Sara and Michael had it all planned: they'd figured out the venue, they'd set the date. The couple opted for a June wedding in the gorgeous southwestern Colorado area surrounding Durango.
Their plans, however, were derailed June 1 when the 416 Fire ignited and quickly grew, placing their wedding venue - the Cascade Village lodge near Durango - into the list of places under a mandatory evacuation.
For anyone who's planned a wedding, the last thing you want to hear is that you've got just days to find and set up a new venue for one of the most important (and, let's be honest, stressful) events of your life.
But, according to Sara's Instagram post, everyone came together to make the wedding happen - and the couple was able to wed with the 416 Fire ominously looming in the background.
While the photo is dramatic and quite something to behold, neither the couple nor their photographer is fine with it going viral without a cause: the area surrounding Durango relies heavily on tourism to help its economy.
As of Tuesday, the 416 Fire closed down the San Juan National Park on the city's outskirts. The massive plumes of smoke can be seen for miles and on every newscast in the state. National news outlets have even started reporting on the massive fire that's forced thousands to evacuate.
Alexi Hubbell and the couple are asking anyone who is able to donate to the Community Foundation Serving Southwest Colorado. The money goes directly to the community's Emergency Relief Fund to help all affected and those fighting the good fight to put out the 35 square mile wildfire.
"Durango and Silverton are incredible places to visit and are still open for business!" Sara wrote on her Instagram page.
Durango isn't closed down just because of this fire.
"We are hoping to spread the word and also let people know that Durango is still open for business and we depend on the tourism industry to survive," Hubbell told 9NEWS over Facebook.
The photos of the fire are from sunset on Saturday, when the couple was married. They are asking for donations for the affected region - you can donate at this link.
As for the couple, according to Sara's Instagram post, they had a ball. Their guests came from around the U.S. and enjoyed all the fun a typical Colorado vacation has to offer: rafting, hiking, delicious food and breweries.
At last check, the 416 Fire continues to grow as hot and dry conditions continue in the southwestern part of the state. It's burned 23,378 acres and has 900 firefighters out battling the blaze. It remains 15 percent contained.
We are in absolute awe of our friends, family, photographer, and vendors who made this incredible wedding come to life. The 416 fire forced us to change venues last minute and it was a little hectic. Thank you to the firefighters working hard to keep the Durango community safe, we are so grateful. What an unbelievable weekend. Please consider donating to the community! Monetary donations are being accepted by the Community Foundation Serving Southwest Colorado for their Community Emergency Relief Fund. Checks can be mailed to the Community Foundation Serving Southwest Colorado; P.O. Box 1673; Durango, CO 81302.By PayPal or credit card at the foundation’s website. Please see the @durango_herald for more information on how you can support firefighters and evacuees. Durango and Silverton are incredible places to visit and are still open for business! Our guests came from around the country for our wedding and had fun rafting the Animas River, hiking, enjoying delicious food from the many restaurants in town, biking to breweries, exploring down town shops, and staying in some unique historic hotels. Support these communities in need! @alexihubbellphotography #durango #416fire #durangowedding #silverton
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