Smile please! A photobooth will let your guests show off their fun side

Hiring a photobooth for your wedding was virtually unheard of 18 months ago, but their popularity has skyrocketed since then, and they’re getting bigger and better all the time

Photo: Smilebooth

Words by Sarah Gillespie

What is a photobooth?
Photobooths come in various shapes and sizes, so don’t worry if your venue is small – there will be a booth to fit it. The majority of them look like a vintage photobooth, and come with a curtain background. Some are equipped with a ‘green screen’ background where you can superimpose a range of pictures on to the photos. They are easy to assemble – most come flat-packed, and typically take around an hour to set up. “All that’s needed is sufficient space and an electrical socket,” says Frances Spencer-Barton of LookLook. “We’ve set our booth up in marquees, and even put one in a gazebo once.”

Why are they so popular?
Nothing will ever replace the traditional wedding photographer who is there to capture the beauty of your day; photobooths, instead, concentrate on the fun. As they’re normally running during the evening reception (for three to four hours), you can see your guests loosen up and enjoy each other’s company, especially as the refreshments start to flow. Nearly everyone feels self-conscious when they’re asked to pose for a photograph, so the fact the booths are unmanned and the guests are left to their own devices means you can end up with some absolute crackers!

Photo: LookLook

How do they work?
Once your friends and family have suitably embarrassed themselves for your amusement, the booth will produce two copies of the photos, one for them and one for you. “Our butlers will stick your copy into your photo album, which avoids any little accidents,” says Nicola Leckie of Smilebooth. “The photo albums can be customised to look like a guestbook, where your nearest and dearest can write a personal message alongside their photos.” Nicola advises asking potential suppliers what kind of glue they use to attach the photos to your album: “We always use a special acid-free glue to ensure your photos will stand the test of time.”

What do the pictures look like?
In a word – hilarious. Some of the most popular packages come with props such as wigs, glasses, guns and moustaches, but most companies do not object to you bringing or making your own. Smilebooth even has a range of props just for the bride and groom – we love the signs that say ‘Mr Right’ and ‘Mrs Always Right’ (it’s not cheeky if it’s true!). The layout of the image varies too – some people opt for one 6x4in image, whereas others prefer to have a grid of four, or the old-fashioned strip of four photos.

Quality is crucial
Make sure you research the image quality of each of your potential suppliers. You want to be able to laugh at how much fun your friends are having, not wince at how wasted they look. “We pride ourselves on professional and flattering photos, as our booths replicate a fashion studio with beauty lighting, a high-end digital camera and even a wind machine,” says Frances.

Basic packages will normally include a three-hour hire, double copies of the photos, your USB or web gallery, and optional video messages. You’ll pay more for extras such as props, different backgrounds and large-scale prints. Be sure to check what is and what isn’t included with your supplier.

If you decide to shun traditional favours and put the money towards hiring a booth instead, Smilebooth can personalise the white background of the photo printout. “We get a lot of requests for the date, or the couple’s initials, and we’ve even made an Irn Bru background for one pair!” laughs Nicola.

Photo: Smilebooth

What if something goes wrong?
Part of the attraction of the photobooth is the unmanned element, but all booths should come with a ‘Booth Butler’ or attendant who is on hand to ensure everything runs smoothly. Always check with your supplier that this service will be provided, and make sure the attendant knows how to deal with any worst-case scenarios. “All LookLook Booth Butlers are fully trained to fix any problems on site, and always carry spare parts just in case,” affirms Frances.

What happens afterwards?
“At the end of the night, we provide you with your photo album and a USB with all the photos on it. This is nice because your professional photos can take up to six weeks to be ready for viewing, whereas you can look through your photobooth ones the very next day,” says Nicola. If you’re worried about some of your more tipsy guests making off with the supplier’s bright orange afro or Groucho Marx specs, double check the company’s policy on missing props. Generally, if you have paid extra for the props, they won’t be hunting you down on your honeymoon to invoice you for any missing items.