Unplugged Weddings


April 23, 2014

It’s funny…I’ve been meaning to write about unplugged weddings here on the blog to educate my clients on what they are, and the benefits of them, but more and more I’ve been having clients have unplugged weddings…or new potential clients telling me that’s what they want…and asking me about how they should go about it! It almost seems like unplugged weddings are the new “first look”, or the next new tradition this generation’s couples are making their own. And with the amount of technology out there right now, it definitely makes sense that unplugged weddings are the biggest new tradition I’m seeing right now!

So, what exactly IS an unplugged wedding? It’s when couples ask their guests to refrain from using phones or cameras during the ceremony and other important parts of the day so that they may remain fully present during the festivities and actually participate. I think this is great because in this day and age, with Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, etc taking up so much of our time, we all feel like everywhere we go, we have to take pictures of whatever we’re doing. I’m guilty of this too! By keeping your wedding unplugged and encouraging guests to put down their devices, guests will be more engaged in the day itself. Besides, since you hired an awesome professional photographer to capture your day, you can be sure that you’ll have more than enough photos to remember the day and share with your guests!!

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Benefits of an unplugged wedding:

Family formals go faster. When guest photographers attempt to take photos behind us during family formals, those shots take twice as long to complete. (And nobody enjoys that..) When more than one person is shooting family formals, family members often get confused about where to look and we have to take additional time to make sure we have a good shot.

Bride and Groom portraits are less stressful. I like to try to keep bride and groom portraits as relaxed as possible. There’s nothing inherently natural about them (I mean, unless you’re used to having your photo taken with your spouse…then maybe it’s super normal to you) but I like to try to make them as low key as possible. Which means, just the couple and me (and John too…but he’s quiet). When well meaning family and friend-tographers follow along on portraits, I often have to stop what I’m doing to ask them to leave because portraits can feel awkward when there are lots of people around, and feeling awkward is never really a great way to get natural, relaxed portraits.

There’s no need to worry about missed shots. When friends and family are shooting in the aisle, using flash, stepping out in front of our shots, etc, we have to work twice as hard to get the shots we want and be really creative. There have been times when otherwise AMAZING shots have been ruined and/or were pretty much undeliverable because of a guest hopping in front of us to grab their shot at just the wrong moment…or their flash firing at the exact second mine did, completely washing out the shot that I had metered my settings for based on the light in the room, not accounting for their flash. If your photography is really important to you, I definitely suggest asking guests to refrain from photography during important parts of the day.

Guests are fully present. I don’t know about you guys, but I feel as though in this day and age you really have to make a point to be “unplugged” and put down your phone or camera. We live in times where everyone is constantly multi-tasking and checking their multiple feeds for updates and staying “plugged in” to what others are doing. I think a wedding is a great example of a time that it’s really important to stay in the moment and really be a part of the celebration. Obviously your wedding guests are people who are important to you, so you really want them to be able to enjoy and experience the day without having a screen to their face the entire day. By letting your guests know you’ve hired a professional photographer and you’d like them to refrain from photography, that frees them up to have a great time witnessing your ceremony and partying at the reception!

As a photographer, it really doesn’t bother me that much if one or two people take pictures with their point and shoot, or if people instagram parts of the day (who am I to judge fellow Instagrammers?)…but I feel like when guests are shooting during the important parts of the day (like the ceremony, important dances, etc) it’s the bride and groom who end up losing, and that makes me really sad. They’ve spent time finding a photographer they love and trust and then invested a decent chunk of change into having them capture your wedding only to have the photog’s abilities hindered by overeager friends and family. I’ve seen ceremony shots be ruined because guests were on the altar during the service trying to get the shot…or out in the aisle shooting in churches where professional photographers are actually restricted to shooting in the back. I’ve seen exits ruined because of a guests elbow in my camera. I’ve had intimate first dance shots become undeliverable because a guest just had to get the shot on her iPad. And, horror of all horrors, a friend of mine told me about a wedding she shot where there were people standing in the aisle trying to get “the” shot of the bride coming down the aisle and THE GROOM COULD NOT SEE THE BRIDE. WHAT?? That is tragic, people! That’s not just an image you’ll never get to see, it’s a moment…a MEMORY taken away from both bride and groom. Something they have looked forward to their entire lives. If that doesn’t make the case for unplugged weddings, I’m not sure what could!

If you’re thinking about having an unplugged wedding, there are several ways to go about making sure your guests are aware, such as printing something about it into your program, having your minister or officiant mention it at the beginning of the service, adding the info to your wedding website, or cute signage like the chalkboard pictured above.

Whether or not you end up choosing to make your wedding “unplugged”, I think it’s a new tradition that’s here to stay, and something every couple should consider!


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