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Colorado flooding wreaks havoc with Kansans' ‘dream wedding’ plans

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Tuesday, Sep. 17, 2013, at 6:05 a.m.
  • Updated Tuesday, Sep. 17, 2013, at 1:17 p.m.

Hannah Marsh has gone from dreaming, to planning, to crying, to laughing, to scrambling with new wedding plans.

To understand the range of emotions the 23-year-old has gone through, you have to realize that she has been planning her wedding for more than a year – a “dream wedding” in Estes Park, Colo., now hit by severe flooding. Mother Nature swamped her wedding plans and temporarily dampened her spirit. Because of the flooding, the anticipated wedding that was going to be held this Friday in Estes Park won’t happen. One way or another, the wedding is now going to be held near Wichita, this Saturday, which doesn’t leave too much time to scramble.

Marsh wants people to know that she isn’t feeling sorry for herself. She feels bad for the flood victims.

Marsh, from Lenexa, and Joseph Hagan, 24, from Wichita, were going to get married in Estes Park with about 50 friends and loved ones. Estes Park is a beautiful place and a particularly popular place for weddings. Marsh had planned and arranged for a horseback-riding excursion and rehearsal dinner, equipment rentals, musicians for the ceremony, a reception at the hotel, the cake, the DJ, the photographer. So many things that go into a wedding.

She had been monitoring the weather crisis in Colorado since Thursday, from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where the groom works as a food-safety chemist for Cargill and the bride manages a gift shop.

Once they learned that roads around Estes Park had been shut down, “then we really started to worry,” Marsh said.

It touched her that some of the wedding vendors – who had water in their basements – were worried about her wedding.

She learned around 11 a.m. Monday that her dream wedding – just four days away – couldn’t be held there. Because of the flooding and the problems it presented, the vendors couldn’t pull it off.

One good thing is, it looks like she will eventually get refunds from the vendors.

Most of the guests had made flight plans, so they’re going to be out the price of their non-refundable tickets. One person had paid about $500 to fly from Maryland.

At first, Marsh said, she shed “a lot of tears.”

“This was my dream wedding. We’ve been planning it for a year and a month. … It’s just been wedding, wedding, wedding. ... So it’s just a lot to get over.”

She also realizes that it’s no big problem compared with what the flood victims have been dealing with.

She’s gone to Plan B, which is having the wedding some time Saturday at her husband-to-be’s family farm north of Kechi.

Friends and family have rallied around her, telling her, “We can do this!” and “You’re going to get married this weekend!”

Hilary Erbert, one of Marsh’s best friends from high school, said Marsh is the first in their group from Shawnee Mission West High School to get married, so they have been excited about her wedding. It’s a landmark in their path of young adulthood, she said, “kind of the next chapter of our lives.”

Erbert, who now has a job in Wichita, is boots on the ground to help Marsh pull off Plan B.

“We’re going to all do everything we can to try to make it the wedding of her dreams,” Erbert said.

Some of the planned wedding will be salvaged: The men’s tuxedos are being rerouted.

And they’re going to see if the photographer can come to Wichita.

Marsh is telling the invited guests: “Please, just come. … If you come, it’s OK.”

Tears have turned to laughter.

“We’re going to have fun,” Marsh said.

Reach Tim Potter at 316-268-6684 or tpotter@wichitaeagle.com.

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