staff gave us some rice from their stash and small cups to hand out to everyone. Most importantly, Tim and others from the ROV team fabricated a ring for Evan from pieces of the ROV umbilical. At this point I think it was about 3am. The wedding was set for 9am and, satisfied with our efforts, we all headed to bed.
After a late night of celebrating, Maryann and I woke up early and started getting ready. I had a few more details to attend to, so I left her in the room to compose some vows. I found Evan already up and dressed. I spoke with the professional videographers, now turned wedding photographers, Ryan and I added all the decorations to the bow, and I made a few finishing touches to the bouquet. Everyone got dressed up and the crew wore their uniforms. Shortly before 9am, we were several miles off the coast of Newfoundland and all gathered on the bow, cameras and rice in hand. The morning started out cool and foggy, but amazingly, just before the wedding, the sun came out and it turned into one of the most beautiful days we have had. Evan was up front with the captain, who was conducting his first wedding. Maryann arrived, looking radiant in her bed sheet dress, and walked our makeshift aisle as the crowd hummed the wedding march. The captain began. He made the declaration, Evan and Maryann shared their vows and exchanged rings - and just like that were married. They stayed around the bow, receiving congratulations and taking photos. It couldn’t have been more perfect with a ship full of professional camera equipment, videographers and photographers. Despite being thrown together in mere hours it really was a beautiful ceremony.
(Guest blog submitted by Katherine Rose of the Advanced Imaging and Visualization Lab at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Thanks so much, Kat. Dessner)