They fled the area instead and "with the snap of an eye, I lost everything," she said. The only remnants of the wedding-to-be was a marriage license Williams, 28, tucked into her purse.
She and Joseph Kirsh joined about 3,000 other refugees at the Mississippi Coliseum (search) shelter about 190 miles north of New Orleans.
Shelter resident Rochelle Smith, a Jackson-area woman who was homeless before the storm, heard of Williams' plight on Thursday and decided that a lack of wedding dress or cake wasn't going to stop the couple from having their special day.
On Saturday, the couple were married.
As children played and weary survivors slept, Williams and Kirsh exchanged vows before an Episcopalian minister and a crowd seated in folding chairs. Some snapped photos with instant cameras, while others used camera phones to capture the moment.
The ceremony couldn't approach what the couple had originally planned, but they were touched by the outpouring.
"It's beautiful," said Williams' mother, Evelyn. "It's real hard; we lost everything at once."
Smith took on the role of wedding planner, coordinating donations from local businesses, including jewelry and shoes. Others donated hair and makeup services, a traditional dress and five lilac bridesmaid gowns.
The couple approached local entrepreneur Bob Ford, who owns Sanctuary Golf Club in Brandon. Ford and his wife, Joyce, were cooking food for shelter residents throughout the week. Ford helped finance the ceremony.
"We want to uplift everyone here ... give people something to live for," Ford said.