Home Marriage and Family New Orleans couple flees to Texas five days before wedding, arranges for...

New Orleans couple flees to Texas five days before wedding, arranges for last-minute help in Galveston-Houston

415
Newlyweds Janella Jett and Byron Perrilliat of New Orleans are surrounded by family Sept. 9, 2021, at St. Thomas More in Houston. After evacuating Louisiana because of Hurricane Ida, the couple was married in Houston. (CNS photo/Jett and Perrilliat family, courtesy Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston)

HOUSTON — Janella Jett and Byron Perrilliat planned to marry Sept. 3 in a New Orleans church where they grew up, but Hurricane Ida had different plans when it barreled into the region Aug. 29.

The couple, along with their families, headed to Houston with Jett’s wedding gown intact.

“Byron and I have been friends throughout the years since going to school and church together. But it’s just been the past few years that we realized we were on the same spiritual level,” Jett told the Texas Catholic Herald, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston.

The couple, both in their 40s, decided to get married in the church in their neighborhood until “a big hurricane started coming that way,” Jett said.

So when they evacuated to Houston along with a line of traffic, they called the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston to ask if they could still get married on Sept. 3.

Victoria Fontana Smith, administrative assistant for the Secretariat for Clergy Formation and Chaplaincy Services, connected several priests to the case to make sure the marriage documents were in order and even called the archbishop of New Orleans to confirm.

Archdiocesan officials in Galveston-Houston checked with priests who could officiate over the wedding on such short notice. Smith also checked with St. Thomas More Catholic Church in Houston, and ultimately Father Thuc Nguyen was tapped for the wedding Mass.

“Obviously, this was a special circumstance because of the hurricane,” Smith said of the group effort involved.

And even then, it was a close call in hot, humid Houston. The couple was caught unaware in a flash flood on their wedding day.

“After all that, we were almost stuck in a flood on the outskirts of Houston. I prayed to God and said, ‘please don’t be joking with us,'” Jett said. “But we made it to the church on time!”

They celebrated with a brief honeymoon in Houston and then Atlanta before returning to New Orleans by Sept. 7 to review the damage to their homes.

“We have foundation and roof damage. There’s still no power and long lines for everything from resources to ice and even running out of gas. But I can’t complain,” she said.

Perrilliat is a contractor by trade, so he will be working on the repairs.

“The church was so beautiful, and Father Thuc was so nice. We couldn’t have asked for better. It was a perfect church wedding,” Jett said.