- Newly married couple April Choi and Bethany Byrnes set their dresses on fire for their wedding portraits.
- Both of the brides are experienced fire performers, so they were used to performing such a seemingly dangerous stunt.
- The impressive shots are quickly going viral.
- While the couple loves how the photos turned out, they told INSIDER that the negative response from critics of the LGBT community has been disappointing.
Most brides go to great lengths to preserve their wedding dresses after their big day, but newly married couple April Choi and Bethany Byrnes went the complete opposite route: they set theirs on fire.
Choi and Byrnes married on October 13 in Mt. Vernon, Iowa, and they wanted their ceremony to end with a grand finale. A video shared by news agency South West News Service(SWNS) shows two members of their bridal parties lighting the trains of their gowns on fire, as captured by Michael Huang of Cukini Studios and Sherry Schons of SSchons Photography.
Though it may seem like a highly dangerous situation, both Choi and Byrnes have been professional fire performers for eight years, so they have plenty of experience with this type of stunt. Both of them wore fire-safe leggings by Harmonic Threads to shield their legs, and the trains of the dresses they purchased at a thrift store were altered to be quickly detachable for a safe escape.
They also had several fellow experienced fire performers, a medic, and a certified pyrotechnic in attendance, so the two felt they were in good hands for the photo shoot.
While it may seem like a huge challenge, Choi told INSIDER that the weather was the only real roadblock.
“It was cold. Everything else was super easy,” Choi told INSIDER about the biggest challenge of the shoot. “Eight of the 10 members of the wedding party are fire performers. 50+ of the 200+ guests are fire performers. So the rest was just what we normally do.”
Byrnes told SWNS she felt a little nervous in the moment, but ultimately knew it would work out flawlessly.
“It was such an adrenaline rush when the dresses went up in flames,” she told SWNS. “You just have to repeat in your head that it’s fine, you’ve done this before and all of the safety has been figured out. It really is safe.”
Their photographer Michael Huang agrees that the shoot was easier than it appears.
“I have been photographing fire performances for a few years,” Huang told INSIDER. “Biggest challenge is really the same challenge for any professional wedding photographer: hope no one jumps in front of you at a critical moment!”
Byrnes told us that she’s more than pleased with the result of the now-viral photo shoot.
“I love the pictures so much, they turned out wonderfully!” Byrnes told INSIDER. “Just about everyone has been very enthusiastic.”
However, while Choi also loves the outcome of the photos, she told us that she’s disappointed with the negative response she and her wife have received from critics of the LGBT community.
“I’m very disappointed to see that so much of the public response is very, very negative to the LGBT community,” Choi said. “It’s very depressing to see that we live in a time where so much bigotry still exists.”
Byrnes agrees that the hateful comments focused on their sexuality are confusing, adding that “people who are more concerned about the fact that there are two women in the picture than the fact that they are on fire” was baffling to her, but “also expected.”
Choi hopes other couples won’t have to experience similar negativity in the future.
“I hope that the future LGBT community will not have to face such bigotry and hatred,” she told us. “If you believe in a kind and loving nation, please, go vote for it.”
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