Guests rally after wildfire halts wedding

“In the end, the love between my daughter and her husband came out on top of everything else.”

Weddings require months of planning, agonizing over every little detail before the big day arrives.

A forest fire evacuation forcing the reception to be abruptly halted and moved elsewhere is not generally in most wedding planning guides.

But that’s what happened to a Vernon family hosting a wedding reception Saturday night at the Okanagan Centre Community Hall in Lake Country when police arrived at the front door.

Pat Loehndorf, with the Bannister Honda dealership in Vernon, said the fire ultimately made the wedding of his daughter Ashley and the groom Shawn Hanna that much more memorable because of how people responded to the adversity of the moment.

The 80 guests in attendance rallied around the happy couple and transferred everything set up at the hall—DJ’s sound equipment, wedding cake, liquor, wine barrels, an overhead projector, vases with flowers, etc.— to the Lake Country home volunteered by one of the guests.

“Everyone pitched in and it seemed like there were pickup trucks arriving from every direction at the hall to transfer stuff to the house, which was about 10 minutes down the road,” Loehndorf said.

“To have been able to pull that off, everyone coming together to make it happen kind of restores your faith in humanity.”

The wedding day had started off with a perfect hot Okanagan afternoon. The wedding was held outside the hall, located at 11099 Maddock Ave., followed by the wedding party photos at the Ex Nihilo Winery vineyards.

The reception followed and guests were beginning to be served supper at 6:30 p.m. when Loehndorf says all hell broke loose.

“I met up with the police at the entrance way to the hall, and they were very professional in looking out for the best safety interests of everyone that we all had to go,” Loehndorf said.

With some quick thinking, the reception party literally was picked up and moved to a new location, creating one that Loehndorf called one of those magical moments when people come together to create and celebrate a special moment in time, something that wasn’t lost on his daughter despite the fire and smoke.

“She gave a speech on the deck of the house with all the smoke in the background but that didn’t really matter. She was tearing up in thanking everyone for making their wedding such a special event despite everything that happened,” he said.

“They were still able to cut the wedding cake and have their first traditional dance on the balcony of the house.

“At that point it didn’t matter what was happening outside. It was about the love shared between a couple starting out their lives together, and how everyone else there was happy for them.

“In the end, the love between my daughter and her husband came out on top of everything else.”

The happy couple were left with a memorable wedding day that won’t soon be forgotten as they headed off for a honeymoon in Naramata before returning to their home in New Westminster.

Loehndorf added that a sudden change in wedding plans doesn’t compare to those who lost their homes or animals.

“Those are the folks we really need to focus on. You can’t help but feel bad for their loss,” he said.

 

Just Posted

Kelowna council defers decision on homeless development

BC Housing is revisiting original plan after concerns from local businesses

3% tax hike proposed in West Kelowna

Proposed provisional budget tax hike in line with recent annual increases in the city

Okanagan robbery suspect sought

RCMP are seeking the public’s assistance in identifying a suspect in an… Continue reading

11-year-old water quality advisory lifted in Glenmore

Glenmore-Ellison Improvement District says Interior Health gave the green light to lift advisory

Site C dam goes ahead, cost estimate now up to $10.7 billion

Premier John Horgan says Christy Clark left him no other choice

Crook’s Corner

A slice of this week’s arts and entertainment happenings in the North Okanagan at a glance

Six-year-old boy needs $19,000 a month to treat rare form of arthritis

Mother of sick Sooke boy asks government to help fund treatments

Environmental groups slam NDP decision to continue with Site C

Construction industry, meanwhile, is cautiously optimistic about how the project will look

Be ladder safe both at work and home

WorkSafeBC wants you to keep safe while hanging those Christmas lights this year

B.C. overdose deaths surpass 1,200

96 people died of illicit drug overdoses in October

A classic Christmas play with a Kelowna twist

Scrooge is transported to Kelowna in New Vintage Theatre’s new holiday play, opening Wednesday

Crown appeals stay against Jamie Bacon in Surrey Six killings

B.C.’s prosecution service says judge’s decision reveals ‘errors of law’

Feds agree to give provinces 75 per cent of pot tax revenues

Finance Minister Bill Morneau announced the agreement today

Attempted murder charge up in the air after victim’s death

Without Thomas Szajko’s testimony, alleged shooter Afshin Ighani could get off on that charge

Most Read