You may now kiss the bride!
You know those words. The signal to each, captivated guest that the (arguably) most important moment of the evening is at hand. The point where the union becomes a marriage, the point where fathers cry like babies and even babies seem to hold their breath for the solemnity of it all. Unfortunately, it’s also the point where one the most fundamental and time-sensitive photographs of the evening is suddenly tainted by the dozens of cameras, cell phones, and tablets abruptly lifted into the air by each row of hopeful-photographer guests.
I get it, everyone is excited about your wedding, and with just about everyone having a camera in their pocket, and a Facebook account that needs updating, it can be very tempting to snap a few shots to capture the evening here and there. But what are they capturing? Are they capturing a night to remember, or are they capturing a bunch of other people who are all also trying to capture a night to remember?
My hope in writing this blog post is that you’ll do a bit of research and consider having what has become known as an “unplugged wedding.”
What is an uplugged wedding? It is simply a wedding with no unnecessary electronics. All guests are asked to turn off phones, tablets, iPods, cameras, etc., anything that would distract them from your wedding and from enjoying being part of it.
Why should you unplug your wedding? Let me break it down to a few reasons I have observed:
1) You paid a professional photographer. Your hired photographer’s photos will be compromised by LCD screens, competing camera flashes, people stepping in the pro’s shot (sometimes right in front of the camera), the aisles, etc., and large crowds all trying to photograph the same thing at the same time. You’ve made the investment in professional photography. Let the pros do their best work.
2) The noise is disruptive. Professional cameras have silent modes to minimize distractions. But the noise of multiple guests powering up/down cameras, of ringtones going off accidentally, of someone’s battery signal beeping in the middle of the cake-cutting, etc. is distracting. Unplugging your wedding means all electronics are turned off, just like you’re at a movie theatre or a Broadway play. It’s a way of showing respect for the ceremony, for the officiant, and especially for the wedding party.
3) You want to see your guests. You want to see your guest’s faces, not their Facetime. Oftentimes people put their devices directly in front of their faces. Want to remember who was sitting in the front row during the ceremony? Better hope you can recognize them by their wrists ;-).
4) You want your guests to participate fully. And lastly, and what I think is probably the most important, this is your once-in-a-life-time event. You have put a lot of time and effort into making it perfect. Your guests have been invited to share in the beauty of the ceremony and celebrate the union. This is not the place for guests to show off their paparazzi skills; it is a place for them to be present (physically and mentally) and to capture how it feels to be there as a participant, not as a scribe, or a news reporter, or a photographer.
How do you unplug your wedding? Unplugging your wedding is actually quite simple, and with it becoming more and more common, there are numerous ideas of how to do it on lifestyle sites, such as Pinterest or crafting sites, such as Etsy. One super effective way I have seen is to create or purchase a fun sign to have on display near the entrance to the ceremony. Take a look at these ideas: https://goo.gl/B5OmdH .
It’s also always great to have the officiant remind everyone at the beginning of the ceremony to turn off all electronic devices and to stay in their seats, and out of the aisle.
So you know that moment we talked about? The moment that formalizes the entire marriage ceremony? How would it be if that moment was a time for all the guests to hold their breath rather than holding their phones? A time for tearful eyes, rather than hastily-captured redeye? A time for people to smile because they’re happy watching you get married, not because someone said ‘cheese’?
I hope you’ll consider the difference an unplugged wedding can make in creating a beautiful moment rather than a status update. Let’s leave the photography to the photographer and the status updates for the after-party.