Animal Magnetism


081613_animal_attractionJaime & Mike Kurman
First Date: March 5, 2009 at Mezze in Fells Point
Wedding Date: June 15, 2013
Venue: Mansion House at the Maryland Zoo
Current Residence: Pikesville
Favorite Activity: Going to the beach

On Father’s Day, Mike Kurman and Jaime Ball invited their families to the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore. Mike, a professional event planner, was being courted by zoo staff to book parties there. As their 30 guests arrived for the behind-the-scenes tour, they were escorted to the zoo’s Mansion House. Mike joined them for coffee and doughnuts.

Jaime had been sick all week and called her mom to say she would meet her there.

The guests were led to a different room in the mansion with rows of seats, and Mike grabbed his 5-year-old son, Max, and Jaime’s niece and nephew, Kaitlyn and Brandon Hopkins, for help.

Jaime waited in a back room, where the boys changed into tuxedo T-shirts and Kaitlyn put on a beautiful dress.

Brandon went out first, removing the stuffed animals from a front table and replacing them with a ketubbah, kippot and three rings. Kaitlyn and Max walked out with a sign that read, “Surprise.”

In just 30 seconds, Mike’s colleagues erected a chuppah. Two photographers snapped away.

Then the Beatles’ “All You Need is Love” began playing through the sound system. And from the rear of the room, Mike, in a black suit, and Jaime, in a wedding gown, appeared. Rabbi Dana Saroken from Beth El Congregation followed.

Cheers, tears and laughter ensued.

“A lot of the time, people lose sight of what’s important — the marriage,” said Jaime, director of guest relations and volunteer services at Kennedy Krieger Institute.

After they said their vows, they gave Max a ring, which he wears proudly around his neck.

“It was important that he be a part of it as well,” said Jaime.

Following the ceremony, the couple strolled around the zoo, taking photos of the animals. Then the family celebrated at Amicci’s.

The surprise wedding was a natural for Jaime and Mike to pull off, since both are creative, unique and original.

Both 35, they knew each other when they were young. But when Jaime received a Facebook request from Mike in early 2009, she was a little guarded. Despite thinking about blocking him from her account,
she accepted the request, noting he probably thought they were friends in the past.

“I saw a picture and thought she looked beautiful,” said Mike. “I wanted to say hello.”

Mike “chatted” her and asked her to dinner. Figuring it would be nice to meet new people, she accepted.

Jaime’s friends customarily called the next morning to laugh with her about the bad first date. Instead, she said she wanted to be with Mike forever.

Within a week, Jaime met Roz and Howard Kurman, and soon after Mike met Maxine and Ken Ball. By then, Mike had flown Jaime to Detroit to meet Max.

“That’s when I knew,” said Mike. “She and Max had an instant connection. We could definitely be a family.”

Linda L. Esterson is an Owings Mills-based freelance writer. For “Beshert,” call 410-902-2305 or email

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