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Unplugged Weddings, What Are They? Advice

For those unfamiliar with the term unplugged weddings, it essentially means phones off, cameras away. (Aside from the designated photographer)

The couple express a preference for their guests to not take photos during the ceremony,  key moments (or sometimes throughout the whole day). This means that not only are there no distractions for guests themselves, but you wont end up with a beautiful, once in a lifetime photo being “spoiled” by twenty people in the background with a camera in front of their face, or by auntie Barbara hopping into the middle of the aisle to get a snap of you both.

Let’s be honest, no one means to spoil a photo, but even with the best intentions in the world, it happens because people are human. When you’re seeing things through a viewfinder you’re not necessarily fully aware of what is happening around you- in that moment your only concern is getting the photograph that you want.

Everyone thinks they’ll be quick, and no one thinks they’ll be in the way, but unfortunately the reality is often that people are never quick enough and they are “in the way”. Once a moment like you coming down the aisle is gone, it’s gone. In the world of wedding photography, 2-3 seconds is an eternity and can be the difference between nailing a shot and missing it completely. Short of ruby tackling your guest who’s standing in the middle of your aisle, there is nothing we can do but inwardly scream as we see that moment disappear forever.

You can avoid this by asking your guests to refrain from taking their own photographs during your ceremony. Some couples shy away from the idea for fear of being branded a bride or groomzilla, but in fact it’s the guests enjoyment that is often at the forefront of a couples mind.

It’s difficult to be truly present during such an important time if you’re busy trying to work out how to turn a flash on or off, or looking for the next thing to get a shot of.

When planning our own wedding, all I really wanted was for the people I love most in the world to have a good time. I wanted them to be there, in body and in mind to share our day- to forget about Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and “just be human for a while”. We didn’t want to look out across our ceremony as see blank expressions obscured by cameras looking back at us- we wanted to see the look of pride on our parents faces and the tears of joy from the people who’ve loved us since we took our first breaths.

In the age of the selfie & instant social media upload I know that’s easier said that done, but for your ceremony at least, we strongly encourage you to consider going unplugged. You can reassure your guests that they will not miss a thing, because we’re there capturing proceedings from both front and back. If you let them know that they will be able to access the professional photographs for free after the wedding, most people will be more than happy to put the camera away. Often people can be snap happy because they’re worried they’ll never see the final images or that they’ll need to pay a small fortune to buy a copy. If you’ve booked us though, that’s something you’ll never need to worry about.

Our professional recommendations and advice

  • If you decide to opt for an unplugged ceremony, make sure you let guests know. You can include a note in your order of service, have a sign outside the ceremony entrance, or include a card or sentance in your invitations. There are lots of creative ways to do this nicely on Pinterest
  • You can also mention it to your registrar, celebrant or vicar when you meet with them prior to your wedding. Sometimes, registrars in particular will encourage guests to take photos during your entrance or exit, but refrain from taking any during the ceremony itself. This is in fact the worst time for guests to be taking photos, so do make it clear to them that you’d like no photographs at all, aside from your official photographer. Most will be happy to make an announcement for you before the ceremony begins as a reminder.
  • Re-assure your guests that they wont be missing out. We provide an online gallery for every couple with free, unlimited access to images. So as long as you share your gallery link with them, your friends, family and loved ones can access the ceremony photographs easily after the big day.

We can’t be held responsible for guest conduct. Therefore if someone does decide to set up shop in the middle of your aisle and key shots are missed, there isn’t much we can do. Our best advice is to place the odds in your favour by going unplugged.

unplugged wedding
Look at the difference when you go unplugged. On the left, a group of friends who’ve put the cameras away to truly celebrate. Those are the reactions you want.

Guest etiquette

If you’re attending a wedding as a guest in the near future and are concerned about etiquette, before whipping out your phone or camera stop and consider for a moment the context of the situation and what the couple would want. If they have hired a professional photographer, they’re likely to have invested hours of research finding someone who they feel will do their day justice and document their wedding in a way that they are comfortable with. They’ll probably have discussed in depth with this person what they want, what memories or moments are important to them and consequently spent hundreds, if not thousands of pounds for their professional expertise…so will you be obstructing this person and perhaps preventing them from capturing something special? Will you be distracting the couples attention, or holding up proceedings- if only momentarily? If the answer is yes, then the camera should probably stay put. Remember, 2-3 seconds doesn’t seem like a lot, but it is the difference between the perfect shot and no shot at all.

Another thing to think about is the value that your photograph will have, both to yourself and the couple. If you’re taking a photo for photos sake or one that twenty other people have already captured, again it’s probably best to keep the camera away.

If there’s something super cute happening, or you’re in an area the official photographer doesn’t have access to by all means snap away!

Remember, a true professional photographer will not have issues with guests taking their own photos (within reason) and wherever possible they’ll always allow friends and family to get in and get a good shot. It only becomes an issue, if you genuinely become obstructive or if the day is over running and we’re all pushed for time.

What a difference it makes when the cameras are put away- smiles on faces, cheers & claps for the newly weds and tears of joy.

If you’d like to read more about “un-plugged weddings” we can recommend this article by Offbeat bride:
http://offbeatbride.com/2011/06/unplugged-wedding

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