Pasco couple Raymond Bennett and Kimberly Welch are going all out for the “biggest tailgate party of 2016” — their Sept. 24 wedding.
Bennett, an avid Denver Broncos fan, and his Seattle Seahawks-loving fiancée are having a football-themed ceremony and reception. Welch’s father, Duane, is hosting the festivities at his west Pasco home.
Bennett and Welch got engaged in the summer of 2015, and neither one was really interested in having a formal wedding.
“We started planning, and originally we thought an oceanfront wedding,” Welch said. “But I’m not a good party planner, so thinking about all the stuff to prepare to go out of town was kind of a lot for me. And then we just came up with the whole football idea, and one little idea ended up leading to this huge, huge, huge thing.
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“Now I don’t know if I’m more excited about the party or the wedding or the week’s vacation in Cancun.”
LOVE AND FOOTBALL
The couple’s love has withstood the test of their NFL fandom.
Their first official date was Feb. 2, 2014, when the Broncos and Seahawks squared off in Super Bowl XLVIII. Bennett and Welch watched the game at a mutual friend’s house party.
Welch’s Seahawks won their first Super Bowl title, embarrassing Bennett’s Broncos 43-8.
“I saw him throw a fit that first date,” Welch said.
Perhaps more humiliating? “He thought Denver was gonna win, and he had his little blowhorn,” Welch recalled. “He didn’t get to blow the horn very often.”
It’s easy to understand why Bennett might not have wanted to show his face in front of Welch after that, but their young relationship found a way to bloom.
“I had a good six months to heal before the next season,” Bennett said.
It helped that Welch wasn’t anti-Denver, either.
“I’ve always liked the Broncos also, but the fight over it is fun,” Welch said. “I’ll root for them or whatever, but he likes to rub it in.”
Welch and Bennett were on the same side the next year for Super Bowl XLIX, commiserating as the defending champion Seahawks lost a 28-24 heartbreaker to the New England Patriots.
“I was pulling for Seattle because it’s hometown, and I absolutely hate everything that is associated with New England,” Bennett said.
A year later, Bennett’s team knocked off the Patriots in the AFC title game and came through in Super Bowl 50, beating the Carolina Panthers 24-10 for the third championship in franchise history.
Welch and Bennett have even traveled to each other’s home stadium — CenturyLink Field for her, Sports Authority Field at Mile High for him.
Now that’s love.
TEAMMATES FOR LIFE
As the Broncos and Seahawks get ready for Week 3 of the 2016 regular season, Bennett, 31, and Welch, 34, are counting down to their big day.
The couple will get married in customized NFL attire. Their officiant, wedding party and guests also have been asked to wear football apparel. Bennett would love to see all 32 NFL teams represented.
“We’re hoping that we get quite a few different teams there, so we can take one huge group photo,” Welch said.
Welch’s maid of honor/daughter/Broncos fan Mckynzi, 15, will get to wear a Denver jersey during the ceremony, while Bennett’s friend Heather Hayes, a Seahawks fan, will stand beside him wearing a Seattle jersey. The three bridesmaids will have on Hawks jerseys, while the three groomsmen — none of whom are Denver fans — will sport Broncos jerseys they’re borrowing from Bennett.
“They didn’t have to go out and buy jerseys that they were only going to wear for 10 minutes,” Bennett said. “I have 14 Bronco jerseys in the closet.”
Meanwhile, Bennett and Welch have filled up their west Pasco home with assorted wedding items such as Seahawks and Broncos wine glasses, yellow and red napkins — penalty and challenge flags, as they’ve labeled them — and Vince Lombardi Trophy centerpieces.
You will get to see how their “tailgate party” plans come together. The Herald is covering the Bennett-Welch nuptials.
So, are you ready for some football — and a wedding?