Friday morning, in a place that's sacred to them, Barbara Morrow and David Kurland exchanged vows. Librarian Theresa Gemmer officiated at their wedding in the Everett Public Library's Northwest History Room. Gemmer, ordained by the Universal Life Church Monastery, said she has performed about 20 weddings.
In one sweet moment, Morrow started to cry while reciting words they had written together. As she promised to "love you today, tomorrow and forever" and to "always be open, honest and faithful to you," she paused a moment, then said, "We wrote too much stuff."
"That was one of the loveliest ceremonies I've ever seen," said Christine Hansen, the couple's friend and an official witness along with Gary Evans. The brief ceremony happened an hour before the library opened at 10 a.m. After the wedding, library staff enjoyed several kinds of cake.
The couple didn't have far to go to get to the wedding on time. Home is a fourth-floor apartment at Library Place, a downtown apartment complex next to the Everett library.
A week ago, over coffee at their apartment, they told their grown-up love story. It's one of hope, faith in new beginnings, and a belief that love is worth the trouble it takes to find it.
"I had been a single woman for a long time," Morrow, 66, said last week. A psychiatric nurse, she was divorced years ago and has a grown daughter.
Kurland, 64, was living in Bellingham when he and Morrow met about two years ago through the dating website Match.com.
"We both spent a lot of time looking for each other. We wanted the possibility of happiness," said Kurland, who relocated after doing computer graphics for an architectural business in New Mexico. He has also worked as a pastry chef and repaired violins.
When layoffs came in the architectural firm, Kurland followed a longtime dream of moving to the Northwest. He doesn't like the sun. Morrow moved here about 20 years ago to escape Wisconsin's extreme weather.
Kurland, who was also married before, has two sons. One works in Europe, the other is a doctor in New Mexico. Morrow's daughter Rachel and son-in-law John Steendahl live in Seattle.
It was the written word that first attracted Kurland to Morrow's profile on the dating site. "I just wanted to have lunch with the woman who could write like that," he said. They exchanged email before agreeing to meet in a public place.
It didn't take long to see how their lives fit together. As a boy, Kurland spent time with relatives in Scotland, and in his 20s he took a freighter to Yugoslavia. He also taught English in Morocco. Morrow worked on a kibbutz in Israel as a young woman. "It was fascinating to see how other people lived," she said.
There were barriers to their relationship. Morrow had two cats, and Kurland is allergic to cats. He lived in Bellingham, and for a time Morrow spent weekends there. Her elderly cats died. And with Morrow's job at GroupHealth in Everett, the move to Library Place made sense.
Wherever they go, they visit libraries. "Libraries are full of ideas. A person needs lots of ideas. And we both love words," Kurland said. "We are the ultimate nerds."
The couple, who were registered as domestic partners with the state, began thinking of marriage because of Social Security benefits. They considered a courthouse wedding, but decided to ask about a library ceremony.
Joan Blacker, the librarian they first approached with the idea, joked Friday that she became "their wedding planner." Everett Public Library Director Eileen Simmons said their wedding wasn't a first. A couple was married last year on the library's outside balcony. No wedding fees were charged, Simmons said.
The newlyweds will wait until spring for a honeymoon, perhaps to Victoria, B.C. At home, they make books romantic. "We like reading out loud to each other," Morrow said.
After cutting the cake, it occurred to the bride that she could take care of a small detail.
"I have to renew my library card," she said. "I got an email about that, but I was waiting for my name change."
Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460, firstname.lastname@example.org.
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