There’s nothing wrong with wedding guests snapping some photos at the reception — that’s what the hashtag is for! — but people who are glued to their smartphones throughout the ceremony can ruin professional pictures, while also taking others out of the moment.
What’s an unplugged wedding? There are many variations on this, from having an unplugged ceremony only, when guests are encouraged to put their phones and cameras away until after the couple has walked down the asile, to a strict ‘no photo policy’ for the entire wedding celebration, to a complete ‘social media blackout’ until the following day or when the bride or groom have a chance to announce their marriage themselves.
An unplugged wedding is about enjoying the moment, looking down the aisle to see your friends and family looking back, seeing their emotion, seeing them smile, feeling the love. On the other side in a world where people are checking their phones, taking photos and uploading to Facebook or Instagram in an instant, do you want to look down the aisle to see your friends and family hiding behind a camera or their phone as they take photos and upload for the world to see before you have even said ‘I Do’?
Over the last 10-15 years, advancements in technology like the development and affordability of DSLR cameras, the quality of built-in cameras in cell/mobile phones and the immediacy and capacity to share photos on social media have changed everything. These changes have meant that most people now have the ability to take photos or video and share them for the world to see in a matter of seconds.
What are the benefits?
1. Your guests will listen and interact more
Without the distraction of their phone and/or camera, your guests will be free to immerse themselves in the experience that you’ve spent months planning. They will be more likely to listen to and remember your ceremony better (so make it awesome!), engage and react to your heart-felt speeches and cheer you on for your first dance rather than experience it through a viewfinder or small screen.
And, without constantly checking their phone, your family and friends will be much more open to, and may even actively seek out (gulp!), interactions with other guests that they may not have met before.
2. Your professional photos won’t be compromised
Here’s the harsh truth: although the technology of taking photos has advanced, the photography skills of most people haven’t.
As a professional wedding photographer we will make the best of any lighting situation so you can skip the unflattering, inappropriate, grainy or dark photos that some guests think are okay to upload to social media.
The extra benefit of not having a camera in everyone’s hands means that we won’t need to jostle for prime position with Aunty Beryl, be blocked down the aisle or have blinding flashes over expose the photos they do take.
We actually have the following written in our contract 'All your guests will have digital cameras, and phones, and all your guests will want to photograph the Clients. In the spirit of cheerful cooperation the Clients agree to give the Photographers precedence over the guests in order to take the photographs required for the event services described above. We cannot be held liable for a lack of event photos if guests taking their own photos of the Clients continually interrupt the Photographer's work.'
Okay, you’ve convinced me ― how do we do it?
The most important part of arranging an unplugged wedding is the communication of your wishes to your guests. For some family and friends, your wedding may be the first time they’ve heard the term ‘unplugged wedding’ so you need to be very clear about what you are requesting of them and why.
In most cases asking your friends and family to go technology free (phone, camera, ipad) for your entire wedding just won't work, but it is entirely reasonable to ask your guests to switch off for the ceremony. There are some really simple ways to get this message across so to make your life easier we've gathered nine of the easiest ways to have technology free celebration:
1. Let your guests know ahead of time via your invitations (but never ON the invitation ― use an insert in the envelope or alternatively, add the notification to your wedding website). Avoid cutesy poems and funny verse, if you can help it. This is your first opportunity to make it clear what your expectations are.
Something simple like: “We invite you to be truly present at our ceremony, and respectfully request that all cameras and phones be turned off. We look forward to sharing our professional photos with you after the big day.”
2. Put it in your wedding program
Whether you have or haven't listed your tech preferences on your invite, it's no harm to include it again in your wedding program or mass booklet.
3. Nominate a diplomatic friend or two to help encourage other guests to put their phone/camera away and have signage or a program to back them up. Signage or chalkboards are definitely the prettiest way to encourage your guests to stop texting and instagramming. You'll find lots of these online.
4. Be clear what you mean by no technology
Be specific so that there's no misunderstandings. By tech free or unplugged do you mean no phone usage at all or just no internet updates.
5. Ask your priest/celebrant/officiant/MC to make a housekeeping announcement before the ceremony begins.
“Before we begin, can I please ask you all to make sure your phones and any other devices are on silent? Bride and Groom have requested that you put your devices away for their ceremony/wedding, that you watch with your eyes and not your cameras, and that you all be present in the moment with them.
And could you please be mindful of where the photographer is taking her awesome photos from, so as to not get in her way? They are more than happy to share the fabulous photos with you later.”