By Rev. Alan Viau
With the pervasiveness of digital cameras, the question of allowing the taking of photos at your wedding is an important one. It is up to the bride and groom to give clear instructions to their guests on their expectations. Otherwise, there will be at best confusion and at worse some bad experiences.
Uncle Chuck getting into all the shots
When I started performing weddings 10 years ago, guests taking pictures wasn’t a big deal. Digital cameras were small things and people were discreet.
The advent of DSLR cameras changed things. Cameras with fancy features and big lenses started appearing at weddings. Guests began getting less discreet believing they were equal to ‘pro’ photographers. They started getting in the way. I recall one wedding where I felt surrounded by Paparazzi hounds. They encircled the couple and me, three deep… and of course the seated guests couldn’t see or hear a thing.
Tablets have not improved the situation. There are instances when I never seen the face of a guest during the ceremony because it has been behind a tablet the whole time.
That’s when I started taking a default position about photography. I announce at the start of every wedding that guests can only take photos from their seats… and let the hired photographer take great memories for the couple.
However, it is really the couple who need to state what they want as far as guests taking photos. They need to be clear with instructions as to what they want done. If instructions are not communicated, then you can end up with the situation shown in the photo above.. Uncle Chuck appears in many of the photos the hired photographer was taking because he wanted to be in the action.
In addition, it is proper protocol to ask the minister/ officiant what they will or will not allow for photography and videography. Otherwise you may end up with an ugly scene like this one that was posted on Youtube. My personal experience is that photographers will ask me before the ceremony what I prefer and they are discreet. If they don’t seek me out – I find them and have a chat to avoid awkwardness. That’s because some are not so discreet believing they can be anywhere and are very disruptive.
The way I see it brides and grooms have three choices:
Disallow any photography during the ceremony. This is becoming a more popular choice. It allows for the guests to be fully present during the service and experience the joy and love of the occasion. In addition, couples often ask to not have any photos posted on social media sites before they have a chance to do it.
Encourage all forms of social media posting. This is the other extreme where you give your audience the hashtag for Twitter and Instagram and have at it. The wedding is seen as a social forum to share. Please discuss with your minister/ officiant and pro photographer so there are no surprises. It is an adventure to see the Tweets, Instagrams and Facebook posts – which may or may not be a flattering picture or comment.
Allow limited photography. In this case, it is as I currently instruct most of the time, guests can take pictures from their seats only. Don’t follow the couple around during the photo shoot. Be proper and give some sense of propriety and distance.
I find that when the couple has a clear mindset on this issue and give proper guidance then the guests will follow suit. Nonetheless, if you know there is an Uncle Chuck who could potentially photobomb your event, it is totally appropriate to have a private chat with them.