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Martin James Photography

Photography Rules for Wedding Guests: When, Where and How

Hopefully you’ve decided to hire a professional photographer, but you should make the most of your guests too! 

Everyone who’s been to a wedding has witnessed this (whether it’s one guest or the majority): you’re in the ceremony room. Everyone falls quiet and the music starts. The doors slowly open and there’s a rustle as everyone turns to face the back of the room to see the bride’s entrance…and then there is another rustle as everyone delves into their bag and pockets to fish out their camera phones.

It’s pretty much an accepted fact now – unless the couple have laid out their wishes for an ‘unplugged wedding’ (which is a totally acceptable rule for wedding guests), you will have 100 photographers at a wedding instead of just one. But if you’re conscious of making sure your guests don’t overstep the mark and take great photos of your wedding you can actually use, why not share this article with them?

The doors slowly open and there’s a rustle as everyone turns to face the back of the room to see the bride’s entrance…

When Should Guests Avoid Getting Snap Happy? Guests taking photos isn’t often an issue. It becomes an issue when they get in the way or are distracting the couple from looking at the photographer’s camera. I would say that the key moments of the day when this could be a problem are when the bridal party walks down and back up the aisle (sometimes people can lean into the aisle therefore obstructing the photographer) and during group photos when the photographer wants everyone looking at their camera and not someone else’s!

When is a Good Time for Guests to Take Pictures? I think anytime is fine as long as it doesn’t disrupt the order of the day. Some registrars and priests will allow photos during the ceremony, some don’t but will often allow guests to get up and take photos once the register has been signed. Probably the best time is once the newlyweds have returned from their couple photos and before or after group photos have taken place – this is when I would usually be in the background, capturing laughter, smiles, hugs and the general celebratory mood of the day. This is when guests can have their own photos with the couple whilst everyone is happily chatting away and not needing to ‘do’ anything. Things like cake cutting, speeches and the first dance are also perfect opportunities for guests to be snap happy and the get some great smiles and laughs from a mix of angles. If it’s fine as far as the happy couple are concerned for the guests to be taking pictures, then they need to make sure they’re taking the best pictures possible.