Should Cell Phones Be Banned at Wedding Ceremonies? Local Photographers Weigh In



The internet has been abuzz the past few days with the story of an Australian photographer who turned to Facebook to rant about why phones/cameras/iPads should be banned from wedding ceremonies. The topic isn’t necessary new, since tons of couples these days are asking their guests to put their phones away, but he makes a very valid argument: Not only can camera-happy guests interfere with the photographer’s work (for which you’re paying a lot of money) but, as evidenced by the cringe-worthy photo that spawned the rant, they can get literally in the way of the bride and groom seeing each other as she walks down the aisle.

Since this guy’s story has really captured people’s attention, we were interested to see if our local photographer friends could relate. Here’s what they had to say:

Melissa Kelly, Melissa Kelly Photography, Lansdale: “Of course in a perfect world my couples’ beloved guests would be fully engaged in the ceremony rather than experiencing the wedding through a cell phone or camera lens—but it’s not up to me to dictate how people choose to experience an event. I do hope that guests who choose to photograph the ceremony, first dance and other important events are aware enough to respect the professionals—and, most of all, the bride and groom—by shooting from an unobtrusive distance or angle. I think it is especially effective to have the officiant make an announcement before the ceremony to not only silence cell phones, but to also respect the hired professionals as well as the couple and the ceremony itself.”

Tony Hoffer, Hoffer Photography, Downingtown: “Guests with cameras and phones (and especially iPads … ugh) can get in the way sometimes, but that’s true for lots of things. Sometimes the wait staff is clueless. Sometimes the DJ uses weird laser lights. Part of our job is being able to work around (and with) those things. With that said, though, the real people that are hurt by it is the bride and groom. Imagine having all of your favorite people in one place, yet every time you look up you see the backs of their phones. That’s the part that stinks. Most of our brides walk down the aisle and barely see another face as they do … and for what? Most of the people taking photos will post it to Instagram, get a few likes, then never use the photo again. So while they may get in our way occasionally, we can deal with it. The bride and groom don’t get that option.”

Emily Wren, Emily Wren Photography, Kensington: “I totally agree and I’m glad that this type of mentality is starting to gain ground. I would say that very often there are cameras and iPads in the way of otherwise fabulous photos—during the ceremony and all other parts of the day. I have worked weddings where the couple asked the officiant to make a special announcement to this effect, and that seemed to work pretty well (at least during the ceremony).

Sarah DiCicco, Sarah DiCicco Photography, Wayne: “This interferes [with my work] on many different levels. First, when so much time and money has gone into creating an incredible wedding and guest experience, to sit at your table and scroll through your phone instead of enjoying the event the couple created is rude. Second, because everyone is taking selfies all night, when I come over and ask to get a group shot for the bride and groom, I’ve actually gotten the response, “No thanks, we’ve been taking them on our phones.” Now the bride and groom will not have a portrait of those guests as a part of there permanent collection. I encourage guests to take photos and will never ask anyone to put their phone away. But with that being said, there are polite ways to control their interference: When I’m taking portraits, I tell everyone trying to take an iPhone snap to let me get mine first, and then I give the guests a moment to take a shot. This allows me to stay in control and keep my couple focused on me.”

Matt Werth, Werth Photography, Drexel Hill: “Most of the time guests using their camera phones at weddings are completely out of the way or at worst, only a minor inconvenience to us. Wedding photographers have to be really good at adapting to different situations quickly and Laurie and I always work as a team to capture moments from two differing angles. That being said, every once in a while you have a guest that gets lost in the moment and can make it really challenging to capture important images. I find that the most effective way to communicate with wedding guests is to place a sign at the ceremony site asking politely that they put away their camera phones. That way guests are made aware of the photographers and they can simply enjoy the wedding!”

Cathie Berrey-Green, BG Productions, North Philly: “We see camera-happy guests in the way all the time. They often ruin shots of the bride walking down the aisle, the first dance (some people will walk right up to the couple and ask them to smile) and the cake cutting. Many of our clients have unplugged weddings—they simply ask their guests to please be present for the wedding and to put their phones down. One couple even had a cute sign that said, ‘We hired a guy and a girl to take photos so you don’t have to.’ And at another wedding, the couple had three little boys that came down the aisle with signs noting the no phones or cameras policy.”

Gabriel Fredericks, Philip Gabriel Photography, Media:  “A wedding celebration is one of the greatest days in a couple’s life, and most of us don’t get many opportunities when we’re able to gather all of our closest family and friends all in one room. That being said, I personally feel that anyone who would like to document these moments should be able to. As a professional, I feel it is my duty to not only capture the entire event, but to also help guide those guests who want to photograph the event as well. On the rare occasion that I come across a guest that is equally excited about capturing the day, I have always found a polite way to interact with the guest and explain to them my plans and where I will be to capture the moments that are about to unfold.”

So it seems like we’re, for the most part, all on the same page here, yeah? Just some food for thought to consider when chatting with your photographer about how to handle iPhone-wielding guests at your wedding.

RELATED: Ask the Expert: How Do We Ask Our Guests to Put Their Phones Away During the Ceremony?

RELATED: Will You Ban—Or Encourage—Social Media at Your Wedding?

RELATED: 6 Tips for Having a Social Media-Free Wedding Without Annoying Your Guests

RELATED: Ask the Expert: How Should We Let Our Guests Know We Don’t Want Our Wedding Pictures Posted on Social Media?

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