Crowd Sourcing Photos

I have something to admit. I am not against guests using social media at my wedding. Yes, people have positions – sometimes very strong ones – on this topic. It is officially A Thing in 2014.

Look, if you’re jumping out in front of the photographer just as I say my vows and spend the rest of the ceremony picking out the perfect Instagram filter, then that’s an issue. If you wouldn’t butt in on a moment with an actual camera, then don’t do it with a cell phone. I feel like that’s just common sense (and decency).  I trust that my guests know that it is inappropriate to shove my photographer out of the way or scan Facebook updates for the entirety of my bridesmaid’s lovely, heartfelt reading.

By the way, we’re not talking about actually talking. Or texting. Or annoying email notifications. Or pretending that you’re the photographer I paid to be here. You want to take a discrete photo with your phone? Great! You’re following the Sox game over there while I’m committing to the guy I love for all time? You’re cut. I don’t think there’s much debate over whether or not it’s rude to use your phone for anything other than one or two photos.

I have no problem if you feel like guests should switch off their phones completely during the ceremony. There are very polite ways to let them know you have a zero cell phone tolerance. I’ve seen cute signs carried by kids down the aisle that instruct guests to put the phones away and your officiant can make a statement before things get rolling. You can certainly tell guests that you prefer that they not Tweet, Facebook or Instagram photos from your wedding, but unless you have some sort of web surveillance and virtual police squad at the ready, then you’re probably just going to have to deal with one or two popping up online.

When it comes to the reception, I say encourage your guests to take photos.

In my opinion, people are (hopefully) excited to be at your wedding. These days part of sharing our excitement about things occasionally involves social media. Yes, there comes a point when you’re so busy updating your status or getting just the right photo that will work really well as your new Facebook cover image that you miss what’s happing right around you, but I think people (for the most part) have a handle on it by now.

I also firmly believe that some of the best photos are candids. Sure, the risk for weird mid-sentence face scrunching is a possibility, but so are some unguarded sweet moments. Plus, you and your photographer can't be everywhere at once – your guests might capture some great shots of reception fun you'd have missed otherwise. To that end, why not try crowdsourcing a few photos? You’ve likely given your photographer a list of shots that are must haves – posed ones with family, the wedding party, waiting for the moment when your crazy uncle busts out his infamous “moves” on the dance floor, etc. – so let your guests try their hands at capturing something your very busy professional might not be able to get to.

Here are a few ways to make sure they all end up in once place.


It’s not just for hipsters! Like on Twitter, you can use hashtags on Instagram to aggregate posts – or in this case, photos. Come up with a hashtag before the wedding, print it up on cards, add it to your program or wedding website or post a sign at the reception. It’s free to download and sign up.

Do not forget to search for your hashtag before you commit – even if you have weird names you never know what might already be taken.

You probably don’t want to spend hours scrolling through your feed grabbing the photos one at a time. Let the power of the Internet collect them for you!

The next part takes a bit of setup on your part before the wedding. At (“if this, then that”) you can set up “recipes” that will automatically send any photos with your hashtag to a predetermined storage area like Dropbox or a Facebook album.

First you activate what they call “channels” for Instagram and your photo storage preference (Flickr, Facebook, Dropbox, etc.). Then you create a “recipe” that goes like this:

IF THIS: Guest tags a photo with #yourhashtag on Instragram,

THEN THAT: Photo automatically uploads to preexisting Dropbox folder.

You can also set up a channel for Facebook that looks like this:

IF THIS: I am tagged on Facebook,

THEN THAT: Photo automatically uploads to your preexisting folder/account/album.


Maybe you’re concerned about privacy but still want a way for guests to easily share their photos with you. WedPics works on iPhones and Android but is also available for guests with digital cameras or other mobile devices. Those folks will need to upload photos directly to your albums via the web rather than by using the app on a phone.

All you have to do is create a unique wedding ID for your guests. They even have invite cards and ways to send custom texts and emails to let guests know what the ID is and what they need to do. 

Guests will download the free app, enter your wedding ID and they’re good to go!

You can also control where these photos are shared (or not) – there is an option to turn social media sharing on or off.


Categories: Planning