What is an unplugged ceremony?
In the age of tech obsession, a ton of couples are opting to make their ceremony “unplugged”, but what does that even mean? And what does it do? Going unplugged means asking your guests to turn off and put away their phones, iPads, cameras and other digital devices for the length of the ceremony. The point is to allow your wedding photographer and videographer the ability to capture the wedding as beautifully as possible without guests blocking the shot or sticking their distracting devices into the aisle or above people’s heads.
Benefits of an unplugged ceremony
1. Your guests will be more present.
Without the distraction of phones and cameras, your guests can actually be in the moment and enjoy the ceremony. They will pay better attention to what is going on and interact more with the laughs, tears and all the sweet moments.
2. Your wedding photos will look nicer
Okay, okay, I may be biased on this one, but I have photographed weddings with a million cameras and zero cameras and everything in-between, and I can honestly say that the photos are so much more beautiful when you have a sea of smiling faces instead of a sea of cellphones. Check out the example below. The top photo is from a ceremony exit where no guests were using their phones and everyone turning to smile at the bride and groom as they exit. The bottom photo shows guests with their cellphones out in the aisle videoing the exit and being busied with their phones looking forward and into their laps. Neither is “wrong”. It just comes down to preference and if this matters to you!
How to have an unplugged ceremony
It’s important to state that having an unplugged ceremony is entirely up to you when you plan your ceremony, not your photographer. If you want your guests to feel comfortable taking their own photos, that is perfectly okay! If you do decide to go the unplugged route, there are several steps to take to make sure guests know the expectations.
STEP 1: WEDDING WEBSITE
Set expectations early by letting guests know on your wedding website that your ceremony will be “unplugged” and you would like them to be in the moment and leave their phones, cameras and other devices tucked away and out of sight.
STEP 2: SIGNAGE
Having an eye-catching sign easy for guests to see when they arrive at your ceremony is another great way to reinforce the message. It doesn’t have to be an aggressive “NO PHONES ALLOWED” message, but something along the lines of the examples in the photos above!
STEP 3: REQUEST THE HELP OF YOUR GREETERS
Enlist the help of a couple extroverted and friendly pals to notify guests of the unplugged ceremony request as they hand out programs. They can also keep an eye out for guests with phones or cameras out right before the ceremony and kindly remind them of the rule before they take their seats.
STEP 4: PRE-CEREMONY ANNOUNCEMENT
This is by far the most important step in assuring your ceremony stays unplugged. I strongly recommend asking your officiant to begin the ceremony with a greeting to your guests thanking them for being there and letting them know the ceremony is about to begin. Ask them to reiterate that the ceremony is unplugged by request of the bride and groom and all devices need to be put on silent and put away for the duration of the ceremony.
Here is some sample language for your officiant:
“Before we begin, the bride and groom kindly request that all devices are turned off and put away so you can be fully present in this moment with us. The couple has hired a professional photographer to capture this special moment so that you can sit back, relax and enjoy yourself without distractions. The beautiful images will be available to all guests after the wedding. You are welcome to bring the phones back out again at the reception!”