When Nick Calais and Tami Weidert, a Camas area couple, first attended Camas’ First Friday event in 2014 they instantly felt welcomed to the community.
Weidert grew up in Athena, Oregon, a small town of 1,200, and says Camas reminded her of the support and connectivity she’d found in her small hometown.
“I’m always looking for the community within the bigger city because it’s easy to get lost,” Weidert says. “But what really drew me to Camas was how unified and supportive this community is. And it’s authentic, it’s genuine, people really care about other people and it’s honestly magical.”
Since that first downtown Camas experience, Calais and Weidert have made First Friday a constant in their routine. Now, the couple wants to share the love.
On the next First Friday, the young lovebirds will celebrate their wedding at the Liberty Theatre in downtown Camas. What’s more, they’ve invited the community to join them.
The event, being called “A Wedding Affair to Remember” by Downtown Camas Association organizers, will be held at 2 p.m., Friday, Feb. 2, at the Liberty Theatre in the heart of Camas historic downtown. Camas Mayor Scott Higgins will officiate.
“Liberty Theatre is an iconic piece of downtown,” Calais says. “When I think of downtown, Liberty is where the Christmas tree lighting is and is a central and historic location.”
The theater’s owner, Rand Thornsley, graciously offered the location for the couple’s wedding, which thrilled Calais.
“To be married there was a wish, and something that we just hoped would work out,” he says.
Following the wedding bells, the downtown Camas streets and businesses will turn into one large wedding party.
A wedding tent reception featuring finger foods from Camas restaurants, desserts and dancing will be set up on Northeast Cedar Street. Wedding vendors, to help attendees plan their own future events, will be set up from 5 to 8 p.m. at Journey Community Church, 304 N.E. Fourth Ave.
In honor of the usual February First Friday theme, “A Chocolate Affair to Remember,” participating merchants will be handing out chocolates.
“Everything in regards to our wedding, minus clothes, is coming from Camas,” Weidert says.
The couple will hand out Camas-themed gift bags at the reception and has purchased local gift cards to be raffled off at the reception party.
Anyone hoping to congratulate the newlyweds on their wedding day, should look inside downtown Camas shops — Calais, who visits all the stores during every First Friday, is adamant that he’ll keep the tradition going, even on his wedding night. The couple hopes to collect chocolate at the various participating businesses before spending some time dancing in the wedding tent and mingling with their many wedding guests.
Outside of the tent, Attic Gallery and Camas Gallery will serve beer and wine, on behalf of Calais and Weidert, and there will be art receptions in all of the downtown galleries.
The Liberty Theatre will show the romantic comedy “Groundhog Day” at 5:45 p.m., and “An Affair to Remember” at 8 p.m.
Calais and Weidert’s love story began in 2012, when Calais, who had just begun graduate school in San Francisco, came to the Pacific Northwest to visit friends.
The couple hit it off and began getting to know each other despite the fact that Weidert lived in Vancouver and Calais was in California.
As the relationship developed, the two planned to see each other every four to six weeks, and came up with creative ways to get to know each other.
“We would play ‘two truths and a lie’ and pass what we call a love journal, filled with letters and notes to each other, back and forth,” Calais says. “You have to get creative with long distance relationships, and so we’d hide the journal in each others luggage before they would depart or create scavenger hunts for one another.”
Weidert remembers one time, when Calais came to visit on her birthday but had to leave early.
“After he left, he told me that if I look in the cabinet I might find something,” she says. “And that was the start of my scavenger hunt that had me look in the cabinet and look in the dryer to find presents hidden all throughout my house that I had no idea about.”
Weidert had been single for a while before meeting Calais. She says he was the first guy she’d met who intrigued her and made all the extra effort of a long distance relationship worth it.
“I think we just hit it off really well,” Calais says. “We have a lot of the same values, things in common and would just find wacky ways to get to know each other.”
“We’re doing marriage counseling and we were talking about how communication is one of the most important things in a relationship, and I think we learned that right off the bat and I think that’s what kind of built the nice, strong foundation, and so it just made it worth putting in the effort,” he adds.
After Calais finished graduate school in 2014, he joined Weidert in Vancouver and on Aug. 27, 2016, he proposed marriage.
On the day of the proposal, Calais convinced Weidert that he had flown to California to surprise his mother for her birthday and even had Weidert drop him off at the airport.
“I like planning and being a bit elaborate with things,” Calais says. “And so it was probably a bit much, but I basically started planning everything out on the basis of a lie, because every great surprise starts with a lie.”
Little did Weidert know, Calais’ mother would be flying in to Portland and her own mother would be driving from Eastern Oregon.
With the help of friends, Calais was able to lure Weidert to their favorite park, where they frequently played tennis. It was there that he showed up and popped the question.
“Literally, I was so ecstatic,” Weidert says.
“So, we did the proposal and took some pictures,” Calais says. “Then, we went back to the house and I had a surprise barbeque setup with about 25 to 30 of our friends there just waiting to celebrate and have fun with us.”
Weidert says that she wants to marry Calais because of the creativity the two generate from one another.
“I love our relationship, I love the creativeness that Nick brings to it,” she says. “He makes me laugh, he’s full of jokes and at the end of the day, he has one of the most thoughtful hearts that is not only fun to be around, but fun to learn from in that sense too.”
Calais says that the two do a very good job balancing each other.
“I’m not very open,” he says. “But she is always asking questions and wanting to know more, which is great, because she brings out the deeper questions. I think we just compliment each other very well, and it’s making it quite easy to want to spend the rest of our lives together.”
The couple lives on 192nd Avenue just outside of Camas.
Calais, who started as an occupational therapist for the Camas School District in September, says that when they look forward to raising a family, Camas is where they imagine themselves living.
The couple has been actively looking for houses in Camas for the last year and a half, and say when the right one becomes available, they will jump on it.
Calais says his job with the Camas School District was fate and that he’s already integrating himself into the community.
“We both love that he is working with the Camas School District,” Weidert says. “It’s even more connection and even more community support.”
“What I would like to communicate,” Weidert says. “Is that we (and our wedding), are the avenue that this story is playing out on, but really, the whole story is about the city of Camas and the connectedness, community and support that they bring to one another that drew us here. We are honestly humbled and so honored that so many people want to be a part of our lives as we make this union, and we just feel so blessed that so many people are going to join and that hopefully gives us a chance to be a part of their lives too.”