We’ve all seen the photos. The beautiful bride walking down the aisle with her dad… and a sea of cell phones up in the aisle. This happens so often and every time it breaks my heart. Not just because all of the photos will now have those cell phones in them during such an iconic moment for the bride. The real reason I hate to see those phones is because it means the guests are not fully present in that moment. They could be taking in the bride’s beauty with their eyes instead of through a screen. And I can’t imagine how the bride feels to see so many phones greeting her as she walks down the aisle instead of friendly faces.
Today I’m sharing why you should consider having an unplugged ceremony and I’m also sharing how to make that a reality. Too often I see people disrespecting the couple’s wishes regarding phones but there’s a way to make sure your messaging is clear and your family and friends are fully engaged in the ceremony.
Why to Unplug
You hired a professional photographer for a reason! You trust them to get high quality images of all the moments throughout the wedding day. It’s pretty clear that the iPhone photo taken from the person in the aisle will not match up to the high quality of a professional camera/photographer. In fact, you will probably never see that photo and they will just post it briefly on an instagram story or snapchat.
I usually don’t mind when a family member wants to step in for a iPhone photo during family portraits. Sometimes they just stand right next to me and get the same photo. The problem with people doing it during the ceremony is that they are almost always in front of me. Which means that in all of the epic photos of the bride and her father walking down the aisle, there are also 30+ cell phones in my photo. And that is something that can’t be fixed. It’s a moment that only happens once!
Honoring the Moment
There is a certain reverence that comes with a wedding ceremony. It’s a huge moment for the bride and groom! They are making a decision that changes the rest of their lives. They choose to make that commitment in front of family and friends. Cell phones distract from that reverence. Encouraging your guests to be fully present will allow them to honor you during this important ceremony and take in what is happening.
I tend to think the best of people, and I honestly don’t think any of the “cell phone guests” intend to ruin your photos. Sometimes the people guilty of using their phones are actually close family members – even parents! I don’t think they mean anything disrespectful. They probably have a good reason for wanting to take photos. Maybe they think your wedding photos will take forever to get back and they want some right away. Maybe they are so proud of you and want to remember that moment. Maybe they aren’t familiar with your photographer and don’t completely trust them. All of this can lead to a bit of cell phone stress during the ceremony trying to make sure they get the photo. I’ll explain later how to politely ensure that the cell phones stay put away, but requesting this of your guests will actually allow them to relax. They won’t have to worry about the photos and instead they’ll be able to focus on you.
How to Unplug
I’ve been seeing a lot of unplugged wedding signs lately which I love! It’s a great way to set the tone of the ceremony and give guests that first heads-up that cell phones will not be allowed. I’ve seen a variety of signs from those that just say this is an unplugged ceremony, to more detailed ones that explain exactly what that means. Many guests won’t know what you mean when you say “unplugged”. I’ve overheard people before saying it just means they have to turn it on silent but that they can still take pictures… which is incorrect! A cute sign is a great start, but it will not ensure that there are no phones out. Especially because some people might not see the sign.
The best way to make sure there are no cell phones out during the ceremony is to have the officiant make an announcement BEFORE the ceremony starts but after the guests have arrived. Making the announcement right before the ceremony kind of guilts people into putting phones away. Everyone knows the expectation and breaking that would make the person look bad. I recommend having the officiant say something along the lines of “The bride and groom have asked that you please put away all cell phones, cameras, and electronic devices. They have hired professional photographers to capture the event and would love for you to be fully present and engaged in the ceremony today. Please refrain from taking pictures or using your devices until cocktail hour. Thank you.”
This statement is a bit repetitive, but it’s important to be very clear. If the officiant doesn’t explicitly tell the guests what your expectations are, they will try and find a way to reason out of it. It’s hard to understand why sometimes, but making things overly clear will ensure that you get your unplugged ceremony!
Let Family Know
Most people know who in their family is likely to be a cell phone guest. You’ve probably been to events with them before and are already wondering whether they will follow the officiant’s message. If that’s the case, I would either make another personal announcement at the rehearsal dinner, or talk to family individually and make sure they are aware that this is what YOU want. Sometimes family members won’t realize how important it is to you. Just a short conversation letting them know that you are asking family to set the example by not taking phone photos during the ceremony and how important that is to you can make a huge difference.
Hopefully you are now equipped and ready for your unplugged ceremony! It’s a great way to enjoy your ceremony with your family and friends. It allows them to be fully present and engaged throughout and ensure that you are able to take in every moment as well. Your photographer will thank you for it, and you’ll love the pictures that much more!
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