4 Ways to encourage an unplugged ceremony

The doors open and you enter the room. Music is drifting through the air and your hair gently flows back with the breeze. You lock eyes with the groom at the end of the aisle and, for a moment, everything feels perfect. This is what you were waiting for. The photographer is highly skilled and waiting at the end of the aisle to capture all of the beauty as it happens. You take one step and then another – hearing the sighs of awe from your guests – when suddenly your Aunt Jill steps loudly into the aisle with her cell phone in hand. She waves and says to tell Uncle Bob hello and shouts inaudible phases, something along the lines of you look beautiful. All the while, Aunt Jill is blocking the view of the professional photographer, who you hired to take photos.

If this sounds something like your worst nightmare, I’m here to tell you that, for many brides, it becomes an unfortunate reality. In the days of technology, almost everyone including your four-year-old niece has some kind of device and believes themselves to be the next big photographer in the family. Unfortunately for you, the photos frequently turn out blurry, out-of-focus, or worse yet, missing critical parts of the photo, such as your head. It is important to encourage guests to turn their phones off or at the very least to allow the professional photographer the space to take the appropriate photos. Here are the four best ways to encourage an unplugged ceremony:

  1. Set a clear intention in the form of invitations or social media announcements
    Guests should understand your wedding vision and expectations prior to attending the wedding. This ensures that those in attendance are prepared and, ultimately, have a better understanding of why you are requesting a tech-free wedding to begin with. The last thing a bride or groom wants to be doing on their wedding is trying to encourage “Aunt Jill” to put down the cell phone. Thankfully, there are a variety of products already created to encourage such behavior in a tactful way. For instance, a bride might choose to include an “enclosure card” with her wedding invites, gently noting that the wedding will be an “unplugged wedding” and she looks forward to seeing everyone’s faces (not cameras) at the wedding (see this wedding enclosure from Etsy as an example).
  2. Have conversations with guests ahead of time
    An upcoming wedding is frequently the hot topic of conversation – everyone wants to know about the wedding plans and how the process is going. This would be an excellent time to gently mention that you have hired a skilled photographer, whose work you admire, and you are going to be encouraging everyone to “unplug” (put away cell phones and cameras). If you know close family members who are frequently seen with cell phone in hand, it might not hurt to speak with them ahead of time about your unplugged ceremony and how they can get a copy of your professional photos after the wedding.
  3. Signage
    For those who might not have read the invites or spoken with you before the wedding, it would be beneficial to have signage that encourages guests to put down the phones and enjoy the ceremony. There are several signs available – ranging from the humorous to elegant – on Etsy.
  4. Providing intentional photography/videography moments
    More often than not, guests are simply attempting to capture the love evident at your wedding; they may just not know how to properly do so. This is where providing intentional photography moments would be beneficial. Things like photo booths, polaroid guestbooks, or video diaries (for the bride/groom) would help guests feel included, but in a more structured way. This also allows them to be a part of the photo-taking process without getting in “the way” of the professional photographer or your dream photos.