-- Heather and Kole Powell thought photos from their May beach-side wedding in California were lost forever after an ocean wave swept away a camera used to take nearly 200 photos.
The couple, who live in Kentucky, was married on May 6, 2017, in Laguna Beach during a stormy weekend that created high tides.
A relative who was taking photos of the couple and family and friends before the wedding put her camera down on the beach when the ceremony started.
Just after the Powells were pronounced husband and wife, an ocean wave swept the camera and a purse containing the couple’s cellphones out to sea.
“Kole’s mom looked over and saw that everything was gone,” Heather Powell, 21, told ABC News. “We were pretty shocked.”
The couple waded in nearly knee-deep water to try to retrieve the camera and their phones to no avail.
“It was a sour mood kind of but we didn’t want it to ruin the entire day,” she said. “We tried to look at it as a positive, just another rough patch to get through and a sign that everything will be OK.”
The high school sweethearts held onto their wedding memories through photographs taken by a professional photographer during and after the ceremony.
Then in August Heather Powell got a call from that photographer telling her to go on Facebook.
The photographer was tagged in a Facebook post that contained photos of the lost camera and photos of the Powells on their wedding day.
A Facebook user saw the post and recognized the Powells from photographs of their wedding ceremony that their professional photographer had shared on her own website.
“I just was so shocked,” Heather Powell said. “I ran over to my husband and said, ‘Oh my gosh, someone found our camera.’”
Nick Reed, who posted the photos, was given the camera by his sister, Maria Reed, who found it on the beach July 4, nearly two months after the Powells' wedding.
Nick Reed, 33, told ABC News it took him "a few hours" to both remove the memory card from the camera and clean it enough to be able to retrieve the photos.
The Powells quickly got in touch on Facebook with Nick Reed. He mailed the Powells their camera and memory card, and put their wedding photos on a CD drive.
Nick Reed was able to retrieve all 500 photos on the camera, including the nearly 200 from the Powells' wedding. Included among the photos is the moment Kole Powell saw Heather Powell in her wedding dress.
“We tried to convince him to let us pay the shipping and he wouldn’t,” Heather Powell said. “We told [Nick and Maria] that if we make it out to California again we’re going to buy them dinner and meet them to thank them.”
She added, “Both my husband and I are just blown away by their kindness. There aren’t enough words.”