OnLove: Nuptials - Martha Ertman and Karen Lash

(Kate Black Photography)
Sunday, August 16, 2009

Martha Ertman, 45, is a law professor at University of Maryland. Karen Lash, 47, is a legal consultant for nonprofits and law schools. They live in the District.


LOCATION: Robert Treat Paine Estate, Waltham, Mass.


How they met: For a writing class, Martha read aloud her passage about having a son, Oscar, with her friend Victor Flatt, another gay law professor. Within weeks, her writing teacher set up a date to introduce Martha to Karen, whom the teacher knew through mutual friends.

The proposal: Martha built a model house similar in style to Joseph Cornell boxes she had seen at the National Portrait Gallery with Karen. The house was carpeted in a piece of the suit she wore when they first met, wallpapered with a map of the District, and contained two toy parrots (the species typically mates for life). One parrot wore a silver ring. Martha told Karen the box posed a question. Karen: "Will you marry me?"

The wedding: Martha and Karen involved 33 of their loved ones and adapted traditions for a personalized ceremony: nephews played "Mazel Tov" and the Beatles' "All You Need Is Love"; nieces handed out a flowers to each guest for the couple to collect; a Jewish cantor and Unitarian minister officiated under a huppah decorated by guests. And the Jewish custom of the bride circling groom was altered so that the couple together circled Martha's 5-year-old son, then presented him with his own ring.

Honeymoon plans: The newlyweds relaxed at a small inn in Vermont, a location they chose because it was the first state to recognize same-sex unions.

-- Michelle Thomas

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