I found this article online yesterday and re-posted it to our Facebook page. I thought it was BRILLIANT! One of my brides responded with “wow, I never thought about all that” and I realized, yes, I guess it’s true, its not something couples probably think about…but as someone who coordinates hundreds of weddings per year, its something I see at every single wedding that involves guests. It has vendors looking at each other, slightly shaking their heads with “why are they doing that?!”. And honestly, I know the reason WHY but what guests don’t realize is, their reason why is well…wrong.

Guests that attend your wedding are the most special people in your lives, its the reason you invited them in the first place! Friends from childhood, your beloved family, etc come out to support you on one of the happiest days of your life. These people love you and want the best for you. And often times, they are looking for ways to make sure your day is perfect. The most obvious way to “help” is often in the palm of their hand…their camera. Many guests will snap away all day, in hopes of presenting you with wonderful memories that may otherwise be lost. This idea, in general, is very sweet & loving. It’s a very kind act. But it’s completely unnecessary and way too often, results in the opposite of helpful.

When our couples are getting married and look out into the crowd of their guests, they are most often greeted with this:

Guests more focused on getting a great shot – noses pointed into their phones or cameras, not fully enjoying the moment of watching two people they care about joining together in marriage.

And what’s even more challenging is getting these guests out of the way for the professional photographer that has been hired to be there. Way too often I see guests leaning out into the aisle to get a center shot of the bride and groom, or even jumping up and standing at the end of the aisle to get the bride & groom walking like this guy here in the blue shirt:

Thankfully he was quick with his photo and moved to the side but this was after the officiate had asked guests to clear to the side. And what if he wasn’t quick? There would have been nothing the photographer could have done while he stood in the middle of the aisle taking photos (short of yelling GET OUT OF THE WAY but that’s probably not the behavior or disruption you’re looking for in this special moment). 
You are paying a lot of money for a professional photographer to capture these moment for you. Many guests assume that you are purchasing the images from the photographer although every single photographer we work with gives you all the edited images. Aunt Betty is not going to save you any money by snapping photos behind the photographers back so that you don’t have to buy the same image (nor is Aunt Betty’s disposable camera going to produce the same image as a professional photographer). I think its especially important during group photos to tell guests to put their cameras down. Too many cameras creates too much confusion for the subjects to know who they are supposed to look at – and it also wastes a lot of your photographers time as we have to wait for the photographer to get everyone’s attention and then the photographer has to wait while four other cameras try to get the same photo. Or you end up with some guests looking one way and the others looking the other. 

The article I linked above suggested having the officiate invite guests to unplug and enjoy the ceremony with this wording:

“Welcome, friends and family! Good evening, everyone. Please be seated. Dan and Jennifer invite you to be truly present at this special time. Please, turn off your cell phones and put down your cameras. The photographer will capture how this moment looks — I encourage you all to capture how it feels with your hearts, without the distraction of technology. If Dan can do it, then so can you.”

I thought this was great. And if you have a program for guests, I think adding a short little paragraph asking guests to let their cameras rest and enjoy the ceremony is a great idea as well. Many of our weddings only have 1 hour of photography and too many “guests photographers” really put a cramp on this timeline. Let guests know that the professional photographer is only there for a short time and there will be plenty of opportunities for them to take their own pictures once the photographer has left. I know how hard it can be for someone to put down their camera. I am so guilty of this with my kids…not fully enjoying a recital or theme park because I want to capture memories of their childhood for them in film. But honestly, the best memories are the ones you create by fully being in the moment. Let the professional photographer worry about capturing your day and make it easier on them by asking guests to let their cameras rest!