You’ve done all the hard work, you’ve planned your wedding, booked your suppliers, invited your guests and you’re feeling really good about yourself. Your big day is almost upon you and you’ve thought of everything, right up to the very last detail, or have you? Imagine walking down the aisle and instead of seeing the happy smiling faces of family and friends you are greeted instead by an army of mobile phones, tablets and cameras of all shapes and sizes being shoved into your face. It looks like everybody wants a piece of you and some will go to any lengths to get it. Instead of seeing the familiar faces of loved ones and special guests you’ve unwittingly invited your own paparazzi.
Of course we live in a modern digital world where we all use technology in our everyday lives. For many it is unthinkable to even leave the house without having some kind of mobile device on our person to phone, document or entertain but for your wedding day it really doesn’t have to be that way. It is your day after all and it is up to you to decide how you want your guests to behave. You need to establish a set of ground rules from the outset and ask them to observe a certain etiquette. Most guests will comply because they love you, they respect the occasion and they want to do whatever it takes to make your day a special one.
For us working as professional videographers we want to do the best job possible but more often than not we find ourselves competing with guests on the day who will not think twice about whipping out their mobile devices to completely obscure our view. There’s only one take, one chance of getting it right before that special moment is gone forever so we need every chance to get the shot. Only the other day at a wedding I was asked in no uncertain terms to move out of the way by a guest, having setup my camera for the speeches, just so she could takes a few pictures of the groom whilst sitting in her seat. Never mind that the bride and groom had paid for me to be there to get the best view in the house for the sake of their official wedding video. So long as that guest got her shots that was all that mattered.
I’m sure professional photographers have similar issues with guests getting in their way or making unreasonable demands but at least photographers have some authority in asking people to move out of the way, as they often mobilise guests to set up shots and organise the shoot as to how they want it, but for videographers we often film things as they happen to keep everything natural so tend not to marshall guests around or ask them to move.
It would not be unreasonable to ask your guests to turn off their mobile phones (or at least switch to silent), leave their tablets at home and put away their cameras so they can enjoy your wedding and be in the moment with you instead of experiencing it through a screen. Tell them you have hired professionals to capture your day and you want them to participate as guests instead of being amateur photographers or videographers. During some weddings we’ve literally filmed the bride through the screen of an iPhone being held up in front of us instead of filming the real thing which is just crazy.
By having no recording devices present on your wedding day, except for the professional ones you have hired, you are going ‘unplugged’. People are all too eager to share their status on Facebook and upload photos of your big day which can be upsetting for the bride, especially if it has been plastered all over social media without their consent or it spoils a surprise for the evening guests. There has even been instances of bridesmaids taking photos of the bride before the ceremony and posting it onto Facebook only for the groom to see his bride-to-be in her dress before she walks down the aisle.
You don’t need to be heavy handed about it either, just make it clear from the outset at the invite stage that this is an unplugged wedding and then put up a few playful signs at the Church and venue as a gentle reminder. Your photographer and videographer will be grateful that you did and so will you when you see the results.