Couple meet as strangers during Las Vegas shooting, 2 years later they’re married

Chantal Melanson and Austin Monfort met by chance at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in 2017 in Las Vegas. What followed the day after their first encounter bonded them for life, but their story isn’t all tragedy.

Two years later, Chantal and Austin, who were once strangers, got married. They planned to hold a ceremony in Las Vegas to celebrate their union with their friends and family, but the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has put those plans on hold for now.

“It just felt like we knew each other forever,” she told Metro.

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Who doesn’t love a good love story? This is mine. October 2017 my love for everything country brought me to Las Vegas with my girlfriends for the Route 91 country festival. A weekend of what I expected to be filled with cowboy boots, country music and country boys turned into a weekend that would mark the rest of this wild journey I call life. Austin and I met at Gilleys the second night of the concert. No one told us that New York New York’s rollercoaster doesn’t run at 3am so we opted for pizza instead. We made plans to meet up on the last day of the festival and I didn’t give it much more thought other than he was cute and we seemed to hit it off. While listening to country music and dancing we soon found ourselves on the ground with gunshots that seemed to be coming from every direction. Austin never left my side that night. Hand in hand and complete strangers we ran across the entire festival grounds trying to escape the gunfire. We found ourselves in a taxi with a wounded spectator. Rushed to the hospital we stayed there into the morning. In the coming days Austin went back to California and I Canada. However that wasn’t the end of friendship and 6 weeks later Austin boarded a flight to Canada. Since then we have not spent more than 6 weeks apart from each other and I wouldn’t have my life any other way✈️💑💕 . . . . . #route91 #love #countrystrong #vegasstrong #lovewins #country #route91strong #strongertogether #myforever #soulmate #tragedytolove #ourlovestory #followforfollow #gilleyslasvegas #countrygirl #countryfestival #instalove #lasvegas #bestlovestory #instagood #route91survivor #route91harvest #buzzfeed #lovestoriesintimates #theknot #howwemet #ellendegeneres #ellendegeneresshow #ldrcouples #likeforlikes @huffpost

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According to Chantal she didn’t even plan on going to the festival, but a few weeks before a friend said she had an extra ticket. So the now 29-year-old flew from her home in Alberta, Canada to Las Vegas for the three-day event.

It was there that she met Austin, now 24, who was there celebrating a friend’s 21st birthday.

The two crossed paths and exchanged numbers. The following day they met up at the festival and it was then that Stephen Paddock opened fire on the crowd of 22,000.

Initially they thought the gunshots were fireworks, but when the noise wasn’t stopping, everyone knew they had to act. Austin grabbed Chantal and the two, along with thousands of attendees, attempted to flee.

“Everyone ran in different directions but Austin stayed with me and we ran together. We ran across the entire festival grounds stopping a few times to get shelter.”

Luckily, they and their friends survived.

After the horrific events of October 1, 2017, Chantal returned to Canada while Austin returned to California. But they didn’t let distance keep them apart.

They used FaceTime to keep in touch because Chantal said “it just felt so right and safe talking to him after what we went through.”

Soon, Austin booked a flight to visit Chantal and since then they’ve never been apart for more then six weeks at a time.

After 18 months of constant talking and traveling, Chantal visited Austin in California and the two spent a few days in Laguna Beach, a favorite getaway of theirs.

While there, Chantal told HowTheyAsked, “he looked at me got down on one knee, reached in his cowboy boot and made me the happiest girl in the world.”

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Less than 24hours of meeting each other we were in a mass shooting together and he never left my side. Almost two years later, living in two different country, we have a fairytale love story 💕 . Friday March 8th we headed to our favourite place to unwind Laguna Beach 🏝 we got ourselves a cute hotel room and we really didn’t make any plans other than spend time together and relax. It was a windy and chilly day by the water but we bundled up, Austin even wearing cowboys on the beach. Once we got down to thousand steps beach Austin gave me a hug. Right away I could feel his heart beating out of his chest. I asked him if everything was okay? . That’s when he looked at me got down on one knee, reached in his cowboy boot and made me the happiest girl in the world 💍 . We sat on the beach, cracked open a beer and soaked it all in 💕 the night was followed by an amazing dinner and celebration drinks at our favourite rooftop bar @skyloftoc . . #longdistancerelationship #isaidyes #engaged #fiance #heasked #howheasked #proposalstory #lagunabeachproposal #followforfollow #proposal #lovestory #howwemet #ourstory #ourlovestory #huffpostido #followourlovestory #lovejourney #followus #couplegoals #coupleinfluencer #influencer #k1visa #k1fiancevisa #sandiegoblogger #fiancevisa #route91strong #route91family #route91harvest #route91survivors #tragedytolove

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They didn’t waste anytime applying for a K1 visa. A K1 visa would allow Chantal to move to the United States, but she would have to marry Austin within 90 days. After nearly a year, the visa was granted and the two were legally married on November 1, 2019.

“We made it very small but I still wanted a few pictures taken because it was still a very important day.”

While the couple planned a much larger celebration with family and friends in Las Vegas, their wedding date has been postponed due to the current pandemic. The pandemic has also put a hold on Chantal’s immigration status.

But they’re not letting anything damper their spirits.

“Our wedding plans might be up in the air, bachelorette cancelled and can’t plan our honeymoon. Immigration paperwork is at a standstill, can’t work yet,” Chantal wrote on Instagram. “But I still have the best thing that’s ever happened to me, and I get to be quarantined and spend everyday with you!”

Congratulations to Austin and Chantal! While you might not be able to celebrate with your family and friends right now, know that when you’re able to it will be the biggest celebration of life.

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