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Unplugged Weddings

How to get your guests to put down their phones and enjoy your wedding.

As a person who believes in moderation (except when it comes to popcorn, good wine, and spicy food), I’m keenly aware of people who live their lives through the lenses of their electronic devices. It kind of makes me sad to see someone using a large portion of their time at a wedding pursuing the “perfect image” rather than being in the moment as it unfolds around them. This was never more apparent than during a family wedding a few years ago when an aunt with a brand new smartphone took pictures during the ENTIRE ceremony. And yes, her shutter sound was on. And yes, the volume was set too high. It was so distracting and I felt really bad for the bride. I also felt bad for her professional photographer who had to, without a doubt, shift around to get shots that didn’t include this woman’s phone.

Photography courtesy of: Katrina Wallace Photographers

To inspire you to consider going unplugged at your wedding, we’re sharing some beautiful moments that would have been quite different had there been many smartphones present.

So you know where I’m going with this, right? Unplugged weddings, where guests are asked to refrain from using their devices during the wedding, are the “new” thing but we know this is just a movement back to good manners and common sense. Not only that, but having guests put down their phones actually helps your professional photographer get the shots you’ll cherish . . . and happily, they won’t be of you exchanging rings with seventeen smartphones in the back ground. We’re told that the flash from even one smart phone can alter the lighting for the professionals, giving you less-than-perfect images.

Photography courtesy of: Hagerty Photography

So how can you help your guests enjoy the day with you in person rather than from behind a camera lens?

Plan ahead. Being proactive by mentioning your decision to have an unplugged wedding in your wedding invitations or on your welcome bag itinerary will give your guests advance notice of your wishes; they’ll be more likely to comply if the request isn’t sprung on them last minute.

Photography courtesy of: Katrina Wallace Photographers

Create signage. A well-placed sign at the ceremony entrance and/or on the ceremony programs that asks guests to refrain from using their cameras during the ceremony, and possibly even later at the reception, will do wonders for your wedding day atmosphere. We’ve seen clever, funny, and even sweet signs that are all effective. Most guests will happily refrain from jumping in the aisle to get that iconic picture of a bride and her father (and inadvertently getting in your photographer’s way) if they are simply asked not to.

Explain your plan to share your photos. Perhaps the best way to get your guests to feel at ease about leaving their phones and cameras tucked away is to make your plan to share the images very clear. If you plan to share them on Facebook, Dropbox, etc., communicate this to your guests so they know they won’t miss any of the images taken by your photographer.

Photography courtesy of: Katrina Wallace Photographers

Enlist your DJ and wedding planner’s help. If you want guests to have free reign with their devices during the reception but want the special moments to be unplugged (for the professional photog to capture), ask your DJ and planner to help you. They’re used to directing guests throughout the wedding day and would be happy to guide your guests in this area- just make sure you or your planner provides the DJ with a detailed list of the events (like the first dance, cake cutting, etc.) that you wish to be device-free.

If you don’t want to go 100% unplugged at your wedding but want a device-free ceremony, don’t forget to provide a hashtag so all guests can easily find the photos from your wedding as they are posted on social media. Remember, don’t provide the hashtag until you’re ready for guests to use their devices.

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