How to have an unplugged wedding ceremony

how to have an unplugged wedding ceremony

Some couples encourage guests to take photos at their wedding – providing as many perspectives of the big day as possible – while others ask their guests to unplug and leave the photography to the professionals. If you’re leaning towards the latter, here are some polite ways to tell your guests, ‘no photos please!’

What is an unplugged wedding ceremony?

An unplugged ceremony is a wedding ceremony in which only the professional photographer is allowed to take photos. Guests are asked to switch their phones off and refrain from taking photos or videos during the ceremony.  

Guests have always taken photos at weddings, and in the past disposable cameras on wedding tables have encouraged guests to get snap-happy. However, huge advances in technology – including low cost professional camera equipment and high-spec cameras on mobile phones – have meant that many guests now view the entire wedding though a camera lens.

While some couples embrace the trend for guest photography, asking guests to send them their photos and to share them on social networks, others feel that because they’ve paid a professional to take the wedding photos guests should put their cameras away. There is a growing trend for ‘unplugged’ weddings where guests are asked not to use cameras or mobile phones.


The benefits of an unplugged wedding ceremony

Guest photography is something that professional wedding photographers struggle with on a regular basis. They often find that guests get in the way of key shots, particularly during the ceremony where photographers are limited as to where they can set up and a guest stepping into the aisle to take a photo can totally block those important moments.

Guests taking pictures over the photographer’s shoulder when they are arranging group shots can be distracting for the people in the photo as they don’t know which camera to look at. Finally the flashes from guest cameras can ruin the professional photos, especially when the bride is wearing traditional white.

Ruining the wedding photos isn’t the only reason that some couples are opting for an unplugged ceremony, and asking their guests to refrain from taking pictures. They also want the guests to enjoy the day through their own eyes. When the bride walks down the aisle she wants to see the smiling, joyful faces of friends and family, not rows and rows of smartphones and camera lenses.

no photos during wedding ceremony

How to tell your guests you want an unplugged wedding ceremony

There are various ways you can politely ask guests not to take photos. Ideally you should ask your celebrant to inform your guests of the no-photos rule at the start of the ceremony. They could say something along the lines of:

“Please, turn off your mobile 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.”

Or perhaps:

“The bride and groom have kindly requested that guests switch off their phones and refrain from using cameras. Sit back and enjoy the ceremony!”

You could also put a note in your wedding program or order or service, and then repeat the message on signs at your wedding reception. Perhaps something along the lines of:

“We ask you to kindly turn off your phones during the wedding and refrain from taking photos. We have professional photographers on hand to capture all the special moments and are excited to share their photos with you.”

If you feel unsure or uncomfortable about asking your guests to not take photos, here’s some advice. 

An unplugged wedding?

If you’re having an unplugged wedding you need to be very clear with your guests about when they are and are not allowed to take pictures. Does the rule apply just to the ceremony or do you want them to keep their cameras tucked away for the reception too?

A great idea if you’re having an unplugged wedding is to create a couple of specific photo opportunities when guests are allowed to take pictures. After the signing of the register – once the professional photographer has taken their shots – you could invite guests to come forward and take their own photos. Similarly at the reception you could create a photo moment during the cake cutting, or after the first dance.

Many wedding guests simply don’t realise how intrusive or disruptive it is when they are continually taking photos. They’re probably thinking about getting a great shot of a special moment to share with you after the wedding. A polite request to put the cameras away and enjoy the wedding is probably enough to make them realise that they should leave the photography to the professionals.

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