Nation & World

First, they said, ‘I do.’ Then these Iowa brides let guests set their gowns on fire

Sure, we’ve heard of blushing brides.

But burning brides?

That would be April Jennifer Choi and Bethany Byrnes, two brides who literally lit things up after they said “I do” on Oct. 13 when they married, according to The Knot bridal website, at Camp Tanager in Mount Vernon, Iowa.

They had their wedding gowns set on fire — while they were wearing them.

It was like the scene in “The Hunger Games” when heroine Katniss Everdeen’s gown catches fire, times two.

The moment was captured in photos and on a video that shows the two women standing face to face in long white gowns, clasping hands, foreheads touching.

“Fire extinguishers ready?” the emcee said as two guests lit torches. One stood in back of Choi, one in back of Byrnes.

“You may now LIGHT the brides. Three, two, one. Go!”

Guests could hear the dull whoosh of ignition as the torches touched fabric.

Hungry flames ran up the skirts. Byrnes was the first to detach her tear-away dress and jump away from the flames; Choi followed a second later.

Cedar Rapids photographer Michael Huang, standing about 10 feet from the women, said the moment passed so quickly he didn’t have time to worry about the heat.

“Every wedding I shoot is different, but this is way out,” Huang told McClatchy. “It was an honor to be able to capture this beautiful moment.”

The women know how to put on a show. They are “both variety entertainers and boast fire-eating and breathing among their talents,” South West News Service reported.

“I have never seen two brides do something like this,” Choi, whose Facebook page describes her as a self-employed “dancer, performer and whip artist,” told SWNS. “I don’t know of any other person who has actually burnt their wedding dress at the wedding.

“I don’t think I will ever forget it and nor will anybody else who attended the wedding, especially our parents who were greatly concerned for our safety. They were very, very nervous.”

So was Byrnes, she admitted.

“I was super nervous,” she told SWNS. “I have done fire performance for fun and professionally, but as I watched the fuel being poured on April’s dress I couldn’t help but think it was a ton of fuel to be wearing.

“It was such an adrenaline rush when the dresses went up in flames. You just have to repeat in your head that it’s fine, you’ve done this before and all of the safety has been figured out. It really is safe.”

They made sure it would be, with a medic and fire extinguishers on hand, a wet ground under their feet and custom-made cotton leggings to protect their legs, SWNS reported.

“April actually teaches fire safety to professional fire performance community,” said Huang. “She deals with safety so much that sometimes I am afraid to light a candle without two fire safeties and fire extinguisher around.”

According to their love story on The Knot, the women met in 2012 and started dating in July 2013.

Choi asked her girlfriend to marry her four times.

Byrnes said no four times, until Choi gave her a ring for her birthday that would only fit on her left ring finger.

In January 2014, Huang called “dibs” on shooting the wedding, their story says.

The next month Byrnes agreed to being lit on fire in a wedding dress.

“Watching the flames creep up your wife’s gown is not something you can ever forget,” Byrnes told SWNS.