Bride and groom evacuated from ceremony donate wedding food to firefighters
A bride and groom forced to flee their wedding ceremony because of an encroaching bushfire have donated all of the wedding's food to firefighters.
Ennis Cehic was waiting at the altar on Saturday afternoon when an out-of-control bushfire rapidly approached the venue, the Galwiji Homestead, in Scotsburn, south-east of Ballarat.
The wedding party and guests had to evacuate the property just minutes before the bride, Carli, was due to walk down the aisle and say "I do".
But the unforeseen circumstances did not prevent the wedding from going ahead, as the couple moved the ceremony to a local pub, the Crown Hotel, in nearby Buninyong.
On Sunday, Mr and Mrs Cehic decided to donate their wedding food, catered to more than 170 people, to fire crews in the area.
A generator at the wedding venue had kept the refrigerator on, and catering company Pot and Pan were able to assist in delivering the food.
Mr Cehic said he and his wife had the idea after they woke on Sunday to see photos showing the scale of devastation the bushfires had left behind.
"We just decided that we were going to give this to the people who are out there fighting the fires," he said.
The 31-year-old described the weekend's events as "extremely surreal".
"We've seen the photographs and we saw that everything was burnt [at the venue] except for the ceremony spot and the marquee, and that was really magical."
Celeste Gant and her wife, Sam, own Pot and Pan, a Melbourne-based catering and events company. They met CFA crews in Sebastapol on Sunday to hand over the refrigerator's contents, explain what was on the menu and offer cooking and storage instructions.
Fire crews were to be treated to lamb shoulders, sous vide chicken and an array of salads, as well as 400 bread rolls the Gants will deliver on Monday.
"I think they'll be pretty happy with it," Celeste Gant said, adding that firies would not be treated to the wedding cake as she had delivered it to the newlyweds on Sunday afternoon.
The fire came within just metres of where the Cehics would have said their vows. Photos taken on Sunday showed charred grass framing rows of white chairs on an open paddock.
The owner of Galwiji Homestead, William Pryor, said it was the first wedding at the venue in 22 years.
The property has been in the Pryor family for close to a century, and the family was relieved the fire did not reach buildings.
"Amazingly, the homestead and the shearing shed were not damaged," Dr Pryor said. "But we lost a huge amount of fencing and pasture."
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