This is the wedding I have been waiting so long for! I was so happy to get the opportunity to photograph Claire and Jeff’s wedding at the Columbus Ohio Zoo. The day was perfect, the people were perfect and even the animals were more than perfect! The ceremony was held just outside of The African Event Center on a deck that overlooks the African Safari exhibit. The reception took place inside the event center and the zoo crew did a wonderful job setting everything up.
We started the day with Claire getting ready and headed right over to the zoo for the first look with Jeff. As soon as everyone arrived at the zoo, there was a palpable excitement running through everyone. We all couldn’t wait to visit some of the animals and get some great photos.
One of our first stops was the polar bear exhibit. The polar bears are usually just hanging out and relaxing but today one of the younger bears was happy to be swimming while all of the guests watched his every move. We made our way to the lower viewing area hoping to get a good shot with the bride and groom in front of the swimming bear but we weren’t sure what to expect. I’m not sure if it was the bride’s white dress or what but the polar bear came right up to them and gave them a little show while I was lucky enough to get a few awesome photos!
I wish we had all day to wonder around the exhibits but the ceremony was quickly approaching. Claire and Jeff hide away and I went back outside and made friends with a giraffe who was happy to ham it up for the camera. At this point the guests started to arrive by the bus load so I grabbed a few shots of people checking out the Africa Safari exhibit and got ready for the ceremony.
The ceremony started and immediately almost all of the giraffes came up to see what was going on. I was ecstatic when Jeff dipped Claire for the first kiss and one of the giraffes was watching the moment in the background. After the ceremony concluded, the new husband and wife got to feed the giraffes along with their guests. Jeff fed one of the giraffes a piece of lettuce out of his mouth and the giraffe eagerly snatched it from him with his long black tongue. The giraffes were so gentle in taking food from anyone who was brave enough to get that close to them.
After the giraffe feeding and some family photos, the time had come to meet some more of the animals. The absolute best thing about having a wedding at the Columbus Zoo is that they bring a few animals out to mingle with everyone. The bride and groom get a private meeting with the animals before they are taken inside for the rest of the guests to meet. First up was a couple of energetic little penguins. The zoo staff would just let them run around everyone and delight them with their waddling. I got to pet one of them for a moment and I never would have guest that they would be so soft!
Next up was the snow leopard (at least I think it was a snow leopard!). She was kept on a leash but was allowed to walk up and down the wooden railing leading up to the event center. She was very curious and loved exploring the space. The last animal we got to meet was the fennec fox. She was so happy being held by the bride and rested on her comfortably while I got the shots I needed. She was so sweet and we all wanted to take her home!
It was time to say goodbye to the animals and get the reception started. The wedding party was announced in, speeches were made and dinner served. After the delicious dinner provided by the zoo, the bride and groom shared their first dance, cut the cake and then the party started! The guests had a great time and danced with enthusiasm until the very last song before departing to the inevitable after party.
I could not have asked for better people to work with all day and night. This wedding will go down as one of my favorites of all time. Since this wedding, I actually photographed another wedding at the Columbus Zoo right before Christmas. I will post some photos from that awesome, snow filled wedding another day.
While you are here, check out my last blog featuring a wedding at The Blackwell in Columbus Ohio.