In early March, Carla Kitzmiller, a title clerk on the Indiana automotive dealership Thomas Kia of Highland, went to work with an issue. She and her fiancé, John Porter, needed to be married April 1, however due to Covid rules, their choices appeared restricted to eloping at a courthouse close to their dwelling in Munster, Ind. “The girls I work with started talking, and they were like, ‘No! You can’t have family at the courthouse,’” Ms. Kitzmiller stated.
Kara Kawanna, who works in billing on the dealership, was significantly opposed. “We knew Carla would want her mom to be there,” she stated. Her mom, Katherine Kitzmiller, 79, has Addison’s illness and Parkinson’s illness.
A plan was hatched. If Ms. Kawanna and Ms. Kitzmiller might speak Tom Seely, the final supervisor of the dealership, into internet hosting a marriage on the showroom flooring, Ms. Kawanna would get ordained on-line to officiate. At first Ms. Kitzmiller didn’t take the thought critically.
“It started out seeming like a joke,” she stated, “but the next thing you know everybody was talking about it like it was real.”
Ms. Kitzmiller, 49, met Mr. Porter, 70, in 2016 on the Blue Chip Casino and Hotel in Michigan City, Ind. Both had been beforehand married and divorced.
“He was playing table games and I was kind of just standing there,” she stated. When he approached her to talk — “I liked her blue eyes,” he stated — they fell into what would change into a well-known sample. “He started joking around,” she stated. “We hit it off over that. We both love to laugh.”
She left the on line casino along with his cellphone quantity and referred to as him three weeks later. For a primary date, they met at Teibel’s Family Restaurant in Schererville, Ind. By the tip of the night, romance was within the air.
Mr. Porter retired from his profession as a mission supervisor for Chicagoland Construction in March 2017. Before then, he was residing in Woodstock, Ill. Six months into his relationship with Ms. Kitzmiller, they’d sufficient of long-distance relationship. He moved in together with her in Munster, the place they constructed a sturdy union on grudge avoidance and respect.
“We’ve had two spats the entire time we’ve known each other, and both times we were laughing two minutes later,” Ms. Kitzmiller stated. Also essential was his acceptance of her devotion to her mom, who lives close by and requires frequent care.
Mr. Porter’s Jan. 1 proposal was a shock. “We had talked about it and decided that we would not get married,” Ms. Kitzmiller stated. “But then all of a sudden I’m standing there and he’s on one knee, holding out a box.” The option to marry on April Fools’ Day felt like an extension of their love of clowning round. “Plus it’s a date you’ll always remember.”
Getting married at an auto dealership can be memorable, too. When Ms. Kitzmiller approached Mr. Seely about doubtlessly exchanging her vows with a fleet of gleaming Kias as a backdrop, he was comfortable to oblige.
“When she asked me, I said, ‘Why do you want your wedding to be here?’” Mr. Seely stated. “She said, ‘So my family can be there.’ I said, ‘Where is your family from?’ And she said, ‘Tom, you guys are my family.’”
Ms. Kitzmiller meant it. “I do consider my co-workers family. Most of us would do anything for each other,” she stated. “It’s not a normal dealership.”
That was possible evident to customers who entered the showroom on April 1, when Ms. Kawanna, who had change into a Universal Life minister, married the couple in a brief ceremony underneath an altar made from pink and white balloons.
“We had maybe 20 customers come in while they were getting married and during the reception,” Mr. Seely stated. That was along with 30 invited visitors, most of whom stayed on to work afterward. “The whole dealership showed up, except for some of the mechanics who were busy,” Ms. Kawanna stated.
Ms. Kitzmiller didn’t keep on after the DJ stopped spinning the Bee Gees and the potluck reception had been cleared.
“But I’ll be back to work on Monday,” she stated the day after the marriage. And with gratitude.
“What they did for me and my family was beautiful. I’m so thankful.”