Banff ‘dream wedding’ welcomes couple escaping Houston floods

Click to play video: 'Houston couple escapes Harvey flooding with wedding in Banff'
Houston couple escapes Harvey flooding with wedding in Banff
WATCH ABOVE: The Fairmont Banff Springs became a refuge for a Houston couple escaping their flooded home on Sunday. Carolyn Kury de Castillo has more on their remarkable travels from flood waters in Texas to a wedding in the Rocky Mountains – Sep 4, 2017

Getting married at the Fairmont Banff Springs is a dream come true for many couples. But few have to endure a nightmare to reach the “Castle in the Rockies.”

Mark Hartwell met his bride-to-be Sarah Koopersmith when he moved from Alberta to Houston, Tex. Two years later, the couple was planning their wedding in Banff. But just days before their big day, Hurricane Harvey put their plans on hold.

READ MORE: Calgary photographers locate mystery couple who got engaged in Banff

“Everybody told us the storm was coming but Saturday it wasn’t that bad,” Hartwell recalled.

“So a lot of people in Houston were saying, ‘Harvey is a bust. Weather man is wrong and nothing to worry about.’”

But things got much worse and the home that Hartwell and Koopersmith purchased in March was flooded.

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“We had to abandon the house. We had to leave. We had to beg someone to let us in,” Hartwell said.

Mark and Sarah salvaged what they could, including Sarah’s wedding dress. They put their belongings in big plastic bins and set off in search of help.

“Water was anywhere from hip to chest-deep, depending on where we were. Dragging our Rubbermaids behind us,” Koopersmith said.

READ MORE: ‘He’s like a guardian angel’ – Flood victim from Beaumont, Texas on Beaumont, Alta. man who helped her during disaster

“The dress was in a carry-on and we put it in a garbage bag and we put it in another garbage bag and it was sort of like we were going on a canoe trip,” Hartwell said.

When they reached streets that weren’t under water, they relied on the kindness of friends to rescue them.

“Every time you’re asking for someone to pick you up, it’s dangerous. You were putting them at risk to come and help you out,” Hartwell said.

“When my friend Matt’s truck came around the corner, it was like I won the Stanley Cup! I put my arms up, I said, ‘We are saved!’”

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But their Canadian wedding was still in question. Their flight out of Houston, like so many others, was cancelled. That meant a 400-kilometre drive to the Dallas airport for the couple and their guests.

“They are cancelling all these flights and we were thinking, ‘We have to get to Dallas. Dallas is our only way to get to Calgary,’” Hartwell said.

Thanks to friends and family driving to Dallas and the creative use of Rubbermaid bins, the wedding was salvaged.

In in end, the big day in Banff went from washed out to wonderful. And with a few extra memories, the couple were married on Sunday afternoon.

“It’s just amazing. Every single person who made it here from Houston didn’t make their originally scheduled travel plans,” Koopersmith said.

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