Ask any married couple about their top 3 best moments together—one of them is bound to be their wedding day. Despite all of the mishaps and awkward uncle jokes during the toast, weddings are some of the most meaningful moments to nearly all couples.
However, even though wedding days win the best moments award virtually by default, this doesn’t stop some couples from making their special day even more special. For example, this Chicago-based couple—Katie and Curtis Ferland—had their photoshoot at the Chateau St. Jean vineyard, just a few miles away from an actual wildfire that is currently ravaging the Californian countryside. The photo with the bride and groom wearing masks went viral becoming an iconic highlight of their special day.
Funfis got in touch with Karna Roa, the photographer behind the iconic picture. Roa is a San Francisco Bay Area wedding photographer. For the past 25 years, she has been mentored by phenomenal photographer Harvey Henningsen and specializes in wedding photography, doing photoshoots in wine country as well as worldwide.
This photo of newlyweds Katie and Curtis Ferland under the wildfire sky recently went viral
Image credits: Karna Roa/KMR Photography
For the last 8 days, California’s Sonoma County has been suffering one of the most dangerous and severe wildfires this year known as the Kincade Fire. At the moment of this article, it has destroyed over 300km² (or 74,000 acres) of land. Only 30% of the wildfire is currently contained.
“In the days leading up to their wedding, the Kincade Fire of Northern California broke loose and ran wild,” said Roa. “Their wedding planner Sara Sugue of Orchard Avenue Events kept everything in check and made all of the modifications necessary to keep their wedding on track.”
Wildfires aren’t something couples generally plan for when organizing a wedding, especially if planning started a year prior. However, despite having to move hotels, the rehearsal dinner, and even having to deal with much of their staff having to evacuate, the wedding went on. It was only the next day that the newlyweds and their guests had to evacuate.
Karna Roa, the Bay Area photographer that took the iconic picture
Image credits: Karna Roa
When asked how did the wildfire affect the wedding and whether it was risky to stay there, Roa elaborated: “On the eve of the wedding, it was decided to move all events indoors except for the ceremony to keep guests out of the smoke as much as possible. The fires were approximately 20 miles away from Kenwood, CA at the time and there was not a threat of eminent danger. Smoke was in the air, but everyone stayed the course to help the couple have a beautiful wedding.”
Wildfires are a common occurrence in California. Just last year, there were over 50 wildfires, the strongest of which, the Mendocino Complex, covering Mendocino, Lake, Colusa, and Glenn countries, have burned down nearly 1,860km² (or 460,000 acres) of land—six times greater than the Kincade fire.
The Kincade wildfire has destroyed over 300km² of land to date
Image credits: Daria Devyatkina/Flickr Commons
We asked Karna Roa whether this is a common occurrence in her professional career. She had this to say: “I wouldn’t say this happens ‘a lot’, but this is the 4th wedding in 3 years that I’ve photographed in which wildfires did have an impact on the wedding. Three weddings did need to be relocated at the last minute. Having an experienced wedding planner is worth its weight in gold.”
Fires of this caliber are one of those natural disasters that are bound to draw adrenaline junkies and disaster enthusiasts. Funfis asked Roa if her recent professional experience with the wildfire has given her any ideas on going for a more thrill-seeking approach in future wedding photoshoots. She said this: “This image was created out of circumstance and I was documenting the conditions that were before me. I believe if you want a true thrill-seeking approach to photography, you would want to hire Charleton Churchill, the photographer that artfully created the viral Mt. Everest wedding photo in 2017.”
Internauts came to congratulate the newslyweds & to admire their dedication…