Updated: Mar 13
Hi everyone. How is your wedding planning going? Once the RSVP's begin rolling in, you are in high gear! So... what should you do about your photo happy friends (my soulmates!)? Well, remember that it's your wedding so totally your call.
At certain weddings, attendees are asked not to take any photo or video during the ceremony. So is this ok to ask and who is asking? Is it the photographer, the bridal couple or the officiate? Well, personally, I would never make this request and I know of no wedding photographers who would dream to say this to any bride since it's her wedding and should be her choice. That's not saying that there are no photographers out there who are that territorial and over reaching, but I think it's rare. So that leaves the bridal couple or the officiate, priest etc. Some officiates do request that no flash be used but in my personal experience, I've never heard of any officiate forbidding guests to take photos. So, we circle back to the bridal couple!
We need to approach this issue from many sides. First let's talk about your guests: your closest family and friends who have all gathered to share with you this most important day. Many of your guests would have flown, "trained" or driven from long distances. They are paying for accommodations, food, etc. plus have given you a nice gift (hopefully a big fat check!!) So they are heavily invested financially as well as emotionally in your fabulous nuptials. Most of them assume that it is their right to take a momento from your ceremony, and photos are much more acceptable than a flower from your bouquet as you walk past them.
Let's face it, the iphones (& other cameras) are whipped out as soon as the flower girl is spotted! It's kind of a given these days. As wedding photographers, we have always worked around this phenomenon. Everyone wants a piece of you!! LOL As you walk up the aisle towards your groom, you will see many smiling faces amongst the flurry of cameras going off. And what about those massive ipads? Oh yes, they will be up there too. I guess this is how the celebrities feel! At one wedding where the attendees were asked to refrain, a guest in the second row immediately held up a massive tablet almost the size of a computer and took photos during the entire ceremony (sometimes standing up). I kid you not! Maybe the guest heard the opposite? So, of course, this led to many others following suit so as not to be left out- maybe they thought they heard wrong too.
Think about if all of this bothers you or are you just happy to see that they are as thrilled as you are. There will be those guests who begin posting these photos immediately to instagram, proud to broadcast your first kiss as a blissfully married couple! However, most just want to savor these moments on the car ride home and show them off at the reception. So imagine their disappointment if the officiate tells them to put their cameras away. (They will probably blame the photographer ughhh!) Some will still take photos since they are either half deaf from partying next to the speakers last night or do not think the announcement somehow applies to them. And as in the former example, when others see them taking photos, they will follow suit. It's a difficult situation to control, that's for sure!
I totally understand wanting your guests to be so swept up in your ceremony that time stands still. To want them to be so wrapped up in the emotional moment that they don't even think about taking photos. These moments are exactly what makes me love wedding photography. It sounds so enchanting, beautiful and brimming with pure love! This is humanity at its best! If you can make this happen, we will all envy you, since these are the exact moments that your guests live to photograph too. So they will take a quick shot or two, then settle down and enjoy the moment- yes, they want both the moment AND the photo to make the moment last forever!
It's a balance between creating your perfect scene and being considerate of your guests' feelings. If you still want to try to contain this situation, there are two ways to minimize the instagram posts:
1. Take everyone's phones and cameras at the door. Oh yeah, I agree with you....not happening with most groups since their iphones are their babies. Plus, the person who was late is still a wildcard.
2. As you saw in the example above, the officiate is not a full proof solution since you will still have the half deaf guests and the rebels. The only person who has any chance of success is the groom. It would not be proper for the bride to make an announcement since the ceremony would have already begun. So...it's up to the fearless groom to make an emotional plea on behalf of himself and his bride right before the ceremony begins. The groom's speech could go something like this: "It is so heartwarming to see all of you here, our dear families and most precious friends. I know it's out of the ordinary but my bride and I want to ask all of you something very important. We know it might be difficult for some of you, but it would mean so much to us. Could you please put away your cameras, iphones, tablets etc. right now. We want you all to share in this moment with us wholly and without distraction. We love you all and would be so grateful if you would honor our request."The groom should walk up and down the aisle during his speech.
But you will still have unhappy guests. BUT, I have a great solution for you which would make EVERYONE happy!
I would like to suggest something to you if this is the way you'd like to go- a Redo!. Immediately after the ceremony, walk back to your altar and kiss, exchange rings, then wave like you just got married and walk down the aisle. This way, your guests can get their photos and you will have the highest success rate possible for your request to be honored. The groom needs to tell everyone the game plan at the end of his announcement. If it works, let me know!
I photographed a bride last June who actually forgot her bouquet in the car. So after the ceremony, the Officiate fetched the bouquet and pretended like he was marrying them at the altar. Very cool and very sweet. And so I had two sets of ceremonial photos they could choose from! Hey, life is all about compromising and loving each other.
I will leave you with the following:
Firstly, a true story of my own wedding in Bermuda and how my 275 family and friends saved both my Wedding Album and Video! My wedding was during the pre digital era so my guests had film photo and video cameras and Wow, did they ever use them all throughout the church ceremony- even friends on the balcony! Quite frankly, I didn't even notice since I was totally focused on three things: walking down the aisle on my Dad's arm without tripping; not going too fast; and looking at my gorgeous groom!! If you can believe it, the most expensive Wedding Photography Company in Bermuda managed to not get one single useable image of my entire ceremony. To boot, the videographer had technical difficulties during my entire ceremony. When I say entire, I mean everything- from walking up the aisle to leaving the church. Zip, Naddo, Nothing! I found this out after our 2 week honeymoon in Italy. Enter amazing, life saving friends and family. They gave photo negatives and all of their video to this most expensive Wedding Photography Company who interspersed them into my Wedding Album and Wedding Video. The day was saved by the people who loved us the most!
This story highlights the importance of ensuring that your photographers have backups,and backups for the backups (which I and all of my pro photographer friends do!). At my wedding, I had not entered the world of professional photography yet so did not think to even ask about backup equipment! Even in this digital age, one photographer friend was a guest at his friend's wedding and just took "fun" photos of the entire day. The official part time photographer with no backup equipment or even website (OMG maybe that's why he was super cheap!) did not manage to take one single photo which was not blurry. He just sounded inept, quite frankly. No usable photos for the entire day and night! Enter great photographer guest with the "fun" photos!
Helpful tips to choose the best wedding photographer for you: