Local Love

Grace & John David

For Grace O’Malley and John David Merrill, it was love at first sight—for one of them. J.D. spotted Grace on a Teach for America outing, their very first night in the program. They were headed via school bus to the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture for an event. J.D.’s mentor, A. Skipp Sanders, the museum’s executive director, spotted J.D. and invited him to an upcoming exhibition grand opening. “I’ll give you two tickets,” he teased. “Why don’t you bring a pretty girl.” And so J.D. invited Grace in front of a large group of people. She stammered, but agreed. “And that’s how it all started,” says Grace. So, Friday comes around and Skipp insists on giving them a tour from art piece to art piece. And keeps introducing them as, “This is J.D. and his girlfriend, Grace.” And J.D. keeps interjecting “friend-friend,” so as not to make Grace incredibly uncomfortable on their first date. The first few months of Teach for America were not easy. They got shipped to Philadelphia and then back to Baltimore. But J.D. persisted with his attention to Grace. And gradually Grace grew interested. “This was after four months of a full-throttle campaign,” says J.D. (Speaking of campaigning, it should be mentioned that Grace is the daughter of former Gov. Martin O’Malley and Judge Katie O’Malley.)

The two were engaged on a frigid day in February 2015, at a park in the city. And despite her grandmother asking the weekend before “if that thing was still on for Thursday night,” Grace was pleasantly surprised after the proposal to find herself surrounded by both of their families at Gertrude’s, one of their favorite places. A year and a half later, they returned to the Baltimore Museum of Art for their wedding reception. First, the Rev. Kevin O’Brien, an O’Malley family friend, married them at St. Ignatius Catholic Church, where he combined both Grace’s Catholic upbringing and J.D.’s Quaker traditions. Then the couple traipsed all over the city—the Bromo Seltzer Arts Tower, his alma mater Baltimore City College, and the house he grew up in, where Mila, their dog, was staying—to take their wedding portraits. Then they ended up back at the museum among 127 guests drinking cocktails in the sculpture garden. “It was perfect,” says Grace. “We had the best time.” 

BEAUTY Dean Krapf, owner of Lluminaire Salon (hair); Lacy Dodge (makeup) BRIDESMAIDS Bill Levkoff and Ceremony by Joanna August from Bella Bridesmaids CAKE/DESSERTS Gertrude’s and a cake by Aunt Eileen CALLIGRAPHY Designs by Laney CATERER Gertrude’s DAY-OF COORDINATOR Emily Villarreal of Boutique Events FLOWERS Crimson and Clover Designs GROOM AND GROOMSMEN Christopher Schafer Clothier (groom); Tuxedo House (groomsmen) HONEYMOON Saint John, Virgin Islands—a compromise between something exotic (bride) and something local on the Eastern Shore (groom) LIGHTING Event Dynamics LOCATION St. Ignatius Catholic Church (ceremony); Baltimore Museum of Art (reception) MUSIC Signature Live! OFFICIANT The Rev. Kevin O’Brien, former chaplain at Georgetown University Photographer Jennifer McMenamin Photography REHEARSAL DINNER Ambassador Dining Room Stationery Simply Noted TRANSPORTATION An Extraordinar Limousine WEDDING DRESS Pronovias from Betsy Robinson’s Bridal Collection WEDDING RENTALS PartyPlus and Tabletoppers

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