WEDDING- Stories behind the shots: Capturing love with a lens

Given the high stakes of the day, weddings have a way of making for some of the funniest, most memorable, and just downright bizarre stories in one's lifetime– the stories to which mere words do not do justice. Fortunately for these eight wedding photographers and their clients, these stories didn't escape the camera lens and now the words have an accompanying image worth 1,000 more of them.

Jim Carpenter, Gitchell Studio

At every wedding, there's a fine line to walk between poignant and crude when it comes to public displays of affection. Usually, that's a concern for the bride and groom, but, as Jim Carpenter saw in this shot, that's not always the case.

"The bride's sister was giving a toast," he explains. "And in the middle of it, her husband, the bride's brother-in-law, pinches the groom on the butt!"

Though this impromptu, welcome-to-the-family gesture provoked smiles from most of the folks who saw it, the most priceless facial expression was one Carpenter couldn't fit into his frame.

"The bride's sister just stopped her toast and gave her husband a look like, 'What in the world are you doing?'"


Jen Fariello, Jen Fariello Photography

For this couple, the only one getting cold feet for their wedding was their photographer Jen Fariello.

"This was the day after and this couple wanted me to do some shots of them on the beach," she says of this Virginia Beach wedding. "So we shot for about an hour and then they decide they want to run in the ocean."

That meant Fariello had to follow the newly-wets into the ever-deepening sea.

"There was a hurricane just off the coast causing 30 mph winds to blow sand everywhere," she says. "The whole time I'm thinking, 'Get the shot, but don't get hit by a wave and fall in the water with a $5,000 camera.'"

And what about the bride's dress?

"It was trashed," says Fariello. "But you do only wear it once."


Allegra Helms, Allegra's Studio

A honeymoon cottage is meant for two people, but this couple managed to squeeze Allegra Helms with them into these close quarters. 

"This is a couple that had already been through a lot together," she explains. "So the bride said she wanted a unique, intimate type of picture, and told me to come with them to the honeymoon cottage after the reception," Helms says. 

So using only the light from the bathroom and keeping the door slightly cracked, Helms proceeded with an assignment unlike any she'd ever had.

"From midnight to around 1:30am, I did portraits of them in bed, getting undressed," Helms recalls. "Nothing pornographic, just sweet, loving, little moments."


Anne and Bill Holland, Holland Photo Arts

Try as mothers of brides sometimes do to control the details of a wedding, the one mother that overrules all others is Mother Nature. At this wedding Anne and Bill Holland shot, she appeared in the form of some particularly pesky wildlife.

"We were shooting the bride and groom while the wedding party waited under a canopy of trees," says Bill. "Then we heard some commotion and found the best man picking at his hair because he had just gotten nailed by a pigeon."

So while the groomsmen got busy using a nearby fountain to get the bird's wedding gift out of the best man's hair, the Hollands captured the bridesmaids seeking cover from any future presents other pigeons might drop.

"They huddled under the only non-tree shelter they could find," Bill says, "parts of their dresses!"


Billy Hunt, Billy Hunt Photography

Everyone knows the old maxim "don't judge a book by its cover," but not everyone knows the corollary that Billy Hunt discovered at this wedding: "don't judge a wedding by its ceremony."

"The groom and his family were British, so the ceremony was very long and very formal, right down to the mother of the groom wearing a tiara," he says. "And when we got to the reception, everything was still going according to plan until it came time for the dancing."

That's when Hunt says that all airs of propriety were kicked off with the Sunday shoes.

"It was just like the movie Footloose," he says. "Everybody just suddenly went off break dancing, doing the splits, grinding on each other, stripper dancing. Alcohol played a factor, but I cannot emphasize the skill enough. These people all knew how to throw down, and this bridesmaid was one of them."

Was the groom's mother stewing under her tiara? Far from it, says Hunt. "She definitely cut a rug as well."


Meg Runion, Rob Garland Photographers

In most cases, another man running off with the bride is an act that would shock and appall wedding guests. However, as Meg Runion saw, its possible to get away with it while wearing a funny costume.

"The bride was standing in the middle of the dance floor, when this guy in a gorilla suit just picked her up and ran off with her," she says. "He carried her all the way out of the tent."

Runion recalls that the unexpected guest was welcomed with smiles and laughs, especially when the bride returned to the reception a minute later. And just who was the mystery ape?

"His identity was never revealed to me," says Runion, "but I did see one of the groomsmen running up behind him trying to zip him up."


Will Walker, William Walker Photography

Setting the right mood for the reception with music is always a good idea. For a formal affair, a string quartet or a jazz combo is a good option. But to give fans of big hair and loud guitars a good time, Will Walker notes there is but one best choice.

"This picture is on the 'Oh!' of 'Oh-oh, we're livin' on a prayer,'" he says, referring to the Bon Jovi hit. "These two groomsmen were really excited to have a '70s/'80s cover band."

Walker says that while everyone looked like they were rocking out, these two set the pace.

 "Everyone formed a ring around them like they knew they were going to do this as soon as the song started," he recalls. "Sure enough, these guys were doing air guitar, a lot of leaning back to back, jumping around, throwing fists in the air. I've never seen anyone else like this at a wedding."


Susan Kalergis, Susan Kalergis Photgraphy

At some weddings, the band's last song usually comes when the night is winding down to a close and the dance floor is clearing. Such was certainly the case at this wedding Susan Kalergis photographed. 

"The band said last song and a bunch of people disappeared," she recalls. 

That's when things began to stray from the norm.

"Next thing I know, all the guests who disappeared came back in costumes," Kalergis says. 

Soon the bride's white wedding train had a decidedly more colorful one to go along with it as a conga line quickly formed. The operation was executed with such efficiency by this party patrol, Kalergis says, "I was thinking this probably hadn't been the first time they'd done that."