Hurricanes, virus can't stop Louisiana couple's wedding

Rebecca Santana
Associated Press

Grand Lake La. — Most couples might have wondered whether the forces of nature were against them after moving their wedding three times because of the pandemic and two hurricanes that hit almost the exact same spot within weeks of one another.

But Emily Kitfield and Taylor Pascale were even more determined than ever to tie the knot. And in a small ceremony Dec. 5 surrounded by close friends and family, Emily finally got to wear her lace-covered wedding dress and marry Taylor.

Emily and Taylor Pascale exchange wedding vows outside the home of Taylor's parents Dec. 4 in Grand Lake, La., which was heavily damaged from Hurricanes Laura and Delta.

“What better time than now, I guess? I mean, we finally reached the end of hurricane season. So it’s not like another storm could get in the way of it," Emily said.

“Come rain or hell, we were getting married," Taylor said.

Taylor, 22, and Emily, 23, were originally going to get married in October. The young couple has been together for nearly four years and have an adorable 1-year-old son, Kayson, who toddled around the wedding ceremony getting into mischief.

But Taylor said worries that there might be another coronavirus-related lockdown caused them to move the ceremony to Aug. 28. Then Hurricane Laura, a Category 4 storm, slammed ashore just miles from Taylor's parents' home where the couple lives. Instead of getting married, the family evacuated to Texas.

Taylor remembers coming back with his two high school-age brothers to put a tarp on their damaged roof and finding his neighborhood of 20 years almost unrecognizable. Taylor's family had to gut a large portion of their house and buy a trailer.

Some members of the family are now living in the trailer while others, including Taylor and Emily, are staying in an addition to the house the family built before the hurricane that survived. Emily's dress, which had been in the addition, came through Laura unscathed.

They rescheduled the ceremony for the October week that turned out to be when Hurricane Delta hit the Louisiana coast just a few miles from where Laura had made landfall.

Nicole Caswell talks to her daughter Emily Pascale before her wedding.

Then they considered February — on the anniversary of when they first met — but with coronavirus cases climbing again, they decided not to delay any further and pulled together a ceremony in a matter of days. In the end, they invited a small circle of about 20 family and friends to gather at the Pascale home as they tied the knot between two oak trees on the family's property.

“They wanted to get married this year ... no matter what. And we were just like, ‘OK, we’re supporting you. We’re doing this,'" said Taylor's mom, Julie.

A high school teacher who has taught all the Pascale boys and is also an ordained minister, performed the ceremony as three bridesmaids in maroon dresses and groomsmen in jeans and maroon button-down shirts watched.

The ceremony was a bright spot in what has been a tough year. Taylor has Type 1 diabetes, which has made him and Emily especially worried about the virus. He stayed home from work for three months at the beginning of the pandemic. Taylor's grandmother also broke her hip during the Hurricane Laura evacuation.

Emily and Taylor Pascale playfully share their wedding cake.

Taylor's mother looked through the small crowd assembled for the ceremony and ticked through the damage to everyone's homes. Houses gutted. Families staying with relatives. She said that at a time of so many challenges, it's important to find the beauty in moments like the wedding.

In the end, an intimate ceremony at home felt right, Emily said.

“It felt more natural for it being here. I mean, we met here. It feels like home here," Emily said. “Honestly ... we couldn’t have picked a better way or place to do what we did."

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Associated Press Photographer Gerald Herbert contributed to this report.