Wedding Photography - What Could Possibly Go Wrong?
by John Hopkins on 28/4/2020
The following events have been extracted from the 500 plus weddings I photographed during my career...
The very first wedding I photographed was arranged by the bride’s mother, who insisted that I only needed to turn up at the church on the appropriate day/time. As I was a complete novice, I did as requested, only to be confronted by the bride's father stepping out of the bridal car, enquiring in a very loud and angry voice what I thought I was doing? It transpired that the bride was in fact eight months pregnant, and the father was adamant that no one was going to take photographs of his daughter in that condition. At this point the bride burst into tears and the commotion had alerted those inside the church that all was not well. The first to appear was the vicar, closely followed by the bride’s mother. After several angry exchanges between the bride's parents, I suggested that a compromise could be that I only took ‘head and shoulder’ shots. Fortunately, this was agreed, and the wedding proceeded as planned.
I attended a wedding at a small country church. Access to the church was via a long and very muddy path. The bride stepped out of the bridal car, walked a few paces along the path, slipped, and fell face down in the mud. Fortunately, there was a seamstress in the congregation, who raced back to her car, produced a tin full of pins, and proceeded to tuck the muddy parts of the front of the dress out of view. Luckily, the dress was quite a flowing item, so there was plenty of capacity to allow this re-adjustment. Another lady cleaned the bride’s face, and more make-up was applied. Job done.
St. Marks church was the location for the next item. Some kind soul had managed to get hold of the groom’s shoes, and painted ‘NOES’ on the sole of the left hand shoe, and ‘CAPE’ on the sole of the right hand shoe. This caused uproarious laughter when the bride and groom knelt down at the altar.
I followed the bride and groom into a hall where the reception was being held. At the opposite end of the hall was a table containing a three tiered wedding cake. It had been a very warm day, and just as the married couple were getting close to the cake, one of the pillars holding the second cake layer decided to sink into the cake below. The upshot was that the top two cake layers ended up on the floor. Oh crumbs!!
A vicar, who was clearly well beyond the normal retirement age, began the wedding ceremony by saying “Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to celebrate the passing of.....”
AA to the rescue. This bride had booked a beautiful vintage car to arrive at the church in. Unfortunately, the car broke down several hundred yards from the church. A group of guests were deployed to push the car the rest of the way to the church. Once the bride was inside the church, the driver rang the AA to see if they could help. It just so happened, that a patrol vehicle was literally only a mile away. The patrol man duly arrived, diagnosed, and sorted the problem out before the bride and groom exited the church at the end of the service. How’s that for service?
Slightly different transport story. Bride and father arriving in a horse drawn open top carriage. Horse gets spooked and decides to bolt. It was slightly over an hour later when the bride and father re-appeared in a taxi. This was at a time before mobile phones, so no one had a clue what was going on.
Another small country church on a private estate. The church was behind a walled area and had only ever been used for 14 weddings in its entire history. Everyone had arrived but no key to the large wooden gate could be found. The wedding had to be postponed, but the reception took place.
Multi-tasking photographer. A bride who was a keen campanologist had booked bell ringers to ring, both before and after the wedding service. News arrived just prior to the bride’s arrival that one of the bell ringers was sick. I am not that proficient in the campanology department, but was able to do sufficient to get by before the wedding ceremony, then dash outside to take the formal photographs. Straight after the photographs outside the church at the end of the service, I made my way back to the belfry, to finish bell ringing activities, before dashing to the reception to complete the job I’d actually set out to do in the first place.
At a very grand country wedding, the whole of the day's events were being recorded by a French television crew. It was only discovered at the very last moment that no one had ordered the wedding cake. Lots of finger pointing, but the bottom line was that there was no cake, and only two hours to go before the actual wedding service. One of the catering staff whisked off to the nearest cake shop and returned with three different sized cake boxes. She proceeded to ice each of these with a very stiff mixture of icing, and produced a magnificent looking wedding cake. None of the guests had a clue that the cake wasn’t the real thing, and bride and groom were tipped off NOT to try cutting into the cake. Guests were informed that slices of the cake would be sent to them through the post, and all ended well.
The tradition of ‘decorating’ the bride and groom's car in readiness for them to leave the reception was carried out on a VW Beetle parked behind the hotel where the wedding reception took place. Strings with cans were attached, along with ‘Just Married’ banners and a large amount of foam. All in all, a very professional job. Bride and groom appeared at the front door of the hotel, walked towards the VW Beetle and burst into uproarious laughter. The reason – their VW Beetle was parked just around the corner from the hotel!!
Having arrived early at a house on a large country estate in readiness to take photographs of the bride prior to her setting off to the church, I was invited to wait in the kitchen. The household was supported by several ‘staff’. I had not been waiting for very long when the internal door to the kitchen opened and in walked the bride, dressed only in a pair of panties and holding a matching bra in her hand. She was expecting to find the resident female cook, whom she was going to ask to help her sort out a problem with some rather stiff hooks and eyes on her new bra. After a few awkward moments, I was able to resolve the problem for her and she returned to her bedroom wearing a full set of underwear. I never did find out whether she told this tale to anyone else, but I did receive a few knowing glances from her throughout the rest of the day!
Not all expensive weddings run smoothly. At the conclusion of the wedding service, the bride and groom were to be whisked back to the reception in a helicopter. Sufficient time was allowed so that the guests could re-assemble at the reception location, prior to the bride and groom's magnificent arrival. It was a really warm, sunny day and the reception was to take place in a huge marquee, the side of which had been peeled back to keep it cool. A temporary landing area had been marked out for the helicopter, which unfortunately proved to be far too close to the marquee. As the helicopter descended, the down draught from the rotor blades tore through the marquee, blowing every table over, smashing plates, glasses, spilling many bottles of wine and destroying the buffet. Oh for a pint of beer and packet of crisps down the pub!