How not to behave at a wedding – from a professional who has seen it all.

Top Photographer Reveals Common Wedding Guest Etiquette Errors

How not to behave at a wedding – from a professional who has seen it all.  are a celebration of love and happiness that a couple wants to share with all their close family and friends, but despite meticulous planning, the happy couple cannot plan for one thing – the behavior of their guests.

Kris Labang at Hawaii Wedding Photography is one of the most experienced wedding photographers in Hawaii, and with more than twenty years of attending weddings under his belt, he’s seen it all. Now, he’s using his immense experience to help guide you on what not to do at a wedding.

Don’t Bring Uninvited Guests

Many couples work a delicate balancing act between their budget and their guest count, so don’t be offended if you’re not allowed to bring a guest. Having an extra body may not sound like such a bad thing but it can throw off table counts, place settings, seating arrangements, and other things as well. If the couple is under some stress about their budget, hearing about more unexpected expenses while they are eating can ruin the mood.

Kris says, ‘Once I did a wedding with quite a few uninvited guests. There was no more room and not even extra tables or chairs for them to sit down during dinner. We were in the middle of their photos when the couple learned and it took time away from their photos to figure it out and when they came back they were so flustered they needed a minute before they resumed photos. I’ve seen this so many times and it’s never fun if it upsets the couple.’

Don’t Tell Wedding Vendors What To Do

Just enjoy the wedding with the couple, and don’t try to “fix” things for them unless they ask. Vendors and couples spend HOURS working with each other before the wedding to ensure the couple gets what they want. You might not know about any special instructions given to the vendor and end up ruining things that have been perfectly set in place.

Kris says, ‘This happens so often. I once saw someone walk up to the DJ to tell them that they were playing the wrong music during dinner. She said, “I know the bride very well and she would never play this music.” The guest then proceeded to tell the DJ what to play but the DJ refused. The DJ was quite confident that what they were playing was at the request of the couple since they got the music list directly from the couple before dinner. I know people want to help but sometimes they try too hard without being fully informed and end up looking foolish.’

Don’t Dress Inappropriately

Make sure that you are crystal clear on the dress code for the event before you even begin shopping. Many couples are happy for a more informal approach these days, away from the traditional suits and formal dresses – but if you are not sure, ask.

Kris says, ‘A big problem I often see is underdressing for beach weddings – last year I was shooting a beach wedding with one male guest wearing a torn T-shirt and flip-flops. Try making that look good in a group photo!’

More important than how the photos look, however, is that wearing an inappropriate outfit is just bad manners!

Don’t Be Late

Kris says, ‘People notice little things during a ceremony. I often see guests arriving late and having to sneak in at the back. No one else is moving so it’s very disruptive to the service and breaks the guests’ focus on the important event that they are there to witness.’

To avoid making this faux pas, make sure you leave yourself bags of time to get ready and get to the ceremony venue. After all, being an hour early is much better than being an hour late!

Unexpected issues are sometimes unavoidable, though, so if you do find yourself arriving after things are underway, then slip into the venue quietly and take a seat at the back. Try to time your entry to coincide with singing, music, or when someone else is walking up to the front to take part in the ceremony, as this will create less of a disturbance. If you are late, the absolute biggest no-no is to walk down the aisle to sit near the front.

Don’t Get in the Photographer’s Way!

Kris says, ‘The happy couple has paid for a professional photographer to capture all the magic moments – so don’t ruin the shots by getting in the way, just so you can grab a snap on your iPhone, or worse yet your iPad!’

Do take direction from the photographer when they give it – rest assured, they will capture the best images of what is happening at any particular moment, and with professional equipment. It’s not just about the camera either – years of experience will ensure they capture great angles of all the best moments.

‘I’m not saying don’t take photos (unless you’ve been asked not to directly),’ Kris says, ‘Just be aware. Don’t walk around getting your “angles”, because I promise you will end up somewhere awkward in the photos at least once! People don’t know what kind of photos I’m getting or what lenses I’m using. I always hear “I won’t get in the way”, but in 20+ years I can confidently say this is very rare.

‘This applies most especially during the ceremony. I highly suggest just enjoying it from the seat provided for you. Empty seats make the photos look bad, and people always end up in the way or sometimes worse yet, in the back of the photos. I can’t tell you how many people end up behind couples with awkward faces full of concentration.’

Don’t Embarrass Yourself With Alcohol Around A Photographer

A free bar doesn’t turn a reception into a drinking challenge. As Kris says, ‘Remember, I document everything going on. I have caught people pre-, mid-, and post-vomit! If you don’t want the couple to remember you in an embarrassing way, take it easy at the bar. Some people simply party hard and love these types of photos. If that’s the case, enjoy yourself! But remember that a photo is forever! Oh and don’t forget the videographer, still images are one thing but embarrassing moments caught on video can go viral these days!’

Finally – A ‘Do’ Suggestion

Kris says, ‘After all these don’ts, let me wrap up with a positive suggestion – do take loads of candid images of other guests during the ceremony, immediately after the ceremony, at the reception or wedding breakfast, or at the evening party.’

A professional wedding photographer’s focus is always on the couple, and while as photographers they take many candid photos of guests enjoying themselves, they can’t be everywhere at once. Even if there is more than one at the wedding there are some things that can go unseen except to you and those around you. There is so much joy and fun going on that sharing this with the couple later is always great for them because they probably missed out on it in the moment.