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Having an Unplugged Wedding Ceremony

Considering an unplugged wedding ceremony? Here you’ll learn what an “unplugged” wedding really means, why you should consider an unplugged ceremony, and four ways to encourage your guests to show their faces, not their cell phones, in your wedding ceremony photos.

What is an Unplugged Wedding Ceremony?

An unplugged ceremony is when a couple has made the decision that they would prefer if their wedding guests didn’t take photos. These days, it’s expected that everyone is glued to their cell phones, snapping photos of every detail of their life. In the excitement of a loved one’s wedding, it is habit to just pull out a phone or camera to grab a shot.

If enforcing this protocol, it usually just applies to the ceremony portion of the day, although I have definitely heard of the occasional cell phone-free wedding in some high profile weddings. Whether or not you decide on trying to have an unplugged ceremony depends on how badly it bothers you to see your guests’ cell phones and cameras in some of your wedding photos.

Why Should I Consider an Unplugged Wedding?

As a wedding photographer, I don’t force my clients to have an unplugged wedding ceremony, but I do ask them before the wedding if that’s their goal. This helps me know if I should be enforcing it (nicely, of course) whenever possible. For example, if someone stands in the middle of the aisle, or throws their arm out as the bride begins walking toward the altar.

The primary reason couples choose to have an unplugged ceremony is to make sure photos of the important moments during their ceremony aren’t compromised by cell phones and cameras. The photos you receive from your photographer will be the ones you print and include in your wedding album. Your guests’ cell phone snaps will be posted on social media and disappear a couple days later in the feeds, never to be seen again.

Another good reason for an unplugged wedding, as hinted above, is that you want to see the smiling faces of your friends and family members in your wedding photos, not their cell phones or cameras.

4 Ways to Enforce an Unplugged Ceremony

Display at the entrance to your venue, include in your program or ask your officiant to say a few words before your ceremony begins!

1. Display a sign. At the entrance to the aisle at your ceremony venue is a great place for a simple sign that announces your preference for an unplugged ceremony. You can have your invitation designer prepare a beautiful sign that complements your invitation suite.

Purchase a simple unplugged ceremony sign decal and put it on a mirror or chalkboard sign.

2. Include it in your program. If you’ll have ushers handing out wedding programs to each guest as they arrive, that’s another great place to include this guideline. While it’s not as likely that everyone will see the notice, it may help for those who read the program as they wait for the ceremony to begin. Jill and Justin included a notice at the bottom of their fan programs in the image below.

Include a request like the following: “We’ve asked a professional photographer to capture this special moment so that you can sit back, relax and enjoy it with us. Our beautiful images will be available after the wedding.”

3. Spread the word. At your rehearsal dinner, or in conversation with your closest loved ones who will be in attendance, let them know your preference. Your photographer will be trying to grab a shot of their reactions during the ceremony, and you’d rather see the emotion on their faces, not their newest cell phone case.

4. Ask the officiant to make an announcement. The best way to enforce an unplugged wedding ceremony is to ask your officiant to make a friendly announcement after everyone is seated before the ceremony officially starts.

Your officiant can say something like: “The bride and groom kindly request an unplugged ceremony. Please turn off all devices and enjoy being fully present in the moment.”

I hope this has helped you make a decision on whether or not you’d like to consider an unplugged ceremony on your wedding day. If you’re an NKP bride or groom and have questions about your upcoming wedding, don’t hesitate to reach out!