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When Michael wrecked their wedding plans, Tyndall airman and fiancée quickly made new ones

By JIM THOMPSON | Northwest Florida Daily News | Published: October 20, 2018

FORT WALTON BEACH (Tribune News Service) — Although buffeted by Hurricane Michael, Air Force Capt. Ryan Torres and Christina Blair found some solid footing for themselves, their family and friends Friday as they were united in marriage.

The couple – he's a weapons evaluation engineer at Tyndall Air Force Base and she's a neonatal intensive care nurse at Gulf Coast Regional Medical Center – had planned to be married at Out of the Blue, a Panama City Beach event venue. But after the hurricane caused significant damage to the venue, and interfered with the plans of vendors already contracted for flowers and other wedding accoutrements, that plan was thrown into chaos.

Until, that is, Torres and Blair – along with a very determined wedding planner, Kelly Henderson – decided there would, in fact, be a wedding, even as they were also working to recover from the hurricane.

"There were a lot of phone calls, and trying to find people," Henderson said as she greeted guests prior to the Friday ceremony. That work was hampered, of course, by the spotty or nonexistent cell phone service in the area struck hardest by the hurricane.

Nonetheless, the couple was able to arrange to get WaterVue, a Fort Walton Beach venue on Santa Rosa Sound, booked for Friday, at a substantially reduced rate.

Other work by the couple and their wedding planner led to a number of area businesses providing services free of charge, and on short notice, for the nuptials.

In the wake of the hurricane, the couple were determined that the wedding should go forward, Capt. Torres said.

"We wanted it to be a beacon of hope," Torres explained as he and his bride greeted guests outside WaterVue after exchanging rings. The idea, Torres said, was to show their guests, many of whom also are dealing with hurricane recovery, that it is possible to move beyond those circumstances.

"We wanted to share that with everybody," he said.

Christina Torres credited divine intervention with bringing the wedding together.

"It's all God, I think," she said. "We're nothing without him."

And even though Friday's wedding wasn't exactly what they'd planned, she had no complaints.

"It's been amazing," she said. "It was perfect."

The couple is facing something of an uncertain future. Gulf Coast Regional Medical Center sustained some damage during Hurricane Michael, and Tyndall Air Force Base, which took a direct hit, was all but destroyed.

But the couple's Lynn Haven home escaped the storm virtually unscathed, apart from what the new Mrs. Torres described as "a few leaks."

For the immediate future, though, the couple is going to try not to think too far ahead. They'll use their honeymoon trip to Europe as a chance to decompress.

"We're going to be breathing. We're going to be praying," said Christina Torres.

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(c)2018 the Northwest Florida Daily News (Fort Walton Beach, Fla.)
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