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Tech Free Wedding: Why you may want your guests store their devices

Guests with Devices: How your wedding guests just may affect your wedding photos.

When guests come to a wedding, everyone wants to grab a photo of the bride and groom.  If it were that simple, most of our photographer colleagues probably would not have a problem with it at all.  We have a term for that family member who takes intrusive photos during these events…. that family member is infamously known in the photography world as “Uncle Bob”.

Many couples are not aware that when Uncle Bob stands up and takes a photo of the Bride walking down the aisle, it really does affect our work.

Now there are two rules of thought:

  1. Uncle Bob is interfering with otherwise beautiful moments.  He is changing the final outcome of the images.  If Uncle Bob puts his device away, Uncle Bob can enjoy the wedding as a guest, The pro can do their job, and the couple receives uninterrupted wedding images.

  2. It is the photographers job is to document the day.  So, if Uncle Bob jumps into the aisle to take his own photograph and blocks the photographers view of the Bride… then, so be it.  The Photographer should document what actually happens even if that means the original planned photo from the professional photographer is compromised.

We think that most couples, if given the choice, would rather have clear, uninterrupted wedding photos of their wedding day as planned by their wedding photographer instead of Uncle Bob’s Camera, Smart Phone, IPad or Uncle Bob’s Backside.  Here are just some examples of just how “Uncle Bob” may interfere with your wedding photos:

The Flash: When a Guest clicks the shutter button , their flash goes off and may interfere with our lighting.


Example:  We have an indoor ceremony or a photo taken at the Reception.  We have the settings ready and the perfect shot lines up…. Suddenly, Uncle Bob is off to the side and takes a photo.  His Flash goes off and now our perfect lighting is compromised and the shot we took is ruined.

Unfortunately, Uncle Bob does not realize that even if he is not in the wedding photographers view,  the wedding photographer has just specifically calculated the light by metering the ambient light using equipment and experience to get the settings right.


So when Uncle Bob’s flash goes off, it will effect the images that the wedding photographer was hired to take….. Remember, These are images of  Your Wedding.   When this happens, sometimes the moment is completely ruined and the photographer simply rejects the image…. however there are a few occasions where the photographers image may be salvageable.   If the wedding photographers (now

overexposed) image is somewhat salvageable, it will most likely still take an enormous amount of time to correct this imbalance of light in post production.  This extra time will leave you, the Bride & Groom, waiting extra time for your wedding photos.  In addition, each one of those overexposed yet, salvageable photographs still may not match the overall look of the existing calculated photos because there is now an additional light source.  Uncle Bob really does not mean any harm.  Like everyone, he simply wants a beautiful photo of the bride.  Unfortunately, if devices are allowed at the wedding, this is one of those situations that will absolutely negatively affect  your wedding photographs.

Transformer Face: “PHOTO-BOT…. Family is disguise”.  When guests in the photo have devices held to their faces and you can not identify who is present at the wedding because you can not see their face.


Example:  Lets say this is an outdoor wedding ceremony.  It is  beautiful sunny afternoon where there is plenty of sunlight.  Uncle Bob’s flash is not on or… at least, the flash will not be triggered.  There should be no harm in Uncle Bob taking photos from his seat during the ceremony, right?


Well, ….. unless you, as the bride and groom , are OKAY with photographs of your beautiful ceremony of your guests that  look like some kind of morphed human with a camera or phone where their face should be…. then … yes, sure, bring on the digital devices!

Wedding Guests Take Pictures

This is more troublesome than you would think.  I can not tell you how many amazing photographs are ruined because the guests have devices held to their faces instead of being present and in the moment at the wedding.

When years have passed and you have your grandchild sitting on your lap looking over your wonderful wedding photos…. would you like to be able to identify the family and friends that attended…. Or Which IPhone was in the fourth seat of the second row?

These are your MEMORIES.  These are the photographs that you will be looking back at for the rest of your life.  All of your loved ones are here to witness this huge life altering, wonderful event.  If you have hired a wedding photographer, there is simply no need for your guests to also take photos.  Your guests do not need to Work at your wedding.  They should stop viewing this moment from a LCD Screen and see it for themselves.  They should be present and actually take part of our day, and leave the devices off.


Invading The Aisle: When Guests are seated, but still manage to infiltrate the aisle.

Example:  Uncle Bob has an aisle seat at your ceremony.  He decides to reach his camera out into the aisle for an amazing shot of the Bride walking Down the Aisle.

When a guest invades the aisle with their camera, they are kinda saying that their photos of your wedding are more important than your photos that you hired a professional photographer to take.  Uncle Bob doesn’t mean to be in the way, But we as wedding photographers have ONE shot at each moment to get it right so you can have wonderful images of your wedding.


Paparazzi Photo Bombers: When Guests stand in the way of a Perfect Moment in order to get THEIR shot, but ruin YOUR shot in the process 


Image Credit: Kelli Brewer Photography

Example: Unfortunately, This happens during all aspects of the wedding.  This happens during The Ceremony where the Photographer is covering the back-shot of the Bride  walking down the aisle with the Grooms face in the photo seeing her for the first time and Uncle Bob steps into the aisle to take his photo.

This also happens during the Reception, especially during traditional moments like the cake cutting, Garter toss and First dance when Uncle Bob stands on the dance floor to get a better angle.  We wind up having this great image of the bride and groom…. and Uncle Bob.


Megan Stroer and Ryan Slodyczka Wedding


Sideline Photographers:  When guests stand next to the Wedding Photographer to get the same shot.

This happens mainly during portrait time and during group photos at the reception.

Example:  We have a Wedding Party group photo set up.  The Photographer takes the time to calculate lighting, poses the group and gets in position.  Uncle Bob stands right next to the photographer and starts snapping away.  Now we have half of the group looking at Uncle Bob’s camera, half looking at the Photographers camera.  Uncle Bobs Flash may be off setting the photographers images so we may also  have an uneven lighting situation.

Guests…. Or? If you really think about it….. Did you invite your guests share in this special moment of your life and take  to part of your day to witness your marriage OR only so they can capture mediocre cellphone photos?  Most wedding photographers feel that if the couple has taken the time out to scout the perfect photographer, has spent good money to hire this wedding photographer then they should leave the photography to the professionals.

After you have chosen the perfect venue and a caterer with an amazing menu…. would you still want Uncle Bob to bring McDonalds to the reception?

After you hired an AWESOME D.J. and chose your First Song to dance to as Husband and Wife, would you want Uncle Bob to Change the music that the D.J. is playing or better yet, would you want him to bring his own music and play it on his IPhone during your first dance?  


If your answer is obviously “No”, then why would your hire a wedding photographer to capture these beautiful moments and memories that you will cherish forever just to have a guests with a device like a camera, or smartphone alter YOUR  final results.

Ultimately, YOU are the person that needs to be satisfied.  So if this truly does not bother you and you really do not mind, then who are we to push the issue.  However, you must be aware that guests with devices will alter our final product…. Which, you must keep in mind, are YOUR MEMORIES.

How to have an Unplugged Wedding:  The easiest way to get the point across is to put a little note in the invitation and have the Officiant make a short announcement right before the ceremony.

There are many little ways to get to the point like a sign that explains the reason, or a hashtag on your wedding website.

You may even choose to send this very Blog Post to your guests so they understand why you are asking them to put their phones and cameras away.

Some clients feel bad asking guests to refrain for taking photos.  We at Doodle Fly Photography tell our clients that they can absolutely make us the BAD GUY.  You may blame it all on us and even tell the guests that your Photographers REQUIRE ALL DEVICES TO BE STORED.

Tips for an Unplugged Wedding |


Compromise:  This is the digital age.  We get it, selfies sometimes can be funny images, especially at a wedding. A great way to compromise is to ask Guests to please store Devices until After the First Dance.  This way, During the “Party”, Everyone can capture their own little moments without damaging the important moments.

Please Note:  Some wedding photographers will still not be OK with this option because reception images are difficult as it is due to limited natural light and moving subjects, so please speak to your wedding photographer to be sure you are all on the same page.

Remember,  These are YOUR Wedding Photos:  When it comes down to it, some brides feel like they do not want to bother their guests, so  the wedding photographer will just have to deal with it.  Unfortunately, these brides are completely missing the point.  These are YOUR Wedding Photos.  Yes,  Uncle Bob Absolutely frustrates wedding photographers.  But ultimately,  It is not because he is annoying to us personally…… it is because we are not able to do the job we were hired to do.  We know when we first see Uncle Bob at your wedding that your wedding photos will not turn out as amazing as they SHOULD be.  We already know that this beautiful event will be compromised and photos of amazing moments will be interfered with.  However, it is really not our place to ask your guests to put away their devices.

We do not have access to your guests before your wedding.  As wedding photographers, all we can do is educate you as our clients and it is ultimately up to you, as the couple, to enforce your ruling.

Education is Key:  Most guests are unaware of the true effects that their devices have on your wedding photos.  20 years ago, there was maybe ONE Uncle Bob per year for wedding photographers to deal with.  Unfortunately with technology growing and digital cameras available in every single handheld device, at least 1/3 of all guests at almost every modern wedding have now become an “Uncle Bob” in one way or another.

We know at that these are YOUR wedding photos and if Uncle Bob simply understood the reason why he should put away his devices and just enjoy the wedding, then everyone would win.


Our Position:  At Doodle Fly Photography, we believe that this decision is our Clients to make.  The final results are the memories of their wedding.  If they do not mind Uncle Bob imposing, or simply want the day documented exactly as it unfolds, then that is simply fine with us. However, if requested, we would happily help our clients find resolutions to having a Tech Free Wedding.  For our clients, we suggest having guests store their devices until after the first dance (unless there are other special events planned).  We may further help by asking the D.J. to make announcements to remind the guests when to store devices and when it is ok for the guests to start taking their own images.  All of our clients receive an online gallery link that they can share with guests so everyone can see the professional images that they are all apart of.

Doodle Fly Photography is a wedding photography firm in SW Florida.  To protect our clients privacy, we did not use our images in this post.  Images in this blog post are linked back to their original sources or, are anonymous by request of the photographer.

Special Thank you to Kelli Brewer Photography , Nicole Sarah Wedding Photography Mastin Film Facebook Group for your professional input.

Doodle Fly Photography is a Florida Wedding Photography firm covering Fort Myers, Cape Coral, Sanibel, Captiva, Naples, Estero, Bonita Springs, Port Charlotte, Sarasota, St. Pete’s Beach, St. Petersburg, Tampa, Clearwater, Fort Lauderdale, Marco Island, Miami, Keys, Key West, Boca Raton, Coco Beach and more locations around South West and South Florida. Doodle Fly Photography Specializes in Wedding Photography, Engagement Sessions, Boudoir, Bridal Boudoir, Portraits and more.  Doodle Fly Photography offers affordable wedding packages including Payment Options and installment plans for most wedding packages.  Call or email for more information.

Doodle Fly Photography & Events:

Phone: 239-677-1428


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