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.
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.”
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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