Here in Colorado we are used to afternoon showers every once in a while. The middle of September for Colorado usually equals sunshine and cooler temperatures in preparation for a gorgeous fall. Not this September. The rain started falling sometime early in the week mid September and it seemed to never stop. I stayed up late on Wednesday September 11 working on a shoot a had done that evening and watched as my news and Facebook feed started filling with worry and fear that houses would soon be under water. It was the next day that things started to unravel a bit. It became increasingly clear to me that this could be really bad. Rivers were rising and people were being evacuated.
In my life I have always jumped and found my wings on the way down. I am impulsive and act with my heart first. I knew people needed help. I started receiving messages and phone calls from people wondering if venues for weddings would be open for the weekend. I felt so horrible for these couples who in some cases has planned the wedding of their dreams for more than a year only for a huge wrench (or flood) to be thrown in. I knew there would be a lot of panic and that someone had to jump in and organize. I realized this person was me. On Thursday night at about 10:30 I started a Facebook page called Save My Colorado Wedding. I figured free and getting the word out on social media was imperative. I posted the page to my own Facebook and all the wedding forums I could think of, asking simply that people share my page to try and reach those who needed help. If I could just help a few people have the wedding of their dreams it would be worth it. I quickly became overwhelmed with requests. After assigning a few weddings that had already come in to a few of the volunteer planners who had already offered their help, I decided to call it a night and get some sleep, I finally cashed it in at about 1:30 am.
I woke up at 7:30am Friday. 6 missed calls/voicemails, and over 100 notifications or messages on Facebook and email. The flooding had worsened overnight and now Evergreen too was under water with more rain on the way. All roads in and out of Lyons and Estes Park were closed. I-25 north into Fort Collins – closed. A lot of wedding pros could simply not get to where they were going. All communication was lost with Estes Park. Venues that were not closed Thursday night were closed Friday with weddings that were supposed to be held that day. Wedding Planners were calling me asking if they knew of venues that had availability for that day. Weddings were being moved in a matter of 4 hours. Pure Chaos. I had a ton message from wedding DJs, Florists, Photographers, Brides who said they couldn’t get to where they needed to go or their vendors couldn’t get to them. I was helping as many people as I could, still sitting at my house and in my Pajamas. I posted on Facebook jokingly that I needed someone to bring me food. Ask and you shall receive. Mark Paquette from Mark Christopher Weddings – a dear friend and colleague showed up an hour later at my house and brought me food, then sat with me for 4 hours and helped me organize and make phone calls. Meanwhile other friends were calling venues to see what availability was. A few other planners I work with also offered to help, so we essentially set up a team. We must have helped another 20-30 people that day that never ended up on our little spreadsheet. To date we have helped over 150 couples in some way or another. In two weeks time my volunteer planners and I helped save more weddings than we typically do in a year. I remember joking with my husband “I wish this many brides called me everyday”. (FYI I only take 20 weddings a year…so that would be crazy!)
What happened in the coming week was unprecedented and totally crazy. The Epoch Times, CBS news, four major Denver news channels, and The Weather Channel all featured the story. The Facebook page was mentioned on radio stations and news all over the US and our analytics on the page stated we had over 250,000 visitors to the site. I have always been a person who felt much better being behind the camera than in front of it, but knew if it was going to help more people, than why not? I have included some of these links and video at the bottom of this post in case you are curious.
What I really wanted when all this started was to help in some way. We see all these images on television and we feel a bit helpless, like we have to do something. I am not an emergency worker nor do a build homes, I am a wedding photographer who has an amazingly romantic heart and wanted to prove to the world that love will always win. It will always find a way. Floods, mudslides, and rain can’t stop two people from marrying each other. I am thankful that my heart is this way, that I was able to help make some couple’s hours of panic a little easier, that I had an amazing team of planners (Jessica Adler, Cielle Amundson, Mark Paquette, and Danielle Odil – I cannot thank you enough) that had that same ache in their heart for these couples and they were available to help, that my community is as amazing as I think it is. I am proud to call myself a Colorado native and proud to live in a community that truly loves it’s people. Colorado will rebuild and venues that have been washed away in the flood will rebound. These couples will have a very interesting story about their wedding for years to come. I will be forever changed by some of these people and their stories. Their wedding happened despite the floods and odds against them and their community was there to help them believe that love will always prevail. And it did.
We are still helping people who venues are waiting to see if they will be closed and in recent days even helping a few of the couples who were supposed to be married in the National Parks and cannot due to the government shut down. If anyone needs help relocating their wedding we are still happy to help. Just go to our Facebook page www.facebook.com/savemycoloradowedding
Here is all the press about it!
Denver Channel 7:
Here is the video from The Weather Channel segment:
The following are links to all the articles about Save My Colorado Wedding
9 News Denver
Fox 31 Denver
The Denver Post
The Epoch Times Article
Peta Pixel – A photographers news outlet
The Bridal Collection
…even an Italian newspaper picked it up
I cannot thank the following people enough; Jessica Adler from JA Special Events, Danielle Odil from Entwined Planning, Mark Paquette from Mark Chistopher Weddings, and Cielle Amundson from Storytellers Events. These four people have helped me from day one and I could not have done this without them. Others include Rachel Austin, Heather Gardner, Erica Bull, Chelle Smith, Jenni Lillie, Chris Scott, and Ali Brannan. These people jumped in and helped with extra things, calling venues, entering availability into spreadsheets. There are countless other who deserve to be called by name, planners, florists, photographers, DJs, venues, family, and friends and more who donated their services or helped at the last moment without thinking twice. Thank you, thank you, thank you.