YOU PROBABLY REMEMBER THE GOPRO FIREBALL WEDDING VIDEO that went viral several years ago. In that classic clip, the bride, groom and wedding guests swig out of a bottle of Fireball, captured by a GoPro camera affixed to the bottle. Reactions were mixed—and some people were really against this particular wedding video “gimmick”—but here we are a few years later, and GoPros are now a thing at weddings. Maybe not attached to a passed-around bottle, but perhaps with the camera affixed to a dog ringbearer making his way down the aisle or some other fun point-of-view shot. Joining the GoPro are other photo tech tools like drones and selfie sticks. This trio of photo and video gadgets have fired up some hot debate: Do any of these tech toys have a place at weddings?
“With the GoPro, I mostly use it to get a behind-the-scenes view of the day, from my vantage point,” says photographer Tom Harmon in Ringwood. “It’s a great little camera that you can stick anywhere and trigger remotely, so it really has a unique place at weddings. It will never take the place of a professional DSLR camera, but it certainly can fill in some spots if you need a quick wide-angle shot or even something submerged under water or used in other conditions where a professional camera could get ruined.” Harmon sees GoPros being mostly used by groomsmen or bridesmaids. “It seems the bride and groom have enough going on to worry about a camera. Maybe on a destination wedding, the couple might be inclined to incorporate it more. I have a wedding in Jamaica where the officiant will be wearing a GoPro on his chest.”
Veronica Lynn Yankowski of VeroLuce Photography in Bloomfield agrees. “I love my GoPro personally and will be using it at my own wedding. It’s tiny and can be obscure and not really in anyone’s way. I think it’s a great way to get some candid footage for the videographer, almost without folks realizing you’re there.”
But not all experts are fond of this recent technology. “Weddings have become giant photo ops,” says wedding officiant Celia Milton in North Haledon. “The ceremony is still a sacred experience and should be treated as such. The spiraling self-absorption that comes with the need to document every moment is unattractive and unnecessary.”
Yankowski agrees that there needs to be restraint. “There should be a balance between documentation and being rude or obstructive, especially during the ceremony. I know when I’m shooting, I stay to the sides and as far back as I can so the family can enjoy the moment.”
For many, the idea of a selfie stick at a wedding is a head-scratcher, since there are plenty of people around to take a photo for you. And when other guests haven’t used one before, they create a distraction as they marvel loudly about it. Soon there’s a demonstration and lessons going on in the corner of your cocktail party. And imagine your best man giving his toast while holding up a selfie stick to get a shot of himself!
“I personally wouldn’t want them at my wedding, and I haven’t seen them used yet at any weddings I shoot,” adds Yankowski. “I would prefer them not used. My job is to document the day as it is, and not be distracted by what guests do and don’t do.”
Many couples are now facing the etiquette challenge of how to ask their guests to leave their selfie sticks at home. Can you really tell them which gadgets they can and can’t use at your wedding? And the answer is yes. It’s your wedding. And just as it’s okay to ask guests to put their cameras away during your ceremony, it’s fine to put on your personal wedding website a cute, but to-the-point, note like “We love our selfie stick, too, but we ask you to not to bring such a fun toy to our wedding. Thank you for understanding.” Done!
These gadgets may be best kept to other events, like engagement parties, bridal showers, bachelorette parties and your rehearsal dinner, since those informal gatherings are more ideal for photo fun.
Drones have become very popular at weddings, creating dreamy overhead footage of your ceremony, outdoor cocktail hour and your wedding venue’s grounds, plus artistic shots of your couple and group portraits. They capture views and angles that you can’t get in any other way. But, they can be noisy, and there are some legal and insurance issues to keep in mind.
The FAA has guidelines about how drones can be used, which your video company will have to abide by. Plus, drones may not be covered in your site’s and pro’s insurance, says Fabienne Michele of Fabienne M Photography in Flemington. This could turn into a disaster if a drone malfunctions while overhead at your wedding. Talk to your videographer about their drone use, rules and insurance, and to your venue manager about whether they allow them before you dive into arranging drone footage on your big day.
If you do opt to use a drone, it’s best done through a professional video company, with a professional drone operator doing the flying, who will know how high to fly the drone, both to reduce noise and to stay within official height requirements.
“I’m a huge drone enthusiast,” adds Harmon, whose drone work can be viewed at tomdrone.com. “But again, they have their place. They are loud and distracting, so I would feel extremely uncomfortable using a drone in any situation other than a quick landscape shot of the venue or during the portrait session of the day. I would never use one at the ceremony or around large crowds. But if used correctly, they can add a tremendous amount of value, gaining a perspective never before seen at weddings.”