Why More Couples Are Opting For The Unplugged Wedding

I recently had a wedding guest step out in front of me in the aisle, position her cell phone to capture the bride, turn back to me and say,

"You're not going to be standing there blocking me the whole time are you?"

WHAT?! Was my reaction inside my head.

"Actually, I'm afraid I am.  I'm the photographer and this is the best shot.  I'm happy to share all of the images after the wedding."  Was what I quietly said to this guest as the processional music began to play.

She didn't budge.  Instead, I hopped over to the other side of the aisle so she would no longer be blocking my view, but I'll admit, I was salty after that interaction.

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Everyone has become an amateur videographer and photographer with their cell phones these days.  I can't tell you how many times I have had to stand and wait as handfuls of guests shout for the bride and groom's attention during cake cutting, family photos, or even the first look (I have since learned my lesson and put a hard stop to that).  It's both disconcerting and sort of sad.  I feel as though guests are missing the best parts of the wedding in an effort to get a horribly pixelated, low resolution photo with horrible lighting, framing, and motion blur.  And for what?  To say you were there?  Who do you need to prove this to?  Your friends and family members who ALSO happen to be at the wedding?  Our compulsion to reach for our phones has become a real problem--and it is super apparent at an event like a wedding.

It has become so apparent that more and more couples who are now planning their weddings have increasingly become more inclined to ask guests to leave their phones at home.  To come with the promise of being fully present.  To take in the whole day from start to finish without checking Instagram every 5 minutes or Snapchatting the night away on the dance floor.  To talk with the other guests at their dinner table and listen to the speeches and toasts.  Something about looking back on the photos from the day and seeing a bunch of screens in the background of shots is eerily reminiscent of the television walls in Fahrenheit 451.  Guests engaged not in the moment itself, but in technology.

I can easily make the argument for the unplugged wedding from a photographer's standpoint.  Obviously if people don't have their phones to take pictures, there is no longer the issue of blocked shots, flash going off, and washed out photos.  The focus during photos can then be on the photographer, rather than family members trying to get some version of the shot the photographer has posed.  This cuts down on time and the couple's frustration for having to stand there patiently as their faces begin to hurt from trying to hold a smile because Uncle Phil doesn't know how to work the camera on his new phone.  This next point is a matter of personal preference, but I also dislike seeing a bunch of screens in every shot of the ceremony, I think it is distracting and messy, but again, maybe some people don't see that as a problem.

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However, the more important argument stands with the presence of mind of your guests.  You invited each and every guest to share this day with you, and the day is so much more enriched when the technology is left at the door.  I have found that unplugged weddings have significantly more people on the dance floor, more guests who stay until the end, more involvement in guest book signing and other fun wedding entertainment, and more guests reporting their overall enjoyment.  Sounds like fun, right?

When you meet with your wedding coordinator or sit down with your photographer, take a second and explore whether or not having an unplugged wedding may be a good fit for you.  Your coordinator can help you implement a polite way to ask guests to respectfully turn off cell phones in an effort to be more fully present with you.  

Any readers go off the technological grid for their wedding?  How did you communicate your wishes with your guests?

Are you planning on going unplugged?  Any questions or concerns about how to implement the unplugged wedding?  Let me know in the comments!

If you liked this post, be sure to check out:

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Want more?  Follow @shellyshimonphotography on Instagram!  (Unless you are currently a guest at a wedding ;))