E. coli scare didn’t stop island wedding for Teresa and Ben Bucholz

When it came to her wedding day, Teresa Buchholz planned for everything. Except E. coli.

The Nooksack native’s wedding was Sept. 27 on Mercer Island, the first day of an E. coli scare that closed restaurants and forced island residents to boil their water.

“I had backup plans for everything but E. coli,” says Teresa, 29. “That was one thing I wasn’t prepared for.”

But she and her groom, Ben Buchholz, 30, along with family and their caterers, made it work. They were at St. Monica Catholic Church on the island and held their reception at the Mercer Island Community and Event Center.

It was one of the only venues allowed open on the first day of the contamination scare, and that was mostly because her caterers, who came from Seattle, had prepared everything off of the island and worked closely with the health department to ensure the wedding could continue. Teresa’s father ran to the store and bought up all the bottled water he could for the guests, and while there were no ice cubes clinking in their drinks, it turned out to be a surprisingly small inconvenience.

They had a beautiful late-summer day, and their families — his from Prosser; hers from Nooksack — were able to come together to celebrate.

“I don’t know how many times I said ‘thank you’ to people, but it was genuine,” Teresa says. “I was so thankful that people made the effort to come and celebrate with us. It was just such an awesome experience. It’s one of those unique moments that we probably won’t have very often in our life, to have everyone get together.”

Ben and Teresa both hail from small towns, but now live and work in Seattle. They met at her cousin’s birthday party in 2003 but didn’t start dating until 2011. He proposed on a family trip to Hawaii in December 2013.

They chose Mercer Island as their wedding location, in part, because it provided a central point so neither side of the family would have to travel too far, but also for personal reasons. They love bicycle riding, and Mercer Island is one of their favorite places to pedal. And as fans of boating, they also love that Mercer Island is surrounded by Lake Washington. They had their “first look” photos in the sunshine at one of their favorite spots on the lake.

Their small-town heritage influenced more than the location; it also rooted them to all of the little traditions that make a wedding day special. They said their vows in a church, made speeches and a toast, and made sure to throw the bouquet.

“As planning went on, our wedding got more and more traditional,” Teresa says. “Tradition and family were a big part of the day.”

Teresa’s family did much of the decorating for the reception. Her father created a bar from metal and wood, her mother handled decor, and her sister baked the cake and desserts. Teresa was floored when she saw it all come together. And she was thrilled to have said “I do” with Ben.

“I was just smiling and laughing,” she said of saying her vows. “It just felt like, in that moment, the exact right thing to do. He was smiling back at me. It was absolute, pure joy.”