Wedding crashers gift UAH graduates an unexpected aerial surprise


Photo: Jordan Burch Photography

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PENSACOLA, Fla. – Rachel and Chandler Mills got married on Sunday without a hitch, but they never planned for the coolest wedding crashers in the skies to pay a visit to the party.

The two met in college at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. Chandler was a senior and Rachel was a freshman.

“We were in the library, studying for finals!” explained Rachel.

They fell in love and started to plan a life together. But Rachel never planned on where it would take them. Chandler joined the Navy last October, and is currently in flight school training to be a naval flight officer.

“I would always say when I was younger that I would never date someone in the military, because I wouldn’t want to see them deployed!” she said. “Last year, when he started talking about joining, it was the complete opposite of what I was used to.”

But Rachel supported him then, and ever since.

“It was very new, but it has actually worked out so far,” she said.

Still, when Ensign Chandler Mills popped the question in February, it was pretty difficult for her to plan the wedding around his training schedule.

“It was hectic, at the very least,” explained Chandler.

“We just hoped for the best!” said Rachel.

When the day finally came, Rachel already knew what happens to the best laid plans. But everything turned out just as she hoped.

“For the whole wedding, I was just really relaxed about it,” she said. “We didn’t even have a backup venue. We just rolled with whatever!”

That attitude came in handy as they took photos post-ceremony, and wedding crashers came flying high.

The Blue Angels joined the party from the sky, flying over their Johnson Beach wedding at the Gulf Islands National Seashore. As Chandler wore his uniform below, they flew the famous Navy planes from above.

“They were flying kind of low, and it was kind of an unusual double take for them to come back to that spot and especially to release their smoke,” commented Chandler.

“They came flying over the second time, and all of us jumped out of the way really fast and I pulled Chandler back over to me,” said Rachel. “We didn’t even get to see how they were flying because we were posed for the picture. So whenever we got the photos and saw some of the videos, it was really cool to see it. It’s kind of like, nobody else gets to have these kind of wedding pictures!”

“We hope they saw us and were like, ‘Oh, let’s do a fly-by right there and make it more awesome for them! We know that may not have been the case but it’s cool to at least think that,” Chandler explained. “I kind of had a feeling that was going to happen, since they usually fly down the beach on Sunday. But I didn’t expect them to do two passes.”

The photo and videos are getting attention on Facebook Navy groups. Even those affiliated with the Blue Angels have seen the photo circulating online.

The Blue Angels Public Affairs Officer, Navy Lt. Joe Hontz, said in a statement to WHNT News 19:

“We are fortunate to be part of many great events throughout the year and we are honored that we were able to be part of their special day.”

This couple is used to long distance, and are preparing to one day do it again.

“We’ve been long-distance for the whole time we were dating, which I think is really beneficial in the long run for us, when I know he’s going to be deployed and stuff. So it’s good practice,” said Rachel.

But these memories, captured by Jordan Burch Photography, will last a lifetime. Proving that sometimes, it’s better when things don’t go as planned. Sometimes, they come out even better than you could have dreamed.

“It was perfect. The weather was perfect, the pictures were perfect, all our close family and friends were able to make it. The photography was great!”

“Now that we’re both living in the same city and we are finally married, we will both be starting our careers together!” said Rachel.

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