wedding guests in photo booth

Everything You Need to Know about Photo Booths

Entertainment Featured

Why You Need a Photo Booth at Your Wedding

Photo booths are everywhere these days, and for good reason. In the words of one wedding guest last night, “This is surprisingly fun!” And it is. If you’re looking for an activity that everyone can do and that everyone will enjoy, a photo booth is it.

First, it’s not about the photos. Yes, there are photos, but the main thing is the props and the posing. Guests love playing with the photo props and posing in silly ways, and the ways get sillier and more fun as the evening goes on. The best photo booth props are a mix of glam, like feather boas and sparkly masks, and pure kid-at-heart fun, like pirate swords, funny signs, and silly hats. The prop table at a photo booth is like a dress-up box for adults, and it turns out that adults love to play dress up just as much as kids. And if there is a photo to share after? Even better!

Next, photo booth usually come with attendants, which means someone else – as in not you or your new spouse – will be in charge of making sure guests have fun and that all the tech works properly. All you need to do is make sure there is space for the booth (about 10×10) and most photo booth companies will be happy to handle the rest. They even have clever hacks for situations where there is no wifi and no cell signal, which is common at many of Virginia’s most beautiful (and isolated) venues.

Finally, a photo booth is an inclusive activity that anyone can enjoy. From your most elderly guest to the mom with a baby, anyone can get in front of the booth and pose for a photo.

But I have a photographer, you say, why do I need a photo booth? Your photographer’s job is not to entertain the guests – it’s to capture your day in as beautiful a way as possible. Your photographer can’t be everywhere at once, and may even leave shortly after the dancing and partying really begin. Your photo booth photos won’t be as beautiful as the ones your photographer takes, but they’ll definitely be funny! So leave the forever moments to the photographer, and get a photobooth to capture Great Aunt Edna in a pink feather boa and cowboy hat.

What to Know Before Renting a Photo Booth

Photo booths come in many shapes and sizes. There are open-air photo booths, 360 booths, mirror booths, roaming booths, camper booths, and probably more by the time you read this. They also come in different styles, from modern to vintage. Here are some of the most common.

Open-Air Photo Booth Kiosk

These are basically tablets on a stand or tripod, or perhaps a tablet with an attached separate camera, inside a ring light. The stand or tripod is usually set up facing a backdrop, against which guests pose. This set-up requires about a 10×10 space, but is lighter and more portable than some other booths, so you will have more flexibility as far as where to place it at your venue. You’ll need enough room for the backdrop (at least 8-10 feet wide for best results), a props table, possibly a printer area, and the device, which is set about 7 feet back from the backdrop. Be sure to let the vendor know if there are any stairs involved, as most will need to roll a lot of equipment into the space.

bride and guest at photo booth holding disco balls
Photo by Tamara Ines Photography; Photobooth from Love Wedding Events

360 Booths

These booths have a round platform on which a small group of guests can stand while the camera revolves around them 360 degrees (hence the name). This produces a variety of media forms that capture your guests from all angles. This type of booth requires about an 8 foot circle, and also room for a prop table and printer. It is heavier than open air kiosks, so you’ll need to make sure the location you plan to put it is accessible for the vendor’s rolling equipment cart(s).

Mirror Booths

Mirror Booths look like the mirror from Alice in Wonderland, and the mirror acts as a touchscreen to take the photo. Mirror Booths are the most glamorous choice in photo booth, but are also very heavy and require adequate space and access without stairs or rough terrain. They don’t normally use a backdrop, however, which can save you some space.

Roaming Booths

A roaming booth is basically just an open-air kiosk without a tripod, and is held with a special handpiece instead. The attendant can then roam about the venue and use the photo apparatus and ring light to take photos anywhere. This type of photo booth does not normally use a printer (although it is not impossible), so delivery is probably digital only, with fun gifs and boomerangs instantly available.

Camper and Vehicle Booths

Converted campers and other vehicles make great photo booths and can add atmosphere and beauty to your event. Guests climb in and use a camera or ipad device to take photos inside the vehicle. These vehicles make great photo opps even from the outside, where you may opt to take some photos with your wedding photographer against the backdrop of the vehicle.

vintage camper photo booth
Marigold Bus and Photobooth

Photo Booth Options

Photo booth vendors list a lot of options, and the vocabulary can be confusing, so here is a list of the most common terms and what they mean:

Gifs, boomerangs, vidoes:

Almost every photo booth vendor offers these, as they are part of the most popular software applications. Boomerangs are short gif-like media bits, and gif’s are usually made up of however many photos were taken at once. Most photo booth are set to take 2-4 photos, with a countdown between each. All of this is customizable if you request it.

Custom overlays, templates, and logos:

Again, the most popular software applications offer the option of adding customized artwork, names, dates, and company logos to your printed photos, so most vendors offer this. If you don’t request anything special and the company doesn’t do it automatically, your photos will simply appear against a solid background.

Digital props and digital filters:

This is another feature of most photo booth software- the ability to paste a silly mustache or cartoon hat onto your photo, or to apply a filter. However, this option can slow down the operation of your photo booth.

Online gallery:

Most vendors will email you a link to a downloadable gallery of all of the photos taken at your event.

Printing and mailing:

Some vendors will offer to print your photos and mail them to you after the event, as an alternative to (or in addition to) printing instantly at the event.

Instant sharing and unlimited digital delivery:

This is basic to almost all modern photo booth rentals – after a photo is taken, guests can instantly share it via text, email, QR code, or Airdrop. Vendors may also offer social sharing, such as Instagram and Twitter.

Down time or idle time:

Photo booths are usually hourly rentals. If you wish to use your photo booth during both the cocktail hour and the reception, there will be an hour or so during dinner when the booth will be idle. Many vendors will offer a lower hourly rate for those idle hours (the average in Nova is about $50/idle hour).

DSLR vs. Ipad:

Photo booths can use either the camera on a tablet (usually an Ipad), or a DSLR camera. Obviously, the DSLR camera has the potential to take better photos than the Ipad, but unless the operator is an experienced photographer, there is no guarantee you will see a great difference. You should consider the photo booth a fun activity for guests, and not a source of professional photographs.

Questions to Ask Your Photobooth Vendor:

  • How much space do you need?
  • Do you require power?
  • Do you require wifi and/or cell service?
  • Will the photos be printed or shared digitally or both?
  • Do you offer custom backgrounds for the printed photos?
  • What kind of props do you bring?
  • What is the charge for idle hours?

Hints and Tips

On a final note, yes, you should tip the photo booth attendant, and yes, you should provide them with a vendor meal if they will be onsite for the dinner hour. If they are staying only for the cocktail hour, simply ask them at booking if they require a meal.

You can double the fun and save money at the same time by renting a photo booth package that includes lawn games. Both Rustic Garden Rentals and Marigold Bus and Photo Booth offer game packages along with their booth rentals.

Photo by Polyakov Photography; Game from Rustic Garden Rentals & Photobooth

Now that you know all about photo booths, go out and rent one for your wedding! Your guests will have a great time and you’ll have some extra fun photos to look at afterwards.

Cover image by Santa Ana Photography