How to Implement an Unplugged Wedding Ceremony

By Stas Furman • SineMax Films

Do you recall the days of disposable cameras? Bride and groom would actually put them on the table and ask guest to take pictures.

Certainly the times have changed, we no longer use disposable cameras, and these days we are completely addicted to our mobile devices. Our smartphones run our daily lives so it’s no wonder that they infiltrated our special events as well. A wedding is considered one of the most special events in people’s lives, yet most of us can’t make ourselves put down our cell phones and give the respect and the attention due to the bride and groom.

The couple spends lots of money and effort on this special day – months of hard planning, choosing, just to have the most perfect day. But many people these days totally ignore the couple and focus on their Facebook, Instagram or Twitter feed, or just simply continue to snap pictures and videos during the ceremony, thus aggravating and frustrating the people who worked so hard to make this day absolutely special. The worst is when a bride walks down the aisle and you hear an annoying tune interrupting the ceremony and ruining the special moment for the couple.

The professional wedding world is frustrated as well.  We are hired to capture the most perfect moments and it is that much more difficult to do so when guests are constantly getting up or reaching over to take a picture and appear in your shots. I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I had to politely ask guests to stop using their cell phone because they were in my shots. Yes, our lives are run by these devices, but at moments like these we should absolutely unplug.

An average couple spent $32,600 on their wedding in 2015. There are plenty of times when this special, expensive event is ruined because people absolutely don’t pay attention.

So what is the solution?  Many couples request unplugged weddings, however it is quite difficult to do so as most people are absolutely addicted to their devices. Let’s say you decided to go that route, what should a couple do?

They definitely need to speak to their photographer/cinematographer to explore ways they can make pictures available to all guests. Since they will not be able to snap their own pictures, they need to have an option, so providing digital pictures of the guest or giving out something at the wedding might be an option. Discuss this with your wedding professionals. Live streaming is another option, but make sure your guests are captured.  It is also important to let your guests know that they will have their images.

So posting something on your wedding website (or on a separate card in your invitations) is a good idea.  Something like this is fun and wouldn’t be taken the wrong way:

“We want you to be able to relax and have fun with us today! This in mind, we invite you to put down all your favorite devices and just be present in the moment with us. Please leave your camera in your bag (we’ve got photography covered!), and put your cell phone on mute (we promise they’ll call back!).”

This type of message can be posted all across social media, as well. A couple also needs to appoint someone to help ensure that people are following the unplugged policy (perhaps the wedding or day-of planner).  Nothing rude, but just someone reminding the guests to respect the couple’s wishes. Have your officiant remind everyone once again right before the ceremony. Last but not least, have signage at the venue, maybe even displaying the website where pictures and videos can be found within a few days of the ceremony.

A wedding is one of the most special days in people’s lives, so let’s put down our cell phones and enjoy the moment.

Stas Furman