Yesterday my sister shared the story of her wedding, and how it was impacted by the floods that hit Colorado last September. Today’s post is an entirely different look at how the flooding affected another wedding, that of Kelly and Aaron (who happens to be one of my husband’s best friends since childhood). The groom kindly shared their story, and Sara Hasstedt shared these beautiful photos.
When we booked our destination wedding in Estes Park, Colorado, we envisioned sunny skies, warm weather, and mountain vistas. We arrived the Wednesday ahead of our Sunday wedding to gloomy skies and the forecast of rain. That evening we enjoyed a nice dinner with one of the bridesmaids and her husband, discussing the fun events to come over the next several days. We booked a hotel on the river for our first few nights prior to the wedding. Throughout the night, our phones continued to alert us to “flash flood warnings” in the area. I nervously looked out over our deck at the river, watching it grow higher and higher. The following morning, the first text I received was from one of the groomsmen and read, “How does it feel to be stranded in Estes Park?” Within the coming hours, we learned that the downtown had flooded and the two main highways coming from Denver had been destroyed. The mountains above Estes had received over eight inches of rain in just three hours that night. While we frantically tried to contact our family and friends who were en route, we lost cell phone and Internet service. Watching the rising water infiltrate our hotel, we were relocated to their sister hotel, Murphy’s Resort. Luckily, their Internet provider was the only one in town that still had service, allowing us to stay in contact with our guests and vendors.
Over the next forty-eight hours we had no idea if the wedding would actually occur. We began hearing rumors that our guests would not be allowed into the city because of the now limited access due to severe flooding and mudslides. Many of the weddings in Estes were cancelled and there were suggestions that we should follow suit or move the venue to Denver. Through the help of the staff at Della Terra and Murphy’s Resort, we were able to get many of our guests into town. Each guest had to pass by a national park ranger or through National Guard checkpoints showing our wedding invitation in order to gain access to the town. Each tells stories of pleading with guards and driving behind a snow plow utilized to clear the road of water entering Estes Park. A simple two hour trip from the Denver airport became more than a seven hour adventure for most.
As icing on the cake, Kelly’s wedding dress was stranded at a dry cleaner in Longmont, Colorado. Longmont was heavily damaged by the flooding and mostly evacuated – leaving her wedding dress newly steamed but unreachable. Hearing of our struggles via Facebook and Twitter, the amazing people of Estes Park scrambled to find her a replacement, allowing her to try on their own wedding dresses at their homes. As guests began to trickle into town, we were in a race to find a new rehearsal dinner site as our first was under water. A new restaurant, The Overlook, graciously agreed to host our rehearsal dinner party on less than 24 hours notice for “somewhere between twenty and fifty guests,” our best estimate.
With the help of so many people, the wedding started to come together. The wonderful staff at Murphy’s Resort helped us every step of the way and even manicured Kelly’s nails. Our phenomenal vendors worked together and carpooled in order to be able to arrive at our wedding. Sara Hasstedt, our photographer, arranged for Kelly’s dress to be picked up in Longmont, and then drove it up the mountain herself, in the dark and the rain, the night before the wedding.*
In the end, forty-five of our seventy guests were able to brave the storm and make it to our wedding amid the natural disaster. While our wedding week was far from what we envisioned, our family and friends rallied around us despite the dire circumstances to make for an unforgettable night. The kindness shown to us by the people of Estes Park was overwhelming and their willingness to lend a helping hand will never be forgotten. It is said that rain on a wedding day is good luck, so I guess we will have enough luck to last a lifetime.
*When it looked like she might not have a wedding dress to wear, the bride joked that people had better be ready to wear jean shorts, because she would not be upstaged on her own wedding day. Thankfully, it didn’t come to that. Sara Hasstedt shares how social media helped save Kelly’s dress: “Longmont was one of the towns that had been evacuated due to the floods. I reached out on Facebook, and two friends immediately commented that they wanted to help. These two women took the initiative to coordinate with each other via Facebook to help rescue Kelly’s dress. They were moved by her story and, both being married women themselves, wanted to make sure that this bride, who they didn’t even know, could still look and feel her most beautiful on her wedding day.”
Thank you so much to Kelly and Aaron for sharing your incredible wedding story with us!