Unplugged ceremonies are all the rage these days. You’ve likely seen the signs on Pinterest and heard the “no phones” announcements at weddings. But is an unplugged ceremony right for you? And, if it is, how exactly do you make today’s technology-obsessed guests unplug from their phones and cameras?
At Young Hip & Married, we’re big fans of the unplugged wedding ceremony and we think you will be too, after you read our reasons below!
But first, what is an unplugged ceremony?
Before we dive into why an unplugged ceremony is a good idea, we need to cover the basics. What is an unplugged ceremony? An unplugged ceremony is a wedding ceremony where guests are asked to put away their phones, cameras, iPads and other devices. Instead of taking their own photos and videos, and watching the ceremony from behind their screens, they’re asked to unplug and be present in the moment.
Basically, an unplugged ceremony is no screens allowed!
Check out six reasons to have an unplugged ceremony below. Plus, a bonus section on how to make an unplugged ceremony actually happen!
Reason #1: An unplugged ceremony puts the focus where it should be
The most important reason to have an unplugged ceremony is because it puts the focus back where it should be, on the couple getting married.
You’ve invited all of these important people to witness one of the biggest moments in your lives. So allow them to actually be in that moment. By unplugging, your guests will be present and fully involved in your ceremony. This is especially important if you’re planning to bring your guests into the ceremony by asking them to participate in any songs or riturals, or if you’re sharing your personal love story.
Reason #2: Don’t ruin your photos with people’s screens
We’ve all seen the photos online of wedding guests who decide it’s more important for them to get a photo of your first kiss on their phones than for the professional photographer to capture that moment. Photos like that break our hearts. You’ve spent a lot of time and money on your photographer, and you deserve to have your ceremony moments perfectly captured. Don’t let Uncle Brent ruin it for everyone by standing up in the aisle during your first kiss.
Even if you don’t have any Uncle Brents and you know your guests will stay seated, they can still ruin your professional photos. Do you really want to look back at your wedding photos and see countless phone screens staring back at you? Wouldn’t you rather see your guests in your photos than their iPads or camera lenses?
Reason #3: See your guests’ faces instead of the back of their phones
Which brings us to our next point. With an unplugged ceremony, you can actually see your guests’ faces and not just their screens. Wouldn’t it be so great to see a bunch of your loved ones smiling up at you as you say your vows, instead of just seeing the backs of their phones? How will you catch that moment of your mom tearing up if she’s hiding behind her iPad? Of course you’re going to look like Hollywood royalty on your wedding day but do you really want the paparazzi treatment of a million flashing cameras at your ceremony?
Reason #4: Limit distractions with an unplugged ceremony
Just like at the movies, we ask guests to unplug to help limit distractions. With an unplugged ceremony you won’t have ringtones going off or people checking social media partway through the ceremony.
Do you know what’s really distracting? When you’re trying to say your vows but you see your cousin leaning out of her seat to snap a photo. And if you think that’s distracting to you up front, imagine how distracted all of your guests are who are seated behind your cousin!
Of course, going unplugged doesn’t mean there won’t be any distractions. Phones may still go off, babies might cry and someone might have a coughing fit. But at least you’ll help cut down on distractions by having an unplugged ceremony.
Reason #5: Respect your privacy (and your guests’!)
Your wedding day is yours. You have the right to share your day and your big news with who you want, when you want. It shouldn’t be up on Instagram without your permission before you’ve even finished saying your vows.
This is especially important if you’re having a small wedding or a secret wedding, and there are people who you couldn’t invite. Do you really want these people to find out about your wedding from a blurry photo your grandma puts on Facebook?
There’s also your guests’ privacy to consider. Not all of your guests will want to end up on social media, especially without their permission.
Reason #6: Your guests don’t need to document this moment
If anyone starts to complain about your unplugged policy, just remember: they do not need to document this moment. Plain and simple! You have hired a professional photographer who is going to take way better photos than your best friend’s old iPhone could capture. And those professional photos will be available for all of your guests to view, save and print in a few short weeks.
Plus, what are your guests planning to do with those photos? Is your co-worker really going to frame a photo of your first kiss on his living room wall? Probably not. Is your aunt going to re-watch the shaky video she took of your vows over and over again? Unlikely.
So why do guests feel like they need to photograph the ceremony? These days, we’re encouraged to document every moment and share everything on social media. Our natural reflex when we see anything is to snap a photo of it and post it somewhere. But in moments as important as a wedding ceremony, we need to question our obsession with documenting and sharing.
Sometimes, we need to put the phone down, skip the Instagram Story opportunity, and just be present.
Bonus: How to make an unplugged ceremony happen
(or: How to nicely ask your guests to put their GD phones away!)
Okay, so after reading through our six reasons, you’re convinced that an unplugged ceremony is for you. Great! But how do you actually manage to make your ceremony unplugged?
- Let your guests know! Your guests, while we’re sure very intelligent and lovely people, need you to make your request for an unplugged ceremony as obvious as possible. You can put it on your wedding website and/or have signs up at your ceremony (Pinterest is full of signs with cute sayings that essentially boil down to, “Put your phone away!”). Be very clear and don’t be afraid to remind them multiple times.
- Have your officiant make an announcement. One of the best ways to tell your guests about your unplugged ceremony is to have your officiant make an announcement right before the ceremony is about to start. Your officiant can explain that this is a request from you and your partner, and invite your guests to be present in the moment without their screens.
- If you have any guests who you suspect will struggle with the unplugged mandate, speak with them ahead of the ceremony. That way, they can’t pretend they didn’t read your sign or weren’t listening when the officiant announced your ceremony would be unplugged. You can also designate a family member or friend to speak with any problem guests or discreetly signal to them if they try to pull out a phone mid-ceremony.
- Be realistic about how unplugged your wedding will be. These days, most guests are familiar with an unplugged wedding ceremony and can handle not looking at their phones for 30 minutes. But if you also want your reception or entire wedding day to be unplugged, you’ll need to really consider how your guests will feel about that.
- Odds are, if you tell your guests you want to have an unplugged ceremony (by your website, signage and/or officiant announcement), most of your guests will respect your wishes and will enjoy your ceremony so much more because they’ll be present for it. As you’re entering your ceremony, you shouldn’t be on the lookout for forbidden screens that might creep up. You should be focusing on what’s important, and what you’re asking all of your guests to focus on: You getting married!
Written by Riana Ang-Canning
Feature image by Erica Miller Photography