A lot of blogs and wedding magazine articles have been written about unplugged weddings. A lot of wedding photographers have shared horror stories of missed and ruined shots caused by guests leaning in for a photo with their devices. Then there's the now famous photo of the groom unable to see his bride walking down the aisle thanks to selfish family members who blocked the aisle clenching their cell phones.
As a photographer, it's absolutely infuriating. I've shot hundreds of images of ceremonies where all the eye is drawn to are dozens of iPhones. I've edited massive iPads out of first kiss shots. I've had someone else's flash ruin my photo. I've had guests who think it's totally OK for them to follow me and shoot over my shoulder while I take the bride and groom for private portraiture. I know how difficult it makes the job of a professional photographer. What I wasn't prepared for was how upset the idea of cell phones and cameras at my wedding would make me as a bride.
I've shot enough weddings now to know that those same people who are getting in my way while I'm working, are getting in the bride and groom's way. They're preventing private moments from being private. They're blocking views and stealing precious time.
As wedding professionals we spend all of our time and energy reminding couples that it's their day. And with that should be the exclusive right to share their choice of images first. With my professional photographer, I trust her fully that she'll make me look like a goddess. That's what she is trained to do. That's what she gets paid to do. I can't guarantee that I'm going to love an image of myself from a random guest's cell phone. And they could potentially share that on social media, tag me and be the first to share a picture of our day with the internet universe... and what if I'm blinking!?!? What if it's blurry or grainy or edited with an ugly filter that makes my skin look orange or the sky purple? The thought of this made me kind of nauseous.
Totally an Instagram and Facebook age rule but, the bride and groom should be the first ones to share a photo of themselves on social media. The exception to this would be a selfie with the person posting the picture where the bride and/or groom approve of the image.
And then there's the issue of consent. Have you ever had someone shove a camera or phone in your face and say "smile!!!!" when you really don't want to or you're not prepared at all? It can make you feel irritated, awkward, self-conscious, overwhelmed, shy, unprepared and distracted from being present in the moment. I don't want to be worried about feeling any of those things as I walk down the aisle! It's hard enough having 160 people staring at you. God forbid all 160 have a phone out because then you might as well just be on freakin' Facebook Live.
A bride walking down the aisle can't very well stop and tell you to put your phone down. She can't consent to being photographed by you either. Nor can she truly focus on walking to her husband-to-be when 30 people are taking her picture. She'll only make that walk once. She deserves to be able to remember his reaction, the music, her heart racing and the smiles of her loved ones.
I've had a lot of understanding friends and family but I've also had a lot of people balk at our decision to completely not allow any photography until dinner and dancing begins. I've heard, "well I don't want to wait months for your photographer to be finished so I can share the pictures with (insert random person here)", "I want my own photos to look at", "but so-and-so is going to want to see you since she wasn't invited" and "you're a photographer, you should want as many photos as possible". I've even had a few relatives who said very flippantly that they're going to take photos regardless. DEEP BREATHS.
There are a lot of reasons that couples are choosing to not allow photography during their weddings. It's so much more than how it negatively affects the professional whom they've invested heavily in. It's about the irritated, awkward, self-conscious feeling of having dozens of cameras pointed at you (with untrained eyes behind them).
Before you pull out your device to document the moment, think about how you're making the bride feel. It's not about your picture. It's about her day.