Wedding Photographers Reveal the Tell-Tale Signs a Couple Will Get Divorced

Robin Zlotnick - Author

Apr. 24 2019, Updated 2:38 p.m. ET

runaway bride
Source: Paramount Pictures

Weddings are stressful — and I'm not just saying that because I am in the middle of planning my own. There are so many details to think about, so many people to please, and so many decisions to make, that even a simple wedding will reveal sides of yourself and your partner that you may not have known were there.

And no one has a better vantage point to witness that epic show of stress and emotion than the person literally in charge of documenting your wedding day: the photographer. They follow you and your partner around while you throw the biggest party of your life, capturing every little detail of the day. That means they see when you are blissful and crying tears of joy, but they also see when you are arguing and crying tears of frustration.

Needless to say, wedding photographers and other wedding professionals who have been in the business for a while are able to notice certain red flags that indicate when a marriage is totally doomed from day one. And they are sharing them all in one very juicy AskReddit thread. Here are some of our favorites — and by favorites, I mean the most horrifying stories of the bunch. 

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1. The Cake Cutting

wedding red flag cake
Source: iStock Photo

Apparently, the way a couple handles their cake cutting can say a lot about the future of their relationship. While some folks think it's funny to smash the cake all over their new spouse's face, not everyone who has paid several hundred dollars to have their makeup done enjoys that sort of thing. So it's essential that the couple agrees on whether or not this is a "tradition" they want to uphold. 

"Sometimes one of them (usually the groom) will force cake all over the others face and embarrass and upset them," photographer MorgaseTrakand says. "I've seen this happen a handful of times and all of those relationships that I have kept up with have ended in a divorce."

2. Arguing in Iceland

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Source: iStock Photo

Sometimes the trouble starts as early as the engagement shoot. Reddit user Aeonasphere explains that they had a couple fly all the way out to Iceland to take photos, but when the groom chose a less than luxurious hotel for the couple to stay in, all hell broke loose. "Most of our plans fall through because they start arguing," they wrote. "In front of a beautiful, solitary glacier. For two hours."

And you know that yelling echoed over the whole landscape. Later on, the photographer learned that they broke up a month before the wedding. Ouch.

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3. Respect is key

wedding red flag happy
Source: iStock Photo

It's really all about respect, isn't it? It's easy to tell when a couple respects each other and treats each other well. When that respect isn't there, when they are constantly arguing and putting each other down, wedding photographer thr3epointone4 says, it's a red flag. 

"If they are respectful toward one another (and toward me) during a day full of stress then I think that’s a good indicator of being able to deal with other problems that may arise during a marriage," they wrote. 

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4. The Silent Groom

wedding red flag silent groom
Source: iStock Photo

It's your wedding day! Both people involved in the marriage should be ecstatic! This is a huge life event, one that will change your entire future. You're supposed to be excited about that. But when one or both members of the couple seem somber and silent on a day that's supposed to be a celebration, that is not a good sign. 

Ex-photographer Compulsive-Gremlin described a wedding where the bride was cheerful and loud and excited all night but the groom "barely said ten words to anyone during the ceremony or reception afterwards." They divorced about a year into their marriage.

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5. Forbidden Interests

wedding red flag interests
Source: iStock Photo

It is important couples have similar interests, things that they enjoy doing together. But it is also totally and completely 100 percent healthy to have separate hobbies that the other person just isn't into. In a solid relationship, partners will support each other's interests even if they don't participate themselves. 

One videographer, c64bandit, says, "A big red flag is when one person is clearly trying to change the other." They had a couple where the bride basically said that her husband-to-be wouldn't be participating in any of the things he liked to do anymore once they were married. They got an annulment.

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6. Popular Country Songs

wedding red flag country song
Source: iStock Photo

I am always so curious about the songs couples choose to dance to for their first dance at their wedding. Their song selection really seems to say a lot about them as a couple. And apparently, that's correct! One formed photography assistant, sbashe5, claimed that couples who chose very popular country hits as their wedding songs were more likely to get divorced. Go figure!

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7. Constant Apologizing

wedding red flag couple argue
Source: iStock Photo

You can usually tell way before the wedding if a couple seems like they're going to make it. The wedding planning process is full of stress and compromise and expectation. It's really tough. Wedding planner AlmousCurious says if couples are constantly apologizing for each other's behavior, unable to stick to decisions, or if one partner overrides an agreement previously made by both parties, those are all red flags that the relationship is not as strong as it should be.

On the other hand, when a couple respects each other, when both people are involved in the wedding planning, when they are friendly and respectful to staff that they've hired, these are all green flags that they're heading in the right direction. 

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8. Sand Ceremony Gone Wrong

wedding red flag sand ceremony
Source: iStock Photo

Oh man, the symbolism of this story is just too much to handle. KingLesbian witnessed a sand ceremony at a wedding they were shooting that went totally off the rails. After the vows, the groom took a vial of white sand and the bride took a vial of black sand, and they were supposed to pour them together into an empty vessel. The sand would come together and become gray, which would symbolize their union. Nice idea, I guess. 

But, "as they poured they could not sync with each other at all, one would slow down the other sped up and vice versa, they ended up pouring near perfectly stratified black and white layers." Apparently, the marriage only lasted two years.

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9. Posers vs. Adventurers

wedding red flag adventure
Source: iStock Photo

Chelseafrown, the friend of an engagement / wedding photographer, explains that it's easy to tell if a couple is going to make it just by the way they interact during a photo shoot. If they pay attention to each other and "are willing to be silly and adventurous," that's an indicator that the marriage will last. 

If they're super focused on themselves and the camera and could care less about their partner, that's a red flag. I don't know about you, but taking engagement photos was such a weird experience for me because I don't normally have professional pictures of me taken. I was so glad I had my partner there to lean on and rely on and help make the whole thing way less awkward than it could have been. 

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10. Outright Fighting

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Source: iStock Photo

I guess this might seem pretty obvious, but if the couple is outright arguing and fighting the whole day of their wedding, that's not good. Even if the planning was more stressful than it should have been, the actual day of your wedding is supposed to be happy! 

Photographer golden-lining says she had a couple who wouldn't even look at each other all day because they were so angry. She actually had to photoshop a smile onto the groom's face in a few of the photos. That's insane!

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11. Selfish Vows

wedding red flag vows
Source: iStock Photo

I personally think heartfelt vows the couple writes themselves are really important for a wedding. The vows are your chance to express exactly how you feel about the person you're going to spend the rest of your life with. There's something nice about the traditional vows, but I'm a big fan of when couples write them themselves.

However, apparently sometimes that's not the best move. Wedding video editor codecduck says that when vows are "fluffy or almost selfish," too short or unemotional, that's a big red flag. 

A green flag, though? "People that can dork out together stay together." Phew.  

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12. The Same Team

wedding red flag planning
Source: iStock Photo

Experienced wedding photographer chriberg says it is super easy to tell when a couple will stay together: they're always on the same team.

That doesn't mean you can't disagree on specific things, but ultimately, if you work together, lift each other up, and have the same goal, you're in good shape. "Bad couples," they wrote, "take sides and fight / blame each other when something goes wrong."

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13. Good Customers

wedding red flag rings
Source: iStock Photo

When I was dating, I always took note of how my date treated the waitstaff if we were out to dinner. How people treat service workers will tell you a lot about them. 

And it's true in the wedding industry as well. Jeweler diamonddealer says it's simple: "If they're nice to each other, and nice to me and my staff, they're going to do well. If they're short-tempered, rude, pushy, etc., it's a sign they don't really want to be there."

Sounds about right to me.

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14. Full of Doubt

wedding red flag doubt
Source: iStock Photo

It is normal to be nervous on your wedding day. You're getting dressed up, standing in front of so many friends and family members, some of whom are meeting and mingling for the first time, and declaring your love for someone. It makes sense that you will be a little jittery. I'm already nervous about how nervous I'm going to be on my wedding day.

But, as wedding planner amy_danger points out, while nerves are normal, nagging doubt about whether or not you're making the right decision is not. 

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15. The Wrong Minister

wedding red flag minister
Source: iStock Photo

The question of who will officiate your wedding is a big one! Anivair says, "I'm a minister with a 100 percent divorce rate. I think the biggest red flag is me performing your marriage ceremony."

So basically, support each other, be nice to each other, and definitely don't let this minister officiate your wedding. 

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