The Woolsey Wedding That Almost Wasn’t

Amid chaos, worry and no cell service, a young Malibu couple pulled off a most memorable wedding—even while the devastating Woolsey Fire barreled into Malibu. Early Friday, couple Lindsey Cooper and Laura Berman—who were to be married the next day on the beach near Little Dume and then celebrate at Calamigos Beach Club—were caught off-guard with thousands of Malibu residents who packed up what few belongings they could and raced toward the mother of all traffic jams on Pacific Coast Highway in an effort to flee.

The night before, the couple had dinner in Malibu with visiting family. Laura said she went to bed hearing of a fire in Agoura and was a little nervous. She then woke up to a slew of texts saying she had to evacuate immediately. 

“At first, I thought it was a joke. Is this real? I woke Lindsey up, who likes to sleep in. She didn’t freak out. The first thing Lindsey did was grab passports and important papers,” Laura said.  “The first thing I did was think, ‘Oh, I have to call the wedding planner.’” 

The couple, who live at the Point Dume Club, raced to family members who had flown in for the wedding. With only moments to spare, Laura grabbed a dog and followed Lindsey to help her mother, grandmother and other out-of-town guests in a nearby rental. Lindsey’s family was able to flee with her wedding gown and other essentials for the big event.  

“Thankfully, everybody had a car. They packed up and came to help us. I’m grabbing everything that’s important—figuring out what shoes to bring,” Lindsey recalled, inciting a laugh from Laura.   The wedding party headed out as a caravan—Laura leading the way. And that’s when Lindsey says she lost it, momentarily.  

“I said, ‘I’m fine. I’m fine’—until we’ve been on PCH for an hour and barely passed Kanan,” the bride recalled. 

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Then Lindsey said she started “freaking out.” 

“I get my sister to hop into the driver’s side,” Lindsey described. “I jump out of the car. I couldn’t reach Laura because there was no cell service. I start running up and down PCH looking for Laura because she left only two minutes before us. I’m wearing this hat my mother-in-law gave me that says ‘bride,’ with a little veil.” 

Laura, who knew the area better, was able to take a few back roads and make it to Topanga first. However, she said, “I was totally freaking out. I was falling apart looking back at Calamigos with billows of smoke behind it—a black cloud of smoke completely surrounding the place we were supposed to have our wedding.”

It took the wedding party five hours to make it to their meeting place in Encino. In that short time, family members and the wedding coordinator were able to secure a new venue for the ceremony in Santa Monica for the next day, book new hotel rooms for their guests and coordinate a caterer for 115 people.

“It was better than anything we could have planned,” Lindsey beamed. “We took six months to plan our original wedding and then in five hours our family came together and planned a more perfect wedding than we had in months—better than we could have planned ourselves.”

“I cried when I saw [Lindsey] walking down the aisle,” Laura reminisced. “I had never been more present in my entire life for something because it was just full of love. The entire wedding where two families came together and loved the hell out of each other. I wanted to marry Lindsey so much. I’m so happy that we got married.”

The newlyweds, who were evacuated for more than a week, flew to Canada after the wedding to spend time with family members who were unable to attend the ceremony in Malibu. They said they thought their home was still standing, but were worried about possible smoke damage. They both said they were concerned about the community and hoped others were safe.

The couple said they will take a honeymoon next year.

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