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I Don’t Photograph Guerilla Weddings. I Photograph Weddings.

The wedding industry is a weird, ever-changing beast. It is constantly spawning new trends and fads, some of which are totally fine and some of which are completely bizarre. Lately there is a phrase that is getting thrown around on wedding blogs/magazines that’s really been bothering me. I’ve kept it to myself, but I don’t think I’m helping anyone that way. If it were just in one or two places, I feel like I could ignore it, but it’s everywhere lately. And being that I am a photographer of small/intimate weddings, this phrase is sort of directly related to my specific line of work. So I think it’s time for me to publicly come out against it. The phrase? “Guerilla weddings.”

If you’re not familiar with the term, it refers to an impromptu ceremony at a location that hasn’t been officially “booked” for your wedding, if that makes sense. Basically, everyone shows up to a (usually) public place, unannounced, and you get married. I photograph weddings like this all the time. You know what I call them? Weddings. Or elopements. (I don’t actually have an adorable name for them. Sorry.)

I understand wanting cute names for emerging trends in the industry. I totally get it, and although I don’t participate in it, I don’t have a big problem with it as a rule. But I don’t necessarily think we need to use a phrase that has such negative connotations as “guerilla.” I personally wouldn’t want my impromptu wedding ceremony referred to as a “guerilla wedding.” The image that springs to mind when I hear that phrase, as someone who knows people who lived through guerilla warfare in South America, is not a good one at all.

I know people are going to disagree vehemently with me on this, and that’s totally fine. I’m just sharing my opinion as someone who photographs these sorts of ceremonies all the time. I find it incredibly offensive for a myriad of reasons, and I’m not interested in “taking back” the word. Period. End of discussion. I think if you need a phrase to describe these sorts of ceremonies, a much better one would be “pop-up wedding.”

Obviously the wedding industry is going to continue to use that phrase, and there’s really nothing I can do about it. I’m one tiny little voice. But if you find yourself in a position where you’re trying to describe a certain kind of wedding, I’d urge you to give it a second thought and maybe use the phrase “pop-up wedding” instead.

And clients – I promise to never call your elopement a “guerilla wedding.” Pinky swear.

(Disclaimer: I don’t really want to get involved in any kind of a debate on this subject, because there’s absolutely nothing that can change my mind about this. This was not directed at anyone specifically, the word is everywhere lately. It’s just something that’s been bugging me for months. This is just my opinion, as a photographer, business owner, and human being. Hope we can all still be friends, ok?)





I <3 you & agree whole heartedly. I didn't 'get' why that term was suddenly everywhere anyway!?! So weird this industry. So weird.

YES. This, exactly. I have been trying to put my finger on exactly what it was about this phrase that irked me so, and you’ve got it spot on. As someone who had an un-booked wedding in a public space, I can say I’d never want it to be referred to as “guerilla” because of the negative connotations. The other thing is that the term implies it is a secretive or sneaky affair, and the types of weddings promoted with this term seem to be neither. (Ours was intentionally public since we were celebrating our ability to get legally married.) I’m personally still on the hunt forthe right term – I also loathe “pop-up” – but I am at a loss. Thanks for putting this put there!

I was contacted to be featured on a reality show about Guerilla weddings. Since I also do not “do” those, and therefore would have nothing to say on the subject, I declined. But – looks like the term isn’t going anywhere, and tv producers have picked it up. Sorry to say!

Agreed. This isn’t a trend that has caught on near me… hopefully by the time it does, it will be with a less offensive name.

I also like that you point out that there doesn’t *need* to be a cutesy term for these types of weddings. They’re weddings just like 500-person gala-receptions are weddings and 30 person lobster-bakes are weddings and 100 person country-club-ceremonies are weddings. It’s the love that makes them valid, not what we call them.

I agree! Good for you for speaking out!!