The 'no video' priest was right

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Special Events editor Lisa Hurley explains why the priest who told a videographer to stop shooting a wedding was correct to do so

I know some people are shocked, shocked, that an officiant at a wedding recently turned around as he was being videoed performing a wedding ceremony to tell the videographer to stop filming. The clip has gone viral.

Despite the fact that many in this Facebook/Instagram society cannot fathom why taking photos is sometimes wrong, the priest who told the videographer to stop filming the ceremony did the right thing.

Why? It's because there are many types of weddings, and different rules go along with different weddings. In this case, the priest was simply asking everyone in attendance at this wedding to play by the rules they signed on for.

Consider the wide range of weddings that take place. There are weddings in 24-hour drive-through chapels. There are multiday weddings with a thousand guests. There are encore weddings—Elizabeth Taylor had eight. There are Kardashian weddings, where the marriage itself lasts 72 days.

But, yes, my children, even today, some weddings are regarded as religious ceremonies. They are sacred moments that are not intended to be photo ops posted online or as a magazine spread. Even a magazine spread in Special Events.

I was married 15 years ago last month in a ceremony with a lot of rules. It was in the church where I was a regular parishioner. Once I signed up to be married there, I was handed a list of "things we do not do here" for my wedding. Among them: No unity candle, no "You may now kiss the bride," no "any music you want." (Time to scratch "I Will Always Love You." As if that song were suitable for a wedding anyway.)

And one big rule for a wedding in my church was "no photos during the ceremony." I vividly recall stepping into place to go down the aisle and watching my priest as she told a guest—a dear friend of long standing—to put her camera away. "The ceremony is about to start," she said. "We don't take photos now."

If you can't live with the thought that your officiant does not allow photography during the ceremony, then get married somewhere else.

We shouldn't take photos all the time. While the zeal to save the moment is understandable, the facts remain that (1) the act of taking photos takes both the guest and the bridal couple being photographed out of the experience itself, and (2) while professional photographers/videographers do a good job, most amateurs do a lousy job.

What surprises me too was the passivity of the couple. If the person I trusted enough to marry me said we had a problem, I would take that advice to heart, and tell my vendor photographer—or the friend who said he'd shoot it for free—to stop for a moment. What is more important: the wedding itself or photos of the wedding?

I live in California, where wildfires are a constant threat. And I have my stash of stuff to throw into the car in case we have to flee our house quickly. A lot of that stash comprises photos.

But I note the advice that a friend gave me when I lamented that I could not find some photos of my son's first Christmas: "It's better to have lived the moment than to have photographed it."

Discuss this Blog Entry 3

on Sep 27, 2013

Your might be the most misinformed opinion on this subject. It sounds like you watched a short clip and formed an opinion instead of reporting of actually happened. Maybe you're not a real reporter and just an opinion writer. FYI, the photographers and videographer did ask the minister where they could be. He knew they were behind them for a little while yet said nothing. It's not like anyone snuck up on him. Do your research or get another job.

on Sep 27, 2013

This is indeed my opinion, and it's based on the facts. Some religious institutions require modest dress, some require attendance at classes and some prohibit filming. Don't get mad, get smart.

on Oct 24, 2013

I totally agree with you. A truly talented photographer will capture moments without intruding on them. Some of the best shots I've ever seen are ones taken when no one even knew the photographer was there. In the digital age why do we hear a shutter clicking every second? Why is the photographer and videographer standing directly behind the officiant obviously being a distraction? If the couple did not hire professionals then it should be a lesson learned. I'm glad to see someone standing up for what marriage is supposed to be, a sacred and respected moment.

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