The What and Why of Unplugging Your Wedding

February 7, 2015

unplug your wedding

At an unplugged wedding, the couple kindly asks that everyone present turn off cell phones, cameras, and other digital distractions during the ceremony and/or reception. A bride and groom might do this because they want their guests to be fully present, to avoid social media spoilers, and to eliminate competition on behalf of the professional photographer.

Being fully present

In our technology-crazed world, it’s become a habit to check our phones every few minutes, to post a constant stream of status updates to Twitter and Facebook, and to document any and everything on Instagram. In all this online connectedness, we’re viewing the world through our phone screens and camera lenses and missing out on true human connections. But people are starting to wake up and realize just how immersed we all are in our phones and tablets, and there’s a movement to change all that.

This movement has reached the wedding industry. Brides and grooms want to have face-to-face connections with their guests — especially during the ceremony — instead of staring out into a sea of electronics. If guests are experiencing your big day from behind a screen, are they truly experiencing it? Your wedding is comprised of some of the most important moments of your life; make it unplugged encourages guests to live in the moment with you. Simply put: It encourages your loved ones to be here now.

Social media spoilers

Imagine: You haven’t seen the groom all day and can’t wait for that “first look” moment. While you’re getting ready, the Maid of Honor snaps a photo of you in your dress and veil. She has a few minutes of down time, so she posts the photo on Instagram. The groom, also with a few minutes to spare, checks for Instagram updates out of habit — and the first look is spoiled. A first look via social media isn’t exactly the stuff of dreams! Brides and grooms are avoiding such spoilers altogether by declaring their wedding “unplugged.”

Leave it to the professionals

There are few things that annoy a professional photographer more than an amateur trying to do their job. Overly zealous uncles who jump in the aisle and cousins who stand on church pews can, at best, be an eyesore in your professional photos and can, at worst, completely ruin once-in-a-lifetime moments. Imagine your “kiss the bride” moment blocked by an uncle who stepped into the aisle to snap a photo. The professional photographer didn’t see it coming and his or her hands are tied. Nothing can bring that moment back — it’s lost to a grainy photo on Uncle Al’s smart phone.

Another issue is wandering eyes. When your professional photographer stages a group shot of your newly combined families and Uncle Al decides to take the photo too, eyes will wander, not knowing which camera to look at first. This makes the final professional photo just look silly! One way to avoid all of these problems is to have an unplugged wedding, or at least an unplugged ceremony.

How to go unplugged

First and foremost: Ask nicely. The reason guests are busy on their phones and cameras during your wedding is because, for better or worse, they want to document your special day. So be kind and understanding when you ask them to refrain from technology during the ceremony and/or reception.

You can include a message in your ceremony program, such as: “The bride and groom have asked that you share in their wedding fully and not through the lens of a camera or cell phone.” Or the officiant can say a few words at the beginning of the ceremony — it can have a spiritual message (“please honor the sanctity of this moment by turning off cell phones and cameras”) or an emotional one (“the professional photographer will capture how this moment looks — the bride and groom ask that you capture how it feels”). However you ask, make sure to stay true to yourselves as a couple.

You’ll also want to ease your guests’ minds by assuring them that they will have access to the professional photos within a timely manner. Again, the reason wedding guests take so many photos is so that they can remember and relive your wedding day and share it with others. Talk to your photographer and make sure that you can get a few professional shots available to your guests via email, website, or Facebook within a couple of days. It’s even increasingly common for professionals to share “sneak peek” photos either the day of or the day after a wedding on their own social media pages. Reassuring your guests that these photos will be available to them will be a great help! Another idea: Order picture postcards to send your guests in place of traditional thank you notes.

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