Colorado Couples Keep Wedding Day Despite Massive Flooding

PHOTO: WEDDING COUPLES PlayRachel Sullivan Photography|Emily RC Photography|Courtesy Sarah Simonic
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They say it's good luck to have it rain on your wedding day, but what do you do if rain becomes record-breaking downpours and devastating flooding that leaves your wedding guests stranded and your venue under water?

Three Colorado couples, all of whom spent at least a year planning their weddings for this past weekend, were forced to come up with a Plan B in a matter of hours when faced with raging floodwaters, calling upon the help of family, friends, total strangers and, for one bride, a police escort, to make their big day happen.

All said they felt "blessed" they were still able to have their special day in the midst of a natural disaster.

"We never thought the flood would stop us from getting married," said Joshua Bundy, 25, of Thornton, Colo.

PHOTO: Boulder, Colo.Rachel Sullivan Photography
Boulder, Colo.

Bundy, a petty officer first class in the Navy, and his new bride Lacy Wilkinson, a 25-year-old senior at the University of Denver, also from Thornton, had planned their wedding for Saturday, Sept. 14, in Estes Park, Colo., where heavy flooding has now destroyed 1,500 homes.

As wedding guests started arriving Tuesday, Sept. 10, the couple said they kept an eye on the weather.

"And it said 'sun' on Saturday and we thought that we were good to go," Wilkinson said.

But then the rains came and didn't stop, and by Friday morning, the night of their rehearsal dinner, roads were closed.

"Before our venue was canceled, we had 30 out-of-state guests coming in, and they were getting called first. Their hotels said they had to cancel their reservations, 'we're evacuating,'" Wilkinson said.

When the couple couldn't get ahold of their rehearsal dinner venue, they realized they needed a new plan, and said they had upwards of 25 people working the phones to find a new venue.

"We were getting married no matter what, we just needed a different location," Bundy said.

"We were going as far as to just pick a park from somewhere," Wilkinson said.

During this time, Sarah Roshan with "Save My Colorado Wedding," one of many initiatives helping displaced Colorado couples with their flood-affected weddings, reached out to Wilkinson and Bundy and offered to help them make their wedding happen, pro-bono.

PHOTO: Joshua Bundy, a petty officer first class in the Navy, and his new bride Lacy Wilkinson, both 25, planned a new wedding in a day, with help from Save My Colorado Wedding, after their Colorado venue was washed out.Emily Roembach-Clark of Emily RC Photography.
Joshua Bundy, a petty officer first class in the Navy, and his new bride Lacy Wilkinson, both 25, planned a new wedding in a day, with help from "Save My Colorado Wedding," after their Colorado venue was washed out.

"'Save My Colorado Wedding' was pretty much the catalyst for having the wedding go through," Wilkinson said.

Roshan, a Denver-based wedding photographer who works as part of a wedding collective with a few wedding planners, set up the "Save My Colorado Wedding" Facebook page with a friend last Thursday night.

"When I woke up Friday morning I had like 100 message," she said. "It was insane."

Through the initiative, she and her all-volunteer team have spent the past few days solving wedding crisises across Colorado, from finding a venue that was not underwater to getting vendors to donate services.

"A florist called me and said, 'I have all these flowers. Can you help me find someone to get them to?' And they were picked up by a bride who was displaced," Roshan said. "We have bridal shops that have offered to let brides use their sample dresses.

"Whatever we can do for these couples, we're willing to do," she added. "So far we haven't had a request we haven't been able to fulfill."

To date, Roshan said her team has helped more than 50 couples and is currently working with 32 more. Bundy and Wilkinson were the first couple she reached out to. Roshan was able to reschedule their whole wedding at a new venue.

After being in "panic mode" for most of the day, Bundy and Wilkinson said yes to Roshan's offer without even seeing the venue and were married at the Spruce Mountain Lodge in Lakespur, Colo.

"It was like, 'holy smokes,'" Bundy said.

"Did we just pull off a whole year of planning in eight hours?" Wilkinson added.

Out of the 120 guests invited, only about 10 people weren't able to come, the couple said, and some were because their families' homes were evacuated. Although they had to pay extra for the new venue, the couple said the lodge is giving them 30 days to pay in full.

"A lot of our guests who knew the situation ... said it seemed as though it was the wedding we had planned the whole time," Bundy said.

"Obviously it was still the best day of my life," Wilkinson added. "I couldn't have had a better day, given the circumstances."

But for Jyssica Lasco, a 24-year-old nanny from Englewood, Colo., her flood-impacted wedding day didn't go as smoothly.

She and her new husband Grant Hetherington, a 27-year-old auto technician, had spent two years planning their dream wedding in Lyons, Colo. The ceremony was supposed to be set against a mountain backdrop surrounded by large trees, with a reception near the famed Red Rocks and an after-party at a local brewery.

The wedding was scheduled for Friday, Sept. 13. As "huge horror movie lovers," Lasco said getting married on Friday the 13th was special to both of them.

But on Thursday morning, Lasco said she woke up to a stream of text messages from friends and family asking if she was safe. Then she turned on the news.

"And literally at that exact moment they said, 'Lyons is an island, you can't get get in or out of Lyons,'" she said. "We went from having an entire dream wedding planned in two years to planning a new wedding in 36 hours."

Lasco said family members from both sides sprang into action to find a new venue that was still open and could hold her 100-person guest list. After a few hours, they finally found an indoor space in Loveland, Colo., which should have taken less than an hour to drive to, and was willing to keep her Friday date.

But when she and her maid-of-honor headed out on Thursday, Lasco said they ran into road block after road block, and found themselves stranded for almost four hours at a bridge in the southern part of Loveland. Finally, Lasco said, a police officer was able to escort them across to the north part of the city.

After her mother called her during the virtual walkthrough of the new venue, and told her it was an all-concrete space that "smelled like a thrift shop," Lasco said she broke down in tears. It was not exactly what she had envisioned for her special day and she considered canceling.

PHOTO: Lyons, ColoCourtesy Rachel Sullivan Photography
Lyons, Colo

"We were still having a wedding and I'm so grateful," she said. "[But] that is our one day that it was just going to be us and it kind of snowballed into a mess, but it still ended up beautiful... pretty much all I remember from the day is walking down the aisle."

Despite guests having to take roundabout routes to get to the wedding -- it took Lasco's grandfather 11 hours to come in from Wyoming -- her caterer having to prepare all the food with only his wife for help, and the minister and the groomsmen getting stuck in road blocks on the way to the new venue, Lasco and Hetherington were still able to say "I do" in front of around 80 guests.

"On Friday I was all smiles. I was grinning ear-to-ear because everyone was able to make it there and was safe," Lasco said. "People kept coming up to me and saying, 'you have been one of the most mellow, laid-back brides, why aren't you freaking out?' ... and I said, 'you're here, you're safe, and I'm not worried about you.'"

Sarah Simonic, 24, and her new husband Alan Stratton, 31, both of Boulder, Colo., also had planned an outdoor wedding in Lyons, but at a farm. Things seemed to be going as planned for most of the week, despite the rain, until the owner of the farm texted Simonic on Friday and said, "Do you have a plan B?"

After working the phones, the couple's families were able to book the Avalon Dance venue in Boulder for their Sunday wedding date. Canceling wasn't an option, the couple said.

"Honestly was it was my family who had to push me at the last minute to say, 'lets look at a new venue,'" Simonic said. "In my heart I thought I would be getting married outdoors ... [but] I feel very lucky. I feel blessed we were able to pull through."

Once the venue was nailed down, it was a mad scramble to set everything up, which took some improvising -- the dance studio provided no dressing room space for the bridal party, so they had to create one. When only one member of the band they hired made it through the floodwaters, the couple used an iPod.

"We understood quite quickly that it wasn't going to be the wedding that we [originally] wanted or planned, but it was still the wedding that we wanted," Stratton said. "It was a little stressful, but I had a lot of good people helping and a lot of hands."

The groom, who took charge of last minute set-up, said he didn't start getting ready for the wedding until 15 minutes before the ceremony was supposed to start at 3 p.m.

"Up until 2:45, I was in plain clothes, jeans and t-shirt, still setting up tables, still deciding where the bar should go," he said. "Someone literally tied my tie for me... it was a huge group effort to make me look presentable."

Now, days after the wedding, Stratton and Simonic said it was "back to reality" for them.

PHOTO: Bride Sarah Simonic Courtesy Sarah Simonic
Bride Sarah Simonic

Of their 120 guests, around 85 were able to make the wedding and some of their friends had their homes flooded out. Stratton said one of his groomsmen even showed up to the rehearsal in what appeared to be fisherman's waders. They are going around checking in on loved ones.

"Even though it wasn't the most perfect or ideal wedding, it was our wedding day and we'll remember it for the rest of our lives," Simonic said. "The most important, most exciting moment, was turning that corner to walk down the aisle and seeing my future husband-to-be and that is what our weding was all about, not the location, not the food, not the music, but us uniting."