MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Every couple plans their wedding with the hope that it will be the perfect day. But flooding at Harriet Island in St. Paul is causing a lot of anxiety for some brides and grooms-to-be.
So far, four weddings have been cancelled because of the swollen Mississippi River, and couples are scrambling to make last-minute changes.
Bride-to-be Karen Schlieve stopped by Harriet Island Friday afternoon to see if the flood waters have started to recede.
“Everything is underwater,” Schlieve said.
For the last 10 months, Schlieve and her fiancé, Matt Smith, have planned to wed against the backdrop of the river at the Harriet Island Pavilion.
“Everyone assured us that in July, things were fine. If you were having a spring or early summer wedding there was potential,” she said. “I never would have thought, never would have imagined this would happen.”
Heavy rain caused the river to spill onto the island, leaving the pavilion under several feet of water. Four weddings, scheduled through mid-July, have already moved locations.
Ceremonies in late July and into August could be in jeopardy.
“We’re preparing some other background options just in case we find out if it will not be at this location,” Schlieve said.
Couples now scrambling to find new locations in the height of wedding season are getting help with the last-minute change.
Charice Bakke, owner of the Lowertown Event Center, is taking on new weddings in the 11th hour.
“It has been stressful, but I would want somebody to do the same for me,” Bakke said. “I had two weddings in two days, within 48 hours”
She’s among several venues working to honor previous catering commitments and wedding budgets. And on a tight turnaround, logistics aren’t the biggest challenge.
“I think the most difficult part has been wrapping the bride’s brain around, ‘OK, this isn’t what it was going to be.’ Once they see the space and start seeing it in a different light, it becomes a fun process for them,” Bakke said. “I think we all know how important this day is, and these couples have been working a year or 18 months for this one day.”
Karen and her fiancé find out next week if a July 25 ceremony will go on as planned, though water is offering new perspective of their wedding day.
“We’re going to get married no matter what, so that’s what matters,” Karen said.
The flooding is so bad that the city has told couples getting married into August to think of a back-up plan.
After the water recedes, park officials still need time to dry out and clean the pavilion area before they can turn on the utilities.
Heavy rain could delay that process even longer.