Arlington fire house holds 'emergency' wedding for couple during snow storm

Camille Bethea gets married at Fire Station 105 in Arlington, Va. (Photo: Camille Bethea)

ARLINGTON, Va. (WJLA) – Firefighters are used to responding to emergencies, but when Arlington Fire Captain Chuck Kramaric got an urgent call during last Saturday’s snow storm, he was a bit taken aback.

"It's just something you never expect, that kind of call," Kramaric said.

You could call it a wedding emergency.

"The groom and I were panicked," said 23-year-old newlywed Camille Bethea, of Upper Marlboro, Md. "We have all these people here, come out of town, and there's no wedding."

Last week, Bethea's wedding to her fiancé Marc, a 24-year-old Marine Corps reservist, was all set. The festivities included 25 wedding guests arriving from out of town. Then came the storm that blanketed the D.C. area.

"On Friday the 20th, the roof caved in," Bethea recalled.

Not her roof, but that of the first of two venues she booked for the ceremony. Then a second venue canceled, its parking lot snowed in. And finally, the pastor sent his regrets, saying he was unable to preside because of the weather.

"The groom and I were like, ‘What are we going to do? What's going to happen?’" Bethea said.

After a series of frantic phone calls, with the help of a bridesmaid, the couple found a new pastor. It was the replacement pastor who suggested trying to find a police station or a fire hall for the young couple to exchange their vows.

"She was, I think, frustrated as we spoke," Kramaric said. "She couldn't find the right place, or places were closed."

After calling a number of fire houses in the Arlington area, Bethea rang up Arlington County's Fire Station 105.

"The urgency was they had to get married in Virginia; the license was based in Virginia," Kramaric said.

Firefighters at the station mopped floors, set up chairs, and even rigged up a table as a makeshift altar.

"The crew that I work with are romantics as well, so they chipped in and cleaned the place up," Kramaric said, smiling.

By the time the couple arrived Saturday evening, the fire station was transformed into a wedding hall.

"I walked down that aisle, not only did I see his face, I saw everyone that came, especially the fire department," said Bethea.

It was a creative, fun set up. The firefighters used lights from their truck, and a radio tuned to a favorite station to create a nuptial-like atmosphere during the couple's first dance.

"I think it's something they'll always remember," Kramaric said. "They can say, ‘We got married in a firehouse during a snowstorm.’"

Bethea says she is grateful. These days are precious, because her new husband Marc is to be deployed in the next couple of months.

"I would call them heroes—superheroes in my case—because they were the ones who saved my day," Bethea said.

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