When Margaret Miller's son, Evan, married his bride, Noelle, many guests were snapping photos on cellphones.
At first, the mother of the groom wasn't sure what to think. "I had mixed feelings about people holding up their cellphones as the bride came down the stairs with her father," she says.
However, she soon realized "the paid photographer can't be everywhere at all times," so it made sense for wedding guests to capture wedding day images from a variety of angles and locations.
While the couple hired professional photographers to cover the ceremony and reception, the groom, who is also a professional photographer, approves of the cellphone camera wedding photos.
"They loved the cellphone photos and both the mother of the bride and I included many of them in our albums," says Margaret Miller, who notes wedding guests also posted the photos to social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.
*Pros and Cons
"I love cellphone photos when they don't interfere with the hired photographer and when they're not the only source of images you have for your big day," says Rebekah Carey McNall, a wedding designer/stylist and owner of A & B Creative.
One bonus for the bride and groom? "Couples love to see photos from their wedding and while professional photographers need time to edit their photos, you can get instant gratification from cellphone photos," says McNall.
Professional wedding photographer Ashley Jones of Shutter Sweet Photography thinks a few photos taken with a cellphone are fine but that it's not great for capturing the whole wedding.
Jones says cellphone cameras are "easy, silent, quick to post online and extremely portable," but she also mentions they "can't compare to top of the line DSLR's as far as quality is concerned," and they don't offer much control over settings like shutter speed or focusing.
According to Jones, there are some benefits to the photos from cellphones: "I took a photo of a bride walking down the aisle with her dad and posted it to Facebook so her friends who couldn't attend the wedding could see it immediately," she says. "There were tons of congrats messages and 'likes' right away.
"However, the photos I took with my 5D MKIII are much better quality, have better lighting due to the flash sync with speedlights and will look much better blown up for prints, canvases or even large albums."
*Hiring a Professional Photographer
Experts agree couples shouldn't rely on cellphone photos to capture the whole wedding.
"Any time you can afford to hire a professional for any aspect of your wedding, you should," says McNall.
Jones agrees, explaining "most photographers are trained to handle various lighting scenarios, posing techniques to best flatter your figure, composition and other elements of a photograph besides the actual quality of the image itself."
Guests, and often the bride and groom, love posting cellphone camera photos on social media sites, including Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Flickr and other blogs.
"Sharing of photos has always happened, but now with social media, it's just more immediate," explains event planner Maxine Andrew of Instead of You!
Jones says many of her photography clients "share" photos online, such as the Instagram photos and sneak-peak images she shoots.
Still, not all couples want guests using cellphones to shoot and share wedding photos.
"Weddings, especially the ceremony, are an incredibly intimate time and not every couple wants one of their most intimate moments shared with people they don't know online," says McNall. "One way to avoid this is to put a special note into the program asking guests not to use their cellphones during the ceremony but to feel free to during the reception."
*Trendy or Timeless?
So, are cellphone photos a trend or the real deal?
"Camera phones are here to stay," says Miller. "The quality is so good and they are so small and portable that it doesn't make sense for people not to use them."
Still, many professional photographers, including Jones, think cellphone cameras are for shooting everyday images, not weddings.
"Weddings are too special to risk not getting great images for most brides. And even though the iPhone 5 has made some great improvements with low-light scenarios and quality of images for a phone, it still can't come close to the pro-level DSLRs right now," she explains.