This post is republished with permission by Maddie Mae Wilbur.
As an adventure wedding photographer, I often wade in chest-high water, hike into jungles in Costa Rica or go on ten mile hikes with couples up mountains on their wedding day. I never would have guessed that my only indoor church wedding this year, in my home town, would actually become the biggest adventure and my craziest wedding story to date!
While taking photos just about 50 feet from the parking lot up by Horsetooth Reservoir in Fort Collins, Colorado, a young rattlesnake jumped out onto the path and bit the groom, Johnny, on the ankle while we were taking couple photos before the reception.
A Larimer County park ranger was driving by and all three of us started waving furiously at him. The ranger rolled down the window and we yelled, “He just got bit by a rattlesnake!” The ranger, obviously not hearing what we said, yelled back, “Congratulations!” at the couple in wedding clothes, but then when he got the message he came over and had Johnny lay down and elevate his leg while the paramedics were arriving.
Not knowing if the snake had injected venom, the initial prognosis was pretty dire. At a minimum, they said he could be in the hospital for several hours to assess the bite. At worst, if he needed anti-venom, they said he could be in the hospital for several days. Laura, his new wife of less than 2 hours, got in the ambulance with him and I followed in my car to the hospital. Shortly after we got there, it was determined that no venom had been injected and Johnny still had no swelling and no symptoms.
The staff at the emergency room at Poudre Valley Hospital were heroes—they made it the world’s shortest emergency room visit in history and Johnny and Laura were back in my car, driving to their reception in less than 20 minutes.
We arrived back at the reception just one hour late. I’ve never seen such an emotional grand entrance as all 184 guests cheered when Johnny and Laura walked in and showered them in a sea of passionate hugs. I admire Laura and Johnny so much for staying calm, and holding each other’s hand through the first great test of their brand new marriage. The whole reception was filled with laughs, smiles and jokes about it being a typical “Johnny Benson” wedding experience.
The whole situation was so surreal, and I couldn’t really help in any way except continue to do my job and capture the story of their wedding day. I’m glad I got to tell their story!