Some things were made to be Instagrammed.
Cute puppies. Crazy milkshakes. Gorgeous Hudson Valley landscapes.
And Wanderbus photo booths, of course. Don’t believe us? See for yourself.
Yeah, we thought you’d agree. So did Wanderbus Photo Booth owner Michelle Vellenga. She believed in her concept so much that she collected a whole fleet of wandering photo booths to craft picture-perfect experiences in the Hudson Valley.
“I came up with the idea in 2016 after seeing a VW bus photo booth business in California,” she explains. “I always wanted a VW bus and, after seeing that someone else had made a business out of owning one, I instantly knew I wanted to do it.”
Although the decision was an earnest one for Vellenga, it was quite the detour in career for the licensed veterinary technician and mother of four. After becoming a stay-at-home mom, she gravitated toward the photo booth business as a way to earn supplemental income on her own schedule.
She was convinced, but her husband, Randy, was not. At least, not at first. Now, he’s just as much a part of the business as Vellenga herself is. He helped transport Wanderbus’s very first bus, a 1972 Volkswagen classic, all the way from Scranton, PA. Vellenga fell in love with the rig from its Craigslist ad, although she admits that, when she and Randy picked it up from the junk yard in which it resided, it was more than a little rotted. Even then, she had no idea that the rehab process would be far more work than she ever envisioned.
It took two years of work, in fact. Although Vellenga originally anticipated a 2017 open date, she didn’t debut Phoebe, her restored VW bus, until 2018.
“There were so many setbacks along the way, including an electrical fire and numerous breakdowns, that we almost threw in the towel before ever opening,” she admits.
Fortunately for Hudson Valleyites, she persevered. She chose the name Phoebe after the character of the same name from the hit TV show “Friends.” Known for her free-spirited and fun-loving nature, Phoebe’s personality embodies exactly what Vellenga hopes to encapsulate within her brand.
Only a few years after launching Wanderbus, the photo booth business is a mainstay in the Hudson Valley event scene. Wanderbus rigs have a presence at parties and weddings throughout the region and function as backdrops and set pieces during photo shoots.
Due to the local demand, Vellenga even added three more booths to her fleet of rentable vans. Phoebe remains the largest and, arguably, most striking rental, but she’s far from the only one. For smaller spaces and needs, Marilyn, a 1964 shasta camper, and Piper, a vintage horse trailer, are just the thing. For open-air photos, meanwhile, Farah is an al fresco photo booth that comes stylized with a copper backdrop and furniture that’s customizable to each unique event.
So what does a Wanderbus photo booth experience entail? Just everything on your Pinterest board of dreams. Depending on the photo booth investment package (which comes in either four- or five-hour increments), parties have access to photo booth services, unlimited prints, a customizable template, a luxe backdrop, and high-quality props.
Wanderbus takes care of setup and breakdown and even offers a USB with digital images, an online gallery with free downloads, and a custom keepsake album for renters to reminisce on their special day. Each photo booth is equipped with a professional grade camera to produce crisp images that print instantly and can be customized by event.
“We’ve taken the photo booth industry to the next level in our offerings and are always trying to raise the bar, even our own,” Vellenga enthuses.
As far as styling inside goes, Wanderbus has every sort of aesthetic covered with backdrops ranging from natural wood with macramé and greenery to a full boxwood wall. Even the photo albums afterward can be customized according to design preference.
With each wedding season, Vellenga hopes to continue to foster the dreamy photo experience for which Wanderbus is known. While she’s happy to cater to parties and weddings in the Hudson Valley, she eventually hopes to expand to corporate offerings as well.
“I never wanted to offer just a photo booth, the kind that’s tucked away in the corner of a venue with cheesy props,” she says. “I wanted to create an aesthetically pleasing photo booth experience with all the extras to make for a true guest experience.”