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You can count on things going wrong at a wedding 

click to enlarge A line cook takes a smoke break. - SEAN CAYTON
  • Sean Cayton
  • A line cook takes a smoke break.
The way I judge any wedding is by the food, but I don't mean the food they serve wedding guests. I'm talking about the food that gets served to the DJ, the photographer and the planners. Two pieces of stale bread and a slice of meat were thrown my way once, and cold chicken fingers and day-old french fries are par for the course. Sometimes, I'm served nothing at all because the kitchen and wait staff were too slammed to bother. (You know it's a hard day when you find yourself scrounging through leftovers from the cocktail hour.)

After nearly 20 years of photographing weddings, I’ve seen a thing or two.

There's the waiter who drops a dozen full champagne flutes. A five-tiered wedding cake with a waterfall of roses the bride had a friend make collapses before the reception. The zipper holding on the wedding dress breaks before the ceremony.

 Things go wrong at weddings — they always do.

I remember the time a flower girl with too much hair spray was standing too close to a cake table ringed by candles. As the bride and groom began cutting the cake, the flower girl’s hair caught on fire. Fortunately a guest saw it and quickly doused the flames, but scorched hair never goes well with cake and champagne.

I’ve learned some lessons of my own, too.

For instance, wedding dresses and fresh asphalt don’t mix. Once, photographing a bride before the ceremony, I suggested that she walk down a freshly paved driveway with her bridesmaids — that put me in the doghouse for the rest of the wedding. And it helps if you can remember the couples' names. An officiant with a fantastic voice once called a bride by wrong first name during a ceremony’s opening prayer. I have yet to see that officiant at another ceremony.

But sometimes everything's smooth sailing up until the reception, when you can count on something going wrong during the toasts.

You can count on someone saying something inappropriate when alcohol is involved. Most of the time I look to the best man, but it could be anyone from the father of the bride to the maid of honor. I can’t tell my favorite story about a best man who said a too much here — if you see me at a wedding be sure to ask — but I can say he will never be invited into the couple's home again.

Now, it’s off to tackle another wedding season. Hopefully I won’t have to forage for leftovers as wedding guests enjoy a pricey four course meal. Wish me luck!

Sean Cayton is a wedding photojournalist of 19 years and operates a successful, award-winning wedding photography studio in Colorado Springs. He's also an award-winning photojournalist. Sean is happily married to the love of his life (also his business partner) and is father to three beautiful children. When he’s not working, Sean can be found outside flying kites with his kids, hitting golf balls or casting a fly rod to hungry trout.

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