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Ahhh etiquette... an old fashioned word that reminds us there is a right way to do things and a wrong way. Any of you who know me know that I often like to buck tradition in favor of something new and wacky. That said though, there are still traditions and aspects of wedding etiquette that are as necessary today as they were when your grandmother got married. I've been meaning to write this post for some time, as an advice piece to brides and grooms and hopefully an eye opener to wedding guests.
1. You are a guest so enjoy being one. It is tacky to use any wedding as a platform to try to build your business if you were not asked to represent your business at said event.
2. Don't assume because you're the groom's cousin that you can take as many pictures as you want. Check with the bride and groom or ask the photographer directly if photography by guests is allowed. Some photographers restrict guest photography completely in their contract. They aren't being mean. The fact is, your shots ruin our shots. Not all the time granted, but an unexpected flash from a point and shoot can easily ruin the great shot the professional planned on capturing of the bride waking down the aisle.
3. Assuming it's okay for you to take photos as a guest, do the photographer the courtesy of introducing yourself. Try to stay out of their way and respect the fact that the bride and groom have personally asked and paid this individual to do what they are doing. Don't try to pose the couple or the bridal party for your own shots. Again, you are there to eat cake, dance, clap, and in general enjoy yourself. So just be content with doing that. You can always ask the photographer for a business card and inquire about purchasing photos from them of the big day. The photos the photographer takes are likely to be much higher quality than what you could take anyway.
4. If you want to begin shooting more seriously and need some weddings to play with your camera at, find a photographer who will take you on as the second shooter. This is infinitely better than trying to use a wedding you are invited to (doing so is 99.9% guaranteed to tick off the professional, paid photographer and may result in giving you AND your business a bad name before it's even started. Yikes!).
Brides (and Grooms!)
1. Don't ask a guest, family member, or friend to spend the day shooting unless you have cleared it with the paid photographer first. It can be tempting to try to get more "free" photos out of someone you know will be attending who has a decent camera, but this can backfire on you quickly and drastically reduce the quality of the images you'll get.
2. Be prepared, if necessary, to back your photographer up and ask a guest to cease taking photos for the remainder of the event. If the photographer knows that you are both on the same team and want the same thing in the end (fan-flippin-tastic photos), it will make it much easier to address unruly guests who could be jeopardizing your investment. I understand no one wants to make Uncle Bill mad but if you think of the big picture, which would you rather deal with: a disgruntled relative who can't have what he wants or wedding photos gone wrong that can never be retaken?
As wedding photographers we spend hours working with people we've just met, bringing out the best in them and thinking creatively while still maintaining technical precision. Respect and courtesy on the part of the guests play a HUGE role in the success of photographing a wedding. Besides, we'd rather photograph a crowd of guests who are crying and laughing than a crowd of guests with red focus lights hiding their faces.
Final Note - Many guests are convinced that the pictures they take are the only pictures from the event that they'll ever see. This doesn't have to be the case! Ask the photographer for a photo with the bride and I promise they'll be more than willing to capture your best side. Most pros also post photos from the event on Facebook or have an online ordering site. Just let the photographer know that you are interested in seeing the photos and wa-la! You've said the magic words. :) Now you can have your cake and enjoy great photos of it too!
Love and Peace,