"We can't put our friends and family in the path of the hurricane," Carter Loetz tells PEOPLE

By Caitlin Keating
September 14, 2018 02:21 PM
Catherine Anne Photography

A Charlotte, North Carolina, couple is trying to look on the bright side after being forced to cancel their wedding at the last minute as Hurricane Florence hammers the East Coast.

Carter Loetz, 30, and his fiancée, Esther Walsh — former New Yorkers who joke they moved to the south “for the weather” — were set to wed in Charleston, South Carolina, on Saturday, a year after getting engaged.

On Monday, the couple was nearly in Charleston — with a car packed full of wedding decor, and their attire for the big day — when they received the bad news.

“We had gotten three quarters of the way to Charleston when the mandatory evacuations were called for and we realized at the time, ‘This wedding is not going to happen,’ ” Loetz, who works in finance, tells PEOPLE.

Unfortunately, Walsh’s parents had already made the trip down from New Jersey. After all of 90 minutes in the southern destination spot — and a trip to the grocery store — the bride’s parents “just had to turn around and drive 13 hours back to New Jersey.”

RELATED VIDEO: Hurricane Florence Weakened but Still Expected to Be Devastating as Some Refuse to Evacuate

“We made the call: ‘We can’t have this wedding. We can’t put our friends and family in the path of the hurricane,’ ” Loetz says. “We were so bummed out, but we’re kind of at the point now where we know it’s completely out of our control.”

Despite having a “rock-solid rain plan,” adds Walsh, 31, who works in public relations. “We just had no idea that a hurricane could come and actually cancel the wedding.”

The couple — who previously shared their story with the New York Times — were able to reschedule the wedding for the same venue, the William Aiken House, on November 30.

“We’re probably going to lose some people,” says Loetz, adding that thankfully their wedding planner Jackie Fogartie encouraged them to purchase wedding insurance.

And although guests won’t be with the almost married couple on Saturday, they still plan to celebrate what would have been.

“Since we were supposed to get married, I’m gonna dress up in the tux and Esther’s going to wear her wedding dress,” shares Loetz. “We’re going to go take some photos on what was supposed to be our wedding day.”