The Benefits of an Unplugged Wedding Ceremony

There are so many things to consider when planning your wedding, it can be really overwhelming! You are probably just focused on getting down the aisle without tripping, getting through the ceremony without mucking up your vows, and reaching the part of the day where all the formalities are over and you can just kick back and relax and enjoy all those happy feels.

Asking your guests to go "unplugged" at your ceremony is something that many brides + grooms wouldn't even think of on their own!

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What does it mean to go "unplugged"?

Imagine this - your wedding day has arrived, the day you've been planning and dreaming off for years. If you are like many of my brides, seeing your loved ones is one of the most important parts of the day. But when you enter the aisle, all you see is a sea of iPhones, cameras - even iPads and phones in selfie sticks.  Everyone is hiding behind a device to take a photo or video of you as you make your big entrance. Instead of seeing happy faces full of love and smiles, you are greeted with rows and rows of black devices.

Instead, what if your celebrant asked your guests to avoid taking photos during the ceremony - and keep it ‘unplugged' so that your professional photographer can capture everything, without needing to worry about missing moments because of a guest photographer.


Why does this even matter?

The number of photos we take since the iPhone exploded into our lives is a bit crazy, and I think we've kind of developed this obsession with capturing moments with our phone cameras (they are so convenient). While part of me thinks this is great, I also think that many of us can miss the moment with our need to capture it.  And while guests have always taken photos during weddings, I think it's becoming a bit of a problem.

Side note: Did you watch the Royal Wedding of Harry and Meghan recently? My heart literally shattered into a million pieces as I was watching their carriage procession through the town afterwards, all I could see was a sea of phones as people tried to capture the moment. I wanted to shout at them! You are at one of the most televised weddings in the world right now, put your phones away and just be in the moment!!

I’ve also had so many photos ruined by guests who accidentally get in my way while trying to capture photos of the moment.

The worst offenders are also not afraid to stand up in the aisle to get their moment, like in this picture below. She jumped into the photo (almost right in front of me) at the last moment, and had no idea I was there - but it still ruined the photo. Sure you can crop it and remove her, but you are also losing so much of the amotsphere of the crowd (notice that everyone else is celebrating with them in the moment - her phone is distracting and jarring).

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My heart literally breaks when this happens because, you are paying a professional (me) to capture these moments for you - and I don’t know about you, but who wants to look back through their wedding photos to see precious moments being obstructed by someone’s body/face/camera, or to see all of their loved ones faces hiding behind cameras and cell phones (or even ipads) during one of the most important times of your life? Not me!

Dan and I had an unplugged ceremony when we got married; for me it was super important that my photographer could freely do her job, and we wanted our guests to be in the moment with us; actively listening and paying attention as we shared and celebrated our love with them.


But aren't more photos better?

Let me be clear, that I don't have a single problem with guests taking photos before or after the ceremony, or during the reception! I'm only one person, and I can't cover all angles (this is why second shooters are great addition to your wedding package) and I'm thrilled to know that your friends and family are taking their own photos of themselves and moments I might have missed (while capturing something else).  

What breaks my heart, is well-meaning guests who feel the need to stick the selfie-sticks into the aisle, or jump in front of me to get their own shot (mostly because they haven't seen me).  It also hurts my heart to see guests on the edge of the aise with a phone up, watching through their lens instead of watching the bride with their eyes.  

This photo below is of the groom, and the bride's mother watching the bride walk down the aisle. Her mum is so busy trying to capture a photo, that you don't really get to see her smile.

This next photo is from a recent wedding - and just in this photo alone you can see that almost everyone in the aisle has their phone aimed at the birde as she is walking down the aisle. They are all watching her through a screen, instead of looking up and seeing her.  And while the brdide probably didn't notice at the time (tunnel vision is a THING when you walk down the aisle, in case you didn't know), when she looks back on this photo in the years to come - this is what she'll see. No happy smiling faces smiling at her, but smiling at her through a screen. I just find that so sad!!

Bonus points if you can spot two phones in one red circle...(hint, look behind the older gentleman).

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It can also be really frustrating if other guests are standing behind me trying to capture family photos after the ceremony - guests become distracted and don't know where to look.  If we are in an indoor location, flashes from guests cameras can also ruin my photos, if I happen to take a photo at the same time their flash goes off. It's almost impossible to recover this image, especially as the bride is wearing white (the dress acts as a huge reflector and completely whites out).

So many guests don't even realise they are being obtrusive, they think they are just capturing an awesome moment that they can share with you later and that they can look back on later!

In my experience, a lot of guests also take their own photos because they don't know how if they will get a copy of the professional wedding photos afterwards.

I always do my best to photograph around guest-photographers but sometime's it's unavoidable, especially when they jump in front of you during a moment that is a once in a lifetime event that is over in less than 3 seconds!

How to tell your guests that your ceremony is unplugged?

I love it when celebrants/officiants give really clear and specific instructions at the start of the ceremony (before the bride walks down the aisle).  Your celebrant will have heaps of ideas on how to let your guests know that your ceremony is unplugged, and you can google "unplugged wedding ceremony" to get dozens of different ways of saying it.

Here's a couple of other great ideas:

  • Add a little blurb on your wedding website (if you have one);
  • Include it in your wedding program, that gets handed out to your guests at the ceremony. In it, you can reassure them that they can take photos after the formal ceremony and family photos are done, and during the reception, and that you'll make the professional photos available to them afterwards.
  • Have a sign at the front of your ceremony letting your guests now that your ceremony is unplugged.

Make sure you check out my Pinterest board for some more inspiration and examples!  I have quite a few Pinterest boards dedicated to wedding inspo - so make sure you check those out too!

Images sourced from Pinterest

Images sourced from Pinterest


How to collect everyone's photos after the wedding day?

Once the ceremony is over, your guests can go nuts taking photos!

And there are so many great ways to collect everyone's photos, these days technology has made it super simple for you.

It's becoming more and more popular to have your own hashtag for people sharing images on Instagram (our hashtag is #danielandlecinda if you want to check it out), but there are also a few apps your guests can download to their phones, for example WedPics.  Your guests can upload all the photos they took to the app, and see everyone else's photos from the event too.  All you need to do is let your guests know about it (on your invitations, wedding program, a sign at the ceremony, etc) and away you go!



If you've never heard of the unplugged wedding before, you might find some of the journal entries below helpful.