Adding extra fun and excitement to your wedding reception, a photo booth allows guests to pose for festive photos together and get terrific keepsakes to take home. Since weddings gather friends and family who may not see each other very often, this instant-photo attraction captures the joy of friends celebrating together, grandparents and grandchildren, and even silly solo guest shots.
"I really love photo booths at weddings for several reasons," says Jenny Orsini, wedding coordinator at Jenny Orsini Events. "No matter how often they see them, guests truly enjoy them. They are interactive and allow for guests to let their hair down! They are a great way to break up the monotony of the sometimes boring wedding reception routine."
A five-hour wedding reception has its highs and lows, and a few hours into the dancing, you might see guests just sitting and talking at their tables, awaiting the cake-cutting and dessert hour. The photo booth revs up the fun factor during all the hours of the party, as guests step into the booth with different friends and often with different props.
Today's photo booth rental companies often supply a large collection of fun props, from fedoras and berets to big sunglasses, beach balls, faux mustaches, feather boas, Mardi Gras beads, masks and open picture frames painted black, gold or any other color. Guest sort through the props collection, choose their 'toys' for the photo booth sitting and strike playful poses, and out comes entertaining finished photos. One strip can go in the guestbook -- with guests signing their page using silver or gold metallic Sharpies -- and one strip goes to the guest.
Photo booths appeal to all ages, from the children you want entertained throughout the reception to your 90-year-old grandparents who enjoy the photo booth's comfortable seat as they strike their poses with their fun props.
*Finding a Photo Booth
"Photo booths are, generally speaking, a very cost-effective favor or additional form of entertainment," says Orsini. "And nowadays photo booths are not just big black boxes with draping. They come in various shapes and designs."
You'll find photo booth companies at bridal shows and expos, and there you'll be able to step inside a top-of-the-line booth, with props, for your own free samples. It's important to book a booth you're able to see first, to be sure it's brand-new, modern, and in good condition inside and out, and creates high-quality, crisp photos.
Here are the different types of photo booths you'll find:
--Modern digital photo booth. These state-of-the-art booths feature smart technology, including a computer that auto-focuses on each frame, and high-resolution cameras and printers. When guests step into this booth, they can see an image of themselves on the screen, allowing them to shift and arrange themselves in the frame as they wish. The backdrop may be digitized, and the booth's curtain and other details can be personalized to the wedding's style.
Photo strips come out with or without borders, and some photo booths print a personalized message in the borders. After the wedding, the bride and groom can get a password-protected online gallery of all of the images taken during their celebration.
--Antique photo booths. Authentic booths from the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s in Art Deco style, with porcelain seats and doors and rounded edges, provide a unique, vintage appeal for a wedding that has a vintage feel to it. This style of booth isn't as technologically advanced as the digital booth, which means there won't be an online photo gallery.
--Open-air photo booths. Also called the "no walls" photo booth, this is simply an area set up -- without an actual, physical booth -- where guests can pose in front of a backdrop, with or without props, and a photographer captures each shot. A perk of this style is that the photographer often does a great job of joking around with guests, making them laugh just as he snaps the shot, and encouraging poses like air guitar, kicks, dance twirls and other moves that guests might not think of.
Once you choose your preferred style of booth, investigate reputable photo booth companies -- often suggested by your wedding coordinator, florist or other wedding pros who know which companies are good and which aren't. Inspect the company's packages, and read the contract carefully to learn about the rental terms. Book early, because photo booths are very popular, and book for enough hours to allow all of your guests to get several turns in the booth.
If your photo booth company doesn't supply props, provide your own by going through Halloween costumes and visiting thrift shops and flea markets (where you can get those ornate picture frames for $1 each and paint them yourself!). Add to the fun by making signs for your own photo setup, and be sure to make time to get your own photos taken in the booth, as well.