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Wedding: Unplugged

I'd like to preface this piece by saying that the choice of an unplugged wedding is TOTALLY the right of any couple and is not a requirement of RSWeddings. The following is merely an explanation of what an Unplugged Wedding is and the pros & cons from a couple's and photographer's point of view.

Guests holding cellphones as the bride comes down the isle.


In this day and age seemingly everyone over the age of 7 has some sort of device with a camera connected to the internet on it. The photographer in me thinks it's a beautiful thing. Literally everyone has the capacity to be an artist! It literally takes just a few seconds to grab a snapshot and share it with the rest of the world. At weddings, this is more prevalent than ever. But there are some couples who are opting into having Unplugged Weddings.

So what does it mean when we say "Unplugged Weddings". These are weddings where couples ask guests to not use their cell phones--albeit during the ceremony mostly, but some even request an unplugged reception as well!

Guests using cellphones during the wedding.

Why an Unplugged Wedding?

There are a few reasons why a couple may want to have an Unplugged Wedding. They may want their guests full and undivided love (and attention) during one of their most important moments. They've gone through the process of putting on a display not just for themselves, but also for all of the special people in their lives. They want their guests to live in and enjoy that moment with them. Also, the couple has invested in a team of photographers and possibly a videographer to capture the day for them.

As a photographer, I can say that nothing screams "impersonal" more than guests holding their bright screens high, waiting for their cellphone cameras to focus and them smiling while looking DOWN at their phone (or even iPad) instead of the couple! They may enjoy their one 8 MP shot, but while all of that is going on, the photo team has gotten about 80 shots of the bride coming down the isle with maybe 6 or 7 people actually looking and smiling at her. Some guests are even brazen enough to stick their phones out into the isle for a shot.

A guest's flash takes away from the bride and her father walking down the isle.

During receptions, the unplugged rule is (and should be) more relaxed, but there are moments where a couple may want guests to show some restraint. I can recall a few times where a couple was "Cutting the Cake" and there are literally about 30-50 guests cramping a couple and 2 photographers around a small table with a cake on it all trying to get a personal picture or video. It reduces the room to work and undermines the investment that the couple put into photography.

Guest hugging the bride while holding a tablet.

Let the guests have their fun!

Why limit yourself to just a few views? Your guests ENJOY taking instant shots and sharing them with their friends either online or in person at work on Monday. Because cellphones are connected to the internet, they can utilize instant media tools such as hashtags and geo-filters to add a layer of fun onto a wedding. Also, using hashtags or shared media albums like Google Photos or Dropbox make it easy for a couple to find and catalog photos and videos from all of their guests. Guests with cellphones can sometimes take a small bit of stress off of photographers as well. They may get moments and encounters that the photography team may not due to focusing on the couple or other guests. Short, social videos can really provide a different perspective for couples.

Groom and a guest posing for a photo on a cellphone.

Having guests use cellphones to snap quick pictures could also increase guest interactions. For example, when a group of guests ask me to use a cellphone to get a quick pic as well as my camera, I tell them that I will only take the shot on one cellphone and that they will have to share the photo with the other guests. This limits my time with a camera that isn't mine as well as forces guests to communicate where they may not have. Weddings are the joining of two families and those types of interactions are important.

Guests reviewing a recent picture after the the bouquet toss.


In the end, the choice is really at the discretion of the couple. There are some wedding photographers who have that in their contracts, but we feel it's not up to us to decide. Remember, it is YOUR wedding. We'll make it work either way!

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