I'm SO glad you're here! I'm a Colorado-based photographer who left her heart in Wisconsin and has a passion for human connection. If you're ready to be yourself, and maybe even get a little silly, I'll bring my Midwestern charm and work ethic, and we can share an adventure you'll never forget!
It’s 2023, and professional cameras have come a long way – so have camera phones. Let’s face it, some of today’s devices are equipped with lenses that rival our own professional equipment! And while that’s usually a good thing, when it comes to wedding guest photography, navigating the waters of etiquette can get a bit murky. (Some couples have even gone so far as to opt for an “unplugged” ceremony, keeping all phones in attendance silenced and tucked away.)
And while it’s best to keep your professional photos to well, your professional photographer, there are some advantages to seeing all the snaps your guests capture from the big day! Read on for this week’s wedding tips and tricks… and some of my best advice when it comes to wedding guest photography.
Above all, remember that it’s your day—even when it comes to the photos your guests take! You’ve hired your own photographer for a reason, and while your guests’ bonus images are a lot of fun to look at (especially while you’re waiting for your professional sneak peeks and wedding albums), they should definitely be taken on your terms. Talk to your spouse-to-be and decide what you’d like the parameters to be at your ceremony and reception. Then make sure you communicate those guidelines to your guests.
It’s never a good idea to assume your guests know what’s appropriate when it comes to wedding guest photography. After all, this is still a new issue that advances with every new phone model and trend! Even when it comes to something as simple as keeping guests’ phones silenced (remember that clicking camera shutter sound phones make when you snap a pic? Not exactly the sound you want to walk down the aisle to.), don’t assume everyone in attendance knows what’s expected… or that they remember!
Pro Tip: There are ways to make expectations known without coming across as overbearing. Little things like having your officiant make an announcement about photo rules before the ceremony begins, or even having a cute sign printed and displayed at the ceremony site’s entrance can be super effective, and even beautiful décor.
When it comes to wedding guest photography, I definitely recommend encouraging photos at your reception. You’ve put a lot of time and money into this event – You’ll want to remember it from all angles! If you’ve limited screen time for your ceremony, make sure your guests know they can let loose (and when).
Do you want ceremony photos from your guests but don’t want everyone looking at their phones during the processional? Encourage people to stay in the moment and enjoy the experience with their own eyes! On the other hand, if you DO want plenty of first-hand photos from the ceremony, make sure people know that, too.
Pro Tip: Believe it or not, there is a way to encourage guests to take photos – without getting in the way of your expectations, or blocking your professional photos. Make staying in your lane fun with an “I-Spy” game for your big day! Print out an insert for your programs, or a sign for a high-traffic area. Include the photos you do want taken, and none of the ones you don’t! Make it a straight-forward list, like “a photo of the group at your table” or “a toast.” Or make it more of a scavenger hunt with prompts like “something red” or “the bride and groom holding hands.”
Like I said before, these bonus pictures are just that… a bonus! And they’re not doing any good just sitting on someone else’s cloud. Wedding guest photography provides an inside look at your big day from a perspective only they can provide. These images could even end up being some of your favorites, and some of your guests’ favorites, too. So share them! Trust me, no one will ever say know to seeing a photo you took of their day.
All that said, make sure your guests know how you want these images to be shared. We all remember the nightmares of being tagged in a less-than-flattering image on social media, right? Have a plan for image sharing in place before things end up in a totally public online post. (Especially when there’s a lot of attendees pictured!) Candid dancefloor shots snag amazing images of your guests, and if they don’t know each other, they can’t be tagged. Make sure no one misses a moment with a designated searchable hashtag or similar.
Pro Tip: Choose a photo sharing app, and print pretty cards with uploading details. Then scatter them around your reception tables (or at the bottom of your I Spy cards)! You can even create a QR code for a Google Drive or Dropbox link. Need some more ideas? Check out my journal entry, Four Ways to See Your Guest’s Wedding Photos here.