No bride’s dress? No prob­lem: Guard cou­ple tie knot in Irma

Kuwait Times - - LIFESTYLE -

Lauren Durham had a poofy white dress and plans for an in­ti­mate beach wed­ding on the sec­ond week­end of Septem­ber. In­stead she got mar­ried in fa­tigues, with no makeup, in a vast hangar filled with res­cue ve­hi­cles and paramedics just hours be­fore she would rush into a hur­ri­cane to try to save her fel­low Florid­i­ans. She and her fi­ance, Michael Davis - both of them se­nior air­men with the Air Na­tional Guard - were de­ployed in­def­i­nitely to as­sist with the res­cue. They let their out-of-town guests know they’d prob­a­bly miss their own wed­ding and headed to the Or­ange County Con­ven­tion Cen­ter to wait out the hur­ri­cane with hun­dreds of other re­lief work­ers be­fore be­ing sent into the state’s most dev­as­tated re­gions.

They were eat­ing break­fast with some friends Sun­day morn­ing, and one said, “Hey, why don’t you guys get mar­ried dur­ing the hur­ri­cane?” Durham said: “It started out as a joke, and it just kind of un­folded. And it turned out to be re­ally great.” Dozens of peo­ple - some long­time friends from the ser­vice, some strangers from across the coun­try who came to as­sist with the res­cue ef­forts - set up fold­ing chairs. A few found tuxedo T-shirts to wear, de­spite the clo­sure of all the stores in town for the storm. Some­one came up with a bou­quet of or­ange flow­ers. Their best friend in the Guard hap­pens to be a no­tary and of­fi­ci­ated.

They don’t think they’ll be able to come up with a cake, but that’s OK: “We have plenty of snacks. MREs do have Skit­tles in them, so we’re pretty ex­cited,” Durham said. Her wed­ding dress had al­ready been pur­chased - wait­ing for her at home. “It was a big poof flowy princess gown,” she said, then ges­tured down at her fa­tigues. “But, you know, I love wear­ing this uni­form, so this works.” Durham, 24, and Davis, 26, met right out of high school, and have been to­gether for five years. Davis has served for eight years, Durham for three.

They’re not quite sure how their fam­i­lies will feel when they find out they got mar­ried in front of a rack of rub­ber res­cue boats. “I think it will be quite a sur­prise for them,” Durham said, “but I think they’ll un­der­stand, it was very, very im­promptu.” It never oc­curred to either to try to beg off duty for their wed­ding. “Ser­vice be­fore self,” Davis said, and it will be a great story to tell their kids one day. As she gave her name to re­porters, Lauren Durham, she for­got to add the “Davis.” She gig­gled and pointed to the Durham em­broi­dered on the chest of her cam­ou­flage. “I’ll have to get new name tapes.” — AP

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