Unplugged Wedding Ceremonies: What it is and why you should consider having one.
The term ‘unplugged ceremony’ may sound like wedding vendor jargon but this new trend may change the way your guests experience your wedding.
In an unplugged wedding ceremony, the couples asks their guests to turn off and put away their devices and be fully present with them in the moment.
As a photographer, I am always surprised at the amount of people who record and snap pictures on their phones and tablets during the ceremony. This is a once in a lifetime moment and the guests trying to document it all are missing out on the feeling. Many guests will also step into the middle of the aisle to ‘get the shot,’ making my job as your photographer much harder. At the end of the day the images you’re going to share will be the ones from the professional you paid to capture the day, not Great Aunt Sharon’s blurry phone photos lol.
Here are a few of the top benefits for having an unplugged ceremony:
Your guests will be more present. When your guests are focusing their direction to their screens, they end up watching your wedding through a screen because they’re so busy making sure the image is in focus and centered rather than listening to your vows and laughing at the officiants’ jokes. You want your guests to tear up when you do and keep the moment as a memory in their minds, not on their devices (which by the way, they’ll probably delete after a year or so).
Your wedding photos will have more emotion. YUP! As a photographer, I look for guests tearing up and smiling to snap a photo so you can see their emotions in your gallery. You don’t get the same feeling when a rectangle is blocking someone’s face. On top of that, if grandma is in the middle of the aisle recording on her tablet right when the first kiss happens, there’s only so much your photographer can do to guarantee that every moment is captured, and personally, I am not about to plow grandma down just for a photo lol.
No distractions. For the same reason movie theaters ask you to put your phones away, seeing someone else on their device is distracting. The last thing you want to hear while reciting your vows is the ringtone ‘Lollipop’ by Lil Wayne.
How to ask your wedding guests to put their devices away:
Now I know it may feel awkward asking your guests to do this but here are three effective ways to let you guests know you are having an unplugged ceremony:
Your invitations and stationary. It’s best to be upfront with everyone that you want to have an unplugged ceremony. It doesn’t mean they’ll have to leave their devices at home, but at least when they are reminded at the ceremony to put their phones away they will remember that this was a simple request on your invite to them!
Signs. This is a great way to ask your guests to not use their devices without sounding “bossy.” A cute sign at the entrance of the ceremony space to greet them will do. A downside of only doing this is that many people may gloss their eyes reading the signage, but if you’re not comfortable making an announcement, this is a good way to spread the word.
Announcement it. This is probably the most effective way to ensure your guests are present: just a simple request made by your officiant. Guests’ ears will be perked since it’s the first thing they’ll hear at the ceremony. Sometimes a simple ask is all it takes!
How to avoid the backlash on unplugged ceremonies:
The last hurdle you’ll face is your guests giving you a hard time about having an unplugged ceremony. Here are the best ways to get them off your back:
Have a sharing plan in place. You’ll probably hear some lash back like “I just want them for myself, I won’t be in anyone’s way!” This guilt trip may sway you into letting them keep their phones out but I have the perfect plan for you! Guarantee that you will share your professional wedding photos from your photographer that they can view, download, and print! This is a great way to relieve some stress from your device addict loved ones. They just want images to hang up with a magnet on their fridge, and how can we deny them that? So make sure you ask for their emails in your RSVP cards to send them the gallery once you receive it!
Limit the “unplugged” time. Your guests will unclench their jaws knowing they can take pictures and videos during the reception! In my experience as a wedding photographer, it’s much easier to dodge cellphones at the reception since everyone is up and moving around. With this grace period of cellphone usage, your guests will be happy with the compromise and are less likely to feel the need to document the ceremony.
Now even if some of your guests pull out their phones and snap a photo, don’t stress about it! Your guests are just excited and want to capture the moment, and we can’t fault them for that! Regardless, your photographer will get you those dreamy wedding photos you’ve always dreamed of no matter what! Hiring a photographer you trust is really the key!