A Wedding In The Floods

Courtesy of Shutterchic Photography
Courtesy of Shutterchic Photography

“September is one of the driest months of the year, you shouldn’t worry.”

I heard this multiple times when I was searching for my wedding venue. I was told that storms may come but pass so quickly in the mountains that it never a worry. I suppose a biblical flood is the exception. It’s Friday morning, our wedding day is less than 48 hours away. I can’t watch the news because the pictures are so devastating it leaves me paralyzed at what actions to take. Estes park is under water and my fiancé and I quickly realize that our wedding that we have been planning for the past 11 months is not going to happen. Phone lines are down and there is no Internet service in Estes, so we are unable to even speak to our venues. About 75% of our guests are traveling in for our wedding. From Massachusettss, Washington, Texas, Chicago, many have already arrived and we don’t even know what to tell them, or where they should go.  A typical 50 minute drive from the airport has left family looking for available hotel rooms because there is no way to drive to us. The river in town has overflowed and my parents can’t even get to my house from 10 miles away to help. Not exactly what I had envisioned..

But we are getting married. September 15th is OUR day and the wedding will go on. We start scouring the Internet, friends are volunteering to make phone calls to look for any connections they may have.

Since moving to Colorado I have dreams of a mountain wedding, as the aspens turn to golden yellow we would get married outside with grandiose mountains filling the back drop. As a crafty person, and slight control freak;) I made virtually the entire wedding with my own hands. Center pieces, decorations, garland, the food menu, music playlists, the ceremony, my wedding cake (Get Recipe HERE) from scratch.  My fiancé created the beautiful save the dates,  invitations, programs, and fun mad libs,however now many of the words were irrelevant.  But we don’t even have time to process what is happening, no chance to mourn the big event we have put countless hours of work and money into.

Friday is pretty much a blur. With our allowed cell phone minutes long surpassed, we had a new idea of a wedding happening in town. Dozens of phone calls, hearing over and over again “No, but we wish we could help”, and pretty much begging for anything we could get, We were waiting to get the final ok from a few businesses in town. It’s not typical that they allow you to schedule an event with virtually no notice. The Mainline Bar and Restaurant, a new place in town was organizing a rehearsal dinner for the next night for about 60 people. The sweet manager who I never met was working hard to get us a party we could finally relax at, we formed a bond strategizing to get our guests taken care of. We found a Bed and breakfast available to host us Sunday. The incredible inn keeper, Tara at The Inn at City Park gave us ideas, suggestions, and allowed our chaos for the day to make a wedding happen. I cannot thank her enough for her incredible generosity.  At Restaurant The Four Fifteen the owners decided to let us throw our reception there, something they have never done before. In about 15 minutes we were able to decide on a floor plan, menu deal and a price that we were able to make work with the little funds we had available since most we’re still caught up in our “former” wedding.

As more and more guests arrived into town (even though it may have took them days longer than planned) we were able to let them in on our new wedding idea. Everyone embraced it openly. Excited to be there and excited to celebrate we were able to see what the weekend was really about.  We had about 12 people crash in our house Friday night with no other place to go, sleeping in camping bags with no complaints.  I was finally able to smile and laugh with the guests we hosted that night.

The day of the wedding I woke up with our new plan in place. I wanted my gifts to my bridesmaids to be special and sentimental, I hand-made vintage floral robes for each of my 5 bridesmaids and myself to wear the morning of the wedding, surprising them when they arrived for the weekend. Trying to stick to a budget I also made my chain and jewel headpiece for the reception, you wouldn’t guess it wasn’t $300! My mother made my cathedral length veil for the ceremony and after tracking down flowers at a distribution center(they never got delivered because of the floods) The ladies in my family made the boutonnieres and bridesmaids bouquets.

My Hand-made pieces! Having unique special items like these made the wedding personal no matter where the venue was! -Courtesy of Shutterchic Photography
My Hand-made pieces! Having unique special items like these made the wedding personal no matter where the venue was!
-Courtesy of Shutterchic Photography

Unfortunately it still did not stop raining. With no time to find a large enough tent our friends rearranged the chairs over and over again under a porch to find a way to fit everyone. I just wanted my aisle, that was my only request even if it was only large enough for us to barely walk down, that’s all I wanted.  Our friends came together, taking time to pick up supplies and decorate with the handmade pieces we spent so much time on, they made our new wedding look as though it was the original.

On the porch, in the rain, with my tiny aisle we had an intimate ceremony with about 75 guests. We had a very personal and unique wedding ceremony. My Twin brother, who also lives with us, was our officiant. He told stories of how he has gotten to see our love grow and our quirks that make us each so unique. Chris and I picked out our readings, blessings, and wrote our own vows. We also had a special knot-tying/handfasting ceremony. I combined a blessing of the hands with the tradition of 4 ribbons being tied around our hands to represent the binding of our love and commitment with each other and the blessings of our family, the earth, and God. As ribbons, we used a strip from my mother’s veil on her wedding day, a ribbon with the promise ring Chris’s father gave to his mother, a special charm from my childhood, and a strip of a shirt from Chris’s father (His father passed away from Cancer when he was 16).
Our wedding couldn’t have been more perfect with the cards we were dealt. With our family and friends standing by our sides I couldn’t have dreamed more.
For this control freak this may have been my ultimate lesson of letting go and trusting others, but for anyone who even peeked into those crazy 48 hours it was clear to see the generosity and community we were shown. I never cried about the wedding I didn’t have but it still brings tears to my eyes when I think about the wedding we were given. It was truly provided to us though the kindness, sincerity, and gracious hearts of those around us, from the friends that have been by our sides and I know will be forever, and those who we never even met before but treated us as family and did all they could to help.

Many couples get their dream wedding , with everything planned and executed to a T. But not many get one filled with the blessings, hard work and love of others.  I know we were not the only couple that weekend affected by the floods, or natural disasters in the past, and I pray they were shown the same grace we were.. After seeing the strength and humanity in my state I am certain they received it as well. My heart truly goes out to everyone in my beautiful State that were affected by this tragic disaster.

“I don’t paint dreams or nightmares, I paint my own reality.” ― Frida Kahlo

Courtesy of Shutterchic Photography
Courtesy of Shutterchic Photography
Courtesy of ShutterChic Photography
Courtesy of ShutterChic Photography
Rain, Rain Go Away... Courtesy of ShutterChic Photography
Rain, Rain Go Away…
Courtesy of ShutterChic Photography

If you have a wedding story showing the strength and love of those around you I would love to hear it. Please comment below with your inspiration for others. And remember to pass good deeds and help forward!! I know I will be working to!