Published: Friday, Mar. 29th, 2019

Thinking About Having an Unplugged Wedding Ceremony?

this might not be what you want to see in your wedding photos...

The discussion of mobile devices - specifically, guests taking pictures and videos during the wedding - has been covered on many sites by many people, but there’s still a perspective missing from that conversation that we want to offer here on American Weddings. We asked around the office and between us, we’ve officiated dozens of wedding ceremonies, including a number of unplugged ones, and there’s a reason that so many couples are having this conversation.


Obviously, the focus of this post is on the wedding ceremony portion of the special day and we are not here to encourage or discourage an "unplugged ceremony"… we just want to present the facts. Regardless of what you decide, it will impact how the ceremony transpires, how the professional photographer responds, and other important planning decisions.


Consider the following:

Fact #1 – If you have hired a professional photographer and/or videographer to capture your ceremony, ask them what they think about mobile devices. This will allow them to make suggestions and adjustments based on your choice. If the photographer and videographer know that no announcement will be made and that people will be allowed take photos/videos, they may wish to be more mobile, or to take a position that is not as easily blocked by Aunt Martha standing and holding her massive iPad over her head to catch the first kiss (yes, we have seen that happen).


you're already paying this guy, may as well consult him...


Fact #2 – If you do not specifically ask, or have the officiant ask, for people to please turn off their mobile devices and refrain from taking pictures during the wedding ceremony, you need to expect the worst. One of our ministers recently recently officiated a wedding where three of the guests were literally standing at the end of the aisle taking pictures and video as the bride was being escorted down the aisle… blocking the view of the family and, more importantly, the groom and his reaction to seeing his bride coming down the aisle.


The reality of the matter is that we have become increasingly attached to our phones, to the point where we -- as a society -- have normalized intrusive behavior. This is something to consider during your ceremony, because folks won’t think twice about standing up to get a great shot for instagram - even if it’s disruptive!


Fact #3 – We realize that social media friendliness is a big deal. Many couples even encourage guests to share their wedding on social media, creating hashtags for guests to use.  That’s all great, but keep in mind that some pictures might not project the image you want of your wedding -- picture wasted guests passed out during the reception -- and even worse, amateur photographers could interfere with the job of your hired, professional photographer. 


Here's Nova, AMM's office dog, because it's Friday!


Fact #4 – It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. One great compromise is allowing guests to photograph the bridal procession, but then asking them to please refrain from taking pictures and video for the rest of the ceremony. We have also worked with couples who have had us make an announcement at the start of the ceremony indicating they are okay with pictures and video being taken as long as the “shooting” is done from a seated position with the flash turned off.


Personally, it is our opinion -- and many other wedding professionals’ too -- that if you have paid the photographer and/or videographer good money to capture your special moments, you should give them the best chance to do that by requesting an Unplugged ceremony.


But it’s your special day, not ours, so make the decision right for you!


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