Looking at Photo Booths for Rent? Top 10 Tips from the Magical Mirror

Although DJ's have been a staple of wedding & party entertainment for years, recent trends have seen a significant rise in the number of photo booths at weddings as a form of guest entertainment. If you are researching photo booths for rent for weddings or parties, the cost typically ranges anywhere from $400 - $1200. If you are going to splurge for a fun photo booth then hopefully this post will help to ensure you don’t end up with a nightmare story about your wedding photo booth rental while wasting hundreds of dollars and hours of time along the way. 

Have you ever tried to look for a photo booth for rent for a wedding or a party? I did, once for my daughter's birthday party; before I owned the Magical Mirror Photo Booth company. I pulled out my phone, fired up Google, and started looking around. It wasn’t too long I felt like I was in the matrix, there were way too many options; I don’t even think the first 10 companies I looked at offered a similar look or package inclusions. I felt like I was studying for an engineering degree in photo booth rentals. I was lost and frustrated, to be honest.

Fast forward a few years later, as a mirror photo booth owner, I always ask my clients a few questions about their event photo booth for rent research efforts and the answers are consistently the same. Not only did they look at approximately 4-8 different styles of photo booths for rent but they got lost and frustrated along the way just like I did.

I have come to the personal conclusion that trying to navigate the google world of wedding photo booth rental options is just as pleasant as slamming your hand in the car door. Here are some things I wish I would have known long before I hit go on that google search. 

Top 10 Tips to ensure you have an amazing photo booth rental experience at your wedding or party

  1. The vendor reputation, familiarity with my venue, their load in procedures, the on-site host(s) and the final set up appearance plays a bigger factor in the overall experience than I expected
  2. There are too many physical styles to choose from and booths that look the same don’t always operate the same
  3. The price is not always what it seems, let me repeat; the price is not always what it seems
  4. Not all photo booths are accessible for those with mobility issues or can accommodate groups of more than a few people comfortably
  5. Prop selection, quality & variety are more important than I ever could have imagined
  6. It's more fun if it's interactive or can be customized in some way
  7. Not all photo booths offer a real-time preview and/or a retake option
  8. Rarely is there enough time between pictures to change poses & props
  9. Not every photo booth company offers onsite printing
  10. Equipment type and quality are crazy important! Printers, cameras, lighting, and backdrops, as well as photography knowledge of the on-site host, will have a major impact on the overall quality of the service & final photo results

We can only assume you rented a fun photo booth for your wedding or event is so your guests could have an amazing time and create documented lifelong memories. Are we wrong? Probably not…

There are lots of questions to ask a photo booth vendor at the end of this post but if you really don't care about a detailed list here are my top 5 questions to ask when you are considering renting a photo booth for a wedding, party or event.

  1. Can you give me a detailed list of what is and is not included in your price?
  2. Can I see a couple of pictures of your actual set up at previous events?
  3. Can I see some photo examples of your past client’s experience and one of how my final photo will look?
  4. What kind of printer and camera do you use?
  5. When do you arrive at the venue, what do you have to load in and how long does set up take?

Here’s an example of a nightmare story about a wedding photo booth rental. Close your eyes and picture this; well don’t actually close your eyes I need you to keep reading. 

You are hosting an amazing Moroccan themed wedding; an eccentric flair with a feeling of comfort. You have spent months planning your big day; you have selected an amazing venue, chosen some rich, colourful textiles, stunning hanging lanterns and soft bunches of pampass grass creating a border around the dance floor. Seating areas of pouf seating with tassled centerpieces; absolutely no detail unthought-of in the décor.

The ceremony is complete and your guests start arriving for cocktail hour in their elaborate attire. The music is playing, the apps are flowing, your guests are chatting and the room is filling up. You are in a great mood, your wedding day has gone perfect so far, you've been planning this wedding for 2 years and you are so happy this day has finally come. 

You are also pumped about the photo booth, it took you forever to decide on which one you wanted, who knew there were so many choices out there?!? They haven’t arrived yet, you tried to reach them a couple of days ago and again this morning to confirm everything was still in order for them to arrive before cocktail hour started but they didn’t respond. You hope they arrive soon and remember that you paid extra for the red carpet, velvet stanchions & themed props to give it that VIP feels. You’re really excited to see how great it all looks, watch your guests having fun and see all the photos! (1,2,3)

You see a guy in jeans and a t-shirt wander into the room who you don’t know and go ask him how you can help. Turns out it’s the photo booth company; finally. Better late than, never right? You tell them where to set up and they start loading in and setting up. You really wish they would have been here before so many people arrived. There was an option for early set up that was a costly add on. You put on your happy face, leave them to their set up carry on socializing with your guests. (1,3)

The final set up looks nothing that you expected; the prop table is cheap looking white plastic, I guess table linens were an extra charge too; I had no idea. The prop selection is slim and there are NONE of the themed props that you paid extra for. The once red velvet ropes have faded so much, they are more pink than red and the bases and poles are worn with age & scratched. The red carpet looks like a thin doormat and just slides around on the floor. The exposed electrical codes look like crap and are probably a tripping hazard.

You ask the host who was to be dressed all in black but instead he's still in jeans & a t-shirt; he just shrugs his shoulders and says I don't know this is what they gave me as he continues to stack his empty totes & equipment shells in a pile in plain sight of all your guests.

It's too late to worry about any of this, by this time your party is in full swing, and people want to use the photo booth you've been raving about having at your wedding. (1,3,5)

The first group of guests steps up to get their photo taken. There are 8 of them but only 7 of them were able to join in for the fun photo booth session. (4)

They get ready and the first picture is taken; they want to switch poses & positions but there are only a few seconds between photos and there isn't enough time. (8)

Once they are done their session, all 8 of them would like a printed copy but there's a max of 5 prints per session. You didn’t splurge for the extra cost unlimited printing because the overall cost was adding up and you didn’t have the budget to spend more. You recall some companies you looked at didn't event offer prints at all, so 5 will have to do. Thankfully the one you rented has an electronic delivery method of the photos. Outbreaks a serious game of rock, paper, scissors to see what 5 from the 8 will get one of the printed pictures. (3.9)

Here's what happens next......warning the next portion of this post may trigger suppressed, disturbing memories if you've had a bad photo booth consumer experience.

  • Lakisha was the winner of the rock, paper, scissors battle so she grabs the first picture and smudges it because the photo wasn't dry yet; her copy is ruined.
  • Chris grabs the second print and holds it carefully so he doesn't smudge it; everyone takes a look at the final result and they are less than impressed.
  • The photos are small and it's hard to see everyone because the picture is dark
  • You can barely see their beautiful Moroccan outfits because the camera only captured them from mid-waist and up.
  • Dan's head is cut out because he's too tall
  • Fatima isn't looking at the camera
  • Little Sandy upfront can't even be seen in the photo
  • Raj has his eyes closed
  • Paul's arm is in front of his face and he's really blurry
  • Only half of Chris & Lakisha is in the picture
  • Diya couldn't participate in the fun at all because she has mobility issues and the booth wasn't accessible
  • For those that got an electronic copy of the picture. Finally, a couple of hours later the text arrived; and if they wanted a copy of the picture, they needed to click a link, provide personal contact information and download a file from an unsecured source. (1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10)

Ouch! Not really the result you were going for, was it? What a disaster and on your wedding day of all things....

The two biggest pieces of advice I can offer you are to check vendor reviews specifically public platforms like Google & Facebook; and confirm for yourself that the vendor is responsive. If you see any red flags in reviews or long delays in responses, move on to another company.

There are a ton of questions you should be asking your event photo booth supplier BEFORE paying a deposit or signing a contract. I can’t say this is a complete list but I think this is an extensive list that helps you cover almost every single aspect that you could come across when you are considering renting a photo booths for weedings.

Price - What do your prices include? What are the add on options & costs? Is there anything we haven’t discussed that I might need to enhance my experience?

Venue Familiarity & Set Up Processes - Have you worked at my venue before? When you will arrive onsite? What do you have to load in? What is your set up process? How long does the set up take? How long does your tear down process take? When will you depart the venue?

Vendor Final Set Up Appearance - What does your final set up look like? Do you supply a backdrop? What material is the backdrop made of? Is the backdrop frame sturdy? Is the frame exposed or covered by the backdrop? If the backdrop is not against a wall, what does the other side of the backdrop look like? Do you bring your own prop & printer tables? Do you have linens for your tables? Where do you store your totes and any additional equipment you may have onsite? Do you keep your prop table organized? Can you provide pictures of your red carpet and velvet stanchions?

Host/Attendants - Will there be a host onsite the entire time? How may hosts will be onsite? How will the hosts be dressed? Are the hosts friendly, fun, approachable, and knowledgeable? Do the onsite hosts have photography knowledge to adjust for different lighting scenarios so we get great photos every time? Do the onsite hosts have extensive knowledge of how your booth & equipment operates and how to troubleshoot common issues quickly to avoid excessive downtime?

Photo Booth Equipment, Functionality & Look – What kind of camera do you use? What kind of printer do you use? Do you have back up equipment in case yours fails? Can you send me photos of the actual photo booth and how it looks during operation? Is it a closed booth, open booth, mirror booth, or spinning type of booth? Is the booth accessible for those that have mobility issues? Do my guests stand in front of someone taking their photos manually or is it an automated process? If it’s an automated process, is it animated? How can you ensure your software works properly and doesn’t crash while onsite?

Client/Guest Experience – Is your booth accessible for people with mobility issues? Are the pictures taken vertically or horizontally? How much of a person can you see in the photos? How many people can comfortably get into each photo? How many photos does each session take? What is the size of the final print? Can we preview our photos? Is there a retake option? Can the animations be customized? Can you send me examples of standard and custom animations? Is it interactive? If so, how? Do I have to choose from your photo frame templates or can you create me a custom one? If I have to choose from your standard ones, can you send me my options? Can you send me examples of your design work on custom photo templates? Can we print photos onsite? Can we send photos by text and/or email from the photo booth? If we send them electronically how do I retrieve my photo? When they are sent electronically can I include a message to my guests? Do you have any games or other fun things to do?

Thanks for reading this post, if you are looking at photo booths for rent for weddings & parties we hope the Magical Mirror's top 10 tips were helpful. Feel free to get in touch if you have questions about our magic mirror photo booth for rent or any general questions and I would be happy to try and help you out!