Unplugged Ceremonies

Unplugged Ceremonies

📸: Alex Paul Photography // @alexpaulphotography

While everyone wants to grab that ~perfect~ photo of the newlyweds, the happy couple may be a lot happier when guests are enjoying the moment through their own eyes and not through the screen of a smartphone. We asked local vendors their thoughts on unplugged ceremonies and whether or not putting down the phone is worth it.

How do you feel about unplugged ceremonies?

As someone who’s always on their phone (admittedly!), I really enjoy unplugged weddings as both a vendor and a guest. It focuses the moment on what you’re truly there for: to celebrate and support the couple! I really love the intimacy it brings of everyone focusing on the ceremony and enjoying the moment together without distractions. Emily Murray of Something Borrowed Event Decor

I love them! I know when I got married one of my favorite images was my husband and I walking down the aisle after we got married in all smiles and you see my cousin in the background with her phone, it’s an eyesore. Sara Zarrella Photography

Not only does it look better for photos but I think guests and couples have a better experience. I love seeing guests truly enjoying the moment of watching their family or friends get married. It makes for better photos of your guests enjoying the moment rather than having their faces blocked by their phone. Caitlin Kershaw Photography

It’s so important for guests to live in the moment and soak it in instead of holding up their phone to view the ceremony through. It can also be discouraging for couples to look out at their guests and just see a sea of phones. Janelle D’Ambrosia Photography

How many of your weddings have enforced the unplugged rule, and do guests tend to respect it?

When a couple requests an unplugged ceremony, I tell them the best way for that to happen is to have their officiant announce right before the ceremony starts: “The bride and groom are requesting an unplugged ceremony, so out of respect for their wishes, they ask that you please not take photos during the ceremony and be in the moment with them.” The keywords here are “bride and groom request,” because guests are motivated to honor the couple; If the officiant says, “please turn off your phones,” that sounds like the officiant’s request, not the couple’s. Sara Drew Photo

We’ve made unplugged ceremony signs for approximately 90 percent of our weddings this year. I always recommend having your officiant remind your guests at the start of your ceremony to reinforce the message, but unplugged ceremonies have become so popular that I think many guests are beginning to expect them and value the intimacy and wishes of the couple. Emily Murray of Something Borrowed Event Decor

I’d say about 80 percent of the weddings I photograph have “unplugged ceremonies.” However, there’s always one or two people who take their phones out but are sometimes corrected by other guests. I think the best way to make sure guests know you really want them to be in the moment with you and your partner is to have your officiant say something before anyone walks down the aisle. Sometimes people miss the sign or don’t realize why you don’t want phones out during the ceremony. Caitlin Kershaw Photography

I would estimate about 90 percent of my weddings have tried to enforce the unplugged rule! I feel as though guests take it seriously when a person lets them know the ceremony is unplugged as opposed to a sign. Janelle D’Ambrosia Photography

Are there any windows of opportunity for guests to take photos, such as a few minutes during the ceremony announced by the officiant?

Many couples opt for combining messaging to include a welcome sign and unplugged sign into one so they can get double use out of it. This is a great way to extend your budget a little further. Emily Murray of Something Borrowed Event Decor

This happened recently at a wedding I photographed. I loved capturing that moment! Guests got in the aisle or even stood on their chairs to get a good shot. Also the couple got to look out at all their guests and take a pause during their ceremony which is so important. Caitlin Kershaw Photography

For ceremonies where guests are allowed to take photos, do you ever feel discredited, or do they ever get in the way of your work?

While a lot of couples do opt for a welcome/unplugged sign in one, some of our couples have been excited to use more light hearted/non traditional sayings on their signs, here’s some examples:

Eyes Up
Phone Down
Hearts Open

There’s a girl here taking pictures
We asked her to come
So please rest your cameras
Our ceremony only needs one

Emily Murray of Something Borrowed Event Decor

I don’t feel like it takes away from the work I create. I have had to ask guests to step out of the aisle or I have to move more to work around them, but it’s a part of the day. I’ve purposefully taken photos of guests with their phones out during ceremonies because I really think it shows the excitement and love from guests and another perspective from your ceremony. My job is to document my couples wedding days and that is just a part of weddings nowadays and I think there can be some beautiful aspects to it but also some drawbacks when it comes to having better photos. – Caitlin Kershaw
Throughout the ceremony, I will often see guests extending their arms out far into the center of the aisle to get “a good shot,” parents of the couple looking at their phone to make sure they’re getting a good angle instead of witnessing their child getting married, and have even witnessed a groomsman pull out his phone, step out of line, and take a photo of the bride and groom! These instances (and many more) take away my opportunity to capture candid reactions during the ceremony as many folks’ faces are behind a screen. I feel like people have taken for granted the opportunity to just exist in the moment and remember and create memories as they happen, not as their phone or camera captures them. Janelle D’Ambrosia Photography

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