Already this year, I have been to TWO weddings as a guest, which is like three times as many as I went to all of last summer! I love going to weddings as a guest – the food, the bar, the dancing, the laughter, the photo booth. I am the consummate wedding guest, I tell you. I cry at all the right times, I smile through the whole ceremony, I partake in every tradition, and I always dance.
But like most photographers, I prefer to be the one behind the camera, not the one in front of it. And I know that I am not alone in that – most PEOPLE would prefer to be behind the camera. (I can’t tell you how many times I have heard people tell me how they never look good in pictures, but I have a whole theory on that.) So since I am a wedding professional AND a professional wedding guest, I wanted to share with you some tips that I put into practice when I am a wedding guest so that I know I will be psyched when the pictures get blasted all over Facebook.
1. Smile always, especially during the ceremony, the first dance and the toasts (the most likely times that wedding photographers are cruising for “reaction” shots). I tell you nothing ruins a lovely photo of a blissful moment like a wedding guest in the background who is grimacing, staring off into the distance, or picking lint off of his suit. Sure, the attention is on the couple, but guests are on display, too, and photographers are everywhere 🙂
2. Dress appropriately. Jeans, mini-skirts, and t-shirts just don’t quite cut it, you know? Also gentlemen, button the top buttons on your shirt collar and on your jacket, especially when you’re standing and definitely when you’re being photographed.
3. Try to “act natural” when you’re dancing. We want just a handful of good dancing photos so that the couple can look back and know that their friends really had fun on the dance floor. I know it’s nerve wracking to have the photographer on the dance floor trolling for good shots. But when we do that we want candid, natural, happy looking photos. Don’t get tense and don’t let the photographer intimidate you from dancing. We won’t sell the photos to the tabloids, we promise.
4. Trust that if you look really, really awful in a photo (one eye is closed, or your nipple is popping out from your dress, or you’re in the middle of a sneeze) we will delete it. Again, we aren’t the paparazzi, looking for the least flattering photo that we can sell to the Weekly World News. Our clients want lovely photos of their guests having fun and we’re going to provide them with only the really good shots.
5. But no, I’m not going to Photoshop that. Make sure your clothes fit and your face is clean. See #4 for clarification.
6. When eating, take small bites, be sure to wipe your chin, and check your teeth. Just to reiterate, you’re responsible for your own appearance. No, we won’t Photoshop that.
7. If you want a photo of you and your sweetie, don’t be afraid to ask the photographer to take a photo of you two together. Likewise if you’d like a photo with the couple. We’re there to serve and document everything we can. I am always happy to take requests and encourage guests and the couples’ family members to approach me anytime they want something specific photographed.
9. Likewise if you really really don’t want to have your picture taken at a wedding, don’t be afraid to let the photographer know that, too. Just politely say that you prefer not to be photographed. Easy as pie.
9. Don’t harass the photographer about what kind of camera she uses, what lens she has on there, and what f-stop she’s currently using. It annoys us to give mini-photo lessons in the middle of photographing a wedding. Just let us do our jobs and you focus on taking advantage of the open bar.
10. Never, ever let either the bride or the groom dance alone. Never. When one or both of the couple are out there the dance floor should be packed around them! Only YOU can prevent a sorry looking dance floor. Put your self-consciousness aside and dance. It will help make the photos much more memorable.