Patti Womer’s wedding was memorable for a number of reasons: the laughter, the tears, the … smiling horse? When the Pennsylvania-based bride got married in September, she had one unwieldy guest steal the show in a photo that has since gone viral—but she didn’t mind, not one bit.
Womer, an agricultural science major at Penn State University, is an avid lover of animals. On her wedding day, she wanted to surprise the groom with a meaningful gesture: by including Dutch and Cricket, two of the first horses that she and her late father bought together when she was just a little girl, in the ceremony.
The plan was for her to ride Cricket into the wedding and walk Dutch, her father’s horse, with an empty saddle next to her to represent her father’s presence on her big day. When it came time to snap photos of the touching setup, however, Cricket stole the show when she seemingly smiled at the camera.
“I had noticed the horse with its ‘smile’ two times prior to capturing the photo,” wedding photographer Tony Bendele tells The Knot. “On the third attempt, I was able to capture the shot. The teeth were only out for about 2-3 seconds each time. The photo was taken as everybody was walking down the aisle. The ceremony was in the middle of a sunflower field and we were down the road a short ways sitting behind a house waiting. The groom didn’t know about the horses, so we were trying to keep the bride and horses hidden as a surprise.”
Bendele shared the hilarious photo to his Facebook page, and found that his followers were enthralled by the horse’s spontaneous grin.
“It feels great to see this photo getting the attention, not for myself, but for the bride and her horses,” he says. “The horses were very important to her for the wedding day. For myself, a few times a year we have some photos reach this level (normally weather-related). It’s always a great feeling to see people react positively to the photos, especially if we can put smiles on their faces for a few moments.”
Womer was similarly amused by all the attention her friendly horse had garnered online, and spoke proudly of Dutch and Cricket stealing the spotlight.
“I honestly don’t mind having attention on her instead of me,” she told Yahoo. “Dutch and Cricket are such a big part of me, and I will always have a special place in my heart for them.”