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The Wedding Day I Chased the Party Bus

bride with her father and the bride's bouquet
photo courtesy of Natalie Williams of SweetArt Photography

For Ashlee and Sean’s wedding day, I was assisting another photographer, Natalie, in my hometown, New Castle, Pa. I like being the second photographer every now and then because it’s usually more relaxed than being the lead photographer for a wedding day. As the second photographer, I get to support the lead photographer, talk more with the families and bridal party, and still take pretty photos. It’s fun for me.

Well, I guess Ashlee wanted to make my second shooting experience for her wedding day a little "extra."

The lead photographer Natalie and I were at St. Mary’s Church, ready for the ceremony, and at this point, the processional was under way. Sean and his groomsmen had already entered the sanctuary, and Natalie was at the front of the sanctuary photographing the parents and bridesmaids walking down the aisle. As the second photographer, I stayed at the back of the sanctuary in the foyer with Ashlee and her father to capture the jittery moments before giving his baby girl away.

By this moment, the procession was ready to debut the bride. As Ashlee and her dad were linking arms to walk down together, Ashlee realized she didn’t have her bouquet and didn’t want to walk down the aisle without it. Where was it?! We scrambled and surveyed the foyer space for the her bouquet.

She then realized that the bouquet had been forgotten on the party bus when the ladies were dropped off at the front of the church immediately prior to the wedding processional.

This is the moment when, as a photographer, I felt a little helpless. Photographers can make backup plans for rain or slow traffic on a wedding day, but this was the first time I’ve encountered a missing bridal bouquet. How do you solve that problem?

Ashlee ran back out the front doors to see if she could catch sight of the bus. By this point, Natalie and Ashlee’s mother came to the back of the church to see what the delay was about. We were all walking around outside trying to spot the party bus and were hoping it was circling the block to park nearby.

Ashlee’s mom volunteered her mother-of-the-bride bouquet, but my girl Ashlee was adamant that she needed her bridal bouquet. I didn’t blame her. She picked out the bouquet she wanted for her special day, so get it in the photos, dang it!

As part of the search party pacing around outside, scanning, scanning the scene, I saw it! I saw the back of a white party bus two blocks down! In our situation at hand, I knew time was of the essence, so with my camera in hand, I began to run down the sidewalk in the direction where I saw the bus.

As I’m running down the sidewalk (and I use the term “running” lightly), I was thinking, “Kimber, what if the bus is another half mile down the road already? What if they start the ceremony anyway and you miss photographing something important? What if you’re chasing after some other bride’s party bus?” I was already halfway to the main road where I saw the bus, so I just kept going. High risk, high reward, right?!

When I reached the intersection, Bus Driver Man must’ve been hungry because he had parked the bus at the China Banquet and was walking inside. PRAISE. THE. LORD that he wasn’t still driving further down the road!

Still clutching my camera and running across the main road, I yelled after him, “Sir! SIR! The bride forgot her bouquet on the bus!”

Bus Driver Man let me on the party bus and there it was! Ashlee’s bouquet! Hallelujah! I grabbed it, and ran back across the road and two blocks to the church.

Thankfully Ashlee was still waiting for her bouquet (or at least waiting for her crazy second photographer to return and do her job). I hope it was only like a three-minute delay, but it definitely felt like a 30-minute crisis. Thankfully it was all worth it! Ashlee had her beautiful bridal bouquet, walked confidently down the aisle, and married her man!

Also, can we just talk about our poor groom, Sean, in all of this, waiting so patiently in the church while his bride and entourage looked for the party bus?! What a heck of a wedding story for Ashlee and Sean, and thankfully it did become one of those moments to look back on and laugh at later.


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