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Unplugged Weddings: The Pros & Cons You Need to Consider

Like most newly engaged couples, you may have already started considering some witty, personalized hashtags for your guests. While many of your loved ones will be eager to capture every last moment of your walk down the aisle and first kiss with your new spouse, having so many devices out during your special ceremony can certainly be a distraction and can even get in the way of the professional wedding photos you’re paying thousands of dollars for.

In order for your loved ones to just sit back and take in this momentous occasion, lots of couples have started leaning towards the trend of hosting an “unplugged wedding.”

In a typical unplugged celebration, guests are asked to shut off or refrain from using any electronic devices… similar to how crowds are asked to turn off their phones and refrain from photography at live theater performances or the movies. For some couples, they want people to put down their devices for the entire event, while other brides prefer to just power phones down during the ceremony and let guests go wild during the reception.

If you and your beau are toying with the idea of throwing an unplugged wedding ceremony and/or reception, consider these pros and cons first… and then take a look at ways to politely and effectively inform your friends and family of your wishes.

candid picture of the bride and groom

Brian Bossany Photography

Unplugged Wedding Pros & Cons:

The Pros:

Better professional photos.

One of the main reasons couples are starting to ban cell phones and cameras is so the hired photographer can capture each moment without any distracting screens popping up in their shots.

Your friends and family mean well, however they could easily walk dead center into your photographer’s frame, or a flash on a guests’ camera could destroy an otherwise ideal shot for your seasoned professional.

You hired somebody to take photos of your big day for a reason, so let them do their job to the best of their ability!

a romantic picture of the bride and groom

Eric Vest Photography

Guests can focus on each special moment.

Having your loved ones present to witness your ceremony is a special and once-in-a-lifetime moment, so asking that they enjoy this occasion with their full attention will make the moment more enjoyable for everybody. Glancing out on your crowd and making eye contact with your loved ones is an irreplaceable experience, and surely beats looking out onto a sea of iPhones and digital cameras.

Less confusion during group photos.

There’s nothing that bothers me more than looking back on a stellar group photo, only to realize everyone in the crowd is smiling at a different camera. With so many people crouching to take the same photo, group photos often look disorganized and messy. Letting your professionals exclusively handle your family photos will surely make for a more polished final result.

The Cons:

Hurt feelings.

Asking your loved ones to refrain from taking photos is sure to ruffle some feathers, especially for those who are attached at the hip to their smart phones. Many people love documenting every last moment of even the most mundane part of their days, so it’s pretty likely that some people will be disappointed that they can’t personally capture your big moment and brag about it immediately to their online networks.

Less uploads to your personalized hashtag.

While we all love checking online for updates on our friends’ big days, hosting a devices-free event is sure to minimize the amount of photos being uploaded to social media. This one really can be seen as a pro or con, depending on your own personal preferences and personality type.

wedding hashtag on chalkboard with love quote

Gina Zeidler Photography

Some special moments may be missed.

The beauty of having an army of 100+ people equipped with cameras is being able to see your big day through your loved ones’ eyes. With only one or two hired professional photographers at most celebrations, chances are good that they may miss a special moment that one of your guests could have otherwise captured.

Maybe your best friend witnessed a sweet moment between you and your beau, but the photographer was busy taking detailed shots of your table settings and cake… it’s times like these that you’ll wish your guests could take and share their own unique, special photos of your celebration.

bride twirling in her bridal gown bride twirling in her bridal gown - back

Brian Bossany Photography

How to Enforce Your Digital Wedding Wishes:

Now that you’ve decided whether or not to embrace the unplugged trend, here are a few ways to seamlessly incorporate this new tradition into your big day!

Let your policy be known!

If you don’t get the word out to your guests that you want a device-free wedding, some in attendance may not comply. Post your wishes on your website, print it in your programs, and have your officiant make an announcement before the ceremony begins. You can even display cute signs by the entrance to your venue.

With multiple announcements and reminders, your guests are sure to get the message loud and clear.

Don’t confiscate your guests’ property!

Unless you’re an A-list celebrity, it’s unnecessary and over-the-top to collect cell phones and other electronic devices before your ceremony begins.

Treat your guests like responsible, grown adults; let everyone hold onto their phones and trust they’ll respect your wishes. (Plus, you won’t be held responsible for any lost or stolen devices at the end of the night!) 

Give your loved ones a designated chance to snap a shot!

If you anticipate pushback from your friends and family over no cameras during your vows, you could always designate a specific moment after the ceremony for everyone to whip out their phones and snap away to their heart’s content.

A perfect time for a photo op is after you’ve been pronounced man and wife. Your pastor or officiant can then make an announcement, informing the crowd of their opportunity to take a photo without ruining all of your hired photographers’ moments or distracting from your vows.

bride and groom celebrating after ceremony

Rene Tate Photography

Ease up during the reception.

Unless you’re adamant about no tweeting/’gramming/facebooking during your entire event, let your guests take their own photos during your reception. The lighter, more celebratory feeling of a reception is considered by many to be an appropriate venue for cell phone use, and your friends and family are sure to appreciate the chance to post any long-awaited updates on your big day.

groomsmen taking a picture of the wedding party

Tessa June Photography

Don’t sweat the haters.

I went to a good friend’s wedding a few years ago who made it quite clear that she wanted an unplugged celebration. Her request was printed in her program, and her officiant even made an announcement before the ceremony started. Even with the repeated requests, there were still one or two people in the crowd who thought the rules didn’t apply to them and snapped away as my friends exchanged their vows.

While it was definitely obvious that some people weren’t playing by the rules, the bride and groom never even noticed and the photographers were able to work around these few dissenters. Just by making their wishes known, the bride and groom were able cut down on a whole crowd of amateur paparazzi taking over their ceremony, and those in the crowd that were conscientious enough to play by the rules were able to soak up each special moment of their ceremony.

Don’t worry about enforcing your request beyond what’s reasonable, because there will always be people who bend or break rules.

Are you considering hosting an unplugged wedding, or have you attended any before? Let us know how you feel about this hotly debated topic below in the comments!

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