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Wedding Tips, Clues, Hints, etc. for the guests, DJ, Videographer, Reception Facility – Wedding Vendor Etiquette

I wasn’t sure about writing this, but a friend of mine brought up a really good point to me about the items that I am about to discuss. I have shared different stories and situations that have happened over the last few years with him during the wedding day and he simply put it this way for me…

“You need to tell them. They are doing what they do because nobody has told them differently.”

So my intent on writing this is not to discourage, poke fun, or to be a critic.  I am just giving these as the view that I have as the photographer for your wedding day.  In my position I pretty much see everthing that goes on behind the scenes from the start to the finish.  So my hope is that this information can help some of the other wedding vendors see things from my perspective.  I would welcome this information from other wedding vendors as far as what I do to help make their job easier as well.  I had a comment from a friend who owns a facility and she wanted to know why photographers always want to stand on her chairs.  This is probably something that the photographers who have done this don’t even think about the liability and the danger involved.  So I know there are lots of things like this that are on both sides of the coin.  So feel free to add your comments in the section below to help everybody do the best job possible for their bride and grooms.  So now on with the list…

DJ’s

  • Please do not suggest that anyone who brought a camera to go over by the cake when the bride and groom are getting ready to cut it so “that you can get a picture.”  This is already enough of a problem without your “help” in this situation.  I don’t mind when people take pictures at weddings, but honestly what has anyone ever done with a picture of a bride and groom cutting the cake and feeding it to each other?  I often wonder when I see people taking tons of pictures at weddings what they are going to ever do with those…Remember that I am “working” for the bride and groom, so the more difficult it is to get the best pictures for them because of your flash or because you happen to stand right next to them during the entire day makes this sometimes near impossible. *This also applies to people stepping into the aisle at the church as the bride is walking in to the ceremony.  Let me know if you need to see some examples.

Videographers

  • Please do not set your tripod up in the center aisle of the church unless you are in the back.  I am pretty sure that the bride would like to have at least a few wide angle shots of their ceremony without your camera and body in the shot.
  • Flood lights…the idea of there being a spotlight on the couple the entire time that they are dancing makes their pictures look like a deer in headlights.  There is also the idea of accent lights and mood lighting.  I had a videographer who had two lights on almost the entire reception.  I felt bad for the bride and groom because they really felt stuck in the middle of a rock and a hard place.  No lights…crappy video.  Big, huge flood lights…good video…kind of ruins the atmosphere in a way.  This might be something that you would want to discuss with the bride and groom before you have two flood lights that you purchased at Home Depot to shine on them the entire reception.  It is also a very hard to take pictures when you stand within three feet of the bride and groom at all times during the reception.
  • Filming within 2-3 feet of the bride and groom.  I am always blown away by this.  I am pretty sure that they make zoom lenses for video cameras.  That is why I can shoot from the back of the church and not be in front of the guests or your video during the ceremony.  This is where being a team (photographer and videographer together on the same page) will create the best product for the bride and groom.  In my mind neither one is more important.  I have seen this in a lot of ways and I am sure that there are photographers who think that they are the most important thing on the day.  But please realize that without all the other vendors your photography is going to look like crap.  Think about it…

Reception Facilities/Banquet Halls

  • Is it possible to make sure that their is a plate next to the cake, so that when they are getting ready to cut the cake they can put it on the plate.  This one has been a puzzle to me.  I don’t mind helping the bride and groom out at all on what to do, but without the plate up there it kind of ruins the moment to have to stop and go get a plate for them. 🙂  This also cost me a busted Pocketwizard one time.  Long story.

Guests with cameras

  • If you want to take pictures that is fine, but do it from your seat.  Or better yet take pictures of the other 1,000 things going on during the wedding day.  I think I could bring 4 shooters with me on a wedding day and each of us could shoot something different at any given moment of the day.  This goes back to the DJ who tells everybody to grab your cameras and go take pictures while they are cutting the cake.  99% of the time most people don’t realize that they are even a problem for photographers, but the reality is that the bride and groom have hired the professional photographer to get the best shots from their day.  This means that if you are in the way of the photographer or if you are walking around in the background that this creates a distraction in the shot.  I have had times where guests have even been walking around during the ceremony taking shots.  There were shots that I could not take because this person was standing a couple of feet from the bride and her father before they were walking down the aisle.  It is also a problem when taking formal shots if you are trying to shoot “over the shoulder” of the professional photographer.  This leads to eyes going to your camera instead of the professional photographer’s shot.  This is why I usually shoot 3-4 shots without this happening.  I shoot about 5-7 shots when somebody won’t leave the area with their camera.  I always wonder about the respect issue at hand with this.  I had a groom one time who actually told his family members to put up their cameras while we were shooting the formals because they were within a couple of feet of where I was working.  I almost stepped back on one person, and then I had to tell the people in the picture to make sure that they were looking at me instead of the other cameras.  I appreciated that so much that he understood that we only had a certain amount of time to get the shots that we wanted, so as a result this was causing this to take a lot longer because of the guests trying to sneak a few shots in during this time.  There is also the issue of shooting with natural light.  The flash from a guest’s camera can blast a moment into pure white in certain circumstances.  It is sometimes a running joke with photographers that we have folders that we throw all of our “Uncle Bob” shots into to just try to humor ourselves with this.  I think my folder is up to about 300 shots that have been ruined over the last few years from guests with cameras.

Wedding vendors in general…

  • Drinking alcohol…I think this is very unprofessional and should never happen during the reception from the vendors.  We are there to work.  If you are friends with the couple (and I don’t mean just because you are working their wedding, by this I mean someone that you used to hang out with) and want to have a beer with them after you have put your cameras up or are finished with your duties that is a whole different ballgame, but even this is a tough call sometimes.  Remember…”professional” is the key word.  Wedding vendors with beers/drinks in their hands throws this right out the window.  I will never refer someone that I have seen in this situation.

I hope that this has shed some light on some things that I have been thinking about here and there.  I am not saying I am perfect by any means, so my goal is that if I can share this information and give someone some insight into what others see that this could help.  Please feel free to share any kind of feedback with this.  I welcome your thoughts either from a photographer or another wedding area.

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  • stacy ableAugust 31, 2010 - 11:45 am

    so many good points… that camera situation happened to me several times at my last few weddings.. got to love those tiny point and shoot cameras!!ReplyCancel