Sometimes we get asked what we feel is the single most valuable tip from a photography standpoint, when planning your own ceremony— without a doubt, go unplugged!
What is an unplugged ceremony? An unplugged ceremony is when the couple decides that they would prefer guests to not use their phones or cameras during the ceremony itself. Sometimes unplugged weddings range from entire social media blackouts (so that the bride and groom can announce their marriage themselves), to simply asking guests to remain ‘unplugged’ during the ceremony only (so as to be present in moment).
So what are the main reasons to go unplugged?
Guests will listen and interact more.
As a bride or groom, this may be the most important aspect of an unplugged ceremony. Not only will you be minimizing potential interruptions due to incoming tweets, messages, or phone calls, asking guests to put away their phones will actually increase their attentiveness and allow for everyone to remain present with all the magical aspects of the ceremony. Remember, the ceremony is in many cases, a performance. Like most other performances, using cell phones are usually frowned upon. That’s not to say cellphones should be completely eliminated from the entire day! The most common unplugged wedding is usually just for the ceremony, where afterwards guests are encouraged to add to the bridal hashtag!
Your professional photos will not be compromised.
From a photographer’s standpoint, unplugged ceremonies generally make our job a lot easier. The instant satisfaction that guests get from live-streaming, or uploading to social media counteracts the investment you have placed in your professional photographers and videographers (and let’s face it, you’ve hired them to deliver professional results, much better than any mobile phone). For weddings that are not unplugged, photographers must worry about guests placing their phones into important shots (no one wants auntie’s arm + iPad in that down-the-aisle-kissing-shot). Editing out phones in post-processing may also be extremely time consuming (delaying the delivery of your photo gallery), or not possible in some cases. Phones at a ceremony usually force us as photographers to use tighter shots (close and cropped) to eliminate distracting guests with phones. In unplugged ceremonies, photographers can get more wide-angle shots of the entire ceremony, with no worries about a sea of cellphones being captured.
An afterthought for most people will also be how your wedding photographs will look in 20 years! I remember looking back at all my parents’ old wedding photos, laughing hysterically about the outdated styles and era-specific decor. Phones will inevitably be the same way, with styles and technology cycling so quickly. Keep in mind these wedding photos are going to be a timeless treasure for future generations— let your professional photographers and videographers capture every detail, without compromising any details!
Everyone’s privacy can be respected.
Although this may not be the highest priority for some weddings, there are always guests who would rather not have photos of them shared. Sometimes the bride and groom would actually prefer to keep their wedding semi-private, deciding to share their special day on their own terms. I must admit, although I will not be doing this for our own wedding, I respect that certain couples would like to be the first (or only ones) posting about their wedding.
Drawbacks of an unplugged wedding.
The main drawback of having an unplugged wedding or ceremony is that right after your wedding, you wont have many photos to share until your photographer edits and sends your entire gallery (usually at least a month afterwards). At Eternal Tides Photography, we purposefully deliver ~10 photos in a ‘sneak peek’ within 24-48 hours after your wedding, so that you have something to share almost immediately.
How to politely go unplugged.
Sometimes guests who are unable to make it to the wedding will want some sort of social media live-streaming so as to participate as much as possible. We also know that every marriage has that friend or relative who is a ‘photographer’ and is dying to test out some artsy angles. So how do you go about announcing an unplugged wedding without being abrasive?
We recommend letting your guests know well in advanced that you would like to go unplugged (such as on invites, or wedding website FAQs). If you know someone that may be particularly upset, speak with them personally to explain why going unplugged may be the best decision for your ceremony. We recommend letting the day-of wedding coordinators (or sometimes your officiant) make a polite announcement before the start of the ceremony. We also have an unplugged sign for rent ($10) which you can use to display during the ceremony! Let us know if you are interested in renting it, or any of our other decor items!
Rent our unplugged sign ($10) to politely let guests know to put away their cameras and phones during the ceremony.
In the end it’s your wedding day, so do what you feel is best! As professional wedding photographers it is our job to make your photos magical regardless of whether or not you decide to go unplugged.