Real Life

EXCLUSIVE: A 30-second meltdown and a rush to the altar – this couple beat the odds to get married in the middle of the floods

They say rain on your wedding day is good luck, and this happy couple have to agree...
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As dawn broke, pregnant 
bride-to-be Kate Fotheringham looked out her bedroom window and knew her 
very special wedding day wouldn’t be going to plan.

“I’ve never seen the water rise that quickly – it was scary,” she remembers. “After my 30-second meltdown wondering how I was going to make it to my wedding, I was reminded pretty quickly how many people were so much worse off than us.”

Kate was surrounded by rising floodwaters at her parent’s rural property on 
the NSW Mid North Coast.

Meanwhile, fiance Wayne Bell, 33, was 10 minutes 
away in Wingham, also praying for a miracle.

“We stuck with tradition and spent the night before apart. Wayne was near the wedding venue at the showground,” Kate, 30, tells Woman’s Day just days after their March 20 rain-soaked nuptials.

“We knew the roads were blocked and there was water everywhere. We decided the only way to get me to the church on time was to fly!”

Kate, who is 18 weeks pregnant with her and Wayne’s first child, called for help on social media.

But with most of NSW and parts of Queensland facing some of the worst floods in decades, no one, least of all Kate, imagined so many kind strangers would help them in their time of need.

The couple are so grateful to be able to wed

(Amanda Hibbard)

“It wasn’t long before our prayers were answered. Justin from Affinity Helicopters in Port Macquarie came to the rescue. Also stranded in floodwaters, he got into his tinnie, got to his chopper and picked me up with the wedding dress on board!”

Kate’s parents Pete and Jen, her sister and maid of honour Sarah and Sarah’s partner Jonathon also hitched a ride.

“The dress didn’t get soaked, I had my hair done by 
a local hairdresser and I did my own makeup. 
I couldn’t curse the heavens – I’m from a farming family and we spend a lot of time praying for rain,” says the now Bathurst-based Kate.

But the real miracle of the wedding belongs to Kate’s courageous dad, who stood proudly by her side on the most memorable day of her life.

It’s certainly a day the happy couple will never forget

(Amanda Hibbard)

“Everything else pales into insignificance knowing he could walk me down the aisle. Five months ago, we almost lost Dad after a shocking accident on our cattle property. He 
was cutting down trees and somehow got in their way. It left him with a broken back, two broken legs, a punctured lung and broken ribs,” Kate explains.

Pete, 63, spent two weeks in a coma on life support. “He was told he might not walk again. Months of rehab and not one complaint – he’s our hero.”

Of course he doesn’t get what all the fuss is about. “When the kids set the wedding date, they asked if I was going to be OK. 
I replied, ‘I’ll just have to be’. Nothing was going to stop me walking my little girl down the aisle.”

Kate managed to walk down the aisle thanks to a chopper rescue!

(Amanda Hibbard)

Kate, a NSW Health media adviser, will forever cherish
a special moment in the chopper with her father.

“Dad gave me a wink as if to say, ‘We did it!’ Whatever else unfolded, I didn’t care so long as Wayne was at the altar – and hadn’t lost the rings!”

Not only was Kate’s husband-to-be waiting, he’d managed to organise a new caterer, a replacement for the wedding singer and even had the cake delivered courtesy of the local butcher!

“Our caterers couldn’t get in and by pure luck another company was stuck in Wingham after the wedding they were catering was washed out and cancelled,” says project manager Wayne.

Kate was so grateful to share the day with her “hero”, dad Pete

(Amanda Hibbard)

“They had plenty of food they would’ve had to throw away. We covered their 
costs, like we did with 
the helicopter, and they 
sure delivered – best ever macaroni and cheese! 
Thanks to Robert and 
Ashlee from the Hunter Valley-based Williams & Co for coming to our rescue.”

Knowing they managed to pull off their special day when so many people were losing their homes and livelihoods, makes Wayne and Kate feel even more grateful.

“Watching the news 
unfold and to see so much devastation and loss to so many, it broke our hearts. 
It put so much into perspective,” says Kate.

While their big day didn’t quite go to plan, it was a wonderful celebration.

“Sadly, only half of 
our guests made it,” says Wayne. “Still, there was 
a lot of love, and plenty 
of laughs – memories we 
will cherish forever.”

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