National Guard soldier cancels wedding to deploy for hurricane relief

WEST MICHIGAN - As people continue to deal with the aftermath of hurricanes Irma and Harvey, the natural disasters are impacting lives farther north - including wedding plans.

"Everyone wants to have their dream wedding, and plan it all out and everything go smoothly. No one expects, 10 days before you get married, to have to cancel," Elainnie Ingram told WXMI.

But, Elainnie is taking it like a soldier. That's because she serves in the Michigan National Guard. It's a family tradition.

The private first class' fiance popped the big question in April of last year.

"As an excited bride, you start planning right away," Elainnie said.

From the dress, to the venue to the invitations - and, of course, setting the date, Elainnie said everything had just about come together. But, she's always aware of the fact she could get called to duty at a moment's notice. When Hurricane Harvey hit, she said that possibility became probable.

"Everyone wants to be a part of that. As a National Guard, you want to be a part of the helping [with] the hurricane, or floods or disasters. That's kind of what you signed up for. So, when Hurricane Harvey hit, our unit got kind of jealous that we didn't get to go down there. We weren't the first pick," Elainnie said.

But, when Irma came on the radar, Elainnie said it felt like only a matter of time. Just 10 days before her big day, she got notice she'd be deploying on her wedding weekend.

"I didn't even think about asking sergeant if I didn't have to go or how I could get out of it. It was just natural for me just to think of what do I need to do on my end to be a part of this," she said.

Sherri Ingram, Elainnie's mother, joked her daughter would have to name her baby 'Irma' if she has a girl.

She said she initially thought her daughter was joking about having to deploy. But, when reality and disappointment set in, Sherri began calling vendors to cancel. She said all of them were very understanding and thankful for her daughter's service.

"We're fortunate. We're not losing as much as what the people in Florida, and Texas and out west are losing," she said. "Right now, our main focus is supporting her [and] supporting our troops."

"With National Guard, I signed up for this six years ago," Elainnie said. "So, it's my time to do it, and it just so happened to be the wedding weekend but you can plan another wedding."

Elainnie said the base in Battle Creek has offered to allow her to use the chapel there on Saturday, the day before she deploys. Also, the couple thought about going to court to tie the knot there on the spot. But, right now, Elainnie said she's weighing all of her options and considering just waiting until she gets back. Booking a venue is still part of the concern.