Carla Kitzmiller was surprised when her boyfriend, John Porter, proposed to her one minute after midnight on New Year’s Day.
“We never talked about getting married,” she said.
They hoped to tie the knot soon but couldn’t just swing by the courthouse because of the coronavirus pandemic. When Kitzmiller told her colleagues at Thomas Kia of Highland she was engaged and thinking about a courthouse wedding, they joked that they should just do it in dealership’s showroom.
Kira Kawanna, who’s worked as a biller and title clerk at Thomas Kia for 19 years, suggested she could get ordained to marry the happy couple herself.
“I blurted out that I was getting married. We were talking as a joke at first but then it got to be real,” Kitzmiller said.
Kitzmiller and Porter plan to wed at noon on April 1 in the showroom. She said the unorthodox wedding fits their sensibilities.
“We just decided to do something different,” she said. “We like to play and joke around. I’m excited. It’s going to be different.”
Her colleagues plan to bring wedding cake, food, balloons and decorations in their colors of pink and white.
“This way my mom and his mom can see it and just enjoy the day,” she said.
Kitzmiller used to buy all her cars at Thomas Dodge of Highland and started working for the dealership as a title clerk four years ago. She said she’s close with her work family.
“They’re kind of like family,” she said.
She and her colleagues did some research but couldn’t find that anyone had wed at a car dealership in Indiana since 1971. The most recent wedding to take place at a car dealership they could find was in Little Rock, Arkansas, where two colleagues who met there wed.
“The bride came into my office and asked me if she could have the wedding here,” Thomas Kia General Manager Tom Seely said. “I asked why do you want it here? She said, ‘family.’ I asked if she had family coming in from out of town and she said, ‘you guys are my family.’ It was the sweetest thing.”
Thomas Kia plans to decorate the showroom the day before the nuptials. Many of the employees will bring in finger foods for a potluck dinner.
“We’re planning to bring food and appetizers,” Seely said. “This will be a real wedding. It’s wonderful. This dealership does have a family atmosphere. We’re like one big family.”WATCH NOW: Riding Shotgun with NWI Cops — On patrol with Valparaiso Lt. John PatstonWATCH NOW: Riding Shotgun with NWI Cops — On patrol with Valparaiso Lt. John PatstonPlay Video
Kawanna has been researching what she’ll say at the ceremony after getting ordained as a minister online through the Universal Life Church.
“I said it was a joke when we were joking around,” she said. “But then it got serious. And all jokes aside, with the COVID restrictions, she’s just happy her mom gets to come.”
After signing up to be a minister, Kawanna checked with the county government to make sure there wasn’t anything else she needed to do to perform the marriage ritual.
“It was just as easy as putting my information in and now I can marry people,” she said.
She is taking her responsibility very seriously.
“I’m practicing to do my best to make them happy,” she said. “It’s their day and I want it to be special and perfect for them.”