The next time you attend a wedding, I want you to do something. I want you to get all dressed up, fix that hair just right, locate the seat with the best view and then watch the ceremony with love in your heart and your phone in your damn pocket.
I know it’s a big day. It’s — probably, hopefully — the only time you’ll get to see your college roommate, family friend or second cousin walk down the aisle in a white gown. Everything looks so lovely in that desperately Instagram-worthy way (#AmyAndBenGetWedForevs). It’s beyond tempting to try to document those vows or that kiss — if you don’t act quickly, you’ll miss your shot!
Take a deep breath and put the phone down.
You’re getting in the (real) photographer’s way
Most people getting married hire professional photographers to document everything from the dress, hanging and shimmering with anticipation in the morning sunlight, to the late-night drunken dancing. These folks have actual training, experience and better equipment than your iPhone 7.
If they didn’t hire a photographer and they’ve told their guests ahead of time to get all the photos they possibly can, then by all means, have at it. But chances are good that there is a professional in your midst and your “artistic” angle might get in the way of their shot. Like so:
Admittedly, that photographer’s post is a little dramatic. She could have said a simple “excuse me” to the guest. And the couple will likely have dozens, if not hundreds, of other lovely photos to gaze upon and reminisce over during the next several decades. But her underlying point is valid: You, dear wedding guest, are not going to care about these photos a few hours after you take them. The people getting married, on the other hand, will cherish them -- probably, hopefully -- all her life.
You’re blocking the view for the guests behind you
You might be attempting to be discreet, but admit it: Getting a good angle and an unobstructed view is weighing more prominently on your mind than whether short Aunt Carol behind you can see. You don’t think you’re being disruptive, but you are. It is distracting for the other guests around you who are now watching the ceremony through your tiny smartphone screen.
The “bigger picture” is more important
The couple invited you to their wedding because they wanted to get married in front of the people they care most about -- not because they wanted to get married in front of 125 hovering cell phones. Put the phone down so they can glance out at their guests now and then and see your smiling, happy faces, rather than a bunch of hands grasping and poking at screens.
Once the happy couple has smooched and gone back down the aisle, go ahead and pull out that phone. You’ve done so well that you’ve earned a “just-witnessed-the-sweetest-wedding-ever” selfie, completely with still-misty eyes.
And then go get yourself a prime spot to capture their image as they enter the reception, dance those first dances and cry-laugh in reaction to the toasts. The professional photographer is on their own at this point; the reception is fair picture-taking game.
You should tone it down at other events, too
Any time you’re in an audience -- at a kindergarten graduation, the middle school orchestra concert, a high school musical, the big varsity basketball game -- your cell-phone paparazzi antics can get out of hand. In many of those cases, you’re trying to capture your loved one among a sea of other peoples’ loved ones and there usually isn’t a professional photographer around to pick up the slack. So while this can still be annoying for those around you, it’s a little more understandable (and they’re probably doing it, too).
However, once you’ve got your shot, put your phone away. You really don’t need 24 blurry shots of the fifth-grade choir concert, which looks suspiciously similar to last year’s fourth-grade choir concert. Snap a pic and then enjoy the rest of the event so the people behind you can see and/or get their own photo.