Wedding Photographer Reveals 10 Worst Mistakes Guests Make During Ceremony

A wedding photographer has shared the top ways guests can ruin photos on a couple's big day, from spilling wine to not looking at the camera.

Award-winning photographer Elaine Green has snapped more than 400 weddings since 2004, and over the years she's seen it all.

Green, from Canada, told Newsweek some of the biggest mistakes guests make include making rude gestures and funny faces in pictures and blocking the view of the bride and groom.

Most importantly: "Don't do anything to upstage the couple," she advised.

The photographer regularly dishes out advice on wedding etiquette, with her post on the popular question and answer site Quora receiving more than 17 million views and over 3,000 upvotes.

She told Newsweek: "I have been answering questions on Quora for years. Many of my answers have gone viral, but every time it does, I am surprised."

In the now-viral post that was shared in 2021, Green revealed her top 10 tips to avoid an embarrassing faux pas when it comes to the photos.

  1. Sticking their phone (or themselves) into the aisle during the moment when the officiant says "Now you may kiss the bride" blocking the photographer's shot.
  2. Standing up and continually take close-ups during the ceremony when every guest is to be seated. The guest will be in all of the ceremony photos.
  3. Looking away from (or refuse to look at the camera) when posed during the family formals.
  4. Standing beside the hired professional photographer during the family formals and asking the family to look at their camera. This averts the family's eyes away from the professional's camera.
  5. Wearing something that is opposite of the dress code. ie) if the couple asked all the guests to wear formal wear and one guest shows up in tattered jeans, flip-flops, and a T-shirt, it can stand out like a sore thumb in the photo.
  6. Making a rude gesture/funny face when posing in a formal group shot.
  7. Having tan lines, sunburns, wearing clothing that is much too tight, and expecting the professional photographer to photoshop it later.
  8. Splashing wine on the wedding dress.
  9. Insisting on being in the family photos (but ends up breaking up with the family member later).
  10. Wearing a white dress. That would ruin more than just the photos!

Recalling the most disruptive guests, Green, who has been named one of the top five percent of photographers by Wedding Wire, said: "During the ceremony, a guest with a big camera stood right in front to take photos of the bride and groom and continued to do so throughout the ceremony—blocking all of the guests' view of the couple and my ability to photograph the ceremony. Eventually a groomsman had to lead them away from the altar during the ceremony."

It's not just about what you're doing either, how you dress also has the potential to cause shockwaves at a happy affair. Green said: "Over the past decade, I've seen more and more people wear what they want regardless of the fact they're at a wedding. I've seen guests, even vendors, wearing stuff they would wear to paint their deck! There is a mantra 'anything goes' nowadays, but these people always stick out in formal photos."

Wedding image
A little girl stands facing the camera while a bride and groom say vows in the foreground. A wedding photographer's top tips for being a good guest have gone viral online. Elaine Green/www.elainegreen.com

"A good guest is empathetic to the bride and groom," explained Green. "They have dreamt of this day for ages and paid lots of money for everything to run smoothly. It would be respectful as a guest to be on time, behave politely and dress appropriately."

Statistics from The Wedding Report reveal that couples spend over 10 percent of the wedding budget on photography and video, while Value Penguin revealed that the average cost of professional photography is around $2,000.

"Don't have your phone out in the aisle trying to record it all," explained Green. "Be in the moment. When the photographer asks you to look at the camera for formal photos, please do so, these are photos that people will enlarge and look at forever. When in doubt, smile!"

If you're attending a wedding soon, Green shared some final advice: "Don't announce it's your birthday, don't propose to your significant other, don't wear clubwear, and don't wear white!"

In September 2021, this guest's printed white dress sparked debate online. Later in the year, the internet supported a woman who was accused of upstaging the bride after weight loss.

Elaine Green - wedding photographer
Wedding photographer Elaine Green, pictured with cameras in hand. Green's top tips for avoiding being a nightmare wedding guest have gone viral. Elaine Green/www.elainegreen.com