Sometimes it feels like the “pics or it didn’t happen” mentality has taken over. Concerts are crowded with people packed against the front of the stage, holding their iPhones over their heads to take a picture of the band. Coffee shops are full of people passing time on their phones and Instagramming their lattes. Everywhere you look, people are documenting every minute of their day, and wedding ceremonies are no exception. When a guest dives out into the center aisle to take a great shot on their phone, not only does it make it tough for your photographer to do their job, but for most couples, looking out onto a sea of cell phones is just not the experience they had in mind.
For couples who value their guests’ full attention during their ceremony, it’s becoming more and more popular for ceremony decorations to include a sign politely asking guests to not use phones and cameras during an “unplugged ceremony”.
Of course, this idea isn’t for everyone, and some couples love the idea of having their guests capture the ceremony in a way that can instantly be shared to social media. But while it’s fun to scroll through Facebook pictures of your guests having a blast on the dance floor, a wedding ceremony usually has a different vibe.
First and foremost, a wedding is about the ceremony. This is the part of the day where you become husband and wife! It’s kind of the main event, and it’s filled with lots of firsts. For the bride and groom, it’s the first time they’ve seen all of their friends and family in one place. It’s the first unveiling of the bride in her wedding dress, the first kiss as husband and wife, and their first introduction as a married couple.
Between all of those firsts, the prayers, religious traditions and heartfelt vows, a wedding ceremony is filled with a lot of serious moments! During these special moments, there’s nothing worse than being distracted by a room full of phone camera flashes and ring tones.
The Mood Killer
The doors open. You see your groom at the end of the room. You look side-to-side expecting to see your friends and family smiling back at you. Instead, you see 50 colorful phone cases and 10 giant iPads pointed in your direction. Not what you imagined, huh?
You can’t exactly blame your guests for wanting pictures of you walking down the aisle, but the reality is…their dark and blurry phone pictures weren’t worth it.
Letting Your Guests Know
The most popular way to tell your guests about your unplugged ceremony is to simply put a sign at the entrance of the ceremony.
Remember that there’s a lot going on, and you may need to place the message in more than one place for it be noticed. After reading it several times, it will start to sink in that this whole “living in the moment” thing is really important to you today!
Here are a few other ways to tell your guests:
- Include a message on your wedding website. Some people may miss it, but it will set the expectation early for those who notice.
- Make a note in your program
- Ask your officiant to announce it before the ceremony begins
Remember that unplugged weddings are becoming increasingly popular, so chances are, your guests have seen this before and will not be offended. Be sure to remind them that after the ceremony, their devices are welcome during the rest of the wedding.
Be Gentle With Wording
It can be tricky to come up with the words to explain exactly why you’re taking away your guests’ digital life line, but don’t overthink it. Be gentle and positive. Use words that make it sound like a suggestion instead of a requirement. Kindly suggesting it’s importance to you will be enough for most guests to respect your wish.
Don’t be afraid to lighten the mood with humor. Poke fun at the fact that we’re all addicted to our phones or would go to extreme measures to get the perfect Instagram picture.
- “As a curtesy, please turn off all cameras and phones during the ceremony. Resist temptation. Stay strong.”
- “Please no camera phones, iPads or drones.”
- “The bride & groom request the joyful sight of your smiling faces without the distraction of electronic devices.”
Focus on explaining why you want them to be fully present during your ceremony, and that their cameras and phones are welcome at the reception.
- “Welcome to our unplugged ceremony. We invite you to be fully present with us during our ceremony. Thank you for being here!”
- “Thank you for joining us for our unplugged ceremony. Kindly turn off your phones as we share this moment together. Photos are welcome at our “plugged-in” reception!”
Trust Your Photographer
Remember that the reason your guests want to take pictures on their own cameras and phones is because they want the ability to re-live your ceremony. While you trust your photographer and have hired them to capture your memories, your guests may be unsure that they’ll get to see your professional photos.
Talk to your photographer about how you can easily share your photos with your friends and family. I always deliver a few previews photos from a wedding day just a few days after the wedding. Guests love this fast turn around time almost as much as my couples do! It may be helpful to tell your guests ahead of time (on your wedding website for example) that they’ll get to see many of your professional photos and that you’d be happy to share them personally or on social media later on.
Assuring your guests that you’ve hired someone to save the wedding ceremony memories will ease their fear of forgetting what you looked like coming down the aisle, or standing at the end of it, or having your first married kiss.
- “Kindly turn off your cameras and cell phones during the ceremony. We promise to share with you the many beautiful photos captured here today!”
Added Benefits of Going Unplugged
Going out of your way to mention that having an uninterrupted ceremony is important to you will make guests more likely to leave the room when a baby starts crying or kids are acting up. They’ll enter your ceremony will respect and a recognition of the day’s importance. Because after all, it’s your wedding day, and everyone there loves you. If you present the idea simply and with kind words, it’s a win-win for everyone!
MAIN TAKEAWAYS – DON’T FORGET…
Don’t overthink it!
Focus the wording on why you want them to be fully present during your ceremony
Ensure your guests that they’ll soon have access to professional photos from your ceremony