Hurricane Florence threatened to ruin nine months of planning, but the generosity of family, friends and local businesses saved a local couple's perfect wedding.

PANAMA CITY — Less than a week ago, Katelyn French and her fiancé Matt Parsons had everything planned and ready for a mountaintop destination wedding in North Carolina.

On Tuesday, Hurricane Florence had an unexpected objection to the nuptials.

“It had kind of been on my mind, the possibility of it coming, and I was kind of in denial a little bit to be honest,” said French, who was born and raised in Panama City. “I was thinking, we’re just going to get a little bit of rain.”

 

After becoming engaged amongst the mountains in Colorado just after New Year's, the couple decided they wanted their wedding to follow suit.

In order to appease both their love for mountains and their traveling friends and family, the couple chose Topton, North Carolina, as their venue destination. French described the destination wedding as her fairy tale, complete with mountain themed invitations and signs.

“I had everything planned out, and I planned it all pretty early so it was just kind of a smooth sailing ride,” she said.

“I ended up having to switch some major vendors about a month ago,” she continued, describing the one hiccup she experienced in the process. “I remember thinking, that was really stressful.”

As the day grew near, the calls from family and friends starting pouring in, warning the couple about the incoming storm.

Initially, the couple planned to continue their plans to wed in the North Carolina destination despite the threat of the storm, albeit with a plan for the rain, but as the hurricane shifted, the bride-to-be made the heart wrenching decision to change plans.

“When I tell you everything was out of my hands, everything was out of my hands,” said French. “I could not afford two weddings.”

Now tasked with searching for last minute options back in her hometown, French scrambled to make phone calls to local businesses to put together a wedding before Saturday. But then, thanks to the generosity of family, friends, and even strangers in her hometown, her luck changed.

A longtime friend of French’s family, April Crosby, offered to plan the entire wedding. French’s aunt offered her beautiful home to the couple as a venue. Suddenly, businesses who had caught wind of the couple’s troubles began offering to help at huge discounts or little to no charge.

After a couple of hours of planning, French had her entire wedding planned and booked.

“I mean it literally happened within a day. And so to me that’s so impossible because I just spent 9 months planning the perfect wedding and it was so many moving parts and things required that — it’s just impossible to plan a wedding in a day! I mean it’s like, totally a God thing.”

“There are so many people that were just so generous and that I didn’t even have to reach out to— they just called me. It is honestly just the most bizarre thing I have ever experienced.”

This Saturday, French and Parsons will still be having their dream wedding in Chipley due to the immense generosity shown to them by the very same community where they were introduced.

Hurricane Florence, which began yesterday what many are calling an assault, has caused a state of emergency to be declared in both Carolinas. Residents on the coast have been urged to evacuate.

“For me, it was just a huge eye-opener,” she said. “These people in my hometown, strangers, friends, family members, they just rallied up and took care of everything in a day. Just shows you the generosity in your hometown. Especially here.”

“To be honest, I feel so much better now about it being here,” she continued. “I feel like this is supposed to be my dream wedding.”