Seeing that it is right in the middle of wedding season and I have had this particular problem myself, several times in the past, I found a great article from an awesome site called OFF BEAT BRIDE on having an Unplugged Wedding. Unplugged Wedding means having your guests turn off the cell phones and cameras during the ceremony. I have all too many times had guests ruin a really good shot because they were taking pictures of the couple … and in MY shot. (See photo above of Uncle Bob shooting at a wedding. No that is NOT the hired Pro Photographer, just a family member with high priced equipment).
I’m definitely NOT against guest taking there own pictures but please wait until after the ceremony so that I don’t trip over you or that you don’t get in the way of my shot. I’ve had guests literally push me out of the way so that they could get their shot. I had a couple come up to the bride at a recent beachside/ bar wedding and tell the bride and groom that they wanted to take a picture of them to put on their Facebook page. The bride looked at me confused, no one knew who they were. They also proceeded to tell me that I wasn’t getting the “right angle”. Well I hadn’t even started yet because they were standing in the way! So its important to let guests know when and were it is appropriate.
Also sometimes its difficult when others want to take pictures of the Bride and Groom after the ceremony, during the Formal Shots. While I’m trying to get the couples attention, the guests are yelling behind my shoulder to “Look this way!” and when I take a picture the bride and groom are looking away from my camera. I have to recompose and ask to “Look at me” the entire time. It then takes longer which means that the couple can’t get back to the reception where their guests can take as many shots as they want and they can all enjoy themselves. I never want to tell someone “No, you can’t take a picture” because thats not my style and I’m pretty laid back, BUT if they can atleast wait until after all the professional shots are taken, it would make my job go smoother and I could get all the shots that YOU the bride and groom wanted in the first place.
Here is an article (click link below) to read on how to address your guests and let them know you would like an Unplugged Wedding. Or at least during the ceremony and have them actually “present” with their eyes fixed on you and not viewing it through their cameras or phones. There is also a link with the article so that you can get ideas on how to “tactfully” ask your guests to silence their phones and turn off their cameras.You can even have the Officiant tell them for you. Often times guests will listen to your pastor first and be respectful of your wishes.
I do want to clarify: I’m certainly not saying that all weddings should be unplugged, or that guests are doing anything wrong when they have their cameras and phones out. Besides being a professional photographer, I have my point and shoot on me all the time to capture fun shots with family and friends when I’m not working. So I completely understand where the guests are coming from. But when they get it my way, it just makes my job more difficult. I’m hired by you to make your day memorable and I want to do the best job possible without hurting your guests feelings.
If it doesn’t bother the couple, then it’s not a problem. As with all things, ultimately this wedding decision comes down to what feels right to each couple.
That said, I do think that in this era of 24-hour connectivity, where there’s an iPhone in every pocket (guilty myself), a Facebook status update in every encounter, and a digital hobbyist photographer in every family, it’s important to carefully consider the issue. Digital devices are ever-present in our daily lives; what role do you want these devices to play at your wedding?
Example below of a sign for your guests.