It’s summer and you know what that means: wedding season is here!  With the season just having started, now is a great time for a quick refresher on not only wedding guest etiquette but a chance to provide some great tips to those who are attending the wedding in terms of ways you can actually make the day better for the happy couple.  Yep, you heard me… as a guest of a wedding, whether you’re in the wedding party or not, there are things you can do to help ensure that the bride and groom get not only good photos but amazing photos.

Avoid the “Deer in the Headlights” Look

Whether you’re a mother of the bride watching her daughter say her vows or a guest sitting at their table while giggling at a truly hilarious speech, if you see the photographer out of the corner or your eye, don’t turn around and stare into their lens and smile.  Photographers like to capture candid moments for their couples and quite often brides and grooms request that a significantly large amount of candid photos be taken (it’s usually the preferred style for more couples).  If you stop what you’re doing and stare into a lens and smile the candid moment the photographer was trying to capture disappears.  Stay immersed in the moment and try not to be distracted by the (hopefully very discreet) photographer at the periphery.

Be Happy – Show your Excitement!

This applies for everyone: parents of the couple, wedding party and guests.  You’d be surprised how often a photographer has to search high and low for someone who is actually smiling and enjoying themselves during a ceremony.  Yes, you’re hungry and anxious for the hors d’oeuvres and the cocktail hour and may already be regretting your choice of shoes as your feet begin to throb, but don’t forget why you’re there: to witness the lifelong commitment two people are making to one another.  (This would be a great time to also mention… stay off your phones!  The amount of guests I see Facebooking, Instagramming or simply texting during the day is getting higher and higher with every wedding I attend.  Please, guests, for just a few hours put down your devices and enjoy the day – it makes for much better photos for the couple.)

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Don’t run; we just want to make memories!

It’s understandable that not everyone loves having their photo taken; truthfully, I don’t like having my own photo taken and my job is to photograph others.  That being said; however, when you’re attending a wedding you’re there because the couple chose for you to be there which means you must be pretty darn important to them.  Couples like to have candid shots of the guests who attended their wedding; candid shots are some of the most meaningful images for the couple.  Even if you’re camera shy, allow the opportunity for the photographer to snap at least a few images of you for the bride and groom.  Putting your hand up to the camera, turning around or making rude gestures aren’t going to be the memories the couple was looking for.

Let’s Dance – I’ll bring my Camera!

If the photographer is staying to cover the reception it means that the couple has requested party pictures, too.  If you’re lucky enough to have a photographer who still has the energy to get up and bust a move on the dancefloor with gear in hand, allow them into the dance circle so they can capture some action shots.

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Don’t be “That Guy” (or Girl)

It’s inevitable, there is always “that guy” (or girl) at every wedding.  The one who steps into the aisle, infront of the photographer, with a ginormous iPad to take a picture.  The one who standards on the dancefloor during the first dance; opposite the photographer, so they are in the background of every shot.  The one who sees the couple during an intimate and semi-secluded portrait session and thinks it’s okay to walk over and strike up a conversation and snap a few photos.  Please remember that the bride and groom have chosen to hire a professional photographer and we have job to do that day.  There’s nothing wrong with guests taking photos during the day; but always remember that there’s a time and place for everything.  If a moment is important enough for you to capture it on your cellphone, it’s probably important enough for the photographer to capture it too – so please be aware of your actions and your location during these important times.  (Most photographers will start showing photos from the wedding within days of the event so don’t worry; there will be plenty of images for you to see!)

This article was written by Toronto wedding photographer Erika Hammer of Ten·2·Ten Photography.  To read more articles about advice for brides and grooms and to learn more about how you an improve your wedding day photos, please see our ‘For Brides‘ section.  Have a question?  Find us on Facebook and we can chat!