Fire took the church, but strangers helped Fort McMurray couple to storybook wedding
“Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to celebrate that which the fire could not stop.”
The pastor who spoke these words was one of the only remaining elements of Beverly and Edward Stroesser’s original wedding plans.
The two had planned to marry in Fort McMurray until the wildfire razed their church to the ground, burning the decorations, tuxedos and bridesmaid dresses inside.
“It didn’t dawn on me about the wedding being ruined at the time,” Beverly Stroesser said about the night she fled Fort McMurray with her family.
In the weeks following the city’s evacuation, a group of volunteers — many of them strangers — pulled together a new wedding for the young couple.
Their family and friends crowded a St. Albert, Alta., chapel on Saturday to witness a ceremony the couple said was twice what they could have imagined.
“They are the storybook picture of romance,” said April Ryall, who took over as the wedding planner.
“They deserve every happiness, they deserve this dream wedding… I feel just satisfied that we could do this for them.”
‘They are the storybook picture of romance’ – April Ryall, volunteer
As Beverly walked down the aisle, Edward says the weeks of turmoil leading to their vows melted from his mind.
“She was just so beautiful and I almost couldn’t hold it back,” he said. “We’ll be ready to face whatever we have to face when it comes back to what we may or may not have in Fort McMurray.”
The Stroessers say they won’t return to Fort McMurray immediately, even though more than half the city has reopened to evacuees.
Instead, they’re looking forward to a honeymoon free of wildfire smoke.