This week I have two really special wedding stories to share with you, both of them from couples whose weddings were affected by the devastating floods in Colorado last September, and who were kind enough to share their stories. The first is that of my sister, Lora, and her husband Grant, told in two parts…
Invitation by Minted. DIY save-the-date.
When Grant and I met with Betsy at the Lyons Farmette, a small four-acre farm outside of Boulder, we knew we wanted to have our wedding there. Driving across the bridge and through the cottonwoods lining the property, its charm was apparent straight away. It was such a beautiful space and reminded both of us of my family’s cabin in Montana. It felt welcoming and private, but even more than that, Betsy was so warm and easy going, she really made us feel like family right away, and even sent us home with a gorgeous bouquet of peonies from the farm.
We set the date for September 21, and I spent the next year agonizing over every detail – I am a horrible perfectionist, and when you grow up around talented, artistic, and tasteful women, it can be hard to let a napkin just be a napkin! We decided on a gourmet box lunch and hired a bluegrass band; my mom designed sweet, rustic centerpieces of geraniums and bacopa, and made black and white checked tablecloths; and our caterer even arranged to have a bike-powered cider press on site!
And then, a week before the wedding, it started raining. And it didn’t stop. Lyons, where the Farmette is located, got more than 17 inches of rain in just a matter of days, and was now being referred to as an island. Streets flooded, creeks and rivers overflowed their banks, washing away roads, cars, and homes. We were lucky that our home in Denver was okay, but so many people’s lives were devastated.
We had visited Lyons so many times for wedding walk-throughs and pie tastings, and now we just liked to go for no reason at all. Such a small and charming town, it’s hard to feel that you’re not a part of the community when you’re there. Most of our wedding vendors were from Lyons, and they all knew each other. There’s the bartender who worked at the local restaurant, The Fork, which is located across the street from the St. Vrain Market where we were going to get our amazing apple pies. Our caterer, Katie of EAT! Catering, lived in town and had introduced us to everyone else, including our day-of coordinator, Georgia, who was dating our band leader, Joe. In just a few short months of hectic planning, I had come to know some amazing people, and now their town was under water.
When the floods hit, my mother was already in town to help with last minute wedding preparations. As soon as I got home from work that day, she said to me, “I don’t think the Farmette is going to happen. I found another location here in Denver where we can have the wedding, or you can postpone, or you guys can cancel the wedding and elope. I think whatever you end up doing will be great and we just need to make this decision now.” This is not what any bride expects to hear just a week before her wedding. But somehow, I felt a huge weight lifted from my shoulders. Feeling my mom’s positive attitude, and seeing the devastation caused by the floods, I knew this was not the time to mourn my wedding. This was a time for people to focus on bigger and more important things. “I think we should cancel the wedding,” I told her.
Grant agreed immediately, and after calling my dad and my sisters, I emailed everyone else to let them know that the wedding was canceled. My heart was racing. With just the click of the “send” button, an entire year of planning was going to disappear.
Betsy at the Farmette contacted us to let us know that they would not be able to host our wedding because they no longer had working water, electrical, or sewage. Most of our guests were able to cancel their flights with a full refund or credit, and got deposits back on the hotel rooms they had booked. Some people were still coming in, mostly Grant’s family and international friends, along with some other close family friends and the best man. And instead of spending the week attending to final wedding details, we had the chance to really visit and enjoy the company of those loved ones who did make it to town, and my mother and Grant’s parents put together a last minute “reception” at a local brewery.
Once the decision was made, I jumped into elopement plans, because rain or shine, I was going to marry this man! And I finally realized that I was getting married! This was happening! In all the noise and stress of planning a wedding, I had lost sight of what it was really all about – Grant and me, coming together as a family. We just wanted to get married. We didn’t need a standing ovation or an applause. We really just needed each other.
So on Thursday night, after sharing dinner with the 40 friends and family who came into town for us despite the rain, flooding, and cancellation, Grant and I hurried to the airport and hopped on a flight to San Francisco, headed for Napa Valley. On Friday, the day before we were originally supposed to get married, I woke up and prepared to exchange vows with my husband-to-be. It certainly was not the wedding that I had planned, but it’s surprising to me now that eloping isn’t taken seriously as an option by more people. I recommend it to all my engaged friends! I will always cherish the day that Grant and I got married, just the two of us, from saying our vows in front of a cheesy vineyard photo backdrop, to taking photos in front of the real thing. It was a beautiful wedding and it was ours.
Photos by Christina McNeill.
SEE PART TWO OF LORA AND GRANT’S WEDDING-TURNED-ELOPEMENT RIGHT HERE.