In this day and age, sharing the details of your wedding on social media is almost a given. Even with unplugged weddings, most couples will share a post or two in the days following the celebration. And of course, so much wedding planning is done online these days, from blogs and wedding websites to Pinterest. All that gorgeous inspiration is available because planners and photographers (and brides and grooms) share images of their work with blogs and bridal magazines. But what happens if your photographer really wants to have your wedding published, but you'd rather keep it private? Here's what you should do.
In a perfect world (and with a reputable photographer), you will be asked to sign a model release as permission for them to use your wedding images. This applies to their website and social media pages, as well as serves as permission to submit images of your likeness to any blogs or magazines. Without a signed model release, your photographer doesn't legally have the right to distribute your images—which means publications don't have the right to feature them.
Discussions about publication often begin before the wedding even takes place, with your photographer including the model release with the other paperwork you'll be signing so you can look it all over at once. If there is a model release included in your photographer's contract, or a clause granting them the right to distribute images of your likeness, now is the time to discuss and negotiate. Maybe you're okay with a few pictures on their Facebook or Instagram feed along with a small gallery on their website, but you don't want the images on a blog or in a magazine. If this sounds like you, make sure the release is amended to reflect those specifics. If you really don't want any images shared at all, you have every right to refuse to sign the release or to ask that the clause be removed from the contract entirely, replaced with a statement that no images shall be shared or distributed.
Didn't get a model release or see a related clause in the contract? Speak up. A reputable photographer will know that your privacy and right to the images trump their desire to have their work published, so if you specify that you don't want the images shared (even if it isn't in the contract), they're obliged to follow your lead.
While keeping your images private is completely up to you, do consider the value pictures of your wedding hold for your vendors. Even if they aren't featured in a magazine, examples of recent, beautiful work and happy clients as part of their portfolio will do wonders for their business. Consider allowing them to use pictures of décor with no people on their social media pages, and maybe a select few other photos from your wedding on their blog or website. You can also request to have approval of the images that end up on their website before the pictures go live, so you can have a final once-over.
Of course, if privacy is important to the two of you, saying you don't want any pictures anywhere is completely acceptable—and completely legal. Make your wishes known clearly, and know that if you didn't sign any sort of release regarding the pictures, you do have recourse.