It's a tough thing. Prints are graded from 1-100 and the magic score is 80. Score less than 80 and you have a nice print but score more than 80 and you have a "merit" print. A merit print is one that is deemed worthy to take to the next level of competition (state, national..). 80 is the magic number that everyone is hoping for.
There were 112 images entered last night and 24 merits. That's 21%. That doesn't seem like many and it's even worse when you consider that one photographer in the guild who shoots commercial and landscapes received a merit for all 6 of his images (this is almost never done). Take him out of the competition and you get 106 images and 18 merits (just 16%). (59 prints received a score of 78-79)
I entered 6 images myself and had a strong feeling that one would merit. You have to understand that it's very hard to merit. All six images are great but that's not enough in competition, especially in the wedding/event category. The judges have to see something unique. Simply taking a well-posed, well-lit shot isn't enough if it's the sort of thing they have seen many times before.
I ended up with two merits, one in "Uncategorized," and one in "Weddings and Social."
I had a good feeling about the sunglasses. Still, the judges showed some restraint. Their biggest concern is that it is "kitchy." In other words, it's a "gimmick" picture. I guess they frown on using props, etc... I don't know. I think that if I had just photographed the couple normally it wouldn't have received a merit at all because that shot has been done a million times. So, I got a merit for shooting an old shot in a new way but was almost knocked down for being "kitchy."
You can see how print competition can be frustrating. :)