In a room on the sixth floor of the M Resort, Kimberly King got her make-up done, her seven bridesmaids bustled around the room, and her 9-year-old daughter carried a pink unicorn with a white veil.
She closed her eyes. From behind the large window in her suite, she faced the unmistakable gold windows of the Mandalay Bay, where a gunman had rained bullets into the crowd listening at the Route 91 Harvest festival below.
Her boyfriend, William King, had shielded her then, and she felt his body jolt and blood spatter as a bullet entered his back.
It missed his heart by half a centimeter.
That was more than a year-and-a-half ago. But on Friday, all she could focus on was her wedding night.
“I’m going to swim naked in that pool,” she joked. “You have to do something crazy on your wedding night.”
Before leaving the hotel, the women popped champagne and toasted. Tucking her highlighted hair in between rose-barrettes, Kimberly King, who had legally changed her last name before the wedding, made a toast.
“To the best friends I’ve ever had,” she said. “Now, let’s go marry my gringo.”
Destined to be together
Around 4:30 p.m. at the Revere Golf Club in Henderson, the groom, clad in black and white, and his groomsmen pulled up in a golf cart to the grassy area. He chugged down the last of his pint of beer, wiping the remnants from his bushy beard.
Fifteen minutes later, she was making her way down the hill in an embroidered white dress, her father, Manuel Flores, by her side.
William King squinted into the sun, and tears started to well in his eyes.
During the ceremony, they used sand to symbolize the blending of their families: his boys Enoch, 11, and Eli, 9; and her kids, Velonee, 9, and Max, 7.
They held each other’s hands and exchanged vows. It was Good Friday, their friend and officiant, Cameron Cornish, pointed out.
William King, who wore a Route 91 wristband, grabbed his bride’s hands and began his vows.
“We have always talked about the moments in time that we have crossed paths. Never did we know destiny would bring us together,” he said. “Never did we know that one moment in time would change our lives forever. Forever in time, I’ll take you, Kimberly, my partner in life and my one true love.”
Ever since she was a little girl, the bride-to-be said, she had prayed for a prince charming with whom she would ride off into the sunset.
“Today, I am that little girl again, but now it’s not only a dream. It’s my reality,” she told the groom. “I promise to love you more than chocolate. I promise to love you more than pizza. I promise to even take a bullet for you.”
‘Bonded by blood’
The Las Vegas couple met in November 2014 when the bride was working as a paralegal in the same office as the groom’s dad, Jim King.
One day, he walked in and caught her eye.
“Why didn’t you tell me you had a hot son?” she asked his dad. After that, the pair went on their first date, to Chuck E. Cheese’s.
Each had been married before, and the two of them were taking the relationship slow.
But after the shooting, it became clear to him that they belonged together.
“We’re more than married,” he told the Review-Journal before his December 2017 proposal. “We’re bonded by blood.”
William King, who recently returned to his job as a bellman at the Delano Las Vegas after a nine-month recovery, proposed to her that December night with a makeshift ring made out of a purple Route 91 Harvest wristband and a leather trinket.
The two sat on the outside bar at the hotel, overlooking the Strip from a similar vantage point as the shooter three months earlier had on Oct. 1.
“That night, it’s where we became one,” he told her before he popped the question.
‘We’ve conquered a lot’
About 12 survivors of Route 91 were at the wedding on Friday. One, Danny Cluff, was a groomsman. Another survivor had given William King her water bottle after he was shot and waiting at the Tropicana.
Since that night, the pair have faced challenges together. During a trip to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, in October, they helped save a woman from drowning. The rip current was so strong that it had even taken in his fiancee, and he pulled both women to shore.
Not long after, their kitchen caught fire. Another time, they were the victims of a hit-and-run crash.
“Angels are definitely around us and still are around us,” William King said. “Every day we’re blessed and things that have occurred that show us that we’re even more blessed.”
Friday was one of those days.
“Celebrating us is beautiful. We’ve conquered a lot; we stuck it out. Whatever’s been in front of us, we’ve taken it on together. It could have been different,” he said.
“But at the same time, we always think that survivor’s guilt. How do you really embrace it, you know, when somebody lost their wife, lost their husband or their dad or their mom? … I never want to forget them.”