Ultimate Guide: How To Have An Unplugged Wedding

Wooden Unplugged Wedding Sign
Oct 09 2019

For many couples who are planning their wedding, the subject of an unplugged wedding will definitely arise. With nearly everyone owning their own phone these days and social media being a big part of most people’s lives, it’s a topic that must be considered.

Here’s the rundown from our team at Platinum Banquet Hall.

What Is An Unplugged Wedding?

 An unplugged wedding is when a couple requests that their guests refrain from using their digital devices during the wedding ceremony and/or reception. This can mean no texting during the ceremony, and no photos and/or live streaming.

Some couples decide to only have an unplugged ceremony, and then they allow their guests to use their devices during the reception. Others ask that their guests refrain from taking photos during any part of the day.

Reasons For An Unplugged Wedding

So why all the fuss? What’s the big deal about guests wanting to take photos at a wedding?

Well, the reasons are many.

Let’s begin with the fact that phones, iPads, and digital cameras absolutely ruin the professional photos. When you allow your guests to take pictures, they will—and the photos you get back will be full of nothing but people looking at your wedding through their screens.

Guests can also get in the way of your professional photographer’s shots, which you have paid for.

Unplugged Wedding - Wedding Guests Using Smart PhonesImage: Anna Delores Photography

Another big reason that couples decide to go unplugged for their wedding is to keep their guests present in the moment. If a guest is distracted because they are trying to get a good picture or post it to social media, they’re not going to be paying attention to the ceremony that you have put so much time, energy, money, and planning into. Wouldn’t you rather your guests pay attention to your vows and be in the moment with you?

Imagine getting ready to make your exit down the aisle and, instead of seeing the smiling faces of your loved ones, there’s only a sea of phones. No one is looking at you in the flesh—they are all looking at you through their tiny screens.

Sad, right? You’ve invited your guests because you want them there in person—not hidden behind their phones.

Unplugged Wedding - Wedding Guest Standing Up To Take PictureImage: rockymountainbride.com

Another huge reason for an unplugged wedding is to control what the world sees. No couple wants hundreds of photos taken by guests tossed up on social media before they’ve even had the chance to walk back down the aisle as a newly-married couple. You should be able to choose what is shared—especially if some of the pictures taken by guests aren’t very flattering. (Not everyone is a good photographer.)

 Pros And Cons Of An Unplugged Wedding

 Let’s break down the pros and cons of an unplugged wedding ceremony.

PROS

  • Better professional photos. Guests will not get in the way of your photographer trying to snap their own shots, and no one will be looking at their devices in the pictures.
  • Privacy for both for you and your guests. You can control which photos are shared with the world, and make sure it’s okay with the people who are in the shots.
  • Guests are present with you in the moment. When guests aren’t distracted and worrying about taking pictures and posting them with just the right caption, they can appreciate and enjoy your wedding with you.
  • Portraits will be easier to manage. If guests are trying to snap their own pictures during the portrait-taking part of your wedding, they will be a distraction. The people in the photo won’t know which camera to look at.

Unplugged Wedding - Wedding Guests Taking PicturesImage: Primalux via One Fab Day

CONS

  • Couples won’t be able to see wedding photos the day of. This can be fun for a newly-married couple to do, but if guests aren’t allowed to take photos, they won’t be able to look through any. However, that’s how it was for newlyweds before all this technology!
  • Missed moments. Some couples are concerned that their booked photographer might miss some special moments, and they believe that their guests will capture them in case. If you’re concerned you’ll miss out on something, have a conversation with your professional photographer. You can make a list of must-have shots, or you may want to request that he or she brings along a second photographer to ensure that nothing is missed.
  • There won’t be a cute wedding hashtag. A big trend over the last several years has been the wedding hashtag. If this is something that you want, an unplugged wedding ceremony is probably not right for you. Or, you can instruct your guests to use the hashtag—but only during the reception.
  • Hurt feelings. Implementing a “no devices” rule at your wedding might hurt the feelings of some of your guests. However, it’s important to keep in mind that it is your wedding day, not theirs. You may just need to do some gentle, polite explaining with your reasoning.

You and your fiancé(e) should carefully weigh these pros and cons in order to decide if an unplugged wedding is right for you. If you decide it’s what you want, read below for the best way to announce your unplugged ceremony.

How To Announce An Unplugged Wedding

If an unplugged wedding is sounding good to you, you may be wondering how to announce it. There are several ways to do it.

Before the wedding, you can make the unplugged announcement on your wedding website, your Save the Dates, and/or your wedding invitations.

The day of the wedding, you can utilize an unplugged wedding sign (make it legible and obvious), your wedding program (if you’re having one), or your officiant. If you’re having an unplugged reception, your MC or DJ can also remind everyone.

Unplugged Wedding SignImage: Etsy | kcrookdesign

You can do all of these if you’re really serious about your unplugged wedding, but we recommend using at least two of them.

Some couples who are extremely against the thought of devices at their wedding even opt to use a phone-restricting pouch service, such as Yondr. It may seem ironic to use technology to restrict other technology, but some couples decide to do so. These services provide pouches for guests to put their phone into. The pouches can stay with the phone owner, but they lock.

How To Make It Easier On Guests

If you’ve decided to have an unplugged wedding but you want to keep your guests from getting cranky about it, there are a few things you can do.

The first thing is to make sure that you tell your guests that you’ll be sharing photos from the wedding once you get them back from your professional photographer. Wherever you are using unplugged wedding wording, make sure you state this. Something like, “We promise to share the beautiful moments our professional photographer captures today.”

Consider having a photo booth or Polaroid station at the reception. Because photo booths and Polaroids are fun, it will distract guests from the fact that they can’t take pictures with their own phones.

Unplugged Wedding - Wedding Guests Photo Booth Pictures

Image: La Dolce Vita Studios

If you’re allowing guests to use their devices at some point, clearly state when they can begin taking photos. If it’s anytime after the ceremony, make sure they know this. If it’s after your first dance, tell them. If it’s never, make that very clear.

Some couples allow guests to take their own photos at the very end of the wedding ceremony. Once the photographer has gotten his or her shot and gives the thumb’s up, the officiant can say something like, “Okay, everyone! You can take photos now!” And from that moment on, devices are given the green light.

And So…

In the end, having an unplugged wedding is a personal choice for each couple. You have to simply decide what is most important to you, and what you don’t want to sacrifice on your wedding day.

People are so obsessed with capturing photos these days that they may not even realize that they are stepping on the professional photographer’s toes. They may not realize that they will never really look at these photos again. They may not realize that they are ignoring the wedding because they’re uploading pictures.

Unplugged Wedding - Wedding Guests Ruining Photography

Image: Allure Productions

Then again, you may want a wedding hashtag, or tons of different pictures from different guests. That may be part of the fun for you.

Have a serious discussion with your partner, and decide what’s best for you. Good luck!

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