What is an unplugged wedding? An unplugged wedding is when a couple getting married decides to not have phones or cell phones in use during the wedding.

In October, I saw a video where a well-meaning step-mom stepped in front of the wedding photographer and that photographer pushed her aside. While I would never ever do that, I have had multiple moments almost ruined by well-meaning guests and family members who are taking pictures.

I’m sure you have seen this happen at weddings and never really thought about how it may affect your wedding.

You don’t have to look around all that much to see why couples are considering having an “unplugged” wedding, While I truly don’t mind one way or the other, it’s good to know a little something about it before making a decision.

Above are real images that my husband captured on his cell phone while on the move as he was going to walk my daughter down the aisle with her dad (the second one is blurry as he was moving to join them). My daughter thought it was hysterical, but not all brides would want this! 

It also meant that the photographer wasn’t able to profesionally capture this image because my husband was in his way.  

I have had over the years, many people stand up in the asle in front of me taking a cell phone image, which means I wasn’t able to capture that moment because they were right in front of me.  I typically say oh, excuse me in a really polite way – but that moment is lost.

Things to think about when making the decision

Consider these questions:

  • Do you want images that would otherwise be gorgeous ruined, because there are multiples guests and family members also taking photos?
  • Do you want to be the first person to post images of your kiss or ceremony?

My brides have told me countless times how they were devastated that all the images at the ceremony had cell phones and arms in the air and event ipads.  And even some are disappointed  that they didn’t get to post the first image of their wedding themselves. 

Consider that without the distraction of their phone and/or camera, your guests will be free to immerse themselves in the experience that you’ve spent months, time, and money planning. They will be more likely to listen to and remember your ceremony better, engage and react to your heart-felt speeches and cheer you on for your first dance, rather than experience it through a viewfinder or small screen.

Some people love posting everything that happens in their lives online and others avoid it at all costs. If you want to get technical, when a guest takes a group photo at a private wedding they are assuming that everyone in the shot is okay with it being put on social media and basically publicized.

Not everyone lives online and those guests may be uncomfortable. Although the person who takes a photo owns the copyright, they don’t automatically have the right to share the photo.

Have just the ceremony unplugged

If you aren’t sold on having an unplugged wedding, my advice is to consider a compromise and just have the ceremony unplugged.  Then you can have beautiful professional images by your wedding photographer without cell phones and ipads in the way.  Your guests will also be invested in the ceremony and seeing and hearing the vows.

I love having weddings where all the guests take their cell phone images and hashtagging your wedding day hashtag on Instagram.  You get all those images after the wedding to save and keep forever. 

And, if I’m being honest, having images that your guests take are so much fun and can even be downright hilarious.  You’ll also get a different perspective of the wedding.

Sometimes, letting the guests know that you are having an unplugged ceremony, but will be sharing all the images in a gallery from the photographer when they are delivered, enables guests and family members to respect that rule for your wedding.  

Finally, if having an unplugged wedding isn’t for you, just know that you will 100% have images that show arms with cell phones in hand. If you are o.k. with that, so will your photographer.

TIP:  Ask your wedding photographer when you’ll deliver the wedding images.  I personally deliver a sneak peek the day after the wedding via social mediate.  I also deliver 25+ images the week after the wedding in a blog post that can be shared with all the wedding guests via social media.  Some photographers take 3 months to deliver images – so ask yours before you hire them!

If you decided to have an unplugged wedding, consider the following

  • You should definitely have a sign of some sort. Here are some examples of those on my Pinterest board.
  • You can also ask your priest/celebrant/officiant/MC to make an announcement prior to the ceremony.
  • Consider letting people know in advance about your wishes. It will help to alleviate the hurt feelings that may come from those that don’t want to live without using their phone.  Some couples do this via the wedding website and some have an insert in the invitation. For wording look here. I’ve also seen it done tastefully on the actual invitation. Here’s a list of ways you can notify guests.

Only you can make the decision!

There are pluses to having an unplugged wedding or ceremony, but you and your fiance are the ONLY people that should make that decision.

TIP:  Before you hire your wedding photographer, ask if there is a clause in their contract stating no photos can be taken while they are taking photos.  Oftentimes people won’t catch that in the contract.  It doesn’t matter to me if couples have unplugged weddings or not.  It is, after all, YOUR big day. No one or no contract should tell you what you should or shouldn’t have. 

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