The last few years have seen a rise in what is known as the "unplugged" wedding --- a wedding where the couple requests that their guests turn off their cell phones and cameras for the duration of the ceremony. The reasons for this vary, but often include one or more of the following lines of thought:
- The couple in question doesn't want photos of them/their event being posted online;
- The couple wants their event documented exclusively by their chosen photographer/videographer and they don't want guests competing for photo opportunities with the professionals;
- The couple doesn't want their guests focusing on taking photos of the event, but would rather they enjoy the event fully as it is happening.
I, personally, love the idea behind the unplugged wedding --- a couple invites people to attend their wedding primarily as witnesses --- not as photographers. I personally think it's a shame when I see a wedding guest taking photos and video throughout a wedding ceremony, as that person is focusing more on getting footage of the event rather than experiencing the event, itself.
However, I do think that some couples have taken the idea of the "unplugged" wedding too far, and, as a result, have crossed some important etiquette boundaries. Here are my tips for hosting an etiquette-friendly unplugged wedding:
- DO be sincere. Let your guests know why you are requesting that they refrain from using their phones and cameras to document the wedding. One of the greatest examples I saw of this was this past summer where the couple had their wedding officiant entreat the wedding guests before the ceremony began to fully invest themselves in witnessing the marriage, rather than documenting it electronically.
- DON'T be unreasonable. I've heard of situations where couples institute a "phone check" at their wedding where guests are asked to physically part with their phones! Personally, I think this is rude and inappropriate. Some guests may want their phones near so they can be reached in an emergency by their babysitter, for example. As much as you may want to, you should not demand that guests part with their phones.
- DO communicate. Prepare your guests for your request that they not use their cell phones and cameras by putting the request on your website, in your ceremony programs, and on special signs at the event. You can also instruct your ushers and officiant to communicate your wishes to guests. Give your guests as many opportunities to hear the request as possible.
- DON'T restrict photos all night. Oftentimes weddings serve as reunions for families and friend groups, so it is natural for guests to want to take photos together and with the couple. As such, I think it is unreasonable to ask guests from taking photos at the reception. Plus, if you allow photo-taking later on, many guests won't mind putting their phones away for the ceremony.
- DO promote your photographer. When you request that guests refrain from taking photos during the ceremony, be sure to tell them that photos of the event will be available from your photographer!
Are you considering having an "unplugged" wedding? Did you have an "unplugged" wedding? Share your thoughts in the comments!