The snow over the weekend forced a local couple to change their wedding plans. Instead of getting married in their original venue, the couple got hitched at an Arlington County fire station.
Firefighters are used to responding to emergencies. But the call that came in Saturday took even 28-year veteran Capt. Chuck Kramaric by surprise.
"It didn't make sense at first because we have never had anything like that happen and we don't normally do that," he said. "But there was urgency in her voice. She said it had to be done before the end of the night and this was at 6 p.m."
The "it" he is talking about is a wedding!
"She was kind of asking for help," said Capt. Kramaric. "She said she had tried other venues and called around and people had turned her down."
Camille Bethea of Upper Marlboro, Md., said Saturday's snowstorm rendered her original wedding venue unusable.
"We were like, ‘Oh my gosh, we have all these people here and they came from out of town,'" Bethea told us. "They are here for a wedding. Let's definitely try to have something."
Capt. Kramaric has zero wedding planning experience, but said there were enough firefighters to handle calls so he asked others to spruce up the firehouse.
"They thought I was joking," he said. "In the fire department, we tease a lot. But once I kind of made a little more stronger statement, I said we need to clean the bays and get the bathrooms clean and expect the people to come."
They also made space in a decontamination room for the wedding party to change and hunted down chairs in the kitchen.
"When they arrived, that was part of what we told them -- this would be something they would remember for a long time," said Kramaric.
Bethea said it definitely was.
"I could tell they really put things together," she said. "I was like, ‘Oh my goodness. Really? This is really happening?' They are like my superheroes."
Someone began humming the wedding march and the ceremony got underway.
This couple didn't just get married in this firehouse. They had their first dance here too. Firefighters figured out how to set the mood with just a flick of the switch.
"We turned the warning lights on the ladder truck for the ambience," said Kramaric.
The music came courtesy of the radio.
"The lights were like, ‘Okay, wow! This is like a disco ball,'" said Bethea, describing the scene to us. "Then the sirens scared me a little bit. I was like, ‘Oh my God, do they have to go somewhere?'
"[They said], ‘No, we are putting on the sirens because it's your wedding day. We have to make it special.' My husband and I were dancing. Wow, this is really awesome!"
Capt. Kramaric said he feels bad his crew could not come up with any cake, but they did provide wedding gifts.
"We gave the wedding party our plastic fire prevention hats," he said.
The whole affair took less than an hour, but everyone agrees a lifetime of memories were made.
"It felt special," said Bethea. "It was to a point where I walked down the aisle to the person I fell in love with."
"We're in probably a quarter to a third of their wedding photos because they felt we were part of the family, and I think we will always be part of their family. I think there will always be a connection."?