You’re groaning, I hear it. Again?? I know everyone and their mother has an opinion, and basically it’s already been said a thousand times but I wanted to weigh in on this topic. And really from a reasoning that has VERY little to do with photography.
I was looking at some wedding images lately (as I often am), and noticing just how many phones and ipads (SO WEIRD PEOPLE) hanging out into the center aisle. Or standing, crouching, or sitting in the aisle. While this annoys me from a job standpoint because it can make my job harder it makes me really sad for these brides. Instead of walking down the aisle to all their friends and family’s smiling faces they saw phones, and looks of intent. Digital screens and faceless guests staring at them while they have this literally life altering moment. She’s walking down the aisle to the love of her life, and sometimes she can’t even see his face. That kills me. When she doesn’t get to see his reaction because guests are in the way.
Not everyone gets invited to a couple’s wedding day. If they invited everyone they had ever met, there would be thousands of people. People they love and are special to them are invited, so it’s an honor. When they walk down the aisle after their ceremony they are feeling elated with both what just happened and that all of these people that love enough to want them to be there when they tie their lives together were there. They want to see their smiling faces. If you are filming or photographing during that time, you are robbing the bride and groom of that. You might be “watching” the wedding happen through your phone’s screen. But you are not being fully present. I’m sure there are moments you are missing, and you never know what beautiful little piece of the story you aren’t hearing.
I go to a lot of weddings. Perks of the job. And one thing that I am able to witness is how different and similar wedding ceremonies are. They are all doing the same thing, but your wedding ceremony is your way to present your love story to the world. Some of them are funny, some are serious, some are short and sweet, some have lots of anecdotes. Every single wedding ceremony I’m at, whether it’s one of my couples’ or for a couple where I’m the second shooter, I take a few moments to appreciate the moment. I have to be focused during the big ones like the kiss, ring exchange, etc but when I get to hear their friend’s speak or the officiant tell how they met I often have the opportunity to really listen and enjoy. A couple’s wedding ceremony should be exciting and interesting, and you should want to be fully listening and watching or else you shouldn’t be there. Unless the couple has specifically said “hey I know I just paid $5000 for this guy but he seems super shady- take lots of photos on that iphone” you are also kind of being rude. I’m sure it’s unintentional, but you are. Do you not trust their judgement in who they chose? It’s kind of what you are saying, even if you don’t mean to. Remember that episode of friends where Monica’s mom hires her to cater her party but has a lasagna in the freezer in case she pulls a Monica? Sorry to break it to you, but you’re Monica’s mom in this scenario. Actually, you’re not. You’re a guest at that party and brought the lasagna. Yikes.
I completely understand the desire to document life events. I kind of built a life around it. However, couples hire people like me to do that so you can enjoy and be a part of their wedding. I’m not saying don’t take photos at all, but save that until the reception. The ceremony is the reason you are there. The important thing they want you to pay attention to, listen to them say very meaningful words to each other and pledge their lives to one another. It’s kind of a BIG deal. The fact that they want you there is amazing, and special. Most wedding professionals know what they are doing, and will get great photos of you enjoying the day. Then all you have to do is ask the wedding couple to see their photos and I bet you they would love to share them with you once they have them. Let’s be honest, are you actually going to print those iphone snaps? Most likely not. Think of all the extra free space for photos of puppies and desserts from date night you now have!
Lastly, surprisingly I see this a lot. If the bride and groom are having an unplugged ceremony.. respect their wishes. It’s incredibly rude if they have taken the time to make a sign, put it in their program, and/or have their officiant make an announcement and you still pull out your camera or phone. I personally have had brides apologize to me because they saw family members not listening. Was I mad at the couple that it happened? No. I was mad FOR the couple that guests couldn’t follow directions for a few minutes, and that they felt bad enough they needed to apologize to me on their special day. The wedding day is the bride and groom’s day. It should be whatever THEY want it to be. Whether it be they want everyone to dress in purple and wear funny hats, or not bring phones. Go, listen and be present. UNPLUG. Be happy and joyful. I might even catch a photo of you doing just that, and the bride and groom will probably send it to you 😉
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