DEAR ABBY: I feel compelled to comment about the letter from "Miffed Pro in South Carolina" (April 20), the professional photographer who complained about guests taking photographs at weddings.
I am a clergyperson who has seen more than my share of rude, incompetent professional photographers. I have seen them attempt to set up tripods at the altar, leaving no room for the wedding party to stand. I have seen them squat in the middle of the aisle, stopping each couple as they approach to get a "candid" shot. I have cleaned up front pews cluttered with their camera cases and jackets thrown over the altar, delaying the start of the ceremony.
After the wedding, they set up equipment, checking lighting and settings interminably until the bride has lost every bit of "glow" and the candles have burned to stumps. One bride finally shouted, "Enough!" and burst into tears because she wanted to go to her reception.
Ultimately, the bride and groom are often left with substandard photos at a premium price. This, I believe, is why guests bring their own cameras -- so they can capture some fun-filled memories of the day that are affordable. -- MICHIGAN MINISTER
DEAR MINISTER: Ouch! I'm sorry you have had such a disappointing experience with unprofessional professional wedding photographers. Some readers echoed your sentiments -- photos lost, lens caps accidentally left on, photo labs burning down -- while others described a wedding day spent in blissful harmony during which photographer, bridal couple and guests -- through compromise and communication -- made the experience a snap. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: My wedding photographer explained to the guests that he was going to take the formal shots first, then they could take their pictures while we were still posed for a few more minutes. That way everyone could get the "good shots."
As for the "candid shots" my guests took, I love them. In one of them, my 84-year-old uncle was doing the twist with my 92-year-old grandmother. I was delighted because I didn't see it happening. Please, Abby, tell the pros that everyone with a camera is contributing to the bride and groom's special day. -- CHERYL IN GEORGIA
DEAR ABBY: My husband and I hired a professional for our wedding. We waited patiently for four to six weeks after our honeymoon for word that the pictures were ready. He never called. I finally contacted him, and after several minutes of stammering he told me that he had "lost" all the rolls of film. Thank goodness my husband's sister had provided disposable cameras at each table at our reception, otherwise there wouldn't have been a single photo of our wedding day. -- ANNETTA IN NORTHERN CALIFORNIA
DEAR ABBY: I was married two years ago, and one of the best presents we received was from a couple who took pictures through the entire ceremony. By the time our reception dinner was served, this couple had taken their photos to a one-hour lab, so we had pictures of our wedding before we even left for our honeymoon. -- LOVED THE CANDIDS IN MICHIGAN
DEAR ABBY: Taking formal, posed portraits prior to the wedding ceremony is fine, but only if the bride doesn't mind letting her groom see her before the wedding. -- FORMER PHOTOGRAPHER'S ASSISTANT IN KENTUCKY
DEAR ABBY: In many hundreds of weddings, I have never had a problem with guests stopping me from doing my job, and I have always treated them with respect and dignity. I often take guests' cameras when asked, and snap a few for them so they can be in their own photos. -- EXPERIENCED PRO IN WASHINGTON, MAINE
DEAR ABBY: Shortly after my wedding, I received a card with a photo in it taken by my husband's aunt. It was of my husband looking at me as I walked down the aisle. No one else had thought to take one like it. We had beautiful formal portraits done, but this is the one I keep on the nightstand so that the expression of love on his face is the first thing that greets me each morning. -- DEBRA IN NORTH ATTLEBORO, MASS.