Don't Miss the One Wedding Day Detail I Did!

By: Stefanie Rose Miles

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If there’s one thing I regret overlooking for my wedding day—it was the importance of planning for and capturing guest photos.  If you’ve never been married, planning for the big day is quite the undertaking despite the size and/or expense.  During my engagement, I was a nonprofit event planner.  Knowing how stressful regular events are to plan and execute, I budgeted for a planner myself.  Still, we both missed this detail!  Granted, it was a time in the pioneer days of wedding websites and a couple of years before hashtags and selfie sticks, still, I regret missing out on guests’ photos I could have had. Now I’m on a mission NOT to let another bride miss one wedding day memory!  I’ve got several years of mental notes on guest photography, and I’m excited to share the best and most creative ones with you. 

An official wedding photographer is still an absolute necessity, in my opinion.  Those must-have shots should not be left to chance to non-professionals.  And although these professionals can also get some great candids, they simply can’t get all those special moments so many of your guests can. 

Creating a wedding hashtag is now something most every couple does when they set their date.  The simpler and more unique, the better.  It’s worth spending a bit of time searching your contenders before deciding on one.  Still, many couples find it challenging and/or time-consuming to go through all the social media platforms and organize all their photos.  Obviously requesting your guests use two or three of your preferred sites is helpful.  But you may want to consider replacing the hashtag and use a wedding photo app.  If you prefer to see all guest photos of your wedding before they make it to social media, then an app option is definitely the way to go. 

And there is no shortage of these apps!  My research of the free ones has found that although many have some great features, they all have limitations that would be deal-killers for me.  The limitations include not being able to upload videos, little or no editing, and no more than one album for categorizing.  If capturing your guest photos is a high priority, you will want to investigate.  Personally, I’ve found two such apps with a cost, that I found outstanding and recommend checking out.

WedPics, besides offering easy photo organization, is an app that also includes other services, such as a customizable URL which can encompass your registry and all event information.  Accessing all the features can get costly, but it may be well worthwhile to you.  Veri is another super cool app.  You purchase it and enter your guest list. If guests haven’t downloaded the app, Veri sends a reminder when they arrive at your wedding.  Once downloaded, all their photos AND videos on-site will automatically transfer.  They can still manually upload if they wish, but this makes it totally unnecessary.  

Whether you use a hashtag or a photo app, you must inform your guests and provide reminders.  Incorporate eye-catching notes and/or signs at key places throughout the wedding day/evening events. A great start is having a first reminder upon entry, perhaps at the guest book, and you may also want program attendants to mention it to your guests upon arrival.  One couple’s wedding I attended recently invited guests (with a note at the guest book) to snap a selfie there and to please share.

Many brave couples include their pets as part of their wedding party.  If your pooch isn’t opposed to donning a GoPro, strap one on!  I mean if you’re going this far with him/her, you might as well make the most of it.  Surely the feline footage or canine cam will provide some great laughs from his/her unique perspective.

Once your guests are at the reception, passing around selfie sticks is a terrific way to get the party started and the photos flashing.  Photo booths are lots of fun, but an interesting and less expensive alternative is using your own iPad.  Mount it on an easel with brief instructions (and a reminder to take plenty of action shots and videos during the reception). You could even have props on hand if you wanted.  The selfie sticks and photo booth concept also serve as some entertainment during cocktail time when the bridal party and/or family may be taking formal pictures.  

One photographer bride friend of mine got super creative by having her DJ periodically promote picture taking by announcing enthusiastically, “Photo op!” or “Photobomb!”  She also had him tell everyone there would be a contest for variouscategories which guests would be invited to vote, for example, “Most Outrageous,” “Most Creative,” and “Perfect Timing.” 

A truly unique and whimsical idea is designating numerous niches or vignettes about the reception area as photo opportunity spots—from a corner of the bar (bartenders can add some fun as long as long as they have room to serve and pour) to a scenic space outside. At each locale, post a “Photo Op” sign. You could go a step further and prompt guests with suggested expressions or poses for the different areas.  

Remember that GoPro Fluffy wore during the ceremony?  Designate two of your favorite, uninhabited single guests, one female and one male. Have them take turns wearing the GoPro during the bouquet toss and garter toss. 

Some traditionalists like to include photo modes of the past for a twist.  You can still find those disposable cameras to have on guest tables at the reception.  Whether you include these or not, I've seen table cards in the center of each table with a few theme picture suggestions for guests to collectively stage and take.  This can also be a light-hearted icebreaker for guests seated together who aren’t familiar with each other.

Another tip of the hat to nostalgia involves a few old, Polaroids.  Have them loaded and ready to go, and position them in an area with a guest book at the reception or a message board on which friends and family write their well-wishes or words of wisdom.  Display a sign or note instructing guests to take pictures with the Polaroids and affix their instant photo next to their message on the board or on their signed page in the guest book. 

Understandably, every bride and groom are different and have their own styles and preferences.  And the same goes for their guests.  No matter what yours are, take time to incorporate some creative ideas for your guests and their photos.  Don't miss the opportunity for them to make and take those pictures which will be memories you'll treasure for a lifetime.

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