Every photographer who does weddings — even now and then (like me) has a disaster story to tell. Mine was a wedding — the bride was a friend — that I photographed several years ago. It was held at Salish lodge at Snoqualmie falls. Picture call was for 4:00 (5:00 wedding) which is later than I like but I had sworn promise that everybody would be punctual. We were going to do the group pictures on the balcony overlooking the falls if the weather cooperated and under artificial light in the lodge if not.
Come 3:00 or so I ran my last minute equipment check. One strobe doesn't work -- damn! I got my keys, with Swiss army knife on ring, out to take the battery cover off to make sure I hadn't put the batteries in wrong. Nope. Oh well, no problem, that's why I have multiple strobes. Got the spare, checked it, everything fine. Toss the remaining odds and ends into the car. Barbara decided to leave her purse at home since she is going to be helping with the shoot.
Check the house; set the alarm, lock the doors and out I go. Hop in the car -- no keys. They are still on the counter in my work area where I took the strobe apart. Damn! Barbara, sans purse, doesn't have keys either. No problem, there is a key hidden in the carport for just such occasions. No there isn't -- we had given it to the woman who comes and walks our dog when we are away for the day and it was still on the stair rail where she returned it.
OK - review the bidding. Nearest kid with a key is in Ballard -- that's not going to help. House is pretty bulletproof and the alarm is set. Here comes the fun part. I took a croquet mallet and bashed one of the downstairs bedroom windows then reached in, unlocked it and opened it. (By the way, you have to bash a double-pane glass window pretty hard to break it.) There is now broken glass all over the damn place in the guest room, the alarm is screaming its head off, the dog is having cardiac arrest and howling.
OK -- reset the alarm, call the alarm monitor and tell them not to send the cops, pacify the dog, close the bedroom door to keep the dog out. GET MY KEYS. Find a scrap of drywall and the duct tape to close up the hole in the side of the house. Set the alarm again and we're on the way, only about 15 minutes behind schedule. Got to Salish lodge about 3:45. .......
Nobody from the wedding is there. Did I get the wrong place? Is there more than one Salish Lodge? About then the minister, also a friend, turned up and I sighed heavily. At least I'm in the right place.
Comes about 4:15 (remember the 4:00 picture call and 5:00 wedding) and the bride's sister (I believe) turns up "Where is everybody?" By now it is clear that we aren't going to do the photos outside since the sun is about to dive behind the ridge. OK -- Plan B, set up my hot lights in the lobby outside the ballroom where the wedding is going to be – nice looking space, nice stairway (stairways are good for group photos). The lodge wedding coordinator is very nervous with my light cords trailing all over the place so I position Barbara and two of the (by then present) younger family hangers-on to stand around and say "Be careful of the cord!" when anybody comes within about 6 feet.
Comes about 4:35 and the wedding party dribbles in. Seems that the women had all made a (planned) stop at the hair dressers for a touch-up. Alas, the hair dressers shop had been struck by a car (no kidding) and there was broken glass all over there, too. Bride is not in her dress yet.
Groom and company turned up, the van in which they were all riding had gone astray in some way that I don't recall. Remember the 5:00 wedding? I packed up my hot lights much to the relief of the wedding coordinator. Bride's sister wanders by and says "Uuummm, we don't have time before the ceremony, right?" Right.
OK -- Plan C, photographs postponed until after the cermony (the photographers' nightmare) using strobes. I did the photographs during the wedding as planned and fitted various strobes preparing to do the posed photographs in the lobby. Problem is, nobody had told me that they were going to set up the bar in the lobby for everybody to hoist one or two and eat appetizers while they set up for dinner in the ballroom.
OK -- Plan D, wait until dinner is called and everybody troops in to dinner and the lobby is empty. This did, indeed, work except that by then everybody was hungry and getting grumpy and impatient (and had had a snort or two from the bar).
To my surprize the take was not bad -- much better than I thought it was going to be.
I haven't done a wedding since.