An Unplugged Ceremony… What on earth is an unplugged ceremony you might ask? An unplugged wedding is a trend that has arisen over the past couple of years of couples asking their guests to be present and in the moment during their wedding ceremony instead of viewing it through a screen.
As technology and social media evolves, everyone wants to be at events, capturing the moment and sharing their experiences all over social media. Now I as a photographer am never against taking lots of photos (heck, have you seen my instagram @nbpnicole) but I know there is a conscious choice every time I pick up my camera or phone to capture the moment. There are times when I would rather be present in the moment and enjoying how it feels, versus capturing a shot on my phone for instagram. There is plenty of time for both. Just choose your moments wisely.
Unplugged weddings are becoming more and more popular as in recent years professional photographers have had so many issues with guests getting in the way of them doing their job. Every professional photographer knows that at every wedding everyone is going to be taken their own photos, on their phones, iPads and even their own cameras. Where this becomes an issue is when guests deliberately (or sometimes unaware) get in the way of the professional photographer who is paid to capture the moments for the couple. I know most guests don’t mean to, but others just don’t care. A good wedding photographer will make it work no matter what happens… but still.. be present!!
A prime example of this is when the bride is arriving and walking down the aisle. There are some weddings where EVERY.SINGLE.GUEST has an iPhone or iPad covering their face and as the bride walks down the aisle all she sees (and the photographer sees) is a sea of phones. Then there are the guests who literally step out in front of the bride or the photographer just to capture a moment on their phones… it’s crappy for the photographer but it is even more crappy for the bride. She has invited you there to be present, to witness the most magical day of her life, she wants to see your face and your reaction, not the back of an iphone.
So if the bride and groom have paid for a professional photographer to be there to capture the moments during the ceremony, put down the phone. Be present. Let the couple see your faces. Shed tears with them. Laugh with them and then when all is said and done capture as many photos as you like after the ceremony.
And if that hasn’t quite convinced you to put the phone away and be present in the moment, these two little stories that I have witnessed over the past 10 years might give you some insight. The first one is the mother of the bride. As the bride was walking down the aisle she was playing around with the camera, looking down trying to figure out how it works and missing the moment her beautiful daughter walks down the aisle.. then throughout the entire ceremony instead of just being present and witnessing one of the biggest days of her daughters life, she kept trying to snap and photo here, pull the camera apart, get frustrated… all while two professional photographers where there to capture the beautiful ceremony… she was more worried about missing out on taking a photo to show everyone who couldn’t be at the wedding… then actually WITNESSING her daughter get married.
(This is what you want to see during a ceremony, the beautiful emotions, not the backs of phones)
And a second very similar moment is a father of the groom messing around on his phone trying to figure out why it wasn’t taking a photo all the while his soon to be daughter in law was walking down the aisle. I have the most beautiful photograph of the groom watching as she walks down the aisle, his Mum with the most beautiful expression showing how stunned she is to see her daughter in law walking down the aisle and the Dad is looking down playing with his phone. It really does take away from the beautiful moment captured and when I look at that photo I feel so sad that he missed the moment.
(And just so no one is confused, I am not say don’t take photos at all on the day, bridal prep a-ok, just don’t let it overtake being present in the moment)
So please, if you are a wedding guest be mindful during the ceremony that the couple invited you to be present, to witness their vows, capture their love and help them celebrate their wedding day. They don’t want you to be on your phones all day. And brides and grooms, consider having an unplugged ceremony. Your wedding photographer will thank you.