Justin Reid, 36, and Victoria Hemenes, 31, are the definition of a ride or die couple.
They tied the knot with a biker-themed wedding despite totalling their Harley Davidson and sustaining serious injuries just weeks earlier.
Justin and Victoria collided with a deer three weeks before they planned on riding a motorbike up the aisle.
The smash left Justin with a dislocated elbow and in need of a painful skin graft while Victoria suffered whiplash, concussion and needed eight stitches in her knee.
Despite their injuries, the couple was determined to tie the knot.
Justin, of South Lake Tahoe, California, USA, said: ‘Even if we had to be carried down the aisle on gurneys, we were going to have our wedding.’
The newlyweds, who run a property maintenance company together, insisted on keeping their big day biker-themed even though they counted themselves lucky to be alive after the crash.
Justin, dad of Joscelyn, 14, and Ezekiel, 11, from a previous relationship, and Victoria, mom of Isabella, 14, Gabriella, 12, Kailani, nine, and Khaos, four, from a previous relationship, met through mutual friends in March 2017.
Justin popped the question in October 2018 and the pair began planning their biker-themed wedding.
Justin said: ‘Victoria had been into bikes before but I have been a bike enthusiast for quite a few years now.
‘When we decided to get married, I knew I wanted a biker-themed wedding.
‘We didn’t want a normal wedding. We wanted a weekend-long festival.
‘The original idea was to have my motorcycle parked in the aisle and have the groomsmen and bridesmaids ride their bikes up to us.’
Three weeks before their big day, on 27 July, the couple and a group of friends rode to the camping ground they had hired for their big day in Silver Fork Ranch, Kyburz, California.
After enjoying the area the group rode home on a scenic route, but as Victoria and Justin turned round a bend into Hope Valley at 60mph, they rode head-on to a deer.
‘It was a beautiful ride and there was an awesome sunset,’ Justin remembered.
‘All of a sudden this deer was in our headlights.
‘I was trying to dodge around it but I didn’t have enough time.
‘I turned into the middle of the deer, put my head down and went for it.’
The second the couple hit the deer their helmets knocked together and Victoria fainted, but Justin remained conscious as they veered into the woodland on the edge of the road.
Unfortunately, the crash had messed up the bike’s breaks and steering.
Justin said: ‘I was steering to the right and I couldn’t do anything about it.
‘We were heading into the forest.
‘We hit one of the reflective markers on the side of the road and it cut my left arm open and sliced Victoria’s knee.
‘We fell off and the bike flipped over.
‘I remember tumbling and seeing dirt and rocks and sky and I just thought: “I hope the bike doesn’t land on me”.
‘I flipped myself over one more time and I saw Tori already running to me and screaming: “We’re alive!”. I was still laying there.
‘I moved my head back and forth and my fingers and toes and bent my leg. But when I tried to push myself up, my left elbow just flopped out.
‘There was a huge chunk of my flesh missing on the inside of my elbow.’
An ambulance took the couple to Barton Memorial Hospital in South Lake Tahoe, where Justin was told his forearm bone had separated from his elbow.
The next day Justin underwent a skin graft, taking skin from his thigh to his left arm – which left parts of his tattoo on his arm.
Victoria needed eight stitches to her knee and suffered serious cuts and bruising on her arm.
The couple couldn’t walk for days after and were in agony, but didn’t even consider postponing their wedding day.
On 17 August the couple walked up the aisle, with Justin sporting a cast on his arm, while groomsmaids and bridesmaids made the journey on motorbikes.
They kept the biker theme despite the distressing crash just weeks earlier.
The couple’s friend Bobby Real officiated the wedding and asked: ‘Justin, do you take Victoria as your ‘ride or die’? And Victoria, do you take Justin as your ‘ride-or-die’?’
The cake featured a nod to the couple’s lucky escape with figurines of a couple with a bike and a deer cut in half.
Three workers from motorcycle shop Battle Born Harley-Davidson arrived at the wedding after hearing about the crash from Justin’s childhood friend Nick Parkhurst.
They gave the bride and groom new full-face helmets and padded jackets.
The newlyweds are still recovering and it will be a while before they’re able to get back on a bike, but they’re greatly enjoying married life regardless. The couple’s friends and family have set up a GoFundMe page to help them pay their medical bills.
Justin plans to buy back the totalled Harley Davidson from his insurer and rebuild it.
Victoria said: ‘[Justin is] the only person who can scare me and make me feel safe at the same time.
‘When we’re riding together, it feels intimate.
‘We will be back on that bike, there’s no other bike that’s quite the same.
‘Our intention was to take a load of wedding pics with the bike but Justin will not take any pictures with a bike that is not his.
‘So we’ll reenact our wedding pictures once he’s rebuilt the bike.’
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