The photographers' plus one.
This story is not from my perspective as a bride or a vendor but from a bridesmaid and onlooker. In 2015, we got to be a part of the wedding of some of our very best friends, Sean and Kellie! The day was absolutely beautiful, and the reception was maybe a little too fun because I have a hard time recalling all of it. Oops, you're only young once, right?
As we know from my own wedding stories, photographers have the power to make or break your day in some ways. Unfortunately, their photographer was also one to remember for all the wrong reasons. For this story, I will not be using the photographer's name, but I will certainly be naming her then-boyfriend.
The girl they had hired to photograph their wedding was a friend who was new to the photography world. Honestly, "new" doesn't always mean "bad," and that was the case here. She wasn't a bad photographer necessarily. She was, however, an amateur, and much like we had learned, don't hire amateurs for the most important day of your life. Some of the photos I've shared on this blog are photos I took as a little new baby photographer. Everyone starts somewhere; there is no shame in that. And shooting around is how you learn. Just maybe don't jump into the deep end when you don't know how to swim yet.
During the time Kellie was getting ready, the photographer (and her boyfriend) showed up. She was lacking direction on what to shoot and was even asking what she should do. Kellie was relying on the "expert," aka the photographer, to take charge, as she should have. In true Gabi fashion, I started googling ideas and began asking for various shots. No one should have to micromanage a vendor on their wedding day, and my duty as a bridesmaid was to be a buffer between the bride and stress. We drove over to Azalea Park where we saw our friends exchange vows in a beautiful gazebo, and then they began to take various family shots and bride and groom shots, etc. Again, the photographer seemed overwhelmed, so I did my best to step in and offer up some direction. It is funny looking back now as a seasoned wedding photographer at the actions of my little not-wedding-photographer self and seeing how that side of me was already in there and developing, but I had no idea.
Afterwards, we all drove over to the reception venue, and we absolutely celebrated our friends! Unfortunately, this is where things really begin to derail. As I mentioned before, the wedding photographer brought a plus one. You heard me right; she didn't bring a second shooter; she brought her boyfriend, Alejandro. Alejandro was a scrawny kind of guy. He was Latino, and though he was more bilingual than I will ever be, his English was still pretty hard to understand at times. At the beginning of the night, he mostly kept to himself and stuck by the photographer's side until alcohol entered the chat. Then we all got to know him a little too well.
Much like a lot of wedding celebrations, a lot of people were drinking and overindulged. The music was going; we were all dancing and having fun, and this is where we begin to notice he is dancing noticeably close to other girls, including the bride and especially the groom's mom. At one point, he got a little too close to my face and was trying to talk incoherently between English and Spanish, and Brad (my husband) stood between us to alleviate my clear discomfort. What we didn't expect was for him to then put the moves on Brad and invade his personal bubble as well. As Brad put it, "If you had two legs and something between them, you were his type."
This behavior devolved more and more until eventually, Alejandro unexpectedly and uninvitedly kissed the mother of the groom. I myself had indulged a little too much, as I said before, so I don't particularly remember what happened after that, as far as if he was told to leave; I assume he was. But what I do remember is Brad having to talk Sean off the ledge from absolutely kicking Alejandro's ass. I think Brad should have let him do it, but I guess we didn't need the groom catching any charges on his wedding night.
The photographer eventually delivered subpar unedited photos that I again ended up learning to edit. She told them that doing their wedding made her realize she didn't want to do weddings or even be a photographer at all anymore. And she and her Latin lover rode off into the sunset and lived happily ever after... kinda. They did continue to date after this whole mess, and for all I know, they're still together.
Editor's note: As I was reading this to Brad, he said, "you should have included the part where he tried to kiss me." Color me surprised because 8 years later and I just learned this. He said, "yeah, every which way you can swing, he swung... and (he swung) all the way." So there it is, folks, almost a whole decade later, and Alejandro is leaving us some surprises even now.