Kansas couple's wedding overshadowed by tornadoes

McPHERSON, Kan. (AP) -- Amber Mattox's wedding day was everything she hoped for and more -- more excitement, more spectacle and more guests than she expected when her reception hall turned into a tornado shelter.

The Lindsborg native had spent a year planning her wedding, setting the date to marry John Mattox for April 14, the same day emergency officials throughout Kansas were preparing for what meteorologists had warned could be dangerous weather day.

Mattox later told The McPherson Sentinel (http://bit.ly/IeprHF ) she worked hard to keep her cool as the day approached.

"It was one of my worst fears, that there would be bad weather or a tornado on my wedding day," she said.

The ceremony took place as scheduled at Salemsborg Lutheran Church in Smolan.

Guests were filing out when a looming tornado sent everyone to the church basement -- except for the groom and some of the men, who stepped outside to watch a funnel cloud pass within a few miles.

John Mattox grew up in Florida and had never seen a tornado before.

"It was pretty wild," he said. "It wasn't scary; it was quite amazing, really."

When the danger passed, the wedding party proceeded to Salina, where the reception was booked at a hall at the Ramada Inn.

But they found more than just the invited guests waiting for them.

"The first thing I notice is some large dogs coming out," Amber Mattox said. Hotel guests and their dogs had scrambled to the hall -- which was the hotel's severe weather shelter -- when a tornado siren sounded.

The celebration continued uninterrupted for a few hours, until the disc jockey stopped the music and warned the party about an impending twister. He asked everyone to stand against the wall.

"I was kind of at my breaking point," Amber said. "I was about in tears and pretty upset and had a hard time believing it was happening again."

Tornado sirens twice more brought hotel guests to the hall for shelter, some later in the night with pillows and blankets.

Throughout the night, Amber heard many consoling comments from friends and family.

"As long as we ended up married at the end of the day, nothing else mattered," she said. "Our main goal was to be happy and married, and that was the case."