The day was overcast and the mood had an electric feeling about it. Not quite the easy Sunday morning that one could hope for, work was pressing the agenda. There were photos to edit, a shoot to gear up for, lessons to learn, classes to ace. No, this was not an easy type of weekend.
The day before had been long, sleep had been short, the only source of this electric drive was the notion of a coming big challenge. The rolling of the dice and crashing a wedding to take pictures.
Wait a sec… what? Crashing? huh??
That’s right. One last attempt to relive a college myth… legend if you will. Crashing one more wedding (technically, a second one) just to fill in as a photographer. Why would anyone do such a thing?
Here is the back story. And reader be warned, this is not recommended practice. Some years ago, there was a bit of confusion in navigation. This pre-dates when GPS systems were common place. A young budding photographer went to attend the wedding of a distant family friend and got the location wrong. Not deterred, attended the wrong wedding and went to the wrong reception. Blended in nicely and played it off well. Enjoyed a lovely night of fun. Kept tame and polite as to not draw any attention. Met some very wonderful people. It was a good time.
Back then, the adrenaline rush of applying skills read in a psychology text and pulling off an awesome time at a totally random wedding even, well that had to be repeated to see if it was a one off deal or not. While getting ready for this new caper, a smile crept in but was muted by the reality that this time, age would suggest loudly this crashing of parties was not the most brilliant of ideas.
As the reverie of the past crash faded away to make room for clearer thinking about the events to take place, the photographer thought about all the hedging of bets in place to ensure a smooth caper. There was a person known at the wedding who could act as the plus one, or better yet, vouch for the photog as being their plus one, a luxury not available the last crash. So technically, it wasn’t a full crash at this party, but who would be the wiser. It’s not like there was Facebook and blogs back then nor at the time of this huge undertaking.
After checking that all the gear was packed and lines rehearsed in case anyone asked any questions, the photog took off for the wedding. Traffic was light, parking was easy to find, and slipping into the church was not that difficult. No one was in a chatty mood that day. Blending in with the guest wasn’t shaping out to be that hard either, because the church was just large enough for most the guest to sit comfortably where every they wanted.
The colors of the day ranged in reds, blues, and whites. All well mixed and spread across the very large bridal party. Nearly an hour for the whole procession to parade slowly in before the bride made her entrance. Surprisingly, her dress as the least complex of all, making it look that much the prettier. The bouquets were the pivotal points that tied all the colors together.
The transition to the reception was a lot more adventurous and interesting. The couple trying to have their photoshoot in private did not even tell their own photographers where they’d be shooting until it was time to go. What an interesting conversation that must have been. Sneaking into that discussion was impossible. The only thing left to do was to head over to the reception hall. A few well placed compliments and a few well taken pictures with the promise of free shipment if the information about the reception hall was shared ensured that our photog got all the information needed to go to the reception hall.
At the reception hall, to the photog’s great surprise, security was super tight and no one without an invite was being let in. To make matters worse, this venue had only one way in and out of it, so trying to go around the back wouldn’t work unless you were one of the vendors and had credentials to get in as one. This would be trickier than planned. No invite, just a camera bag, and a growing crowd of guests. Further complicating things, the paid team of photographer were present in their company logo shirts. Hummmm
Here comes the role of the dice, the big gamble. Quickly unloading the gear, our resident photog preps to get into action and starts shooting. Strategically of course. Can’t make it too obvious that there is another photographer on the job, can’t draw too much attention either. But, must also find a way to use the cover to slip by security into the reception hall. Making small talk with the guests and taking a few fashion accessory style photos, it became clear that there were far more guests at the reception then there were places for them. One gentleman even suggested that those with cellphones (yes, it was a bit ways back) could make calls to those inside who had cellphones and work out some sort of rotation plan.
Luck shown it’s favor one last time. There was a woman throwing a fit at not getting in causing enough stir that security was focused on her and her family. This distraction allowed the photog took the chance to slip into the near back vendor door and headed straight to the bridal suite for a few quick photos. Instead of making it as planned, photog was stopped short by an interesting conversation taking place between the bride and one who clearly didn’t look like he belonged at the venue at all.
It appears that the bride was also rolling the dice. The young man looking very out of place was pleading with the bride to reconsider her decision. He was professing his undying love to her. Photos were obviously totally out of the question. In fact, hiding by the indentation in the hall was not going to be good cover for long. Frantically trying to silently pack the camera away while listening intently, the photog tried to plan an innocent looking exit.
The escape plan almost worked. The groom appeared to be calling for his bride. She was trying to get away discretely. The young lad was at wits end asking, begging, pleading. The following words chilled all in audience. “If you love me, you’ll let me be in my new marriage. I have to make it to the five year mark so they don’t think I’m doing it for the money. If you love me, you’ll let me be married. It’s the right thing for me to do, you have nothing to offer me right now. Please, just go. No one knows you’re here and I can’t risk anyone knowing you exist. We’re done for now”. And just then, they walked into the hiding place of the photographer who had not yet figured his escape plan.
To say that everyone present were speechless is an understatement. The bride was not expecting to see anyone on her narrow escape from her groom. The young man was not expecting to see anyone other than the love of his life. The photog needed to get out fast and did not want to be a part of any drama. The groom, after all, was still calling down the hall and making progress towards the now trio.
Thinking quickly, the photog hatched a plan. Citing the “sacred oath” of the photographer’s code, he assured the bride that not only was there no pictures taken, but an exit plan could work. The route used to enter had one other room open, and that room was for the vendors of the event to set up. The jilted lover could pass for one of the technicians, given his attire, and the camera bag made the photog belong, so long as the bride agreed to cover for the photog. Hastily, she agreed to the plan. Time was running out.
The door closed on the grief stricken lad and photog as the groom arrived to see his bride alone in the hallway. She mumbled something about looking for one of the crews who was not in the room and they both walked away. Disaster was avoided. A valuable lesson for this up and coming photog was learned. You don’t know what you’ll learn in these types of venues and your ability to stay neutral and quiet is very good business.
Can’t say what might have happened and can’t guess as to what did happen. The last the photog heard of this couple, they finished their reception and managed to make it passed the five year mark. No one associated with the wedding has ever heard of the young grieved suitor who showed up that evening. The photog agreed privately not to crash any more weddings, as witnessing these types of private moments should always be attached to a contract, cleared checks, and insurance policies.