Be My Guest

You write out your list. You add them to your list.  In a temporary fury of rage you maybe scratch them off your list.  Your blood pressure settles, your mother-in-law intervenes and you add them back on your list.  You painstakingly stamp their 175 beautiful letterpress RSVPS with gold foil trim.  You think long and hard about how many of them refrain from meat or fish, and what mix of classic rock and Top 40 is most likely to get them out of their seats Gangnam style. They are your friends and family, beloved guests who support your marriage, bring you joy and well wishes, and make the reception a party.  Your wedding day has most likely been shaped for them as much as it is for you, and there is probably no other day that all of these same people will mingle in the same space again.  Friends and family travel from near and far, and sometimes it seems nearly impossible to devote as much time as you would like to socialize with them all.  To me, a couple’s body of guests is just as important as the Bridal Party themselves, and whenever I have a camera in my hands I aim to showcase that.  Our photographer did a great job, but if I could go back in time, I would request more images of guests at our own wedding.  They’re the people who get dressed up and toast to your happiness, they should have a picture in your gallery for crying out loud!  (Com'mon.  You know you've looked at people's wedding photos just to see a photo of yourself as a guest before.  No, just me?)

Although it is nearly impossible to photograph every guest candidly, I do my very best to capture people laughing, hugging, and socializing.  During dinner hour photographers eat when the guests eat, it gives us time to refuel, plus no one is going to order a canvas of themselves mid-stuffed chicken and basil with aioli sauce-bite.  Hence we have to utilize our time and keep eyes open for interesting, candid portraits throughout the day.  With a longer lens from a distance, I try to be stealth.  Less intrusive means for more natural images (that way I'm not that annoying photographer all up in their kool-aid, don't even know the flavor!)  This is why any celebration 4 hours or more I bring along a second shooter--they are a must!  Typically while the bride and groom are having their portraits taken, another shooter is shaping the story shooting the festive cocktail hour, lush details, and lively guests.

Some guest images I have shot:

During cocktail hour with a scene-setting background and signature drink.

During the ceremony either I or my second shooter will (or when I help another photographer out as their second shooter), in addition to photographing the parents and grandparents turn to the guests for reaction shots and portraits.  Let the tears flow!

Big hugs!  LOVE this!  You may think I was hiding in the bushes, but I call the leaves voyeuristic.

Mixing up the "family formal" shots to get separate images of family members together who may otherwise be hard to catch side-by-side.  See, 'cause they're teenagers.

Partaking in libations and being great lawn-gawn observers.

During family speeches guest's reactions to a heartfelt sentiment are just as important as the toast itself.

 

During the first dances.  Another reason why second shooters are key--to jointly help photograph the "in-between" that one person can't get alone.  Simple, meaningful emotions that in the blink of an eye are gone.