Wedding Photography Etiquette

For Guests, Vendors, Onlookers and the Wedding Couple

When it comes to wedding etiquette, there are literally hundreds of things that I could write about. There is loads of information regarding etiquette for guests, vendors and the wedding couple as well, and it can become confusing. This is because on one hand you are being told to do your wedding your way, which is great advice (to an extent), however, I believe everyone should adhere to at least some guidelines in order to make the wedding day a joyful success. And to keep things short and sweet, I will just be focusing on the photography etiquette that photographers, guests, outside observers and yes… even the wedding couple should be considerate of.

TIME!!! – First and foremost, for everyone involved, be on time and stick to the timeline as closely as possible! Some couples prefer to be a bit more relaxed and to not plan out every moment of their day so they can just enjoy it. However, when left unplanned, things usually go wrong. Timelines are created, not to control the day per se, but to make sure your vendors have enough time to do their jobs well. And for me, that means enough time to take the photos you desire.

For family members, make sure you know when and where to be for family photos and do not wander off until you are dismissed. This is why I like doing family photos right before or right after the ceremony. This is when you can guarantee that ALL parties involved will be in one spot and photo ready. When there is a toast right after the “I do’s”or these photos are planned for any time other than right before or after the ceremony, it is almost certain that we end up waiting on someone and some photos with family members are missed. Waiting on others to show up for photos also cuts into other parts of the day. 

For Wedding Party Members, please stay on time while getting ready. In my experience, the getting ready part of the day is usually where things start falling behind. There is often one person in the bridal party who doesn’t show up on time or takes longer to get their dress on. For the men, it’s the boutonnières that get overlooked and are usually pinned on at the photo location. Please have ties tied and boutonnières on before heading out for photos. It is also super important to know when and where you are needed for photos and to be on time, even a few minutes early if you can.

For photographers, I can not stress this enough, give yourself extra time to get to a wedding and places off site locations for photos. This is especially true if you are not familiar with the venue and photo locations. Have back up people you can call in a pinch if you are suddenly stuck in traffic, have an accident or are otherwise detained.

SMARTPHONES AND CAMERAS!!! – Secondly, every wedding has someone who will want to take a bunch of photos on their camera or smart phone. To them I say, please be considerate of the photographer and the couple. If a couple has decided to have an unplugged wedding, put your phone or camera away and respect their wishes. If they do allow those devices, then please stay in your seats while taking photos and refrain from leaning into the centre aisle to capture key moments. Chances are you’ll be in my shot if you do.

For family photos, please let the photographer take their shot first before moving in for yours. I know everyone wants the great shot of the family together but when everyone is taking photos at the same time, the people in the shot are all looking in different directions because they do not know which camera to face. Also remember that there is a shot list and a timeline to follow so please do not suggest different groupings other than the ones that are being photographed. The couple more often than not, have provided their photographer with a list of desired groupings. Once that list has been completed, then other groupings are welcome to be shot but only if the couple is okay with it, and only as time allows.

Another thing to avoid is following the wedding party, and/or couple while they are taking photos and snapping photos of your own. I have been in this situation before and can not express enough how unsettling it is to have people tag along while you are trying to get natural and beautiful photos of a couple. Couples will get distracted and chatty when others are around which will show in their photos. Looking different ways, mouths open while talking, and stiff posing will ruin a shot. Not to mention the photographer has spent years learning how to pose and direct couples. So to have people standing over their shoulder, or at times, standing right in front of them, to get a shot that they have set up, is very frustrating. After all, it isn’t the pose that makes the photo, it’s the genuine emotion that comes from interacting with each other that will make a photo amazing. So when you are distracted from your partner, it shows.

DRINKING!!! – For my third etiquette rule, I am going to chat about drinking on the wedding day. I get it, you want to celebrate with mimosas in the morning, bubbly at lunch, beers in the limo, and have a secret canteen stashed in your pocket. I am not one to shut down a good time, but I would recommend reigning it in a little until the ceremony and photos are done. When couples and wedding parties are intoxicated during a shoot, things take way longer than planned. Trying to direct and photograph someone who has had too much alcohol is hard, but trying to direct and photograph a group of them is so much harder. Getting a great photo when you can barely stand is very difficult. There is also the increased risk of ruining your dress, or suit, as well as getting injured. I have witnessed broken ankles, passed out or missing wedding warty members and ruined dresses, before the reception even starts. 

For photographers, I would advise not accepting any alcohol offered to you during the wedding day. I personally think it looks unprofessional to drink while on the job. My personal belief is that the guests at a wedding do not know that you have been offered anything by the couple so it could be misinterpreted as mooching drinks from the wedding. Also I never want anyone to think I was drunk on the job, which is why I tend to stay away from wine glasses and red solo cups even when only drinking water. 

GENERAL PUBLIC: And finally, for anyone who happens to witness a wedding being photographed as an outsider, I think it is great for congratulations to be uttered, but please do not photo bomb the couple. Please be considerate of where you are standing and try to get out of the frame of the shot. If on public property and you see a couple getting photographed in an area where you may be standing, please just move for a few minutes. Most photographers switch up their angles and locations for their shots and often do not stay in one place for more than a few snaps. You can have your spot back asap!

Wedding Days are special and you will create memories of this moment to last a lifetime! If wedding photos are important to you, and if you have invested a lot of money into hiring a photographer and/or videographer, then please give us time to do what we do best. Save the partying for the reception and be ready to follow our direction when needed. And most of all, relax and enjoy the process of taking photos. It can be a really fun time and for many couples, it’s the best part of the day!