What Not to Do at a Wedding

Posted by on Mar 9, 2014 in Uncategorized | No Comments

I recently noticed this article reposted on Facebook by a friend. It’s called, “10 things NOT to do at a wedding” and a few things stood out.
First off, from CNN, here’s the article.

As a videographer, I deal with a host of challenges and surprises at a wedding. It’s part of my job to be able to adjust “on the fly”. However, there are three very important points that will have an impact on the tone and flow of your event (plus one I have added to the list). As a result, these “flow impacts” may have an impact on your wedding film. Relative to the article, here they are:

1. Don’t Wing a Wedding Speech – Why is this important? Wedding toasts are intended to be brief, heartfelt accolades about the bride and groom. They are intended to unite the room in gratitude. They are best when they are funny, endearing, moving, cheerful and positive. They are best when they are “brief and impactful” – no longer than about 5 minutes. The last time I filmed a set of wedding toasts, there were 9 separate toasts. One from each of the children and each parent. Separately. One single toast went almost 30 minutes. To put that into perspective. One single speech went the length of an episode of Seinfeld. With the remaining toasts taking about 45 minutes also, the entire event was focused on the toasts.

Needless to say, the guests were exhausted. The mood was gone. The event became a lecture and an extended episode of “This Is Your Life”. There was ZERO time left for the bride and groom to speak. As a result, the wedding dinner seemed to “wrap” up very quickly after the toasts. The dinner went almost an hour past its schedule. The guests just wanted to get home. This left myself and the photographer with very little content outside of people speaking and eating.

As a wedding videographer, it’s not my place to tell you to not do something at your wedding. It’s your special day. But I will tell you that because of toasts going long, precious time is actually “lost” with your guests. The greatest part of what I film isn’t the details, the location or the wedding dress. It’s the small interactions between guests and between the couple. It’s the part of my wedding films that I get emails about, years down the road.

As a recommendation, pick a handful of people to give a toast, give them guidelines and tell them they have a limited amount of time. Understand, you aren’t being demanding. This is common. It’s an understood part of asking someone to give a toast. Being asked is an incredible privilege. It should be a flattering experience. If they are offended by a few requests, then perhaps they aren’t the best person for the job.

2. Don’t Get Drunk – Many of my local Utah weddings – based on religious dictates – are alcohol free. But quite a few are not. I film many weddings where alcohol is present, free and abundant. It does seem to loosen people up. If there’s dancing, it gets the party started. Unfortunately, I’ve also seen people pass out at weddings, and even once during the ceremony. I’ve seen guests stumble around a room. It’s unpleasant.

Because alcohol is generally provided by an “open” bar at weddings, it’s often an invitation to be excessive. Bartenders are trained to cut people off when they recognize someone has had too much. The challenge for them at weddings is the presence of wine bottles on dinner tables and “passed” drinks during toasts.

The best you can do as a couple is to strongly address these possible issues with your bartender. If you are concerned about too much alcohol, limit your offerings to wine, beer and champagne for toasts. Also consider transportation for your guests after the wedding.

3. As a Guest, Don’t Monopolize the Bride and Groom – Because time is short at a wedding (yes, a 10 hour event is short), we often think that the couple has unlimited time to sit and reminisce. It’s just not true. At a wedding dinner, they may have 100 guests. They also have photos and video to address, a cake to cut, dances, a bouquet toss, etc. Be mindful as a guest of your impact on the wedding. Again, it’s about flow. If you need to do some serious “catch up”, invite the couple over for dinner, visit them before or after the wedding, etc. They have an entire wedding guest list to keep happy. Help them to fully enjoy the day.

4. Have a “Tech Free” Ceremony – This recommendation did not make the CNN list, but it could benefit your event a lot. For the ceremony, consider having your guests leave their turned-off cell phones and cameras in their pockets or purses. It’s the one single event during the day where you request their undivided attention. It also allows the photographer and myself to get some incredible footage. I have seen many exits “undone” by a guest of the wedding standing in the aisle with their cell camera. Because we generally stand at the back of the ceremony, behind your guests, they often are unaware they are blocking a camera (or even another guest’s view). I also consider the aisle a “person free” zone if possible. By just including a small note in the program, your wedding photos and video will benefit and your guests will actually “experience” you getting married. It’s an amazing thing!

These are all just observations of course. The day is up to you.

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