An Unplugged Wedding: What is it, and why should you consider it?
That’s right: An ‘unplugged wedding’. What am I referring to when we talk about unplugged weddings or unplugged ceremonies? Quite simply, it’s asking your guests to refrain from using electronic devices such as smartphones and tablets during crucial elements of your wedding day. It’s a concept that is increasing in popularity, hot on the heels of the surge of smartphone technology and social media usage, where we now live in a society of accessing a camera with one swipe, followed by instant sharing capabilities.
So why should you consider having an unplugged wedding?
Imagine the scene: The music starts, your officiant asks the guests to stand, the groom waits nervously at the top of the aisle, and the guests turn to watch the bride commence their joyous, momentous walk up the aisle. Your photographer has prepared for this moment – one of the most important and emotional parts of the day – well in advance. They purposely picked a spot which bests captures the bride coming up the aisle, perhaps even getting the groom in the foreground too, where possible. Your photographer has adjusted their camera settings and steadied themselves in anticipation of capturing this completely one-off moment that can’t be repeated.
But what’s this?
The bride is now completely obscured coming up the aisle because there’s a sea of smartphones and iPads (yes, iPads, I kid ye not) being held out into the narrow aisle, fingers stabbing at screens only to capture a handful of dark, blurred images, and giving the photographer no chance of getting those once-in-a-lifetime shots which can’t be re-done. It doesn’t sound ideal does it? Sadly this happens at many weddings now, and it’s getting to saturation point.
Many photographers will have tales of similar situations – just Google ‘wedding photos ruined by phones’ and prepare to be horrified. I of course have my own examples; I can recall one instance where a bride and her dad had to walk around someone standing in the aisle with an iPad, just to get past. Yikes.
But happily, this can be avoided, by something very simple. And that’s asking your guests to refrain from using their phones and devices during the ceremony, or going ‘unplugged’. Not only will it stop the sea of outstretched arms leaning into the aisle ruining my photos, it will actually do much more than that: your guests will actually be in the moment, looking, experiencing and appreciating it, not just squinting at figures via the pixelated screen of a smartphone.
Similarly, some couples are going one step further and asking their guests not to post any photographs onto social media until a certain time, whether it’s a few days afterwards, or even until they’ve received their photographs from their photographer. In today’s norm of instant sharing, it’s incredibly tempting to snap and upload in real-time, so others can see your day as it happens. But do think carefully about this; do you really want everyone seeing these photographs in real-time? What about your evening guests that aren’t there during the day, do you want them seeing what you look like in your dress before they even get there? Or how about randomers on social media?
Hey listen, I love my iPhone and social media as much as the next person. Maybe more. So I understand how exciting it is to have access to pictures, whatever the quality or the type, as soon as possible. But do consider the job you’re paying me to do on your wedding day: photographer. I don’t want that crushing disappointment of mediocre aisle photographs because I couldn’t actually see the bride behind a bunch of phones and iPads; I want that photo where you see each other for the first time on the day, with your guests beaming at you both, not their faces hidden behind a phone.
So how do you go about arranging an unplugged wedding? Nowadays there’s lots of cool, pretty little signs that you can put up at your ceremony venue, as well as asking your ceremony officiant in their address to politely ask guests to keep their phones switched off and put away. Here’s a link to favourite wedding site Pinterest for some inspiration: Unplugged Wedding Sign Inspo
Other options also include letting your mates know before the big day, if you choose to, or including it on your invite or order of service information. It’s not a party pooper thing, it’s a ‘I actually want you to enjoy our day’ thing. Trust me, your friends and family won’t mind; in fact they’ll enjoy the experience even more because of it, and don’t forget, your photographer will be photographing all of this anyway. And if you’re super keen to see photographs, remember, I always put an early preview from your day on my social media pages within a day or so, so no need to wait too long 🙂