CALGARY – Amber Adams and Eric Hepler had been meticulously planning their wedding for a year and a half.
The day before the big event was supposed to be a mellow one for the Calgary couple, with only a few loose ends to tie up.
And then the biggest flood in Alberta history happened.
“Everyone was going to come on Friday, and Saturday was going to be a seamless ceremony,” recalled Adams, 32, as her nine-month-old son, Theo, bounced on her lap.
Out-of-town guests were booked into 30 rooms at the Delta Bow Valley hotel, right in the downtown core.
On Friday morning, when Adams saw images of the Bow River spilling its banks and flooding the downtown, she called her sister, who was staying at the hotel.
Sis reported back that everything was a bit wet, but otherwise fine. Emails from worried guests began to roll in, and Adams assured them the news footage made it look worse than it was.
“So an hour after I sent all these emails saying it was fine, the hotel was fine, my sister called and said ‘we don’t have any power at the hotel, the power just went off,'” said Adams.
That’s when the panic set in.
“Luckily, my mom was here to take the baby and I just basically spent the morning in front of the computer calling every hotel that I could,” said Adams.
“It kind of felt like a command centre in here of our own,” added Hepler, 28.
Finding another hotel in a dry area of town with 30 spare rooms was no easy feat, but Adams persisted. After several setbacks, the pair had success with the Coast Plaza Hotel in the city’s northeast.
“They completely stepped up to the plate for us. It was really great,” said Hepler.
The venue for the wedding itself — the DeWinton Community Hall in a rural area just south of Calgary — was untouched by the floods.
But traversing the city to get there — with many key north-south thoroughfares closed — was going to be a challenge.
Unable to get a clear read on the situation from the radio or social media, Hepler decided to get in his car and check it out for himself. It took two-and-a-half hours to make a trip that would normally take 30 minutes, but he made it and was satisfied that guests would be able to get there the next day.
Even still, Adams and Hepler were concocting fallback plans — a public park or the parking lot of the Coast Plaza among them.
Meanwhile, the funk-soul band that was set to play the wedding, Moonshine Express, had played a show in Banff on Friday night and was stuck there with their drummer, who also happens to be Hepler’s brother, when the Trans-Canada Highway was shut down.
“As of even Friday night, we were starting to come to terms with the fact that my brother, the groomsman, the rest of the band, were probably not going to make it to the wedding,” said Hepler.
“So we were starting to wrap our heads around that and I got a text from him late on Friday night saying that he was going to try to make the long drive.”
A journey that normally takes no longer than 90 minutes took 12 hours, thanks to some interesting detours through the Crowsnest Pass and some logging roads.
“They had some pictures showing their little clunky rickety trailer going over some water-covered roads,” said Hepler. “It sounded like an adventure.”
Moonshine Express arrived at the wedding venue at 2 p.m. on Saturday — precisely two hours before the ceremony.
Of the 120 people on the guestlist, 100 were able to make it. Some motored through flooded highways to get there from British Columbia.
One of Adams’ cousins managed to get on a flight from Vancouver at the last minute when he discovered making the trek by motorcycle across the mountains wasn’t going to work.
Hepler and Adams said the wedding end up being a blast.
“At the end of the day, I didn’t care about the colour of the napkins, I didn’t care about what music was going to be played or how things panned out. All I cared was that we managed to get together somehow,” said Adams.
Her husband added: “People tell you you get stressed on your wedding day. Saturday felt like a cake walk after our ordeal on Friday.”