In the first issue published after the Woolsey Fire broke out, The Malibu Times spoke to Laura Berman and Lindsey Cooper, a Malibu couple that was scheduled to marry on a beach near Little Dume and celebrate afterward at Calamigos Beach Club the day after the fire broke out.
Despite the odds, the two and their families pulled off an impromptu wedding down the highway in Santa Monica.
In time for their first anniversary, they caught up with The Malibu Times.
“Looking back, it’s crazy the way that we pulled it off and how amazing it was,” Cooper said.
As smoke filled the sky above the city, Berman, Cooper and around 40 family members and friends evacuated Malibu on Friday morning, Nov. 9, 2018.
The couple was separated—Berman with her dog in one car, Cooper with immediate family in another. At one point, Cooper hopped out of her car and ran along Pacific Coast Highway, looking for Berman in severely backed-up traffic.
At the time, Berman 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.”
Despite “having everything feel very up in the air,” as Berman put it, the families swiftly moved forward in replanning the wedding within a day.
Her mother, Susan, said, “The girls were evacuating and we knew we had to change their entire wedding, from the location to finding caterers, rentals, and they didn’t have cell service.”
“Wherever it was wasn’t relevant, it was the fact that they were going to celebrate one another,” she explained.
“It brought our families together who barely knew each other,” Berman reflected, adding: “[It] set us up for marriage in a way most people don’t get an opportunity to.”
Together with the wedding planner, the couple and their families were able to organize an impromptu wedding in Santa Monica. Susan attributed their success to the good will of those outside of Malibu, which she said “was just infectious” everywhere.
Even now, though the ongoing Red Flag Warnings and wind advisories unsettle Berman, she said, “We can deal with everything as it comes.”
The couple flew to Canada soon after the wedding to spend time with family who were unable to attend the Malibu ceremony. Their Point Dume house luckily remained standing, with only smoke damage to deal with.
“Our neighbors and the people that chose to stay behind, I think they saved all of us,” Cooper said. “ ... I mean, it’s just the sense of community that’s pretty magical.”
Berman said there was a “palpable shift in how everybody interacts” in the time after the Woolsey Fire.
“Everyone’s a little friendlier to each other. That’s Malibu as a whole,” she said.
As for the much-anticipated honeymoon, Cooper and Berman—who plan to go by the hyphenate Cooper-Berman—said they have not had the time between their involvement in multiple friends’ weddings and waiting for Cooper’s green card. (Cooper is a Canadian citizen.)
The couple has a pact, promising that they will go on a honeymoon before having kids. At the top of their list: Iceland, to see the Northern Lights.
In an intimate ceremony with family, Berman and Cooper held a vow renewal ceremony last weekend, on the one-year anniversary of the Woolsey Fire.