Up in Smoke, Wedding Edition
By Kelly Conroy
When you start planning your wedding for August in the Sacramento region, there are many things to consider. Things like: people will be transitioning back into the school year, your guests may have already used all of their annually accrued vacation time, the bugs will be out in full force. And of course, anytime I mentioned the date of our wedding, most people felt the need to tell me, “Wow. August. It’s going to be hot!” as if I hadn’t spent the last 27 summers sweating it out in Sacramento.
As soon as we booked our wedding at Forest House Lodge, in Foresthill for August 18, I made this plea to the universe: “I know it’s going to be hot. I know we’ll have to keep our ceremony short and remind the bridesmaids not to lock their knees for fear of fainting. I know we’ll get a few mosquito bites. But please, just don’t let California be on fire.”
For anyone that has lived in California (or watched the news) for more than two summers, you know that about every other year, the entire state combusts under the pressure of extreme heat and its endless amber waves of grain (or whatever those fields of dead grass actually are).
So you can imagine our surprise when, in the weeks leading up to our wedding, it was as if California flung itself into an early fall. We frolicked around Sacramento in the 85 degree weather and watched the 10 day forecast as it continued to deliver good news – the triple digits had expired in July! With a forecasted 91 degrees, we finalized our last details and went about enjoying the business of being engaged for the last few days.
And then, Foresthill went up in flames. In sync with Yosemite and 25 pages of other fires listed on the Cal Fire website (http://cdfdata.fire.ca.gov/
I put on my best calm Buddha smile and only secretly checked the incident report online once a day. We had seven days and it’s not like wild fires are something new. They’d have it out way before our wedding date.
Except they didn’t.
The only thing that fire did was quadruple in size every single night. It went from 5% contained to 45% contained to 31% contained. My incident report checks went from twice a day to twice an hour. They closed roads and issued air quality warnings and a dark plume of smoke arose out of the Foothills and settled over all of Placer County. With three days before the wedding, after poorly disguising my mania in an e-mail to our coordinator, she responded with details of the smoke, the safe distance of the fire, and a complete lack of worry from their end – the show would go on without a firey hitch.
And it did. Our morning arrival was greeted with dense smoke from Madison Avenue all the way up the hill, but by ceremony time, just like our coordinator said it would, the smoke rolled back and you could barely smell a hint of campfire. No one fainted from the heat and swatting at the summertime bugs offered a humorous break from the emotional ceremony. Even the never-before-seen August rain shower (yes, fire and rain on our wedding day) that immediately followed our ceremony provided for cute photos under an umbrella.
It seemed like California gave us a taste of its worst on August 18 but all it really did was make me enjoy each moment even more. Once I fully accepted that there was nothing I could do about heat, bugs, rain, fire, or any other natural aspect of our outdoorsy wedding, I was able to stop worrying about them and focus on all of the friends and family that braved the same natural forces just to watch me get married.
As much as I would like to take all the credit for being incredibly calm and enlightened during the fire storm of crazy that lead to our wedding, I couldn’t tell this story without giving my eternal thanks to Forest House Lodge.
Every meltdown and malfunction was anticipated and solved without mention and I wouldn’t have trusted anyone else to execute my wedding with a wild fire down the street. Their confidence gave me confidence and somewhere in between primping in our private bridal suite and stuffing my face with pre-ceremony fried artichoke hearts, I forgot altogether that there was a fire. In my mind, I was a bride, and not a firefighter, and that was all I could have asked for on August 18. Plus my new husband, I guess… 🙂