Why Unplugged Wedding Ceremonies are Catching On
With the rise in popularity of smartphones, cellphone etiquette has been widely discussed and argued with tempers high on both sides of the debates. Should texting and driving be an offense worthy of arrest? Should customers on their phones in the fast food restaurants be denied service? Should students be allowed to keep their cellphones on them during class in case of emergencies? These are all worthy questions and we think it’s time to have a conversation about appropriate cellphone use at weddings. We fall firmly in support of unplugged wedding ceremonies.
Most wedding photographers will admit that cellphones at weddings are a nuisance. Some clients might mistake this annoyance with feeling like we are having to compete with the cellphone photographers. Camera phone technology has advanced so rapidly and is so affordable that nearly everyone at any given wedding has a tool in their hand that can capture a halfway decent photo of the bride and groom. But the couple didn’t hire several dozen cellphone photographers to capture halfway decent photos; they hired a professional wedding photographer to capture beautiful, perfectly timed, lifelong treasures. And the cellphone photographers, while well-intentioned, can inadvertently can get in the way and be distracting. While the examples here are not ruined moments, the images would be that much better if the guests were all attentive and focused on the happy couple rather than on recording each moment themselves.
There are more egregious examples of bad cellphone etiquette at weddings that other photographers have documented. These guests aren’t meaning to be in the way to obstruct anything but unfortunately, in order to get a clear shot with the wide angle lens inherent in most cellphone cameras they will have to position themselves in such a way to catch the image they want and it often means getting in the way of the professional photographer. While usually there’s nothing wrong with snapping a quick pic or two, the trouble comes when several people are doing it at once and suddenly the majority of the guests are looking at the couple through their screens instead of being in the moment.
Being in the moment. Let’s reflect on that for a minute. Imagine being the couple, hopelessly in love, surrounded by your most cherished friends and family, and looking out into a sea of cellphones. It’s not devastating. It won’t ruin a wedding. But it definitely takes away from a moment that can never be replaced, replicated, or captured on a cellphone.
This is why we recommend to all of our couples to have an Unplugged Ceremony. Couples who agree to this suggestion request that their guests keep their cellphones and digital cameras stowed away during the ceremony, and sometimes longer, to allow the photographer to do their work without distractions. How can you incorporate this idea into your wedding?
- Have the officiant make an announcement! This is the best way to enforce the request as guests will have the message fresh in their mind right before the ceremony starts.
- Include signage in your decorations that explain your wishes. There are plenty of good ideas here!
- Empower your photographer to gently remind guests who try to sneak a picture that the wedding is intended to be captured by just the primary photographer. Your photographer can courteously and professionally ask guests to respect your wishes without disrupting the ceremony.
- If someone just refuses to listen to this request, trust your photographer to do their best to shoot around these people so their devices distract as little as possible. Most people will just snap one or two photos and them put their device away which isn’t a big deal.
If you choose to forego the Unplugged Ceremony you will still certainly have a lovely day and your friends and family will still thoroughly enjoy the celebration. But just expect a lot more camera phones in the professional photos and the risk of an overeager guest ruining an otherwise perfect shot.