Both Bill and Kim ended their first marriages under trying circumstances. Bill gained full custody of his girls, Abigail and Samantha, and Kim was raising Camden on her own. The single parents worked hard, always putting their kids first. One day, Abby told Bill she wanted a mom and encouraged him to date. He went out with a few women but didn’t find anyone worth bringing home. Kim also dated but never found that special someone. Then, in June 2017, the universe intervened.
The dating website eharmony, which touts itself as ‘the premier destination for high-quality singles looking for real relationships,’ offered a free weekend for people to try their services. A hard-working chef from LaVerne and an independent lady lawyer from Anaheim Hills both registered on a whim. Wonders of wonders, eharmony’s algorithms matched them. Kim and Bill communicated via phone and text for several weeks, then met in person. Their personalities clicked, thus beginning a courtship.
Normal dating wasn’t an option because of their work-home-kid responsibilities. Even though they carved out a handful of hours for dating, they wanted more time together. Bill and his girls attended Camden’s weekend baseball games. Kim showed up at Abby and Sammy’s karate, soccer, and softball events. The quintet toggled between houses for game night, swimming, dinners, and other activities.
A year and a half later, all five grew tired of commuting. Bill and Kim moved in together to combine resources without tying the knot, being gun-shy of marriage. Before long, the kids intervened, pressuring them for a commitment. Abby asked Kim whether or not she had a husband, wanting to make sure she was free to marry her dad. Camden whispered in Bill’s ear about buying a ring for his mom. Sammy called Kim ‘momma’ from the start.
In July 2020, Bill got down on one knee and proposed; Kim said yes. Instead of a diamond engagement ring, the couple chose a garnet, a spiritual stone of fire, passion, and love. It’s also known as an ancient symbol of friendship. A typical wedding wasn’t in the cards because of COVID-19, but the resilient couple had learned to navigate around such obstacles.
On September 29, 2020, a hundred and fifty people throughout the US—Arizona, California, Idaho, Illinois, Nevada, Washington, West Virginia—and one from New Zealand gathered for a retro/rockabilly Zoom wedding. Guests showed up on video wearing fun hats, make-up, fancy dresses, tuxedo tee-shirts, converse shoes, and bow ties. Kim’s best friend, Neetu Smith, officiated the ceremony from miles away with the precision of a seasoned orchestra leader.
Bill and Kim exchanged vows and rings at their LaVerne home, making promises to each other and to their kids. Cam, Abby, and Sammy each gave a toast, and the new family assembled a wooden heart-shaped puzzle that linked all of their names. After the jubilant ceremony, six long-term couples shared marriage tips. Other family members read responses to questions Neetu had posed to the couple earlier. There were toasts and tears, readings from the Apache Wedding Blessing, singing, and laughter. A guest, Robbie Seals, said it best: “Love won like I knew it would. The universe does not ever get it wrong.”
Kim and Bill defied tradition by getting married during a pandemic, solidifying their love and giving their children the security they craved. My friend, Debbi Kightlinger who has known Kim since birth, summarized the unique ceremony better than I ever could, so I’ll end with her words for the happy couple. “Your Zoom wedding was incredibly loving, tender, intimate, sweet, and joyous. You’ve created a beautiful family.”
Congratulations Kim and Bill! We wish you a lifetime of love and happiness. Keep doing it your way❣️🥂