A photo booth is a great addition to a wedding. It gives you lots of additional photos of friends and family and can act as a favor for attendees. But for me, the best selling point is that people invariably act ridiculous in photo booth photos. If you want to get photographic proof that your most staid relative is, in fact, willing to pull some remarkable faces, rent a photo booth. To guarantee silliness, props are a must. However, you have to accept that these will end up on the dance floor. I went to a wedding where the photo booth had an ‘enforcer’ that monitored the props table and wouldn’t let you wear your chosen item out of the booth. This led to folks complaining that the photo booth had a bouncer, and guests (perhaps those closest to me, not naming names) declaring loudly that the photo booth was run by The Man. Which it kind of was.
I’ll also preface this by saying I’m inordinately opinionated about photo booth props. I can’t stand flimsy paper masks, signs with words on them (“I’m with stupid!” “I came for the beer!” etc.), or, heaven forbid, fake mustaches on sticks. Mustaches are not inherently funny, people! They’re just facial hair, sheesh. Based on my Facebook feed, which is full of photos of people holding fake mustaches on their faces at weddings, I may be alone in this opinion, but I stand by it. Down with the faux-stache!
So, on to the “dos” for photo booth props … A few good rules of thumb are to choose items that are easily visible in photos (hats are your friends here), things that people can get creative with, items that can be mixed and matched, and things that large enough that they won’t get lost on a table of props. Avoid items like fake plastic swords or pointy Viking hats, which in the hands of dancing (and, ahem, inebriated) guests can cause issues. Here is a list of my go-to top 20 props:
- A pith helmet ($17.99). Consider checking your local Army/Navy store (a treasure trove for photo booth props generally). Also include some tulle. The ladies (me included) love going all Out of Africa and wrapping the tulle around the pith helmet, like Meryl down below, looking fantastic, as always.
- Cowboy hat. ($16.99) A classic. If you don’t want to use your grandpa’s Stetson (please don’t use your grandpa’s Stetson) costume stores are your friends for this one, and will have them cheaper than anywhere else.
- Sheriff badge ($3.67). Goes with the cowboy hat!
- Bandannas ($1.34/ea). People get creative with these – from a bandit with the cowboy hat to tied on the head Lucille Ball ’50s style.
- Top Hat ($9.99) and/or bowler hat ($7.90) for the men, and a mini top hat ($12.20) for women. Hats that look decent in photos can be found for as little as $5 at costume shops. People love these. You can be silly but look dapper. Like John Cleese in the Ministry of Silly Walks. Mini top hats come in all kinds of price points, from fancy on Etsy to be-feathered ones like this, to simpler ones. Just be sure you get the headband kind or one with an elastic band rather than a clip on, otherwise folks will have a hard time putting it on and taking it off.
- Binoculars ($1.02). Works well with the pith helmet.
- Tiara ($4.99). Can look fancy but still be in costume. Avoid a wand or scepter or risk guests bopping people on the head, fairy godmother style.
- Crown ($6.99). A tiara for men. You have to be careful with this one. Why does the gentleman on the right down there look so miserable? Because he looks like the Burger King King (or is it just the Burger King? So many questions). Why does the guy on the left look so smug? Because he has a way better crown.
- Flapper headpiece ($5.99). Another ‘classy but fun’ one (although the model in this photo has been Photoshopped of horror-ed so much she’s terrifying). Semi-related, I just searched feather fascinators on Etsy looking for examples of these and now I want to wear a feather fascinator in my hair every day, because they are gorgeous. Look at this! And this! And this! Ahem, moving on…
- Feather boas ($1.89). You’d think the women would be the ones wearing this in most of the photos, but believe me, as the night goes on and the drinks are drunk, the men will be the ones sporting this most of the time.
- Sailor hat ($8.18). Works for men or women.
- Frame ($24.99). If you’ve looked at any wedding web sites or blogs, you’ve probably seen someone holding up a frame in a photo. I don’t care that it’s very “done” it is still cute and people love it. Unless you happen to have a vintage wood gilt frame you’re willing to leave to the antics of your guests, the best source for this is Ikea’s Ung Drill frame. Such a hideous name for such a fancy piece of plastic.
- Halo ($4.99)/devil horns ($6.99). Leads to so many goofy photos. But look at what they’ve done to these poor models! I’m sure normally these ladies look just fine sans-Photoshop, but here they are terrifying! Not to mention the product descriptions … Costume shops go blue with pretty much all women’s costumes, but this is news to no one.
- Sherlock Holmes hat ($10.59). Tempting as it may be, avoid the pipe – the germ factor is too great.
- Tricorn hat ($10.84). I always thought it was “tricorner” hat because it has three “corners” but apparently it’s tricorn. How could I live so long in New England and not know this? This can cut colonial or pirate. Works for men or women.
- Two types of hats here – style is up to you – Aviator hat ($9.99) or pilot hat ($8.99)- works for men or women. By the way, is this costume model Channing Tatum? If not, meet your doppelgänger, Sir Tatum. May I suggest a pilot costume for Magic Mike II: Even Magicker?
- Monocle ($0.96). Makes even your grandma look like the Monopoly Man.
- Hers and his Venetian/Mardi Gras masks ($7.99 and $2.99). You can find some really fantastic looking options for next to nothing!
- Chalkboard ($9.99). Guests can write you messages on the board in their photos. Just be sure you have chalk, an eraser, and have primed the board by rubbing it with chalk and erasing it, otherwise the first message written will appear ghost-like in the board even after its erased.
- Eyeglasses. So many choices here – heart rims, John Lennon style round frames, giant clown glasses. Up to you!
Aside from my no faux-stache personal rule, as a general rule, not just for weddings but for life, it’s a good idea to avoid dressing up as a race. If your prop basically is “I’m Native American! I’m Vietnamese!” yes, it is offensive. Goodbye, bamboo hat! Sayonara, turban! Farewell, feathered headdress! Basically, anything on the “International Costume” page of a costume store is a no-no, perhaps with an exception for Roman helmets. These are some surprisingly dark corners of the Internet, so beware as you explore!