There is a lot of buzz over Unplugged Weddings, and I have brides asking me all the time whether it’s something they should consider or not. The short answer is YES! This is definitely something that you and your future husband should discuss. I would never want to force my opinions on someone else, but I do feel that it is my job to help inform others of things that may benefit them!
So first of all, what exactly is an Unplugged Wedding? This is when you ask your guests to refrain from taking pictures at your wedding. We live in a world where everything is documented, and that’s not a bad thing! But sometimes it is good to set that camera down and be in the moment – and that’s coming from a photographer!
How can an Unplugged Wedding benefit you? There are several ways!
- Uninterrupted Photos I have been in situations where I’ll be standing at the back of the aisle, and a guest will pop out of their seat and stand in front of me for a photo. You don’t want Uncle Bob’s back to be in the photos of you and your husband exchanging rings! I can politely tap them on the shoulder and ask them to sit down, but what if that happened during the first kiss? There wouldn’t be enough time for me to move around them, and your first kiss photo might be ruined!
- Everyone can enjoy the wedding and be in the moment You and your almost-husband are spending those 30 minutes technology free, so your guests can too. You can only enjoy something so much when you’re stuck behind a camera! It is my job to make sure I am capturing those moments and memories for you. You invited those guests for a reason… they are special people! They should take that time to really enjoy the ceremony, instead of worrying about how they’ll get the best photo for Facebook.
- Your photographer will love you Having an Unplugged Wedding is a surefire way to guarantee that your photographer will love you the rest of the day ;) Your photographer will feel less stressed, because they aren’t having to constantly think “is this person going to pop up and will I have to have an escape route to get around them?”. There are also so many photos that are ruined because of cell phones popping up! Your photos will look so much more natural and pleasant if it’s not littered with iPhones.
Now let’s talk about the technical side of guest photography. Other peoples cameras can actually ruin the professional image. For example, if I am taking a photo of the bride walking down the aisle, and a guest snaps a photo (with flash) at the same time, their flash will interfere with my camera and render the photo completely unusable. And it’s not just the guests with the little point and shoot cameras and iPhones! When your friend brings along their large DSLR and camera bag, it becomes a distraction from the wedding itself. Now instead of focusing on the bride & groom, nearby guests are thinking about the loud shutter and long lens.
So how are some practical ways you can put this into action?
- Designate certain “No Photography” zones Ask your guests to put their cameras down only during the ceremony, and encourage them to enjoy the moment, but let them know they are welcome to bring their camera to the reception. Personally I think that this is the best option. As a photographer, would I prefer to have zero distractions in those reception photos too? Absolutely, yes!! But I honestly think that’s a little unrealistic. Guests want to take photos of those special First Dance moments, group shots, and of course, lots of selfies. I am able to move around a lot more during the reception, which can help to minimize the amount of cameras I get in my photos.
- Make sure guests are aware before the wedding On your invitations, either include a note at the bottom, or include a separate piece of paper (like your RSVP card) that mentions your Unplugged Wedding. You can find many ideas for this on Pinterest – just search ‘Unplugged Wedding Invitation’, and you’ll find lots of inspiration! This will just ensure that there are no other expectations for your guests going into your ceremony, and they are well aware of the standard you have set.
- Make a fun sign Many couples choose to go this route! Have a beautiful sign made that will remind your guests that you would like everyone to keep their focus on the ceremony, and not on their iPhones. Place the sign at the entrance of the aisle (preferably beside the programs! bonus – put a reminder on the programs too!), so all the guests will see it before they take their seat. (These signs can be custom made, or bought on Etsy for a cheaper option!)
- Remind your guests right before the ceremony Have your officiant make an announcement after everyone is seated and before the music starts. Now even if some of the guests forgot, they have been reminded to put down their cameras and enjoy your sweet ceremony!
Your guests should be able to disconnect and live in the moment. By putting their cameras away, they are able to engage in the wedding, not just be present.
Ultimately, the decision is up to you! I want you both to have as many memories as possible, so guest photography doesn’t bother me. However if a guest is getting in the way of me being able to do the job I am being paid to do, that’s when it becomes a problem. I hope that these tips help you in deciding if it’s the right decision for your wedding!