An Unplugged Wedding....say whaaaaaat?
What the Heck is an Unplugged Wedding?
The definition of an unplugged wedding is a wedding in which the guests are asked to turn off all their electronic devices (cameras, cellphones, iPads, etc.) throughout the course of the ceremony, or in some instances, throughout the entire day. The length of the unplugged portion of the day depends on the bride and grooms wishes; some brides request only an unplugged ceremony while other brides choose to have their entire day, reception and all, unplugged. Unplugged weddings, in my opinion, are a truly lovely thing! Not only does it ensure that your guests are truly present and attentive to the day but it also a wonderful way to protect your photography investment!
So why the big deal about protecting a photography investment? Do wedding day photos really require protection from would-be shutterbugs? Honestly… more often than you would think. In the past decade or so, with the advent of the smart phone, people have become less aware of proper etiquette when it comes to being a spectator at an event, be it black tie, blue jeans, or black veil, (funerals). And yes, I have been asked to photograph a funeral. You can see it here... The Loss of An American Hero.
Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t have anything against taking pictures at an event, but I do have a problem with guests who do not practice common sense and and show respect by giving the one(s) for whom they are there to see ALL of their attention. This is a very common occurrence. Take music concerts, for example. Performers have begun calling shutterbugs out right in the middle of their song! YouTube is full of videos where the performer has stopped [performing] to chat with an audience member who has given more attention to their smart phone than to the performer.
Now, we certainly aren't going to call shutterbugs out, but we would prefer to fill your gallery with images of your guests like the ones below. Your family, friends and loved ones, fully enjoying your special day with you! A day, by the way, that you've spent a considerable amount of time and money preparing for, to share with these guests that you've hand picked.
(There are always exceptions. The last image shows a woman holding a video camera, but she was asked to film it and you can clearly see in the image, that her eyes are riveted on the scene playing out in front of her and not on her tiny screen.)
You want your guests watching your day through their own eyes, not through the viewfinder of a camera or on the tiny screen of an iPhone, or worse, the large screen of an iPad. Which, unfortunately, will be where the viewer's eye will be drawn once the images hit the gallery as evidenced in the images below.
Now, we know that these guests aren’t doing this maliciously, or intentionally being rude. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. They’re taking photos/videos because they love the bride and groom and want to preserve this moment for themselves. They just need to be reminded that the bride and groom have paid a considerable about of money to have professionals do this and that they (the iPhone girl, in this case) are off the hook. It's okay to put that camera away and let the professionals be responsible for capturing all the moments that matter. And I'm 100% positive that this little gal would have been much happier seeing herself in these images as a true spectator instead of a shutter bug.
I write this article as a means to convey an option you may have been unaware even existed until now. And to candidly and openly discuss the consequences of well meaning guests unwittingly affecting your photography investment.
Your guests aren't thinking of what's happening behind the scenes on your special day. They're thinking, "OMG! She looks amazing! I've got to have a picture of her!" Not realizing that you've paid good money to make sure your picture is taken from every possible angle imaginable and that every moment of the day is being captured by a professional photographer. And that all the images will be put in a gallery that will be made available to your guests so all they have to do is sit back, relax and enjoy your moment with you! (And maybe keep a smile plastered on their face so that when they end up in our viewfinder, which they will, they will look amazing too!!!)
Your guest are just that. Guests. Just as you would never invite someone you cherish to your home and then put them to work cleaning your bathroom or washing your dishes, you would never invite them to be a part of your special day and put them to work taking photos. Your guests are as much a part of your special day as your wedding party is! You love these people, that's why you invited them! So they need to come prepared to celebrate! Not work! That's why you've hired professionals! We will take care of capturing the moments, while you and your guests take care of creating them.
So, if you are considering an unplugged wedding, (and honestly, the choice is yours,) please consider the following:
It should be written on your invitation. Just as etiquette dictates the forewarning of a Cash Bar be written on an invitation (so guests can come prepared with money for the bar), the same can be said of an unplugged wedding. Some guests may have questions and will want information about how they can obtain photos once they are available. A lot of engaged couples are creating websites with information about their special day, i.e. the location, out of town accommodations and so on. This is a great place to tell your guests about why you've chose to go 'unplugged' and why it's beneficial for everyone!
Your ushers can remind your guests as they are seating them that they are an important part of your day! They have been invited to help you create moments and they don't need to worry about photos or videos! Their devices can be put away! If your ushers feel uneasy about doing this, you can always have them place a business-size card (which we can design for you) on each chair with information about the unplugged nature of the ceremony as well as the link to the gallery where they will find all of the wedding images once they are uploaded.
Consider having your officiant include in his/her welcome speech, a gentle reminder about the unplugged nature of the ceremony before the official ceremony starts.
If you need help asking your guests to participate in your unplugged ceremony, feel free to copy and paste the message below into your wedding website! Obviously, you'll fill in the blank with your significant other's name, and feel free to reword the message to fit your situation.
Friends, family and invited guests,
We are thrilled beyond words that you will be joining us on our special day! __________ and I want you to know that while you are with us during the ceremony your only job is to sit back, relax and enjoy yourself. You are off the hook for taking pictures during this time. We have hired professionals who's sole responsibility is to capture every single moment, from every single angle possible. And that includes you! When we look back on our day, the one you chose to spend with us, all we want to see is your beautiful smiles! Not the backside of your smart phone or iPad or any other digital device. So please, leave them in your purse, pocket, bra, or wherever you store them for the ceremony. After the ceremony is finished and the last of the bridal party has exited, then you can take them out and go snap happy!! Over The Moon Images has promised us that they will make every image available to you just as soon as they are ready. So please come prepared to be a part of our day, with us!
We know you will want to share all of your wedding photos with your guests. Over the Moon Images will provide you with an online gallery to view as well as purchase any or all of your images.
We will provide this information to your guests as well. When your guests know that they’ll have photos to see after the event, they are more likely to relax and not worry about taking photos themselves.