Besides having photos taken at the world famous Las Vegas sign on your wedding day, the second most popular question I get as a wedding planner in Las Vegas is “I’d love photos by a slot machine or by a casino table. Can we make that happen?” It is definitely tricky and I’ve gathered information from some of my wedding photographer friends to share with you all. Obviously, the general consensus is that casinos are extremely strict with their photo policy and that there is plenty of red tape involved.
Restricted areas usually include the entire casino floor. In the last 6 years, Digs Studio has only gained access to one casino floor at the off strip Rampart Casino at 8:00 am at a closed poker table. Other photographers have been “luckier” while playing by the “ask for forgiveness” rule and taking their chances. With that method, security can sometimes be right there to escort you out within 5 – 10 minutes which can lead to embarrassment to the bride and groom. Natasha from Write Shot also advises that brides do not ask them to just “sneak a few” shots. “As professionals who live and work in Vegas, ‘sneaking a few’ is not an option.”
I recommend keeping the lines of communication open with your photographer and wedding planner, allowing for extra time, and being flexible with changes. Your wedding planner will usually want to add in extra time for photography in the wedding timeline that is created. Steve Fogarty of Fogarty Weddings suggests obtaining written permission before even signing the contract with your venue. Your point of contact at the casino (generally the catering manager) would usually be able to assist in obtaining approval for you or be able to point you in the right direction to getting approved. Your photographer should then carry the written approval with them on the wedding day.
The photographer you hire may have their own opinions on taking your photos on a casino floor. Rhiannon from Digs usually discourages casino sessions “due to the amount of people on the casino floor and the lighting in the casino. We use off camera lighting which requires room to set up and can be dangerous in a crowded area.” Again, speaking to your photographer prior to the wedding day will prevent you from being disappointed.
As with most things, one casino may be more lenient than the next and it may all depend on who you ask. Open and honest communication is extremely important. At a recent wedding, one of our couples wanted a photo taken by the roulette table. They had hired an outside photographer (with the permission of the casino) in addition to still using the in house photographer. The casino’s in house photographer was the only person allowed to take that roulette photo on the casino floor. As far as the photos taken within the hotel grounds, we cleared it in advance with our contact at the hotel and planned it out so that the photographer had a copy of the written approval in his hands on the wedding day.
Other reasons for the strictness of photography in a casino include the fact that casinos are private property. It also “stems from several legalities, including every individual’s right to privacy on the floor; and copyright laws that prohibit the shooting of artwork and third party trademarks that may be incorporated into the location’s fixtures and signage. In other words, photographers may obtain permission to shoot you on the floor, but the casino, itself, cannot grant permission for the shooting of third parties’ logos, like Marlboro or Heineken, which may appear in photos. This also extends to artwork on the walls. That’s why in reality TV shows, you see logos and art blurred.”
“Ultimately, you’re in your gown and everyone loves a bride, so you’ve got that going in your favor. Have your shooter ask permission. Then take your cues from him/her and enjoy the glamour and fun. You will cherish these shots forever, without a doubt.” – Natasha with Write Shot