How to have an unplugged wedding

unplugged weddingUnplugged weddings have become more and more popular over the last few years. If you have a smart phone (which is like, all of us by now right?), chances are it will give you a weekly update of how long you spend on average a day on your phone. Generally, I don’t actually want to know about the hours I’ve wasted scrolling through Instagram and I’m trying hard to use my phone less. We all know that using our phone less and going on social media less will make us more productive, more present and less anxious. If there is ever a time to be more present it is on your wedding day. Chances are you’re not planning to use your phone on your wedding, why would you need to? All of your favourite people are in one place with you already! Your guests however may have a different idea…

What is an unplugged wedding?

An unplugged wedding is a wedding where phones and cameras are banned. Your guests may feel the need to use their phone or cameras (or ipad…) during your ceremony to take photos. If you opt for an unplugged wedding you’re basically just very kindly asking them not to use their phones or their cameras. You can just do this during your ceremony or you could do it for the full day! Most couples opt to just have an unplugged wedding for the ceremony bit of their wedding. I think this is a really good idea as this is when it matters most for your guests to be fully present. You could ask your guests to refrain from using their phones and cameras for the entire day but chances are that probably wouldn’t go entirely to plan!

There are a few different ways to go about letting people know that you’re having an unplugged wedding and to let them know what this means. Prior to your wedding it’s probably best to have a quick chat to your closest family and friends to let them know that you want all your guests to be fully present and enjoy your wedding so you’re asking everyone to leave their phones and cameras in their pockets. Telling your closest friends and family before your wedding will give them a heads up so they’re not shocked on the day when they’re asked not to take photos. These are the people that are the most likely to want to document your wedding and they’re definitely doing it from a place of love, it’s because they care about you and don’t want the moment to go by without having photos and videos they can look back on. So it’s best to let these people know first before your day arrives. On the day of your wedding you can put up a sign at the entrance of your ceremony room reminding all of your close friends and family that you want to see their faces and not their phones. This will also let all your other guests know, if you put it at the end of the aisle then it’s guaranteed that all your guests will walk past it so they’ll all be able to read it before your ceremony. It’s also worth asking your celebrant, registrar or whoever is leading your ceremony to remind your guests to keep their cameras and phones away during the ceremony once everyone is sat down. This quick reminder always does the trick! I would also add that you ask the ceremony leader to tell your guests not to take any photos until you’re outside the ceremony. A few times I’ve photographed unplugged weddings where no one has taken any photos until the signing of the register, then it becomes a bit of a free-for-all and some guests thinking it gives them the green light for taking photos from then on, sometimes ruining the shot of the two of you walking back up the aisle. Again, this comes from a place of love, some of your family members are probably dying to take their phones out and grab some photos, it’s just best for them to save that until you come out of your ceremony.

How does an unplugged wedding benefit you?

The main benefit to you for an unplugged wedding is that you get to see all your guests faces! It can be a bit daunting walking up the aisle anyway, but walking up the aisle to lots of phones and cameras pointed in your direction can be even more nerve-wracking. It’s a bit like being faced with paparazzi! It’s much more welcoming to see all of your guests smiling faces turned towards you to greet you into the room. Trust me when I say you won’t remember walking into your ceremony room and being greeted by a sea of phones but you will remember walking in and seeing your mum and best friend’s faces. It also means you won’t be distracted during your wedding by random clicks and flashes going off because Aunty Gladys can’t turn off the flash on her phone or Uncle Bob’s using his camera on auto and it’s REALLY loud.

This also means that your guests can relax and be present and just do what they’re there to do, watch you get married. They won’t spend the entire ceremony trying to work out how to use their camera that they haven’t touched since the last wedding they went to. They won’t spend it trying to get the perfect shot of you saying your vows over everyone’s heads with their Motorola Razr. And they wont spend it trying to work out how to change their phone from selfie mode to using the camera on the back of their phone. They can just enjoy your ceremony and watch you get married. Sometimes they don’t know it, but this is what they’d rather be doing anyway. If any of your guests feel anxious that they won’t have any photos of your wedding, tell them you’ll give them a print or you’ll send them your wedding gallery afterwards!

How does an unplugged wedding benefit me?

I am a big fan of unplugged weddings for a few reasons. The main reason is it means there will be no phones in any of your ceremony photos! The main thing I love doing at a wedding is photographing moments. These moments can often get ruined or fall a bit flat when guests are also trying to document a moment themselves on a phone or camera. I don’t believe there is any such thing as timeless wedding photography. I look back at my parent’s wedding photos and they’re very of their time, the clothing, the wedding album, the weird photo taken upside down in a wine glass, it’s all of it’s time. Your wedding photos will date, no matter what, however when I look at my parent’s wedding photos not a single person has a phone or camera in their hands. Your photos will not be timeless however I guarantee you don’t want to look back on them and see what phones were in fashion at the time. You’ll want to look back and see your mum’s haircut, what your best friend was wearing and the look on everyone’s faces as you walked up the aisle.

With no phones or cameras in the picture, everyone will be more present. Let them know they can trust me to get some beautiful shots and they can just sit back and enjoy it. This will always result in stronger reactions from your guests which will in turn result in better photographs! A big reason I mentioned earlier for having an unplugged wedding is to ensure your guests don’t get in the way of beautiful photographs. I’ve seen way too many guests stick their phone out in the middle of the aisle to get a shot of the couple saying their vows, having their first kiss or to capture them walking up the aisle. Again, I get it, they care about you so they want to have some beautiful photos of one of the biggest days of your life. They generally don’t realise they’re getting in the way of the photographs that you’ve paid for and the person who you want to be photographing and documenting your day. Having an unplugged wedding ensures that no one will get in the way of your professional photographs and will ensure I get the very best shots I can!

Unplugged weddings are my favourites to shoot, I always get the best shots and all your guests and more relaxed, what more could you possibly want? If you’re looking for more wedding planning tips, head to my YouTube channel or my most recent blog post for how to set a wedding budget.

If you’re looking for a relaxed wedding photographer in Shropshire or beyond then drop me a message, I’d love to hear from you!

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