A Nacogdoches couple is back on dry land after they watched their Estes Park, Colorado wedding plans wash away.
Two weeks ago the state was rocked by torrential floods spanning 17 counties and flooding more than 2,000 square miles.
Chris and Raechell Hughes planned an outdoor wedding in gorgeous Estes Park, Colorado but just days before their special day, rain, rising rivers and washed out roads changed their plans.
Chris' family has a cabin in Estes Park and Raechell thought it was a beautiful place and wanted to do something different for their wedding.
"Just kind of thought of doing something different and would be memorable," said Raechell. They both laugh and say, "We definitely got that. It was memorable."
"When we first got there it was just kind of raining. We had no idea that it was going to start flooding," said Raechell Hughes.
Raechell's husband-to-be and his groomsmen even arrived early for their bachelor party.
"So when we got to Estes, he went with his guys and I went to meet up with my parents at their cabin that they had rented on the Big Thompson River," said Raechell.
But as the rain kept coming down and the river started to rise their plans to exchange vows at the historic Stanley Hotel changed.
"It rained pretty hard that night," said Raechell. "But nothing that we thought there would be flooding or anything. Then the next morning Chris called and said he was worried because there was flooding and to watch the rivers and the Big Thompson."
"We look outside and the river is rising and it's like flash flood. So it was very scary," said Raechell. "So the weather definitely started progressing as the days got on to be worse and worse and worse."
But it just wouldn't be a change of venue. The entire wedding wardrobe was stranded in an RV, on a mountain, inaccessible due to flooding.
"Another kind of funny catch to the story is my parents had driven an RV down there, which was full of our wedding clothes. Clothes, my wedding dress, our rings, his stuff, tux, everything that we could fit in there so we wouldn't have to carry it on the plane," said Raechell. "And then the next day that road closes, so we can't get to the RV the whole entire time we're there. So we had no wedding dress. No clothes. no rings. No anything."
Even then Raechell said she was still optimistic.
"I'm sure this will pass over like just kind of let it get it all out of its system and then we'll be ok," said Raechell. "So I was still pretty positive leading up to it that it would be fine and we'd figure it out. I was pretty certain that it probably wouldn't be outside but that we would move it inside and I was totally fine with that."
At one point in the trip, members of the wedding party were trapped in a cabin.
Chris said, "The roads going into the house were completely washed away and [the groomsmen] were all stuck there. All my stuff was there. I didn't have any of my clothes. They ended up going without water and food, electricity for a while. The eventually got out. Hiked out once the rain stopped"
And after 3 days of waiting and hoping...
"When the roads started washing away, we started to kind of realize that there wasn't going to be a wedding," said Raechell.
"We really didn't have a plan B," said Chris. "The town called off all weddings and eventually we got to the point where we were just like let's just find a pastor to marry us, that way we leave married."
"We got in touch with a pastor that was located there in Estes and he agreed to marry us the next morning," said Chris. "We just found a place outside on the grass. They set it up. We showed up t he next morning and the pastor married us."
The couple says they basically got married with the clothes on their backs. Although Raechell and her mother did run into a little luck with finding a dress.
"We happened upon the White Orchid and the lady that owned it, her house was flooded so she had actually spent the night in her store and she was there and she let us in. I found a dress. It didn't exactly fit perfect but it fit good enough and she gave us a great deal on it," said Raechell.
And the couple did get to exchange wedding rings said Raechell, "His dad, my brother and my future sister-in-law hiked up to the RV. It's a 4-mile hike, to get our rings for our wedding day so we would actually have our rings for the ceremony.
Although the day wasn't exactly what the Hughes' planned they say they wouldn't change anything.
"I think it turned out great," said Raechell. "We have a great story that we'll always remember. I think it was hard for me letting go of not having that moment in my dress and all of that but in the end I'm kind of happy that it happened this way."
"It worked out for the best and we're happy and we're married and we got to go on our honeymoon and we're back here and we can laugh about it now, "said Chris.
Ultimately the couple says the day wasn't about a wedding but about their love for each other.
"I think that it kind of tells how much we love each other and when it comes down to it, all we wanted was to get married and to leave married. Leave married was our goal. We didn't want to leave Estes without being married," said Raechell.
"And they say that rain is good luck so if that's true then we should have a lifetime, a lot of luck," said Raechell.
The newlyweds also helped out another couple whose wedding was affected by the flooding. Raechell said none of their vendors could make it to the ceremony so they went to a Safeway grocery store and bought flowers to make a bouquet. Then they donated their flowers to the other couple to help make their day as special as possible.
The couple just returned from their honeymoon in Antigua.
They are planning a reception in Nacogdoches so Raechell can wear her dress, Chris his tux and where all their friends and family can celebrate their marriage.
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