Wedding Picture Catastrophe: How an iPhone Can Ruin the Moment

When I was a little girl and my mother had something important to discuss about my behavior, she would call it having a “Come to Jesus” meeting. I knew that if Jesus was involved…she meant business.

So as I’m neither a photographer nor a bride, I feel like I can have a come to Jesus meeting with favored wedding guests.

I hope you are ready because I’m going to get right to the point.

Here we go.

Stop taking pictures at weddings.

I mean it. Just. Don’t. Do. It.

Not with your phone, not with your iPad, not with your professional-ish camera.


I know you mean well. I know you take pictures on the side. I know that it’s a generous gift in your mind to offer the bride pictures from a totally different perspective.

I get it. You are doing it out of kindness and excitement, but unless the bride has specifically requested it…don’t.

Are you okay? Are we cool?

I don’t mean to be mean, but there’s a thing…and the thing is this: You could ruin a key photograph for the bride and groom.

“Now that everyone is equipped with some sort of smartphone or high end camera they feel it is acceptable or even helpful to snap shots through out the day,” explains Brandy of Brandy Angel photography. “I say it is the opposite of helpful.”

Your kindness can backfire in a big way and I know you don’t want that to happen.

Jumping out in the aisle to snap the first kiss, while in your mind is thoughtful, could block the photographer. So she will forever have a shot of her first kiss in the background with your back and iPhone screen front and center.

The bride wants to capture her entire day so she can look back and always remember how she felt, what she was thinking and how she looked.

She doesn’t want to remember what your back looked like.

She doesn’t care to reminisce about what version of iPhone everyone had.

She definitely doesn’t want her pictures so bright from your flash that her skin blends in with her dress.

All of these things can and have happened when well-meaning people snap pictures during the ceremony.

She has hired a photographer. She has spent a lot of money to capture the most precious moments from the day. She’s got it covered. So as Ludacris would say, “Move. Get out the way.”

Seriously, just enjoy the wedding.

You know it’s just not a good wedding article without a Ludacris quote.

Apparently, these so called, Paparazzi guests have become a huge problem for photographers who are already fighting so many other elements of the day such as weather, lighting, time, family and simply trying to be multiple places at once.

Chris from Chris + Melinda Photography weighs in, “Paparazzi guests can be a big distraction for the bride and groom and other guests with their camera noises and flash. There are many horror stories of guests blocking the professional photographer during a critical moment or blowing out photos with flash. It is the professional photographer’s job to avoid this the best they can, but sometimes it is just unavoidable.”

Let me put this in other terms.

Would it occur to you to bring an instrument and play your own music over the pianist as the bride is walking down the aisle?

Would you pick flowers from your garden before leaving for the wedding to adorn the bridal party?

Would you bring a crockpot full of your mom’s famous nacho dip and a few bags of chips to set up next to the caterer’s spread?

You would not.

Then why are you taking pictures? Why are you standing next to the photographer during family shots and causing wandering eye syndrome?

That’s right, when you are ‘simultaneously’ snapping the family shots next to the photographer, the bridal party doesn’t know where to look.

So they are looking at you and the photographer is left to capture a moment that looks like a bunch of really well dressed people looking off into the distance at what? An impending alien attack? A tornado? It just looks weird. Plus it’s totally not a cute Pinterest picture anymore.

It’s not that anyone thinks anything malicious is happening. I know that pictures are windows into moments and you want to capture your friend or family member’s special day from every angle. I get it.

But, it creates a bigger problem.

The bride doesn’t want to be forced to frame your Instagram photo of her taking her vows because it was the only clear shot.

She doesn’t want to flip through her “wedding album” on your iPhone.

She definitely doesn’t want her wedding picture debut on Facebook to be while the ceremony is going on because you are tagging her in shots along the way.

Seriously. Don’t make me quote Ludacris again.

She and the photographer want the freedom to create, in pictures, the vision they’ve discussed and planned in detail prior to the wedding.

Not being able to do so because you are competing with guests is more than heartbreaking for the bride AND the photographer. You can’t get those moments back.

Some photographers have had to make changes to their own contract to protect themselves.

“It has become such an issue that I have even entered a clause in my contract,” says Angel. “I always try to discuss this with my brides before the wedding and decide upon a solution. I would never want to implement that clause, however I have heard many horror stories that made me decide to protect myself. “

The photographers can only do so much. Some weddings are held in venues that even restrict where the professional photographer can be to shoot the wedding.

So, while I know you mean well and the bride knows you mean well, please think twice before capturing your own moments as they may come at the expense of a key moment for the bride and groom.

If you are a bride, you may want to consider discussing an unplugged wedding with your photographer and have your guests turn off their equipment until the reception.

To find out more info about some of the photographers like Brandy Angel and Chris + Melinda Photography, please check out our “find a vendor section.”

  • Thank you so much for writing this article and including us. A little education can go a long way. As professionals, we try to educate our clients the best we can so that they can make an informed decision. Like Brandy Angel, we also include a “paparazzi guest” clause in our contract just to protect us from this situation. It’s that big of an issue.

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