When future generations gaze at photos of parents and grandparents who tied the knot in the summer of 2013, it may not be just the outfits and hairdos that date them, but the telltale shot of the bride and groom, sprinting like action heroes from a monster. First came a wedding party fleeing from a T. Rex; then Toronto’s Paul Kingston and Leslie Seiler, flanked by dapper groomsmen and hot-pink bridesmaids, tearing down Eglinton Avenue as Star Wars AT-AT walkers tromped after them. With weddings more over-the-top than ever, it’s no surprise that photos are headed that way, too—a fitting commemoration in the age of social media.
Kingston and Seiler, who got married on May 31, were pitched the idea by Tony and Danielle Lombardo of Little Blue Lemon Photography, friends of theirs. “They were the perfect couple for this,” Danielle explains. Long-time members of Toronto’s comedy community, Kingston and Seiler aren’t shy, and they’re big Star Wars fans. So, after a more traditional wedding shoot, the photographers waited for a pair of red lights on Eglinton, then herded the wedding party onto the street, yelling, “Run like hell!” Back at home, the Lombardos took pictures of their two-year-old son’s toy AT-AT, and photoshopped it in. Kingston and Seiler loved it. A friend tweeted it to the website io9; soon the shot was popping up around the world.
The Lombardos were inspired by that T. Rex photo, which was in turn inspired by another dinosaur-attacking-a-wedding-party photo. “I saw something like it on Facebook,” explains Quinn Miller, the 22-year-old photographer from Baton Rouge, La., who took the T. Rex picture. Nobody seems to know how the monster-as-wedding-crasher photography trend got started, but it’s become a monster of its own. A Virginia wedding blog recently featured the bachelorette party of Rebecca Cooper: Their paintball match was capped off with an image of the group, in fancy gowns, being chased by Sharktopus, a half-shark, half-octopus B-movie invention (inexplicably, Sharktopus was able to travel over land). On another blog, men in suits and boutonnieres flee from yet another photoshopped T. Rex.
Following the “it’s your day” dictum, more and more couples cast themselves as celebrities— and celebrities need paparazzi. According to Wedding Bells magazine, $2,300 of the average cost of a Canadian wedding ($32,358) goes to photography, increasingly for more outsized approaches. “It’s like you’re starring in your own movie for a day,” says Elizabeth Abbott, author of A History of Marriage. Indeed, “wedding movie posters” are a fast-growing area. “We’ve done Pretty Woman; we’ve done My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” says Denver Tracy, a Dallas-based graphic designer, who makes movie posters featuring couples posing like the films’ stars.
We’ve always been fascinated by wedding photos, especially those of celebrities; this is the ritual adapted for the social media age. Abbott traces it back to the wedding of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, in 1840—the original celebrity couple. Within a week or two, “detailed sketches” started popping up in magazines, Abbott says, and went on to shape the day’s trends. Back then, a couple might take a single wedding photo. Today, many hire a phalanx of photographers and videographers, while guests document it on social media. Emily Gutman, a San Francisco photographer, shot an entire wedding on Instagram, using her phone instead of a bulky camera. Some couples create a “wedding hashtag,” so guests can tag photos on social media to make them easy to find on Instagram or Twitter. The monster-in-pursuit-of-the-couple trend is an extension of this, Abbott says: “If you’re chased by a dinosaur at your wedding, your photos are going to get even more hits” and Facebook likes.
For Kingston and Seiler, the AT-AT shoot was about keeping the day “light and happy,” Kingston says. Soon after shooting that wedding, the Lombardos were asked by another couple to do “the dinosaur shot.” “We’re still trying to figure out what goes in the background,” Tony says. “The couple hasn’t figured out yet what they want to be chased by.”