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Inspiration » Photography » Wedding Guest Photo Etiquette 101

Wedding Guest Photo Etiquette 101

by Aubrey Bach
Wedding Guest Photo Etiquette 101

If you’re attending a wedding, chances are you’re probably a big fan of the two people getting married. So you do your best to be an A+ guest: you RSVP promptly, you give a thoughtful gift, you don’t come dressed like you’re going to Puff Daddy’s White Party, and you drink enough to get loose on the dance floor but not so much that you spend all night in the bathroom. (You’re so thoughtful.) And of course, you snap plenty of pictures to remember the big day forever. (Hopefully, you’re using Joy to share those photos with everybody. More on that later.) But beware: one stray click and you may find yourself guilty of a major photo faux pas that will embarrass you and annoy the bride, groom, professional photographer or other guests. If you want to make sure that your quest to capture the perfect photo plays nice with everybody else at the wedding, check out this guide to wedding photo etiquette.


Listen, we know that you are really excited that these wonderful people are committing to spend their lives together, and you are dying to capture all the key moments yourself. But if capturing their first kiss requires you to leap into the aisle and elbow the professional photographer, resist the urge. The couple paid the professional photographer a lot of money to photograph their wedding with his or her unique style, and if the pro doesn’t capture those key moments because you elbowed her to get the best angle, the newlyweds are not going to be happy. So be cognizant of the professional photographers and stay out of their way!


Listen, there is a reason that people hate selfie sticks, and you whipping one around during the ceremony isn’t funny, even in an ironic way. And maybe wearing a GoPro on your head during the dance party is okay, but please don’t spend the whole evening with your bike helmet on to capture every single moment. Basically, keep it subtle. This is a wedding, so leave the 12 inch zoom lens at home and stick to simple cameras and smartphones to take pictures.


Before you go share every photo and/or live-tweet your friends’ wedding, ask the couple (preferably before the wedding) if they have any objections to you sharing photos on public channels like Instagram or Facebook. Find out if they have a wedding hashtag they want everybody to use. Make sure the photos you share are flattering – skip the photos where an odd camera angle makes it look like somebody has a double chin, or the ones that show Aunt Marge after one too many white wine spritzers. Don’t be too noisy on any one social channel – curate which and how many photos you share publicly. And finally, if the couple isn’t already planning on using Joy to share as many photos and messages as they want with a private network of guests, friends and family, then tell them to do that right now!


Making sure that you get one photo with the newlyweds is cool, and captures a memory that you will treasure forever. But please don’t demand a personal photo shoot with the bride, or worm your way into the family photo if you aren’t related. There are a lot of people who want pictures with the happy couple, so be respectful of their time and let others have memories they’ll treasure too.


Your friends’ wedding is not the place to live out your dreams of becoming a professional wedding photographer. So no following the photographer as he or she captures the “first look” before the ceremony; no standing behind her during family portrait time (you’ll distract the subjects); and no interrogation of the photographer about equipment recommendations. Let the photographer take photos, and focus your efforts on capturing candid moments and video that the pro isn’t there to witness, like Grandma Irene teaching the flower girl how to do the Electric Slide.

Follow these wedding guest photo etiquette tips and your work will be loved by everybody for years to come. (Want to guarantee that everybody sees all of your beautiful photography? Tell the couple to use Joy to share photos, create a beautiful wedding website, manage RSVPs and communicate with the entire guest list! Joy is free and they can download it here.)


What’s the biggest wedding photography fail you’ve witnessed? Share your stories on Facebook, Twitter or in the comment section below.

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