RALEIGH, N.C. — When Erin and Doug Halka began planning their wedding, they also looked for ways their guests could share photos of their ceremony and reception.
“We thought about using disposable cameras, putting them on all the tables, and letting people take pictures,” said Doug Halka. But the thought of collecting cameras and developing film seemed antiquated.
Then they came across WedPics, one of several photo-sharing apps for weddings. The app lets guests upload images directly to a private album viewable online by the bride and groom.
“Everyone’s got their phone in their pocket at all times,” said Doug Halka. “They’re snapping pictures, they can immediately upload the photos, and now we have all the pictures to share with everyone else.”
Since the Halkas signed up for WedPics, 423 photos have been uploaded to their page. The pictures ranged from their courtship to the engagement party and all the way to their April wedding in Atlanta.
“Now we have pictures just in one place to remember our entire wedding,” Erin Halka said.
No longer do brides and grooms have to rely on a single official photographer to capture all the key moments from their big day. Increasingly, couples are crowdsourcing their wedding photography through WedPics and similar photo-sharing apps such as Capsule, Wedding Party, Guest Shots and AppilyWed.
Most wedding apps are free and are available for iPhones, iPads and Android devices. Guests can also upload images to the apps’ websites from a desktop or digital camera.
Online wedding albums are kept private unless couples enable social sharing, which allows guests to share photos and videos back out to their existing social networks.
“It enables every couple to create a private social network around each of their individual weddings,” said Justin Miller, CEO and co-founder of WedPics. “We see people uploading photos and videos from early on in their engagement all the way through the honeymoon.”
Incorporating technology at weddings has become increasingly popular. According to a recent survey from wedding site TheKnot.com, 19% of couples are using wedding apps to crowdsource their photos and another 41% are considering doing so.
Other couples are taking this a step further by inviting guests to share their wedding photos in real-time streams on social media.
“A lot of couples are creating their own custom hashtags for their wedding and then encouraging guests to take photos and upload them to Instagram and sometimes Twitter,” said Anja Winikka, site director for TheKnot.com.
Still, Winikka doesn’t see apps or hashtags replacing the professional photographer at weddings.
“The one gripe I might hear is that guests kind of get in the way,” she said. “If you have a bunch of guests with their phones up, it changes the look of the photo entirely. On the other hand, I don’t hear photographers who are worried that this is going to take away from their business.”
The prospect of a sea of smartphones and point-and-shoot cameras sticking out of the aisles has led some couples to want to unplug. According to TheKnot’s survey, 28% of brides have either asked or are planning to ask their guests not to take photos during the ceremony.
“Unplugged weddings have become sort of a trend because it’s so common for everybody to have their phones out,” Winikka said. “The idea there from the couples’ perspective is that everyone is going to be really present.”
Even so, a lot of couples still want as many photos as possible to remember the big day, she added.
Since 2012, more than a million people, including couples and their guests, have signed up for WedPics, Miller said.
Miller started the company in his basement in Raleigh, North Carolina. He had 12 people working for him full time when his young company was featured in the local newspaper.
“The day after (the story) was released, we got a knock on the door with somebody showing an eviction notice,” he said. “It turned out to be a blessing in disguise because we landed our first tech angel investor.”
Since then, WedPics has moved offices and raised even more money. The company recently closed its first round of venture-capital funding, and future prospects look bright. After all, said Miller, “People are always going to be getting married.”