How to have an unplugged wedding

Jennifer Leigh DiMarco

Monday, December 07, 2015

If you haven't seen this picture take a moment to really take in what is happening.  The Bride has made her grand entrance, she is walking down the aisle towards the man she will spend the rest of her life with.  This is one of the most intimate moments of the ceremony, but not for this Bride and Groom.  As you can see, the eager wedding guests, stunned by the Bride's beauty have taken it upon themselves to jump into the aisle to catch the candid moment.  Look past these women and what do you see?  The Groom.  The Groom literally leaning over to catch a glimpse of his beautiful Bride because these well meaning guests have robbed him of this once in a lifetime moment.  My heart literally breaks when a guest ruins a monumental moment to capture it for themselves or jumps in front of the hired photographer when he or she is capturing a key moment from the day.  One thing there is absolutely nothing a photographer can do to combat is a flash from a guest's camera. There is rarely anything that will save the image, and no repositioning will change the outcome. While some couples encourage their friends and family to snap as many photos as possible throughout the day (they're even signing up for apps that make it easier to compile everyone's photos in one place!), others are asking their guests to shut off their camera phones for the day. There are strong arguments on both sides -- there's something so special about seeing your wedding day unfold from your guests' perspectives, but photographers have noted that "guest photographers" often compromise your professional pictures. If you want an unplugged wedding, there are several ways to make that happen.  Put up cute signs near the guest book or aisle entrance that read: Be nice, turn off your device!

Put a note in your invitation stating that you want your guests to enjoy the wedding without the stress of trying to capture everything, so you’ve hired a professional photographer and request that they leave their photo-taking devices behind.

 When you discourage devices at your wedding, you encourage your guests to look up, be present and live in the moment that will be gone all too soon.

If you’d like to take it even a step further, have your Officiant make an announcement before the ceremony begins. Here’s a great example of what to have them say from an article on Huffington Post:

Welcome friends and family! Good evening/day, everyone. Please be seated. [Groom’s name] and [Bride’s name] invite you to be truly present at this special time. Please, turn off your cell phones and put down your cameras. The photographer will capture how this moment looks — I encourage you all to capture how it feels with your hearts, without the distraction of technology.”

Now, let's acknowledge that a fully plugged-in, hyper-documented wedding makes perfect sense for some couples. Micro-budget brides sometimes skip professional photography, opting to rely on guest photographs — so of course guest cameras make perfect sense in that context. If you're a digerati who announced your engagement via Facebook, had an iPad-wielding officiant, read your vows off an iPhone, and live-streamed your ceremony, then there's no reason you should unplug your wedding. I'm certainly not here to dictate that anyone needs to have less tech at their wedding. If, however, you and your partner are looking for a few less beeps and a bit more face-to-face connection with your guests, an unplugged wedding could be a good fit for you.

That said, I do think that in this era of 24-hour connectivity, where there's an iPhone in every pocket, a Facebook status update in every encounter, and a digital hobbyist photographer in every family, it's important to carefully consider the issue. Digital devices are ever-present in our daily lives; what role do you want these devices to play at your wedding?

I would love your feedback on this topic!  Please share your opinion in a comment below!