Wedding Horror Story: Smoke Smoke Everywhere

July 13, 2016 by Tony Barthel

Imagine a movie set where you float across the room into the arms of your waiting prince and trip the light fantastic as 300 of your closest friends and family members look on. That’s a beautiful vision and it’s entirely possible to do. Well, you don’t actually float but given the right combination of fog technology and imagination, you come pretty darned close.

This was the idea I shared with a bride who had a Cinderella-like vision of her wedding and loved the idea. The photographer and videoographer were on board with the idea and we had the whole thing planned to perfection.

The funny thing about utilizing fog is that an increasing number of hotels are prohibiting the use of this stuff for a variety of reasons. Some claim that it affects asthmatic guests and don’t want the liability. Some fire detection technologies get tripped by fog, causing a false alarm at the local fire department. Do this enough times and the local fire folks are going to start sending you a bill. In some cases, it’s a substantial bill.

Because of these restrictions and the fact that many hotel personnel have no idea how certain combinations of technology will affect their property, I always test any time fog is requested by a client. In many cases, I try to dissuade the use of fog to enhance lighting fixtures – a common technique – but the use of fog was actually a part of the vision for this bride so we decided to go the extra mile.

The first part of this was clearing the use of fog with the hotel property. There are a number of different ways of generating fog and some are more healthful to WeddingHorrorguests and compatible with fire alarm technologies than others. Since the hotel in question wasn’t sure how the fog technology I had planned would work, we decided to try it all out several days before the event.

Sure enough, no matter how much fog I ran there wasn’t a peep from the fire alarm system. I went literally overboard with the fog machine, creating a haze that would put a bad day in San Francisco to shame and still there were no bells. Even the hotel staff was amazed at just how foggy the room was – you couldn’t see from one table to the next yet the fire alarms didn’t utter a peep.

So it was with complete confidence that I planned to have our bride glide across the same fog, this time ultra chilled so it would lie on the floor giving her the appearance of gliding across the clouds.

To complete the effect, we re-lighted the room with a blue cast to give it a cloud-like appearance. It was truly beautiful and as the bride made her way across the floor to her waiting prince, it was one of those moments I wish I had brought my own video camera. The thousand words that that description would have generated would have been something to reflect back on for years to come.

Unfortunately, the entire illusion was cut short by the stupid fire alarms blaring, the automatic fire lighting casting a sickly white glow in the room and several security guards bursting into the doors telling all 300 guests to get out. Now.
Talk about ruining the illusion.

No matter what protests we countered, the security staff at the hotel insisted that everybody had to get out of the room and, as luck would have it, it was a rainy, miserable night. To say that this put a damper on the party would be like saying the fire that destroyed the Hindenburg created a slight alteration of people’s travel plans.

So what was the cause of this whole thing? Apparently, the hotel was able to turn the fire alarm system on and off and they had the system off the day I tried to choke it with fog during my test. You would think that they would know this and since I had never heard of a fire alarm system that could be disabled, it wasn’t on my radar screen.

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Tony Barthel Tony Barthel (40 Posts)

Anthony (Tony) Barthel has been a DJ since 1986 with a unique take on marketing that has resulted in over 1,000 events personally performed. In that time Tony’s weird sense of humor and unique perspective on the world got him started collecting these stories and sharing them with friends and other wedding professionals. Born in Baden, Switzerland Tony celebrates the unusual and outlandish as part of his lifestyle. He was married to Peggy Sue in 2005 in what his friends describe as the most unusual wedding ceremony and reception they’ve ever been to. The ceremony was in a 1928 movie theater complete with giant Wurlitzer Theater Pipe Organ and the reception lasted for two days including a gathering in an ocean side lagoon with 400 of their closest friends.


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