‘Devastated’: Local couple plans wedding in SC for special reason, but Florence forces them back to Ohio

MURRELL'S INLET, South Carolina -- Tori Wiltrout and Andy Butler had their dream wedding all planned out.

The couple is from Avon Lake and has family all over the country. But they chose a destination wedding in Murrell's Inlet, South Carolina, for a very special reason.

"For the past 25 years, we have vacationed down here," said Tori Wiltrout. "Over the past few years, my dad (Dave Bartl) always rented beach houses for our family, and in January of 2017, my dad passed away. It felt right for us to come down here, and I feel like I had a piece of him here with me."

But, just hours before they were to exchange vows in front of more than 35 family members and friends, Tori and Andy realized they were being dealt a devastating hand: Hurricane Florence was barreling toward the Carolinas with no sign of stopping.

The couple had been eyeballing the forecast over the past week but hoped the storm would head in a different direction. Then, a mandatory evacuation was issued for that part of South Carolina.

"Right then and there, Andy and I went and talked in private and decided we needed to cancel everything," said Wiltrout.

Butler's mother, Jackie Butler, said there are about 35 family members in South Carolina, including from places like Vermilion, Medina, Avon Lake, Brunswick, Hinckley and even Portland, Oregon.

The calm before the storm in Murrell's Inlet

"It is so disappointing, mostly for the bride and groom," she said. "We could have tried to do the wedding this morning, but the photographer and caterer could not come."

Wiltrout said she and her family plan to evacuate early Wednesday morning. She said the winds and some stray showers were starting to pick up Tuesday afternoon.

"When I found out the evacuations were happening, I was devastated," she said. "It was our dream wedding, and we had all of our family here."

The couple is now planning an Ohio wedding.

Wiltrout said that luckily, their wedding chef worked with her and her fiance and will cook the food they already paid for. It will then be donated to the community to help feed families rushing around and preparing for the big storm.

Wiltrout said she's doing OK with the news, and some of her dad's words of wisdom are helping her through.

"My dad had a saying: 'It is what it is.' I know we will make the best out of it," said Wiltrout. "We enjoyed a few days here, but now it's just time to pack up and make it home safe."

More on Hurricane Florence here.