Alecia Hoyt said she arrived Saturday at Forest Park in St. Louis to take wedding photos at the park's greenhouse, the Jewel Box, and she found the fish flopping at the bottom of a concrete pond outside of the building, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported Thursday.
Hoyt said she quickly moved the fish to a corner of the pond that still had a few inches of water.
"The bride and groom entered the Jewel Box through the back, and they left through the back. So they never saw it," Hoyt said. "And I certainly wasn't going to ruin their day by telling them there were a bunch of dying fish flopping around."
Hoyt said she returned later in the day with her boyfriend and took the fish home. She said many of the fish died and others were adopted by friends. She said she kept five of the fish, four goldfish and a minnow.
Kay Miskell, a volunteer who serves as the Jewel Box coordinator, said the pond was drained for maintenance and hundreds of fish were relocated.
"We honestly thought we got them all," said Miskell, who took home more than 60 fish. "But they hide under the leaves and rocks."
Miskell said volunteers will be more thorough in making sure all of the fish are removed from the pond next year.