Another Disney lifeguard wedding for the books!
In the last several years I’ve had the pleasure of watching several of my friends from DisneyWorld get married – and this past weekend the next person to add to that list was my good friend Chris Biggs when he married Brandy.
I met Chris (who we’ve always just called Biggs) 11 years ago when I was a lifeguard on the Disney College Program. He was a lifeguard at Typhoon Lagoon, and I was a guard at Blizzard Beach – Disney’s two water parks. However, we worked together the first several months and had enough mutual friends that we still saw each other and remained friends throughout the year.
In the years that followed working for Disney, Biggs was one of the core group of guys that stayed in touch with each other, planned additional trips, and did our best to keep our friendship strong despite all of us living hundreds or thousands of miles from each other.
I’ve been looking through all the photos – I have thousands from all the Disney trips – to try and find images to share with you guys. But let’s be honest, they’re all of us being absolutely ridiculous, making faces, running around the parks or water parks, and all around having a great time. So you’ll have to forgive me a little bit as I take a brief stroll through memory lane.
Biggs kept his wedding very small, just family and a few close friends. Beau was asked to be his best man as he and Biggs have been good friends through the years. I was asked, almost hesitantly, to be Biggs and Brandy’s photographer. Chris explained to a guest at his wedding that “I’ve always valued John’s friendship over the years, but after thinking a lot about it Brandy and I decided we really wanted his photography for our wedding.”
This is actually very flattering to me. I would have gone to Biggs’ wedding as a guest or groomsman had he asked me. But when he reached out and explained that as much as he’d like me to be part of everything, he would realllly love for me to shoot it, that was an even bigger compliment to me. Working for an old friend is not any sort of disappointment for me (hell, I’ve shot pictures at every wedding I’ve been to from our Disney crew even if I wasn’t working). So I was more than happy to to handle photography, officially, for Chris and Brandy.
But, oh, the memories with Biggs and Beau.
The first of our reunion trips really did set precedent for all the trips that would follow. Tons of laughing, stupid pictures of nothing important (like the one above), and all around great memories being made. This trip was December 2003, only months after we all had moved home.
I leaned into the photo of Biggs and Beau..
So Biggs made sure to get in the next one, too.
Let’s see… we could discuss how Biggs looks, very convincingly, like an ugly woman when he wears this hat…
One of our biggest, and most memorable trips was in 2004 during a massive reunion I planned for everyone in Orlando that exploded to nearly 30 people when all was said and done. It was nearly a week of laughing, goofing off in the parks, hitting the slides in the water parks, the clubs and P.I. at night for dancing and drinks, or just laughing and screwing around while in the pool at our hotel like the image above.
I think some of the most fun memories were when me, Merri, Beau, Biggs, and Joe all piled into a car and drove from New York to Orlando for Spring Break 2005… simply because we could. This photo was probably like 10 hours into the trip based on how we all look a littttle tired in it.
Oh, yeah… and we fit five people and all our luggage into this this Dodge Daytona… the car that Joe owned when we were all in college.
But hey, I could reminisce about old memories and funny stories from the past all afternoon. So I better stop.
Biggs’ wedding weekend was a blast, and I have so many great images and stories from our time out in Maryland for this trip. Beau and I flew in to Baltimore on Thursday before the wedding; and the laughs started as soon as we were all there. Well, they might have started before, but my flights were delayed, so obviously the party really began after I arrived. Right? Right.
Hell, Biggs walked up to me at baggage claim, asked why I checked a bag, then laughed when he saw the size of my bag (honestly I carry on most of camera gear on the flight, but check my power cords, tripod, clothes, etc) and asked me what the hell was in a piece of luggage that size… Beau said it was probably “underwear… just one pair though. That’s all you need all weekend, it is a party after all..” So I said “Yeah… the rest is packing peanuts…” Biggs just about lost it.
The weekend had begun.
I’m going to save the rest of everything for the comments. If you’ve made it this far and haven’t just skipped right to the photos then I applaud your patience. I’m sure mostly just our Disney friends will have read up to this point.
Save to say that I had an amazing time over the weekend. Both the Biggs and Mearman families are wonderful. Brandy is an amazing girl and I’m glad I got several different chances to chat with her during the weekend and get to know her a bit more.
The weather could not have worked out better after a full week of rain, flooding, and even sinkholes around parts of Baltimore, too.
So… read on!
I’ll caption everything with brief descriptions from the weekend as I go..
Friday was errand day for us… priority number one was getting the tuxes picked up and tried on.
The lady at the front didn’t like our joke about us picking them up for prom, though. She was so un-amused that when we tried to leave she double-checked to make sure that Biggs had actually paid for his tux!
Looking good guys!
Getting ready for rehearsal!
After things got going Biggs was all smiles
Mr. Mearman was holding it together pretty good while practicing walking down the aisle. But Brandy said as they first started he got choked up
Even Brandy’s sister Jacque started to get teary-eyed watching her sister and dad… she hid from the camera
Right here Beau is actually the ONLY person who sang the part of the prayer that was supposed to be sung…
And during the vows the practice of the vows, right about now, Biggs realized that Brandy took off her Minnie ears and veil she was wearing.
He lost it, saying “I just realized I’m standing up here wearing these stupid ears… can I take them off?!”
That night we all headed down to the water for crab… these Maryland people, man, so.much.crab. They all had it three days in a row. Haha!
Mr. Biggs got up to welcome everyone to dinner and thank them all for coming out.
Mr. Mearman surprised his wife and mother of the bride with a gift that night
She was in shock to open up the jewelry box and see and chocolate diamond necklace that she’s made comments about wanting for quite a while.
Dinner is done, time to head out
We decided to go out for late night donuts and stories. This is how we keep our figures, ladies, take note. hahaha!
The morning of the wedding started pretty low key with the girls all getting ready in the morning. Sonia and Brandy were watching the #Selfie music video after we were joking about it
Then, of course, had to take a selfie…
Jacque, the maid of honor and Brandy’s sister, is also a chef..
She was assembling the wedding cake that morning while everyone got ready. Honestly, she knocked it out like it was nothing. She laughed saying that Brandy wanted a vanilla cake and nothing super crazy with multiple layers. “I can do that in my sleep…”
Brandy has chose a beautiful dress. It’s always fun to see the different dresses girls choose for their weddings
this was the second dress she looked at and tried on. it only took two.
Time to start makeup and hair. We were way ahead of schedule at this point
All the ladies sitting around chatting. Dad was outside doing a few things. I joked that there was “probably too much estrogen in the house, huh?”, he just laughed.
I broke away from the girls for a bit to go back to Biggs and Brandy’s apartment while Chris got ready.
Bandit was hanging out with us all morning.
Beau came in to help when Chris has some trouble with the bowtie
“You ever notice how all these (vests) are huge and they just put a big strap on the back and say one-size-fits-all” – Beau
Had to get one shot of all of us before I ran out the door. Brandy specifically told me to make sure I was in some of the photos, too.
Back at Brandy’s parents she had finished makeup right before I returned to deliver a note from Biggs for her.
Sonia walked out and got teary eyed when she saw Brandy with all her makeup
Immediately after Sonia asked Grandma is she was emotional, too. Grandma laughed and said no, further embarrassing poor Sonia.
Brandy was working her Bride-booty pants all morning, too. haha!
Sonia was losing it as the girls tried to help Brandy get her pants off. hahaha!
Diving into the dress
Getting the dress adjusted. Gotta be careful with the hair, though
As Brandy’s dress was getting adjusted things hit big-sister Jacque who had to walk away because her emotions got the best of her. Brandy laughed because she wasn’t even done getting ready and her sister was losing it.
Some help from mom adjusting the straps
Getting zipped up and finally done!
Dad joined to see his daughter fully dressed
Placing the veil
Looking great and ready to go!
We had some time to get some photos shot before the limo arrived.
Mr. Mearman gave a small toast to everyone before we headed out. However he cut it short because he started to get emotional as well. It was very sweet to watch
Arrived at the church
The girls were shuffled to one of the back rooms. This is how I found them. They were playing I Spy.
“We spent many years in this room growing up…” Jacque said.
Meanwhile the men were in one of the offices finishing getting ready themselves
Handing off the rings to Beau. It became a running joke with Beau and I that weekend because the families seemed to think that Beau and I weren’t capable of keeping the rings safe… don’t worry guys! We’ve done this before! ;-)
Brushing off… gettin ready for a few photos
Looking good boys!
Had to get another shot of the three of us before things get started.
And a shot of just Biggs, looking all GQ
Brandy’s stuff caterpillar from childhood, a gift from her late grandmother
Back in the room with the girls they were still playing I Spy.
When the pastor arrived before things were to get started they said a quick prayer
Brandy and her dad before he gets ready to give her away.
And one last selfie with the bride!
… I’ve been failing at these recently, they’re all backfocused. hahaha
Bumped into this dude in the hall as I made my way inside the church
The family was lined up and ready to begin.
Biggs watching the bridesmaids walk down the aisle.
And as the doors opened and Brandy was standing there with her dad he started to get choked up
Both the pastor and Beau had tissues to hand to him though!
Chris’ did his best to contain his emotions as Brandy approached
Mr. Mearman looks on as his daughter pledges herself commit fully to this union
And then the ceremony gets down to business
.. at this point I was also required to go toward the back the church behind the guests and could no longer use my flash.
I was very lucky that there was lot of ambient light in the church. Brandy and I had already discussed that she didn’t want to “re-create” any shots after the ceremony. We both agree that doing that is a bit tacky and nowhere near real.
Brandy listens with a small smile as Chris vows to be with her through better or worse
and then Brandy pledges the same thing
Presentation of the rings
And the exchange of rings
Lighting the unity candle and joining their families
One last prayer and blessing
Husband and Wife!
Right outside after everyone started to exit the family came to congratulate the newlyweds
A congratulations from his father
And then Biggs went over to shake Mr. Mearman’s hand. He stopped to say something, I would imagine a thank you of some sort.
A big hug from his new sister, Jacque
Exiting the church with the guests waiting
Time to start off photos with the family shot
The bridal party
And the best photos of them all would either be this one…
this one of the guys laughing..
..or the one that I’m in with Biggs and Beau.
One great thing throughout the whole day was that Brandy and Biggs would laugh and be playful with each other.
And moments like this of Biggs kissing Brandy’s cheek instead of being serious were great!
As we were driving to the reception hall the driver was honking the horn at anyone she saw. So Brandy and Biggs started waving out the window, too
Arriving at the reception
We had a bit of time to take some additional photos while we waited.
So we did just that.. here are a couple of them..
This venue was really pretty. Brandy and Biggs both said they wouldn’t have minded if they got married there, on the water.
I walked away to go get a longer lens for these shots. When I came back a moment later Biggs and Brandy were laughing and joking to themselves.
But this was the exact photo I wanted with them. They were both pretty much over doing photos at this point. But I rather ask to do a few more so they have enough than to not do them and have the bride and groom be disappointed later on.
And we had to do one with lighting, too, so we could show off the view. The natural light in the other images was very soft and pleasant, but the haze made them a bit flat.
Check out this cake! Huge high five to Jacque to assembled this is no time at all. It was gorgeous.
Introducing Mr. and Mrs. Chris Biggs
Jacque got up to give her Maid of Honor speech
It was ridiculously sweet. She talked about growing up and how she would read a story about two hippos to Brandy. Jacque said she had very specific voices that she would use. And not only did she read a passage from the book, but she even did the voices, too!
The DJ then played a game to get several people up in front of everyone… and Brandy and Biggs picked who was going to be their personal waiters that night
Brandy chose one of her friends
Biggs chose his uncle
In the middle of dinner it rained momentarily and a rainbow appeared. The families basically forced us outside to take a photo with it. Haha!
After eating Brandy and Biggs began to walk tables and greet guests
First dance as husband and wife
As they were most of the day, Chris and Brandy were once again in their own little world laughing together
These two were cut short from dancing (I’m guessing to stay on schedule? I’m not sure, all the dances were very very short). But they didn’t seem to mind much
The Daddy-Daughter dance was up next. Always one of my favorites to watch
I always love watching the Father of the Bride look at his little girl when they dance at a wedding. There is always so much pride and happiness in their eyes.
Mrs. Biggs was completely overcome by her emotions and she started to dance with Chris for the Mother-Son dance next
Then the dance floor opened up to the married couples.
The newlyweds joined everyone after a few minutes
Ooooh, then the Twist started..
It was basically a dance off with Biggs and Jacque at one point
Chris was getting DOWN, too
Me and Beau!
Then Brandy ran up to jump in the photo, too!
So for the cake cutting there was this plan in place to trick the Best Man and Maid of Honor into holding the Bride and Groom in place… then Brandy and Chris would actually put the cake in Jacque and Beau’s faces..
Well, turns out that Jacque knew the plan, and even though the DJ tried to hold Jacque from ducking out of the way, she managed to do just that
So, Beau, of course, got nailed while the girls out out of it just fine
That look of “Man… why me…”
For the garter Brandy had to sit on the groomsmen’s legs
As soon as she sat down, Beau screamed out in pain… this was the look she gave him
Chris was told he had to crawl up to her and “make it sexy”… They played “Kiss” by Prince
Stripping off his jacket Chris had everyone laughing already
He slowly crawled across the room
Brandy was losing it
He took of his vest next as she was wiping away tears from crying because she was laughing so hard
At about that time Beau decided he better get his wallet out
Beau was ready to start throwing some dollars down for that dance when everyone voted that it still wasn’t sexy enough! Biggs had to start over
Send him back! Do it again!
A little spanking aught to do the trick!
Scott and Beau started throwing down cash on the floor
Biggs even picked up some of the cash with his teeth!
I was having a hard time taking pictures because I was laughing, too
Brandy was dying and Chris hadn’t even started to take off the garter yet
And using only his teeth, he managed to get the garter off without a problem
The bouquet toss was up next
Kelly lept right out in front and grabbed it right out of the air
So, one tradition that some people do is that the guy who caught the garter puts it on the girl who caught the bouquet…
Tonight however Kelly was switched out with Brandy’s Grandma..
He was blindfolded though…
And laughed when the blindfold came off ! Awesome sport about it
Kelly still sat to the have the garter put on, since it’s still a tradition for good luck in marriage… the higher the garter, the longer the marriage.
Kelly was an awesome sport about it, too, and they went for as high up as they could… gotta get those newly weds all the happy years they can!
My usual shot with the bride and groom toward the end of the night
Toward the ned of the evening Brandy changed into a lighter dress to finish dancing the night away before things ended
Gettin’ down with dad on the dance floor
And a little sisterly dance off
Biggs and his best man Beau.
They completely skipped over Beau’s Best Man speech that night. We laughed afterward and decided maybe they’ve heard one-too-many crazy stories about our times in Florida and didn’t want Beau getting up and giving any sort of speech that might be too wild ;P haha! Never know…!
One last dance of the evening
Mr. and Mrs. Biggs dancing to the last song.
And that was it! A few of us stayed around to chat a bit and clean up, but I was done for the night and had put my camera down to socialize a bit more with Biggs and Brandy
Again, I had an amazing time in Maryland being part of such an important day in Chris and Brandy’s lives. I’ve been lucky to be a part of so many of my Disney lifeguard friend’s weddings over the years. They’ve been some of my most valued friendships and to share something like this with them is such an honor.
Brandy and Chris, Thank You.
I hope you enjoyed these images as much as I enjoyed shooting them! I’ll get the rest to you as soon as they’re done.
And I’ll see you at the next lifeguard reunion!