A Flash Flood Crashed My Outdoor Wedding

Erin Givarz
Jun 15 · 6 min read

I am kneeling on the rug on the floor of the venue bathroom. My fiancé is holding me and I am crying huge, heavy tears into his shirt. It is the day of our wedding.

This is really hard. Cry as much as you need right now. Someone will figure this out.

He always knows exactly what to say. Despite my training as a therapist, he has always been the more empathetic one.

The first time I told him I loved him was during a thunderstorm. I had insisted we leave the windows open so I could hear each crack of thunder. Come to think of it, most of my memorable life events were thunderstorm adjacent.

As a child, I remember arriving at the beach every Sunday, the afternoon Florida sky covered in a thick black blanket, purple and blue lightning on the horizon and big fat raindrops around us. Once the clouds parted, my brothers and I would run out onto the sand, into the sunshine. At home, my parents would line us up in front of the sliding glass doors in little chairs, movie-style, to watch thunderstorms. We were ecstatic. We sat bright-eyed and squealed with every clap of thunder.

It felt as if the lightning was alive inside of me.

My fiancé understood and embraced this wild part of me. I decided that our wedding theme would be wildflowers. Our love was freeing, wild, and rare. We would get married in April, the height of the wildflower season in Texas.

With the help of a wedding planner, we spent a year and half planning and detailing everything to make our wedding personal, unique and affordable. We asked people we loved to create the handmade invitations, customized guest book, personalized embroidered decor, hand-sewn bunting, and a beautiful, albeit huge, hand-painted welcome sign. I illustrated the seating chart, painted the Ketubah (Jewish wedding contract), cut the Topo Chico bottles into vases, picked the local wildflowers, and determined where all of these things would go. More importantly, we searched for and found the perfect venue, one that would allow us to be outside, surrounded by trees and flowers.

In this moment on the floor, my partner is the safe harbor for my oversized ocean of emotion, which has been sending tumultuous waves through my body for weeks. During this time, I had completely lost my appetite. And I had been having trouble sleeping. I would wake up in the middle of the night and imagine an ominous storm over my wedding guests at the precise time of the ceremony, forcing everyone out of their seats and inside the tiny house on the property for safety. My wedding planner assured me that this kind of thing was rare.

Unfortunately, the forecast was clear: severe thunderstorms. It has not changed in two weeks, and even though many people assured me that it might change, and as much as I hoped for this, I obsessively downloaded every weather tracking app I could find and braced for the worst. Our venue did not have enough indoor space to hold our 80 guests.

I read positive blog posts about rainy weddings. We bought umbrellas. We ordered giant tents that covered the entire area, which ended up costing more than the venue itself. People assured me that wedding day rain was good luck. For the life of me, I could not get Alanis Morissette out of my head.

Four hours before my wedding was set to begin, I walked into the venue, wedding dress in hand. My wedding planner quickly caught me, looked me in the eyes, placed her hands on my shoulders and said:

I am so sorry. Due to the current flash flood situation, this venue has been deemed unsafe and we are being made to evacuate.

A couple of my friends are silently arranging the Texas wildflowers I hand picked with my mom and brother the previous day. The rain is gushing outside. My mom and future mother in law are looking out the window in awe. My friend is watching his handmade bamboo Chuppah he erected collapse under the force of the storm. Huge sacks of brown liquid are forming in the giant clear tent we ordered, threatening to burst at any moment.

My eyes start to well with tears.

We are working on a plan, she says, take all the time you need.

Soon my friend Amber joins me on the floor of the bathroom, dabbing lavender on my wrists and neck. I consider staying there all day.

The tears eventually stop, and I leave the bathroom, feeling a tad calmer. Friends, family, and planners dart between rooms on the phone with vendors, other planners, and venues. They have flowers, boxes, and décor in their arms. My future mother-in-law hands out margaritas to everyone and we readily accept. I sit down in front of my makeup artist and she starts to apply foundation on my previously tear-soaked cheeks. At this point, I still don’t know if I am even having a wedding, and things start to feel somewhat humorous to me. I also feel humbled, because after carrying the anxious weight of the worst case wedding scenario for weeks — it is here, it is happening, and all these amazing people in my life are scrambling to save it.

Miraculously, and within the hour, my wedding planner, Jen, a badass goddess of a human, declares:

We have found an indoor venue! It’s beautiful! And we’re moving in right now!

With the help of friends, I begin to text the new venue address to everyone on my guest list. I check out the new venue on my phone and the pictures are amazing. My fiancé rushes to the hotel with his brother and dad to get ready. Several of us pile into a car and drive through the storm to the new venue, just seven minutes away.

It is even more perfect than we pictured. It’s a gigantic room with tree branches lining the ceiling. People are asking me where to put the handmade British bunting, the childhood photographs, the Chuppah. “I don’t care!” I announce excitedly. I feel free. Free of the planning, the worry, and deeply in awe of everyone and everything around me.

My photographer cleverly puts my dress up on an indoor tree branch and snaps some dramatic shots. I am laughing with her as she asserts:

Your love is so powerful! Look what it has done!

The next two hours are a flurry of activity. A quick rehearsal, putting on my dress, first-look photos with umbrellas outside in what has become a light drizzle, the signing of and singing around the Ketubah. I am laughing, smiling, and intensely joyful. Dramatically joyful. Experiencing an incredible high after a terrible low.

Astonishingly, the wedding ceremony begins on time. I am crying tears of happiness before I even get down the stairs that lead me to the aisle. Everyone is there. The rest of the wedding goes off without a hitch. My friends pack the dance floor for an incredible dance party. I hug every person there, shaking my head in disbelief at the craziness of the day. My new husband and I are gleefully lifted onto a chair while all 80 guests circle around us for the Hora.

Throughout it all I am full of adrenaline, smiling, and squealing — like a little girl in front of a glass wall of purple lightning.

The thunder is still clapping outside, as if to say: did you really think I would miss this day, of all days?

I am fully alive. I have lightning inside of me.

Photos by Flowermouth Photography and Event Planning by Burlap & Rose Weddings

Erin Givarz

Written by

Erin Givarz is a freelance writer, illustrator, and emotional human living in Austin, TX. Her illustrations can be seen on Instagram @erinleewithaheart

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