Is it rude to ask guests not to take photos during the ceremony?


This photo, by Thomas Stewart Photography, shows a groom struggling to see his bride walking up the aisle – and it perfectly sums up our bride’s concerns about guests taking photos with their mobile phones during her wedding ceremony.

I’ve hired a professional photographer to shoot my wedding ceremony photos as I want the best possible shots, but I’m a little concerned that guests taking photos, particularly on mobiles phones, will interfere with my photographer’s photos – and, possibly, ruin the actual ceremony. Would it be rude to ask my guests not to take photos during the ceremony? 

You’re definitely not alone in your concerns. In fact, it’s a question brides have been asking since portable cameras became affordable, but with mobile phones so commonplace (and with just about everyone having one within easy reach in a pocket or handbag), the problem has become even more widespread.

And, as you’ll see from the startling image above, if not given boundaries overly keen amateur photographers can, often unwittingly, actually ruin a ceremony for a couple – and get in the way of the photographer whose job it is to capture those special moments.

The poor groom in the photograph, shot by New South Wales snapper Thomas Stewart, actually has to crane his neck to see around his snap-happy guests in order to spy his bride coming down the aisle and, well, that’s just not on.

In fact, it’s incredibly rude of guests to spoil what should be one of happiest moments of a couple’s life and, of course, one of the true highlights of their wedding day.

So, the short answer is no, it’s not rude to ask guests to refrain from taking photos during your wedding ceremony, however, there are nice ways to do it and not-so-nice ways to do it.

Remember, most every person at your wedding will be someone whom you or your partner know well and love – and they’ll be terribly excited to see you walking down the aisle and, most likely, will also want the odd digital memento of the event. However, they should only gather those mementos in a manner that is respectful to the couple – and the professionals they have paid to record and conduct their all-important nuptials.

More often than not, in their sheer excitement of a wedding, they don’t even realise what they’re doing and, certainly, don’t intend to get in the way or spoil things. So, if you explain to them your logic; that you just want to enjoy your big moment – and capture it perfectly, your guests will understand.

You can also explain that you’ve invited them, as members of your nearest and dearest, to bear witness – and truly experience – your special event, too, – and that you want them to do that through more than just the lens of their camera or mobile phone.

You also don’t want your other guests’ experience spoiled. After all, there’s nothing worse than sitting in an aisle and not being able to see what’s going on because your view is obscured by mobile phones being waved around throughout the ceremony.

Thankfully, there are several diplomatic ways to ask guests not to take photos:

1) Give guest forewarning. Ensure that you let guests know you don’t want them taking photos ahead of time by including a brief note with your invitations, something along the lines of:

“It is our sincerest wish that photos not be taken during our wedding ceremony. We truly appreciate guests adhering to this request.”

This will inform guests, unequivocally, that photos are not allowed – and give those guests who may be disappointed by the request time to mentally prepare!


Image: Pinterest

2) Arrange for a sign like the one above to be displayed at the entrance to your ceremony location and around any areas guests may be seated. It’s firm but polite but also shows guests that you want them to truly enjoy your big day, too!

3) Before the ceremony begins, have the priest or celebrant ask guests to turn off their mobile phones (or put them on silent) and, during that same announcement, have them explain that the bridal couple would prefer if guests remained seated and didn’t take photos during the ceremony. This will ensure proceedings are not disrupted and that their fellow guests won’t have their views obscured by mobile phones-mad photographers trying to capture every last second of the ceremony.

Keep in mind, too, that photographers are not the only wedding professionals that may be affected by rogue mobile phone snappers during a ceremony. Videographers will also want clear shots of the goings-on.

Celebrants, too, can find mobile phones a huge distraction, one that may cause them to lose their trains of thought or, worse still, detract from the solemnity of the occasion. This is especially true in the case of religious ceremonies, since weddings are among the holiest of a church’s various sacraments.

That said, not all couples are dead against mobile phones infiltrating their wedding ceremonies and, in the case of a recent wedding (below), it was the bride who was the culprit. She couldn’t wait for the end of the ceremony to respond to a text she received while saying her vows – and actually responded mid-ceremony.

Then there are couples that truly embrace a mobile-phone centric ceremony and encourage guests to take as many photos  as they wish – and even upload them as soon as they can. In such cases, a bride’s picture will be online before she even reaches the top of the aisle!

As you can see, the rules around your wedding ceremony are very much in your own hands. If you don’t want your guests ruining your photographer’s pictures or distracting your celebrant, simply ask them not to take photos.

It’s your big day and your views on acceptable mobile phone usage during your wedding ceremony should absolutely be respected.

What do you think? Is it OK to ask guests not to take photos during your wedding ceremony?

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