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I got married recently and have changed my name at work. People have noticed and are now asking for wedding photos. How do I tell them politely that no, I'm not going to show them? Lying and saying I don't have any doesn't seem very realistic.

I don't want to show them because I'm a very private person. I didn't tell anyone I was getting married. I requested time off with a blanket "out of office" request and people are only finding out because I've changed my last name in visible places. I'm also very sensitive about my appearance.

  • Is sharing a picture from your honeymoon photo an option? It'd be more casual and there's less pressure on you to look good/perfect. – Azor Ahai -him- Oct 26 at 0:41
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    @AzorAhai--hehim We haven't gone on a honeymoon nor do we have any specific plans to, given the plague and all right now. – friendly Oct 26 at 2:08
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  • What did you say up to now? – guest Oct 27 at 13:59
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There are generally 2 reasons why people might ask to see photos:

  • Asking is the socially expected thing to do.

    In this case the expected response would be a non-committal:

    Yeah, I'll bring them in sometime.

    (or something like "they're on my Facebook profile", which presumably doesn't apply here)

    In most cases people aren't actually going to hold you to that, and most people don't actually want to sit looking through a bunch of wedding photos, and you'll never hear another word about it.

    Although there are some more insistent people for which you may need to repeat the above a few times.

  • They actually want to see the photos.

    In this case I would suggest something like:

    Sorry, but it was a private event and we don't feel comfortable sharing it with anyone other than close friends and family.

    "Sorry" is to show you sympathise with them wanting to see the photos. "We don't feel comfortable" is a bit less blunt than simply saying "the photos won't be shared". "We" also makes it unclear whether it's you or your partner or both who wants to keep it private, which makes it a bit harder to argue against.

    I went with "sharing it" under the assumption that you probably also don't want to discuss the details of the wedding in much detail with others. You can also go with "sharing the photos" if it's mostly about not sharing the photos. Or "sharing the photos or details" if you want to (weakly) emphasise that you don't want to share this.

So which one is it?

This is going to heavily depend on culture, who's asking and how they ask.

In somewhere like the US the first reason is much more common. The common example is seeing an old friend on the street and saying something like "we should grab a drink sometime", but never actually intending to do that.

Although there are of course people who actually want to see the photos. This would be close friends or people who just really like weddings or looking at photos. If someone just found out you got married or they're congratulating you, they're likely just asking for photos to be polite. If they specifically bring up wanting to see photos when you're not talking about the wedding, they may actually want to see photos and the second approach above may be more effective. Although the first approach can also work if you don't mind repeating it and/or you want to avoid giving different responses to different people.

In somewhere like Germany the second reason is much more common. Germans are much less likely to ask for something they don't actually want or commit to something they have no intention of doing simply for the sake of being polite.

Another consideration is your personality and values. I personally would generally avoid committing to something I don't intend to do, even if I know that's socially expected, because that's just not who I am and I don't care that much what others think of me.

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You ask an interesting question. Generally in the US, people are pretty excited about showing off wedding pictures so this is... unexpected.

Yet people have the right to be private about things; I know that I am! And people also tend to have a hard time adapting to unexpected behaviors as well.

This is a situation where a compromise is a challenge. You don't want to show your wedding pictures, and your co-workers expect that you do want to show them. I suspect that the honest response of "I don't want to show them" is just going to be met with arguments - I know when I engage in non-typical behaviors, it seems like accepting "I don't want to do that" is met with astonishment and not really respected! Yet you also don't want to be badgered again and again.

There are 2 factors in your favor. The first of these is time. Over time, people lose interest and move on. So, yes, right now, they want to see wedding pictures. Over time, though, we see that people eventually move on from that to something else. So... waiting this out will eventually work.

However, you also need something to do while people lose focus/curiousity. And I don't think that being honest, like you were in your response above, is going to work. It'll usually be met with "No! You look great" or "who cares? All brides are beautiful" or something like that.

The second factor is consistency on your behalf. If your response is the same, people will get tired of hearing it. Being honest can work. I have no problem telling people 'No, I won't be able to do that' or 'I'm sorry, that's not possible' when it's true. And here some honesty can also work. Leave the pictures at home and reply with "I don't have them here" - which is true. You don't have them there. If you really want to make a point, adding "I'm a private person and don't want to share wedding pictures" can also be added - but expect some people to try to argue with that. The response there is to just repeat the answer and not explain. Quite often unplanned responses are met with "why?" - but the purpose is generally not to understand; it's to overcome the objection. In this case, your "why" is "Because I'm a very private person and I'm asking that be respected. Thanks!"

Now, this works when in the office. But in these pandemic days, when everyone possible is working from home, it's a little less believable because, well, you're at home where the pictures are.

Nowadays everyone gets electronic pictures, so the old response of "I don't have them scanned yet" or some similar variation doesn't really work any more. However, I think it's safe to assume you haven't uploaded them anywhere public. And that response works as well. "Oh... In all the whirlwind, I haven't uploaded them anywhere public yet. I'll have to do that when I've got time for that." And that day is... never. And you could probably add after a while that "I am a private person and don't care to publicly upload my wedding pictures where I have no control over what happens to them."

The nice thing about working remotely is that you are usually the one controlling the call. It's easy to, if someone gets insistent, say something like, "It's good talking, but I've got a lot to do. Unless you need something work-related, I need to go. I'll talk to you soon!" and hang up. Be pleasant but firm, and the word will come out quickly that you don't have a lot of time to talk about/argue about wedding pictures. I've taken that tactic with people that want to socialize, with whom I have no intention to socialize. I can be gracious but also businesslike so I'm not stepping on toes but also remain in control of my workday.

Tl/dr: Leave the pictures at home and respond with "I don't have them here" or "I haven't uploaded them anywhere public yet". If someone keeps pressing; add "I'm a private person and don't want to show off my wedding pictures" and if someone is still persistent, add "I'm a private person and asking that be respected. Thanks!" Then wait for people to get tired of asking and for them to move on to something else.

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    I think all of these things would be great if I wasn't working remotely. Because I am working remotely, the only thing I've have to do is drop an image file or a URL to a gallery into the chat. I don't have any wedding pictures on my work computer, so I can use that, but the difference between "sending pictures to my work computer" and "bringing pictures from home" is enough. I tried telling someone that I don't have any pictures available, but was met with "oh, but when you have them saved, let me know!" – friendly Oct 23 at 18:34
  • I'm going to take your comment and use it to edit my answer. – baldPrussian Oct 23 at 19:31
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I'd just start with honesty. Saying "My wedding was a private affair and the pictures are not going be shared with anyone (except guests)" should really get the point across that your wedding is none of their business.

You can keep repeating it, if neccesary. You don't have to lie about being a private person; I'm pretty sure your colleagues will get that from not telling them you were getting married.

I've married in private as well; in my case there genuinely are no pictures of the event as we did not take any. But any time the subject of marriage has come up, the simple answer "My marriage was a private event between me and my partner" was enough to end any conversation about the subject.

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    This will come across as pretty blunt and rude, at least in my culture (UK). "The pictures are not going to be shared with anyone" sounds defensive as if you are on a counter-attack. I think it's perfectly possible to get the point across whilst being diplomatic about it. "Ending any conversation about the subject" is just part of the goal. Doing so without people forming a negative impression of you is better. – JBentley Oct 24 at 7:35
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    If people are going to form a negative opinion of you for not sharing pictures from a private event, I don't think you're going to stop them. You might need to rephrase it for your specific culture, but "This was a private event; there will be no pictures" can still be the core of the message. – Erik Oct 24 at 10:06
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    @Erik: The manner in which one refuses a request may convey thanks for the request despite the refusal, may indicate indignation at the suggestion, or anything in between. The harsh judgments that may follow from a refusal worded as suggested wouldn't be a consequence of the refusal, but rather the chosen manner for expressing it. Saying "Thanks for asking, but the wedding is a private affair" would shade the reply toward the polite former meaning. Simply saying "The wedding is a private affair" would tend to imply (even if intentionally) that the person asking to see the photos... – supercat Oct 26 at 16:05
  • ...should have somehow known of the desire for privacy, and that their request to see the pictures was consequently rude. Someone receiving such a response would thus be put on the defensive. Even if one didn't want to offer thanks, saying "You probably weren't aware of this, but..." would make clear that the other person's request needed no justification. – supercat Oct 26 at 16:08

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