Why I Recommend an “Unplugged” Wedding Ceremony

Tips for Brides

Feb 2, 2017

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I feel very strongly about the idea of an unplugged wedding ceremony as a wedding photographer. I’m writing this post today because I want couples to be able to make an informed decision as to what is right for them and their day, and as a couple getting married for the first time, you might not realize the benefits!

What is an Unplugged Ceremony?

Having an unplugged wedding ceremony is a recent trend that couples are embracing as we find ourselves more and more glued to our devices. Typically if a couple chooses to do this, they will have a sign at their ceremony asking guests to be present during the ceremony by putting away their phones and cameras. They might also add this to the program and/or have the officiant make an announcement. I recommend a combination of these tactics, in case anyone misses the sign. Below I’m sharing some examples from over the years of why I think an unplugged ceremony is a great option. This post is for future brides and grooms to decide if going unplugged is right for them.

What if I’m a guest?

And now a note to wedding guests! I have been a wedding guest myself and I know how tempting it is to pull out your phone and grab a few photos of the ceremony for your personal use. Before you do this, consider if that photo is even going to come out that great, and if it’s going to benefit the couple who invited you there to share their special day. If you still decide you’d like to take some photos, just be courteous. Stay in your seat and be subtle about it. As a photographer, I encourage my couples to share their professional wedding galleries with their wedding guests and on social media so that everyone in attendance can benefit from the memories I’m capturing!


unplugged wedding ceremony
unplugged wedding ceremony

At a ceremony with a narrow aisle like this one, there’s not much I can do to avoid getting them in the shot if guests are jumping into the aisle with their phones and cameras. If there is a videographer on one side of me and the groom is on the other trying to see his bride, there’s not a lot of moving around I can do. As a bride, you might find yourself walking down the aisle looking out to a sea of phones and cameras. As a groom, you might have difficulty catching a glimpse of your bride!

unplugged wedding ceremony

Often it makes me sad when I look around and see a sea of phones and cameras instead of smiling faces! I wish guests could be present at the ceremony and let me do the job I was hired for while they enjoy the moment!

unplugged wedding ceremonyunplugged ceremony

unplugged wedding ceremonyunplugged wedding ceremony

The above photo highlights one of the several reasons that I suggest we do the first look completely alone, although in the end it’s always up to the couple! I now will ask guests to refrain from taking photos during any official photo sessions including the first look and the portrait sessions for this reason.

unplugged wedding

The dreaded red light! The red focusing dot from someone’s camera can be seen clearly here on the bridesmaid’s face. Another problem can arise with guest flashes causing the subject to look like a white ghost.

unplugged wedding ceremony

unplugged wedding ceremony

unplugged wedding

unplugged wedding ceremony

unplugged wedding ceremonyunplugged wedding ceremony unplugged wedding ceremony

Unplugged Wedding Ceremony

I don’t think guests realize what they are doing is affecting anyone, and would be more than willing to oblige with a sign asking them to put away their devices. I am 100% on board with guest photography during the reception, but during the ceremony and official photo sessions let the photographer do their job and encourage your guests to enjoy the moment.

Finally, for a good laugh on the topic check out this parody video by SLF Weddings. #unplugthewedding

Want more wedding day tips? Check out my post on why I recommend a first look!

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