(SAN DIEGO) — Wedding photographer Jeff Youngren will never forget this weekend’s gig, where President Obama became an unexpected wedding crasher.
Youngren and his wife, Erin, were the photographers for Stephanie and Brian, who wed at the Torrey Pines Golf Course in San Diego, California, Sunday. While they knew Obama would be golfing nearby that day, they had no idea he would come meet the bride and groom.
Youngren said they were waiting for the ceremony to start when they learned that the president was on the last hole.
“Between Stephanie getting her makeup done, she kept peeking out the window looking,” Youngren told ABC News.
The secret service then came by to check on the roughly 75 wedding guests, Youngren said.
“The mood was all really fun, not tense at all,” he said.
As they waited for Obama to come down, Youngren said, “I realized the couple is upstairs; that’s where the story actually is.”
“Selfishly, I wanted to be down at the green, I wanted to shake his hand,” Youngren said, but he instead ran upstairs and grabbed the couple.
“Stephanie was like, ‘We’re going to go do this,'” Youngren recalled, and “She bolted out the door.”
“I’ve never seen a bride run so fast in such an elegant gown,” Youngren said.
With Brian in tow, they ran out and onto the grass.
“I think he [Obama] saw us coming from a distance and kind of paused,” Youngren said.
Bride Stephanie told ABC affiliate KGTV-TV in San Diego, “I actually started crying, I was crying as I’m running up there, you are just overwhelmed with emotion.”
The bride and groom asked KGTV-TV not to use their last names.
“Everyone was cheering for us as Stephanie was running,” Brian said to KGTV-TV. “We literally ran down an aisle of friends to the president.”
Youngren said the president was “really gracious” and gave the bride a big hug. Brian is from Chicago, so the two shared a little banter back and forth about the city, Youngren said, and Obama “just joked around with them.”
“Very cordial, joking banter,” he added.
“He said congrats and good luck,” Stephanie added to KGTV-TV.
And as the meeting unfolded, Youngren captured the unforgettable moment on camera. While Youngren said he was in “photographer mode” and didn’t shake the president’s hand himself, he called the day a “wonderful experience.”
“I still can’t believe it happened. It was not what we expected when we woke up that morning,” he said.
Youngren said he was “so taken aback by how kind the president was to our couple … it was amazing to see.”
“He has so much going on and so much stress … to see him just be so calm and gracious and kind to a couple on their wedding day … It made me really hopeful and excited, and just proud to have him as a leader,” Youngren said.
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