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How to Keep Your Guests From Sabotaging Your Wedding Photos

“Ha! I beat the wedding photographer!”

That is what a guest actually said after leaping in front of my camera, snapping a picture with her cell phone, just as the couple celebrated their first kiss at the end of their ceremony. You are investing money in your wedding photos, and while this was obviously a case of someone intentionally sabotaging a wedding photographer, your guests may not even realize that they are doing it!

Whether they have a DSLR, a point and shoot, or a cell phone camera – it seems like everyone wants to be a photographer these days. There is a saying, ‘too many cooks spoils the broth’ and it holds true for wedding photos. I deal with these issues all the time, but more and more couples are coming to me to ask for solutions to these problems. Well, here we go!

The Problem – Blocking the Shot

Have you ever leaned out into the aisle during a wedding ceremony to take a photo? Or have you done the “I’m just going to stick my arm out with my cell phone to take a quick picture” move? You have, haven’t you? Don’t do it!

While it may seem harmless, this usually happens at very important moments during the ceremony – when the bride enters, the first kiss, when the couple is walking back down the aisle at the end of the ceremony – and the wedding photographer (the person they paid to photograph the wedding) now has a frame full of people’s backs and heads, cell phones, iPads, cameras, etc. instead of the stars of the show – the bride and groom! I can not count the number of photos these types of moves have ruined over the years.

Have you ever been on a roller coaster? Well think of a wedding ceremony like a roller coaster. Keep your hands, arms, bodies, phones, cameras, inside the car at all times. There’s no need to release your inner Dikembe Mutombo…

Also, do you really want the photos of your guests at your wedding to be of a bunch of people staring at their phones and cameras, or smiling happy faces enjoying your celebration?

Solution – Unplug Your Ceremony

Let your guests know – through the invitation, your wedding website, a sign at the wedding, a note in the program, a statement from the officiant at the beginning of the ceremony, or a combination of these things – that you would like them to turn off their electronic devices and fully enjoy the ceremony without feeling the need to document it. You hired a professional photographer who is taking pictures for you, and you would rather have them fully present at your joyous event.

There are all sorts of ways you can handle this, and over at Offbeat Bride they have great ideas for wording (for emails, websites, signs, and officiants) – they even have free downloadable signage templates in a variety of styles like the one below. Check them out!

unplugged wedding ideas from Offbeat Bride

If you do decide to unplug, either your ceremony or the entire wedding, you must be truly committed to sharing the photos that your photographer gives you with your guests. Make sure you speak with your photographer and have a selection of photos available within a few days of the wedding (via Facebook, website, etc.) to share with your guests so that they do not feel left out.

Problem – Distraction

I love this photo, I really do. Everyone has their camera out. It is also taken at an appropriate time for guests to be taking pictures – after the ceremony! But it illustrates a specific problem – which camera are they supposed to look at?

Have you ever seen a photo of the wedding couple, or the wedding party, where everyone seems to be looking in different directions? That usually happens when there are several guests or family members standing behind the photographer snapping pictures. It is like the paparazzi descending on a red carpet event and no one knows who to look at.

Solution – Get Away from the Crowd

If a couple wants to let their guests take some pictures, I usually tell them to allow a couple of minutes for that to happen when the ‘formal pictures’ start – they get their pictures, everyone is happy and we can all move on. It is best to have a member of the wedding party or another ‘authority figure’ other than the photographer let people know they have a limited amount of time to take their pictures and then the couple would like to get through the photos as quickly as possible so they can get back to celebrating with their guests. Again, if you are going to do this you need to SHARE the photos your photographer takes with your guests.

You can further alleviate distractions by taking the pictures in an area removed from where the guests will be. Out of sight, out of mind. If this can not be accomplished and you do have to contend with guests taking pictures, make sure to tell everyone in the picture who the photographer is and to pay attention to what the photographer tells them.

Another solution is to take the photos prior to the ceremony when guests have yet to arrive. This is a matter of personal taste and happens when a couple is doing a ‘first look’ before the ceremony.

Problem – Someone Thinks the Wedding is Really About Them and Not the Couple Getting Married

These folks are usually pretty rare, but if there is one coming to your wedding, you probably know who they are well before the wedding day. They do all sorts of things to show how “important” they are and make sure they are the center of attention. They pull the photographer aside to have their own photo taken over and over again. They ask to see the back of the camera after any picture is taken of them to ensure they look their best and demand a picture be retaken if they don’t look perfect. They forget that there are probably at least 100 other people at the wedding and the photographer’s attention cannot be solely devoted to them. Trust me, these people are out there.

Solution – Choose a Photographer Who Can Deal With Difficult People and Give Them a Life Line

Dealing with individual guests is a problem that falls largely on the shoulders of the wedding photographer. They have to be able to politely extricate themselves from these situations without hurting anyone’s feelings. If you know you might have a difficult guest or two, make sure your photographer is aware of them and that they feel comfortable dealing with these sorts of situation. The wedding photographer does not want to be the heavy and come off as being rude to someone who thinks that they are the star of the show. It is best to have someone, other than the bride or groom (because the photographer doesn’t want to bother them with these things on the wedding day), that the photographer can go to if things start getting out of hand or are too difficult to manage. A guest will more likely ‘hear’ what is being said when it comes from another guest than when it comes from the photographer.

I hope you found these solutions helpful. Please feel free to leave a comment and let me know if there is another topic that you would like to see discussed!

Addendum – Since I published this blog post, I have seen a flurry of other publications in the wedding industry and the mainstream media discussing the same topic. This seems to be something that is on the minds of a lot of people. So what are your thoughts?

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Comments

[…] York Edition. This editorial piece was authored by Casey Fatchett and was originally featured on his blog. To learn more about how Casey can capture the magic of your day, or to read more insightful […]

You are spot on with this article. I have had this problem loads of times with guests not even noticing the day as they are to busy having their faces stuck behind a mobile or a camera. I have also had guests following me around sometimes with huge cameras taking photos I have set up and leaving me trying to persuade the couple to look at ME not everyone else.

I even said to one couple “You are paying me good money to take your photos so its best if you look at me”

It was a bit cheeky but after that they kept looking at me

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