Texas Wedding Photographers Have Seen Some $#!+. They know what you did this summer.
And they have documented evidence that people can just be so Effing dumb. Here’s a little of what they’ve seen.
The wedding photographer had already spent an hour or two inside with the unmasked wedding party when one of the bridesmaids approached her. The woman thanked her for still showing up, considering “everything that’s going on with the groom.”
When the photographer asked what she meant by that, the bridesmaid said the groom had tested positive for the coronavirus the day before. “She was looking for me to be like, ‘Oh, that’s crazy,’ like I was going to agree with her that it was fine,” the photographer recalls. “So I was like, ‘What are you talking about?’ And she was like, ‘Oh, no, no, no, don’t freak out. He doesn’t have symptoms. He’s fine.’ ”
The photographer, who has asthma and three kids, left with her assistant before the night was over. Her exit was tense. The wedding planner said it was the most unprofessional thing she’d ever seen. Bridesmaids accused her of heartlessly ruining an innocent woman’s wedding day. She recalls one bridesmaid telling her, “I’m a teacher. I have fourteen students. If I’m willing to risk it, why aren’t you?” Another said everyone was going to get COVID eventually, so what was the big deal? The friend of the bride who’d spilled the beans cried about being the “worst bridesmaid ever.”
After the photographer left, she canceled her Thanksgiving plans with family, sent her kids to relatives’ houses so they wouldn’t get sick, and informed the brides of her upcoming weddings that she’d be subcontracting to other shooters. A few days later she started to feel sick and, sure enough, tested positive for the coronavirus. She informed the couple. “But they didn’t care,” she says. They didn’t offer to compensate her for the test, nor did they apologize for getting her sick.
One now-disillusioned photographer shot a wedding in South Texas with roughly a hundred guests, including one who told one of her co-shooters, “Oh, you don’t have to wear a mask. You don’t have to worry. None of us have the ’rona.” During the reception, hundreds of guests lined up for a non-COVID-compliant group dance. The guests, old and young, arranged themselves for a traditional grand march, and the photographer was horrified to see “tunnels of people running through with each other, high-fiving, and yelling at each other and touching.” The photographers and catering staff, she says, were the only attendees who seemed to be taking precautions. “Not even the bartenders were masked,” she told me.
Another photographer, also sounding a bit incredulous, described a wedding where at least six out of the fourteen or so people in the bridal party ended up testing positive. “I’m pretty certain there were people in the wedding party who just didn’t get tested because they didn’t feel any symptoms,” he said.
He added that not all of the weddings he’s attended have been reckless, such as one over the summer where at least half the guests had masks on for both the ceremony and reception. (I suppose it’s too much to ask that all the guests mask up?) He was one of the more upbeat and forgiving photographers I spoke to. But even he was shocked by what he’d seen. At plenty of weddings, he said, guests in their eighties and nineties walk around maskless. “I saw a guy with an oxygen machine. He was carrying around an oxygen machine to breathe, but he didn’t have a mask on.”
The photographer who got sick after shooting the COVID-positive groom said her experiences throughout the pandemic have left her a little depressed. She recalled one conversation from that wedding, before she left the reception. “I have children,” she told a bridesmaid. “What if my children die?” The bridesmaid responded, “I understand, but this is her wedding day.”
With thanks to Charlie Sykes for his reporting at The Bulwark.