How to get your wedding guests engaged in taking pictures



What do I mean by “engaged in taking pictures”? It’s when your wedding guests want group photos, they are ok with posing for the camera, or even just letting the photographer take candids of them. But ‘engaged’ could also mean guests who love to take pictures. 

I know! These days with smartphones in our hands people are used to being photographed. But I feel like it’s still worth talking about, since your wedding day has a time limit, and you want to have no regrets!

There are 3 types of guests, when it comes to photographing them.

1, Those who don’t care.

These guests know that taking pictures is part of the wedding. It’s not a big deal. They have a new outfit, freshly done hair and makeup; and they feel happy. Maybe so so excited that they want to jump into every photo. I love real and candid moments, but it’s really hard to capture them when somebody forces a fake smile or gets overly excited.

2, Those who don’t want any photos of them to be taken.

They are usually older people who think they don’t look good, or as young and slim. Or worse!- That they are not as important. Especially relatives, -parents and grandparents- who think they are not worth to be in the photo.

When they see a camera, they turn their head away, cover it, or even ask not to be photographed. Kids who hate the camera would run away or start crying. 

So, what should we do?! First of all, you can have a conversation and tell them that these pictures are made for the couple. Not for the guests! For the couple’s future generations to see pictures of everybody who was at the wedding. And what about those who couldn’t be there because they live far away? They would like to see some photos from your big day too.

Oh, and my thoughts about looking old on the photos: We are ALL getting older year by year! That’s just the reality. And we should get over this shame, and be proud of our beauty. The truth is, when you look at yourself in those photos later, you will see your younger self. Right?! 

3, Those who want to take the photos instead of being in them.

One solution is that you have an unplugged wedding. And that’s when phones are not allowed, so guests don’t get distracted. But if you are planning the opposite, to actually encourage people to take photos, (maybe because you are not hiring a professional wedding photographer), make sure they are photographed too. I’m speaking from my own experience here! Barely have any candid photos of me. 

Second, ask everybody who is taking pictures to share them. There are some really cool apps (like Wedbox or Eversnap) that will help you collect everything.

Oh, and make sure you tell the ‘photographer guests’ if posting pictures on social media during the wedding day is allowed or not. 

How to get your wedding guests engaged in taking pictures?

1, Communicate before the wedding.

Get them excited! Share the program and the theme of your wedding. Make a cool website and share photos of the people you love, and cultural traditions you’ll be having. 

Set up expectations! Are you going to have group photos? Where and when? How long is this going to take? Usually guests don’t like this part of the day, because it’s forced and takes time away from having fun. So if you organized it ahead of time, and set up expectations, it will go faster.

2, Think about the language barrier.

Will you have friends or family members who won’t understand the photographers instruction? Can you hire a bilingual photographer or a translator?

3, Make it fun.

During the reception you can life stream or project the photos taken by your guest. (TacBoard has a really good lifestream service.) Or just simply rent a photo booth, because who doesn’t like to dress up and take silly pictures. Could be a big hit!

4, Make them want to have the photos later.

Guests who have a goal and purpose with the photos will let you take pictures. To show off your amazing wedding on social media, to take pictures with people they haven’t seen for a long time,…etc. Parents would also want to have an album or prints from the wedding. And if you are looking for a good printer lab, I highly recommend Artifact Uprising! They have beautiful lay-flat albums that are so easy to customize and have such a great quality. This is perfect if you are planning to make your own album, or if you have guests (usually parents) who would want a copy of your wedding album). I love their lightweight books too, which is especially practical for shipping. (If you have family living overseas, like me.) Or how about a photo calendar for your grandparents?? They will definitely want to be part of those photos! 

5, Give your photographer a heads up about the guest who will be challenging to photograph.

This way they can prepare beforehand, and observe what works and what not. Do they need to be sneaky, or put the camera down for a little bit and try to chat with the guests, to warm them up. This is especially great with kids who are really shy and scared.

  • Your photographer can also use lenses that allows him or her to shoot from distance. This way your guests are not aware of the camera, plus the moment doesn’t get interrupted. 
  • Hire a photographer who is really fast. Who doesn’t take hours for group pictures, who doesn’t put people in awkward poses or make them wait forever. Who snaps candid pictures so fast, that your guests don’t even notice it. They just blend in and document the moment without interrupting it.

Need help choosing your wedding photographer? Check out this article!

6, Give them something to do.

I spy games are the best if you want people to participate in taking pictures: Make a list of things that guests need to find and photograph. It’s playful and you control what will be documented. Note: Don’t forget to collect all the pictures afterward!

Those who feel awkward posing for the camera, – ask them to do something. “Fix your hair, help me put the dress on, hold this glass, bring me something, dance with me.” This is especially effective with kids who don’t want to participate. Just by playing with them we can create so many great moments. And when we give the photographer opportunities to snap those pictures, they end up documenting the memories instead of creating fake ones.

Ok, these were all of my tricks you can do to ease your guests into taking photos. 

To wrap it up: Make sure you communicate everything previously. Talk to your guests and write some notes on your wedding website if you have to. But be considered about multicultural differences and traditions! If you have a shy guest, who is not used to being in front of the camera, you want to respect that.

But ultimately they have to understand that these photos are taken for you and your partner! For the memories that the two of you would like to have, and your wedding guests should really honor that! And by the way, who won’t want to make the newlywed couple happy?!

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Although I was born in Serbia, graduated in Italy and have been living overseas for 14+ years, I'm very proud of my Hungarian heritage.
I love documenting my life adventures, trying out healthy recipes and herbal remedies, or going on family trips in our new home, Canada.

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