When newlyweds Shaun and Jamie Kolnick show friends and family their wedding album in years to come, they’ll have a lot of explaining to do.
Namely how Miami Heat basketball superstar LeBron James, two days off an NBA championship win, came between them.
The answer? The bride asked.
“I said, ‘LeBron, will you take a picture with me?’” Jamie Kolnick, nee Epstein, told Goodmorningamerica.com today of the moment Saturday when she poked her head into the room at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Coconut Grove, Fla., where James was finishing an interview with a reporter from Sports Illustrated.
“A member of his crew said, ‘We’re still working, get out of here. And I said, ‘I’m the bride,’ Kolnick, 26, said. “They couldn’t find a way out, honestly, so they came through and said let’s take a picture and we get our money shot.”
The Kodak moment, captured by wedding photographer Cengiz Ozelsel of Adagion Studio, happened right after the couple, who met at the University of Texas-Austin and now live together in New York City, saw each other for the first time before the wedding. Their “money shot” quickly became a viral sensation after their wedding party and family, and a crowd of eager Heat fans watching the MVP’s every move at the hotel , uploaded photos of the bride and groom with the NBA star to Facebook before the bride even walked down the aisle.
“It was just an addition to the excitement,” Kolnick said, not wanting to put any heat on James for stealing her wedding-day thunder. ”It was just an added bonus to everything that lay ahead to the evening.”
Kolnick, an actress, and Shaun, 27, a native of South Africa who now works for Morgan Stanley, described James as a “cool, calm and collected kind of guy,” so they tried to keep their calm too, saying only “thank you” to him when, in reality, they wanted to ask for much more.
“He didn’t pick me up in my wedding dress but I can’t get greedy,” recalled the actress, who owns a children’s entertainment company called Jam With Jamie and is a part of the original company of “Lost in Love,” a show based on the music of the band Air Supply.
For the bride, a Miami native, the chance encounter with the Heat star had even more of a special meaning.
Her brother, Michael, and most of the guests at the party are such rabid Heat fans that the couple breathed a huge sigh of relief when they discovered that, no matter what had happened in the NBA Finals series, a game would not fall on their wedding day.
“When they went into the finals we looked immediately to make sure the game wasn’t going to be on the day of our wedding,” Kolnick said. “We could only imagine what all of these Miami Heat fans would have been doing at our wedding. No one would have been paying attention.”
The moment was also, she says, a light spot in what had been a particularly emotional day for her and brother Michael, who attended the Heat’s championship game Thursday night.
“My parents both passed away in the last six years from cancer and my brother, Alan, died in a car accident in 1998 when I was 13,” she said. “We think they spiritually organized this special surprise for us.
“This was their way of saying that they’re still with us,” she said. “Such a difficult day became a dream day and maybe this was their special gift to us from above.”
The Kolnicks are now en route to Key West for a few days with Shaun’s family from South Africa before taking off for their Hawaiian honeymoon Thursday.
After that they’ll return to New York City to put together their wedding album but Jamie Kolnick says the photo with James might end up in a more unlikely spot.
“My brother [Michael] is literally obsessed with the Heat and he’s getting married in February,” she said. “It [the James photo] will probably be the cover of his wedding album even though it wasn’t his wedding.”