In our social media crazed world, weddings have become synonymous with instant uploads and share-worthy photos.
If the topic of guests taking photos leaves you feeling a little unsure, this blog covers off etiquette for guests taking photos at weddings and tips to help ensure your day is as public or private as you choose.
Visit a wedding ceremony and you’ll witness many guests attempting to get ‘the shot’. Your loved ones and friends are excited to not only share your day with you but with their friends and followers online.
At first glance, having guests jumping up and moving about to take photos is a compliment. From the aisle, to the vows and the signing of the registry and first dance, guests love to visually document your wedding day. It’s the new norm right?
But with so many phones and cameras in eager hands it begs the question ‘should guests be welcome to take photos at your wedding?’.
On one hand, ‘yes absolutely, go for it’, on the other hand, the idea of unplugging guests from their phones so they can be truly present, live in the moment and celebrate the day free of distractions can be appealing.
You might be the couple who loves the idea of photos being taken by anyone and everyone. Maybe you will even create a personalised wedding hashtag encouraging lots of photo uploads and the virtual connectivity social media brings.
Alternatively, you might be the couple who desires a little more control over what is seen on social media and how details from your intimate day are shared. You might choose a ‘no photos by guests’ policy.
Maybe you sit somewhere in between- having the ceremony as a no photo zone but allowing the reception to be a festival of photos.
Whichever category you lean towards, there is no right or wrong- after all it is your wedding.
Couples regularly ask my opinion on the topic and whilst I never tell couples what to do on their day, I am happy to share some food for thought on wedding guest photo etiquette….
We can all agree a wedding photographer is invited to capture the important moments and deliver professional photos that will be admired for a lifetime and beyond.
Professional wedding shots are professional based on important qualities such as:
- Documentation of the day’s timeline- We capture and highlight the important moments that form the story of your day.
- It’s about you as a couple- Although we want your photos to reflect the people you love and those who surround you on your day, your photos are about you as a couple, the significance of the day and the special commitment made between one another.
- Lighting and composition- Each shot is purposefully and thoughtfully curated by a photographer for optimal quality.
With the above being said- professional shots are only achievable when a wedding photographer successfully AVOIDS common scenarios like:
- Accidently capturing someone else in the couple’s special moment. Ie when guests aren’t meant to be part of the moment (the kiss) but step into shot as they try to get their own photos.
- People holding out their phones/cameras in the background or foreground- this can make the image unusable. Some photos call for just the couple to be in them.
- Flashes- Flashes from phones and cameras changes the lighting causing exposure challenges and images that cannot be used.
To eliminate the chances of guests accidentally jumping in front of the photographer or setting off unwanted flashes, it’s becoming more popular to ask guests to surrender their phones at the beginning of the ceremony or refrain from taking photos altogether.
I’m all for an unplugged wedding ceremony and you can give your guests these reasons:
- You are our special guests at our intimate wedding. We only want our wedding day shared with our guests and would love you to honour this by not taking photos or sharing photos on social media.
- We want you to really live in the moment and forget about your phone for a day. Talk, dance, laugh and enjoy the day.
- We’re giving you the day off from photo taking- We’ve already hired a photographer to do the hard work.
If you choose for photos to be allowed at your ceremony, something every photographer will thank you for is if you arrange for guests to remain where they are seated throughout the ceremony. This means the aisle won’t be blocked or obscured and your photographer can successfully get the shots they only have one opportunity to capture.
You might be thinking the idea of limiting guest photography sounds great but aren’t too sure when to communicate photography expectations to your guests?
Below is a list of ways you can ensure your guests understand:
- Include details in the invitation- guests are usually happy to respect your wishes if they know in advance and have time to consider the information.
- Have the Celebrant, Minister or MC announce the details whilst waiting for the bride to arrive.
- Have signs made that can be seen as guests enter the ceremony and or reception.
- Have a place for guests to surrender their phones- (if they want to) ie a small wedding could utilise a basket or box. A larger wedding could have someone assign a number to each phone and provide a ticket to each guest (like a check in system).
However you choose to proceed, photographers are well acquainted with moving quickly and navigating guests to get the shots you will love for a lifetime.
If you have any questions or want to speak to your photographer about guests taking photos we can help you make a plan you are comfortable with.