NAPA VALLEY, Cali. (KMSP) - Todd and Sarah Karpinski of Menomonee Falls, Wis., knew their wedding in California's wine country would be memorable.
Karpinski and his bride tied the knot in Napa Valley because they wanted to share the beautiful backdrop with their family and friends.
And beautiful it was--unforgettable, even--just not in the way they were expecting.
Just few days into their honeymoon, the newlyweds got a rude awakening about the power of mother nature.
The couple was renting a house on a mountain in Santa Rosa in Sonoma County, when the home's owner woke them up at 2 in the morning warning them to get out because a wildfire was on the way.
"It was harrowing," Todd Karpinski said. "Really just complete fear for your life and the life of your loved one."
They only had enough time to grab their phones, keys and wallets and as they sped down the mountainside, they realized the flames were much closer than they thought.
"As we were driving off, we could see embers flying in the air," he said. "It was very windy. 70 mile an hour winds driving that fire rapidly and made a left at exit the driveway and I could see fire coming right at us maybe 50 feet from the car."
By the time they made it to town, Karpinski says the sky was glowing orange from all the smoke and flames. When they tried to go back to check on the house, the closest they could get was eight miles away because police had blocked the roads due to scorched trees and downed power lines.
"It was the scariest thing I've ever experienced," he said. "Being from the Midwest, I have zero experiences with wildfires. I think we all know what to do during tornados but not with wildfires."
Even though they lost most of their belongings, including their wedding rings, Sarah's wedding dress and their wedding application, Karpinski says getting out alive was the best wedding present they could get.
Karpinski even joked if they have to get married again because they lost their wedding application, they'll go to Hawaii so they'll be surrounded by water instead of flames.
"It will be one I'll never forget," Karpinsky said. "I'll always remember my anniversary date."