Kim Caldwell linked arms with her 16-year-old daughter, Kayla, as they began to walk down the aisle, both of them holding back tears.
Kim’s father is on oxygen support and cannot walk more than a few feet, so Kayla wanted to be the one to accompany her mother as she made her way between rows of guests to join her soon-to-be husband, Thomas Caldwell, at the altar.
“It was really cute, and she started bawling halfway through,” Kim says. “It made a lot of other people cry, too.”
Kim and Thomas were married Oct. 3, 2015, at Bellingham Cruise Terminal, which they picked because of its view of the water.
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They had met two and half years ago through a dating website when Kim was living in Mill Creek and Thomas was in Bellingham.
A wedding rehearsal the night before at a local inn was disrupted for an hour by a power outage.
“He sent me a few messages, and I just kind of ignored him,” Kim recalls. “I finally replied, and we talked for a while and then eventually had our first date at a Mexican restaurant in Mount Vernon.”
They became engaged six months after they started dating, and Kim began planning the wedding soon after. She planned it all herself, and took about a year to get everything in order.
The night before the big day, some of the wedding party stayed at The Chrysalis Inn and Spa in Fairhaven and staged the rehearsal there. However, the power went out and the group had to practice without indoor lighting.
“We were in the dark for about an hour trying to do the rehearsal. The officiant was there and trying to help us,” Kim says. “And then finally the power came back on.”
Kim says the next morning was hectic, with the men in the wedding party setting up the venue and the women rushing to get their hair and makeup done. Despite all of the preparation, Kim says she realized nothing ever goes exactly as planned during a wedding.
“It was chaotic; we didn’t know who was going to be the usher or anything,” she says. “So then I asked the bartender if he could just stand at the door and bring people in to seat them, and he did that.”
Firefighter friends of groom Thomas Caldwell performed a dance with their axes and helmets at the reception.
After Kim and Thomas exchanged vows, they held a cocktail hour in the hallways of the cruise terminal and took photos with their families. The guests were then treated to a barbecue buffet for dinner.
Kim says one of the best parts of the wedding happened during the reception. Thomas is a firefighter and many of his co-workers were at the wedding, so the group of firemen performed a dance with their axes and helmets for all of the guests at the reception.
“That was something different, ” Kim says. “You don’t see that every day. It was pretty funny.”
Kim says her favorite part was getting to see friends and family. She moved to Bellingham a little over a year ago and misses being able to visit her loved ones on a regular basis, but she was able to catch up with some of them during the wedding.
“I’m from the Seattle-area and I don’t get to see anybody that much anymore, so it was good to see all of them,” she says.
Photo by Brooke Taylor Studios