Guests: the backbone of every wedding

Recently I met with the wonderful Mark Bothwell to discuss weddings, my new portfolio but then started talking about wedding guests and how they can really change the atmosphere of a wedding. We both love ‘people watching’ seeing the laughing, flirting and sometimes tears. I asked Mark to write a post capturing some of the emotions present from guests at a wedding.

There are so many high points to a wedding day that it’s tricky to choose a favourite part, but as a photographer with a background in portraits I always love to roam during the drinks reception.

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By this point in the day it usually means a few formal shots are already in the bag, the couple in question are relaxed having completed the service (married, at last!) and that social hour or so is brilliant for me to pick off relaxed shots of people chatting and laughing.

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Incredible strides in digital camera technology have made obtaining photographs in poor indoor light much easier than in the old days of film. Most importantly it means no need for intrusive on-camera flash because you can shoot away quietly, circling the room on the lookout for that little moment or reaction without really being seen. I tend to favour a very fast 85mm lens for this purpose as the nature of the focal length blurs out foreground and background, leaving the middle ground sharp and leaving the viewers eye no choice but to go straight to the person/people in the frame.

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Of course the other reason these shots work so well within an overall selection is they represent sections of their wedding day the happy couple don’t see. I’m recording proof, in effect : she spoke to him, they had a giggle with them – and sometimes he is getting told off by her! In commissioning a photographer a couple are renting a pair of eyes which will hopefully see things others eyes may not. These are unique moments, they will never happen again and while you can’t capture everything a good photographer should obtain more than enough material to recreate the atmosphere of the gathering when the photography is viewed later.

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A similar time for this nature of coverage is during formal speeches. Amusingly, I’m the only guy in the room who loves the speeches to overrun and last far, far too long – because it means I have more time to record portraits as people listen and react to the speakers. Tears, laughter, respect and often poignant moments all surface during speeches, so keeping a watchful eye is a great challenge which pays dividends if you can get it right.

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The bottom line is that it’s great when things are totally natural, which is always when the best pictures appear. A guest once suggested that I’m an assassin without a gun, picking the moment and firing the rigger… amazing how insightful an 80 year old uncle can be!

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Photo credits: Mark Bothwell

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  1. Sandy on 15th October 2010 at 4:09 pm

    I totally agree with you. The shots of the guests even become more important to you as you age. You look back and remember those who are no longer a part of your life due to death or other circumstances and many times this is the only photo you have of their existance. The shots of the guests become more important to you than the shots of you and your spouse.

  2. Kate - Wedding Photographer Hampshire on 8th November 2010 at 12:49 pm

    I especially like the black and white photo of the flowergirl – a sweet picture.

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