Modesto wedding photographer
Sometimes over cocktails my girlfriends and I swap crazy stories. Okay, EVERY time we have cocktails we share crazy stories. Sometimes they’re about dumb things we did in school – general coming-of-age stories. Sarah and I have some good ones from when we traveled to {insert city here} and missed the {bus/train/ferry/plane} and had to spend the night in the {train station/stranger’s house}. Our friend Jenny always had some good stories, like the time she got pulled over by the CHP and she and the other girls in the car didn’t have pants on, or the time she accidentally flashed the entire deck of a cruise she was on. You know… just girl talk.

We also swap stories about our jobs. Sarah is a very busy and important business woman who travels some for work, most recently to China. Last week she was there and she saw women handing out cigarettes on platters at a wedding reception. I thought that was pretty interesting. Cassie is a dental assistant and has a hundred-year-old patient who insists on hanging on to her one tooth. And then there’s the woman who insists aliens are hiding radio transmitters in her dental plaque.

The story I have told over and over is the time I had to break up a brawl at a wedding reception.

First a little background… I’ve been shooting weddings since 1998, and in the beginning, when I was new in the game, I paid my dues. Oh boy, did I pay my dues… I didn’t start out shooting the classy, gorgeous, high-dollar weddings I have the privilege of shooting today. Although I did get lucky and shoot some quaint, classy weddings, I mostly started out with simple, down-home, rec-hall, red-solo-cup weddings – some great, some very … interesting. Weddings where the bride gave the groom a public lap dance (true story). Weddings with spreads of tater tots and crackers topped with Cheez Whiz.

When I’m asked: “What is the craziest thing that’s ever happened at a wedding?” I immediately recall the time I had to break up a fist fight brawl at a reception. The bride and groom were a VERY sweet, young couple. They had been dating since high school, and the bride had a very tough home life. At the age of fifteen, she got emancipated and moved in with the groom’s family. His parents embraced her as their own daughter. She even called them “Mom” and “Dad.” Mom was a bridesmaid and Dad danced with her at the reception. Her new little sister was a flower girl as well.

The bride’s biological mother attended the wedding, but the bride wanted to keep her distance from her and the other family members the bio mother had brought along. Being a very smart girl, the bride knew there could only be trouble there. Things went very smoothly through the ceremony and photos. We had a ball taking the bridal party and bride and groom photos in the beautiful November Autumn leaves. At the reception during dinner, my assistant (before Mark started assisting) and I sat toward the back of the room with our food, more than ready for a break.

Half-way through our plates I heard shouting (as did everyone else) and saw there was a scuffle starting at the head table. The groom and a woman I didn’t know were shouting at each other. The woman (the bride’s bio mother’s sister) called the groom’s mother a very rude name that I won’t say and the groom stood up and said, “DON’T talk to my mother like that!” She screamed back, he continued standing up for his mom, etc. Suddenly more people were standing up attempting to attack the groom, and he was trying to protect himself. Fists started flying, chairs started flying, and the bridesmaids physically grabbed the bride and whisked her into the kitchen for safety. The guests were all standing and watching, mouths agape, frozen in shock. I immediately went into “fix-it” mode while my assistant did absolutely nothing. I turned around and pointed at a guest who was holding a cell phone and said, “Call 911!” She just stood there, her mouth hanging open. “Now!” I said.

Up front, the brawl kept growing, more and more people joining the fight, more fists flying, more screaming. Bigger, bigger, bigger. Things were already out of control and no one on site was able to break it up. I knew things were getting dangerous and were only going to get worse. I turned back to the cell phoned guest. “Did you call 911?” “Yes! We’ve all called but no one has come!”

I remembered seeing a Christmas parade going on down the street when we arrived at the rec hall. Police. We needed police stat. I took off running full-speed out of the rec hall and down the street towards the police cars I saw parked three blocks away. There was no time to spare, my arms and legs pumping and my asthma lungs burning from the cold air. Panting, I ran up to a police officer and told him about the brawl at the rec hall. “Wedding … fight … lots of people … we need … help…” He got in his patrol car, turned on his lights and siren and rushed to the rec hall. By the time I walked back, there were already people in cuffs and everything had been broken up.

Knowing that the perps had been apprehended (that’s my Law & Order speak), I went into the kitchen to get the bride. She was crying, so I put my hand on her shoulder and told her everything was fine, the police were there and had it under control, and it was safe to come out. I asked the bridesmaids if the makeup artist was a guest at the wedding, and luckily, she was. We brought the bride out into the reception area and the makeup artist went to work fixing her makeup. “Don’t let this ruin your day,” I told the beautiful, young new wife. “If you let them ruin your day, they win. This is YOUR day. Take it back.” She smiled and I knew she would be fine.

The rest of the evening went perfectly. Once her makeup was done, I said, “Ready to cut your cake?” She nodded, excited. The couple had a great time, smashing cake in each other’s faces (there goes the perfect makeup) and laughing hysterically. They had their special bride and groom dance, then the bride’s “Dad” danced with her to “Butterfly Kisses.” I had only lost my dad about a month before, and I was crying behind my camera, but I was so happy for this young girl. She kept on keeping on, even though some bitter people tried to ruin her day. She embraced the family who had taken her into their fold and didn’t let go.

Within two years of marriage they welcomed their first child.

In life, there’s always someone who wants to keep you down or ruin your happiness. Don’t hand your happiness over to someone who is miserable. You worked too hard for it.