BUSHFIRE BRIDE: Wedding goes ahead in the middle of inferno
WHEN most newlyweds say their love has sparks, most aren't as literal as that of Grace and Simon Want.
As the couple exchanged vows, fires burned in every direction, wedding guests were absent battling flames and a layer of ash lined almost all wedding decor.
The bride's father and rural firefighter, Andrew Peterson (pictured right), was fortunately able to trade the fire front for the altar.
For the pair, it was the last in a long line of wedding-related hiccups.
Twelve months before the wedding, they had chosen to host the special day on their family's Old Koreelah property.
Usually a luscious destination with an awe-inspiring view, drought had taken its toll and left the land decimated.
Still the pair wouldn't let that stop them, carting water for 90 days to grow the sunflower field of Grace's dream wedding.
But a week out from the wedding, things took a turn for the worse as fires continued to burn in Mount Clunie, Tooloom and Urbenville.
Even then they powered on, calming others as nerves built on the big day and it looked like firefighter guests, including Grace's dad Andrew, might miss out.
"Not at any point were we so concerned we were not going to get married there," Mrs Want said.
"It meant a lot to both Simon and myself to be in that spot to experience what I grew up on.
"It was more the other people around us that made us realise what was really happening."
Mum Christine Peterson said it was incredible luck the fire didn't ruin the day.
"We were setting up on the Friday when at 2pm a massive cloud of fire came up over the next ridge," she said.
"There was a mad panic about how close it was going to get to us.
"We couldn't even set up the marquee because it was too hot and the charger platers buckling."
Mrs Want said the day was made more memorable by her dad walking her down the aisle, making the ultimate sacrifice.
"Going into it, Dad was working huge hours busy fighting, so I was glad he could stay and have the day with us," she said.
"It meant the world to me and Simon.
"It goes to show no matter what you're doing in life, they're out there putting lives in danger to make sure everyone else is safe."