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National Guard Couple Cancels Beach Wedding and Marries in Unconventional Ceremony Ahead of Hurricane Irma

National Guard wedding hurricane irmaLauren Durham and Michael Davis instead got married in a convention center hours before heading into the storm. (National Guard)

When Lauren Durham and Michael Davis envisioned how they would say “I do” after five years of dating, they originally pictured a gathering of family and friends, a “big poof flowy princess gown,” and a gorgeous, beach-side wedding. What they had instead due to Hurricane Irma was a tad less scenic, though every bit as memorable.

The pair, both senior airmen with the Air National Guard, exchanged vows before a gathering of fellow service men and women Sunday, September 10, in the Orange County Convention Center. Instead of a typical wedding palette, numerous rubber rescue boats served as ambient decor. Instead of a wedding dress, the bride wore her fatigues while several of the “attendees” tracked down tuxedo T-shirts to jazz up the celebration.

A bouquet of orange flowers was retrieved and their best friend in the Guard—a notary—officiated the nuptials. And though it was unconventional, both Durham, 24, and Davis, 26, found it fitting.

“Service before self,” Davis said of calling off their wedding in favor of helping assist those caught in the devastating aftermath of Hurricane Irma.

“It started out as a joke, and it just kind of unfolded. And it turned out to be really great,” Durham told the Associated Press Sunday of the impromptu wedding. (She and Davis had originally planned to have an intimate beach wedding in Florida the second week of September. They had to call it off as Irma continues to lash Florida).

There was no wedding cake at this celebration—the pair didn’t have time to hunt one down prior to their deployment out into the affected areas—but Durham said she wasn’t worried about a lack of sweets at their “wedding.”

“We have plenty of snacks,” she told the AP. “MREs do have Skittles in them, so we’re pretty excited.”