Have you heard of an unplugged wedding ceremony? I went to one once as a guest. It was amazing. It was an intimate wedding and guests enjoyed listening intently on the brief stories, laughing with the couple, and reading a few passages from 1 Corinthians. Unfortunately, these ceremonies are few and far between anymore, although the trend of going unplugged for at least the ceremony portion of the wedding day is gaining ground. As a wedding photographer, I couldn't beg and plead enough on why I think this is such a wonderful idea not only for my couples to have the best possible photography experience, but also for guests to truly live in the moment of your wedding day. I do want to start by saying that the images I'm sharing are in no way shape or form intended to offend or hurt clients who may have had a lot of cell phone users at their wedding. I love each wedding I have the opportunity to photograph in it's own, unique way, cell phones and all, and these images were all photos that I delivered in final wedding galleries. I simply want to show the difference in images from unplugged wedding experiences without cell phones, vs those with bounds of them to educate future couples on how they can affect the overall wedding photography experience they receive.
What is an Unplugged Wedding?
Simple! An unplugged wedding is when guests are kindly asked to keep cell phones, cameras, etc, put away during the ceremony portion of the day. Since you've hired a professional photographer to document your wedding, there should be no need for guests disruptively trying to get the 'perfect' iPhone shot (which will almost certainly be blurry, grainy, and out of focus) instead of just enjoying the event they were invited to.
Why should I have an unplugged ceremony?
I feel like this is a no brainer, personally, but a lot of people can't understand why an unplugged ceremony is a good idea.
- The number one reason for me, is for your guests to actually enjoy their day, instead of looking at your wedding day through a cell phone. The ceremony is only a brief portion of your day, but also the most sacred. Why wouldn't you want your guests to sit back and relax, and share some laughs (or maybe even tears) with you as a couple. That's why they are there, isn't it?
- Another extremely important factor to consider, is that you've paid a professional photographer to document your day. What often happens to me during a ceremony in particular, is that I have my camera settings in place, and then I have flashes from entry level DSLR cameras or cell phones firing off. While the bride is walking down the aisle, this poses some serious problems for the professional photographer and can lead to overexposed, blown out images that are virtually unusable. There are simply not a ton of options for a professional photographer in this scenario, and it often leads to the client receiving images that could have been better, which is something I hate to admit. If I ever use lighting gear during a ceremony, it's most likely going to be an off camera flash setup, to avoid harsh shadows and the unflattering 'flash bulb' look of those entry level DSLR cameras. So when those are firing, you better believe it can affect my shots.
- You are going to receive all of your images from me, that you can also share with ALL of your guests. There truly isn't even a need for them to be taking these photos in the age of online galleries. I have also had some situations where guests taking photos got dangerous at one point! During a season I was pregnant, I was back pedaling down the aisle as the bride & groom were exiting, so that I could follow them and take the shots I like to take as they leave the ceremony. It's a time of celebration and I love having the bride & groom reaction as they are coming down the aisle toward me, right after they are married. I tripped over someone crouched down in the aisle behind me trying to snap photos! Luckily, I caught myself before hitting the ground (I was 6 months pregnant at the time), but that could've turned out a lot worse had I not been an athlete in my former life. By having an unplugged ceremony, guests are more likely to stay in their seats until they are dismissed, making a safer environment for your photographer, who wants to be there for your entire wedding, not causing a scene sprawled out on your church floor.
The Typical Wedding
How to ask guests to put away the cell phones
There are a ton of different (and cute) ideas for this! Using one or a combination of the ideas below is a great way to ask guests to respect your wishes for an unplugged ceremony.
- The simplest way would be to have your Pastor/Priest/Officiant make an announcement once all guests are seated, right before the processional. When the person running your ceremony speaks, everyone listens. I believe this is probably the most effective and straight to the point way of doing things. A general announcement would be "We are gathered here to celebrate the wedding of XX & XY. They have requested that as their guests, that you be fully present in the moment and turn off your cell phones and cameras for this portion of their day." Some clients have also made an announcement stating that they have hired a professional photographer who is capturing the day, to help deter guests who like to play photographer at these events from doing so during the ceremony (you know we all have that one relative).
- Place an announcement in your Program
- Make a cute sign to place at the entrance to your Ceremony. Even better, hire a wonderful Calligrapher like Sarah over at Flourish Grace Calligraphy to create something custom for you. Her signs are so amazing, take a look! http://www.flourishgracecalligraphy.com
Here's What it looks like when Guests put away the cell phones
Are you considering an unplugged wedding ceremony? I'd love to hear about it! I just love the intimacy and emotion of a wedding sans electronics, at least for the ceremony portion of the day if nothing else. If you're searching for a wedding photographer with a passion for these emotional moments, please contact me! I want to document your wedding story.
Nicole DuMond is a wedding and portrait photographer based in the rolling hills of Stillwater, Pennsylvania and serving the surrounding areas of Northeastern and Central Pennsylvania, including the Poconos, Lehigh Valley, and Philadelphia areas. Nicole is also available for limited travel along the East Coast & Worldwide. For more wedding tips, be sure to follow Nicole DuMond Photography on Facebook: www.facebook.com/nicolemichelledumond