To some in the crowd of hundreds gathered outside Independence Hall last night, it seemed like just another part of the holiday weekend celebration: Betsy Ross marrying Benjamin Franklin. With Thomas Jefferson as best man.
As the bride stood among the masses, awaiting her cue to march toward her groom, Ann Magee of Rydal, Montgomery County, leaned in and asked her a question:
"Are you sure you want to do this? Do you know his reputation?"
Bride Betsy - actually impersonator Linda Wilde - smiled over her shoulder. "That'll change."
Because this was the real deal; real people with real love which just happened to grow between a couple who often play historic characters.
Wilde, 50, married one of the city's most popular Benjamin Franklin interpreters, Ralph Archbold, 66, in a quick ceremony that brought tears and smiles to those who knew and loved them and to those who didn't.
Mayor Nutter performed the ceremony, telling the couple "the entire city couldn't be happier for you." Nutter walked them through their vows and their exchange of rings. The bands, specially crafted by jewelry designer Henri David, were a dark gold with bits of the American flag, a kite, a lightning bolt, and a key embossed.
Archbold's voice grew huskier when he promised that "With this ring, I thee wed."
Still, before the ceremony, Archbold couldn't resist a few jokes. He pointed out that Wilde's brother, who had come to give her away, was up from "the new capital." (The Washington, D.C. area.)
Asked if he were ready to marry, he said, "My first wife Deborah died in 1774. It's been a long time."
Then, he added more seriously. "It's beautiful weather. She's a beautiful lady. I'm in love."
Later, Archbold paraphrased his favorite character: "A man is not a man until he has taken a wife."
As the couple and their guests left to the strains of Peter Nero and the Philly Pops, Center City resident Priscilla Bloomingdale, 54, said she thought the event was great for the city.
"Everybody around the country is going to follow this. Nobody thinks it's real, but it is," she said.
Added Bloomingdale's sister-in-law, Beth Martin, 48, who was visiting from Florida, "It was quite Philadelphia-ish. Who else is going to get married at Independence Hall but Betsy Ross and Ben Franklin?"