Hampden couple ties the knot at Honfest

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Among the teased and towering hair, the fluttering boas and the crowd sticky with snowballs Saturday at Hampden's Honfest wound a joyful party who were celebrating more than the neighborhood's quirky character.

"Make way, make way, here come the bride and groom," called Dot Tucker-Houk, leading a procession of several dozens revelers cheering and rattling noisemakers.

Behind her, niece Angie Gentile twirled a parasol, beaming at her newly-wed husband, Andy Snair, and paused for a photo with a crowd of women wearing towering pink wigs.

When the Hampden couple chose the second Saturday in June for a wedding date, they had not realized that their nuptials would coincide with the annual festival. But, both Gentile, 37, a yoga instructor, and Snair, 45, a commercial artist, are creative souls, and they decided to weave the festival into their celebration.

"It was totally accidental," said Gentile, wearing an elegant gown and — in a nod to Honfest, a bright feathered fascinator in her hair. "But we said, 'Let's go with it. We love this neighborhood.'"

The wedding procession appeared midway through the first day of the Honfest, the neighborhood's annual festival of the city's working-class roots and favored term of endearment. The festival continues Sunday with concerts and the crowning of "Baltimore's Best Hon."

The couple held the ceremony at Baltimore Yoga Village in Clipper Mill, where the bride is an instructor, and hosted a meal at Grano on Chestnut Avenue. At 3 p.m., the couple and their families and friends stepped out of the restaurant and gazed at the crowd clad in cat's-eye glasses, pink boas and loud prints.

"Our next task is to take over Honfest," said Susan Bupp, a friend of the couple who officiated at the ceremony. "It's a divine ordination!"

The party threaded along the Avenue, weaving past pit beef and snowball stands, purveyors of jewelry and T-shirts and a tent in which stylists doused freshly teased beehives with hair spray. Festival-goers did double takes at the sight of Gentile in her shimmering gown and Snair, natty in a blue checked shirt.

"Turn, turn," coached photographer Chris Hartlove as the couple stood near Cafe Hon. The bride whirled, knocking a cup of beer from the hands of a man who appeared to have had already imbibed several previous beverages.

Gentile apologized profusely, the feathers in her hair bobbing as she spoke. The man could not be placated and uttered a string of profanities. Snair handed him a $10 bill.

"I said this morning, 'A groom should always carry money,'" and now I know why," Snair said later, laughing.

The bridal party continued down the Avenue and up Hickory Street to the cheerful rowhouse the couple shares. Snair carried Gentile over the threshold as their guests, and a handful of neighbors on porches, cheered.

Relatives confessed they were taken aback when the couple told them they planned to make the festival part of their wedding.

"I thought it was crazy, but that's what they wanted," said Joseph "Little Joe" Snair of Perry Hall, the groom's father. "It turned out real nice."

Susan Gentile of Bel Air, the bride's mother, displayed the glittering crystal earrings she wore for the occasion. "I had to have a little bit of bling for Honfest," she said.

Tucker-Houk, the bride's aunt, reflected on the day from a magenta sofa under a garland of white lanterns in the backyard.

The timing of the wedding was "unintentional, but destined," she said, noting that in many countries, newly married couples process through their town to their home to celebrate.

"Some people have the grand organ playing the triumphant march; we had all of Hampden celebrating with us on the Avenue," said Tucker-Houk, a retired teacher from Timonium.

"And," she added with a smile, "we have Honfest providing extra refreshments should we need it."

julie.scharper@baltsun.com

twitter.com/juliemore

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