What is an ‘Unplugged’ Wedding?

Apr 18, 2020 | planning tips

You might have heard the term ‘unplugged’ wedding, and thought, what the hell is that? It sounds like something to do with wanting our wedding to be acoustic music set. Well, look no further, banish the confused faces I’m here to explain more about unplugged weddings and why you might want to have one.

I’m sure you’ve been to gigs over the years where you can barely see the artist because of the sea of phones being held aloft in the way. I know I have. You end up watching the screen instead of the gig, and you’re not in the moment. Some bands have gone as far as banning phones and other devices from concerts so that audience members can be in the moment and fully enjoy themselves, and this is kinda what an unplugged wedding is.

Similar to the effect mobile phones have at gigs, the same can be true of weddings. You may not have even noticed it before, but when anyone walks down the aisle a number of guests usually lean right into the aisle to snap their own photo of the moment. The problem with this is that it means while I’m stood by the registrars waiting to get my shot of you coming down the aisle, your face full of emotion and anticipation, I’m often blocked from catching that moment by someone who is completely unaware that they’re ruining your professional photos.. I only get a few seconds to capture those moments, I can’t ask you to just do it again, so if I can’t get a clear shot of you that’s it. The moment is gone.

Aside from the fact that obstructions by the guests during the ceremony can compromise your professional shots when you turn to look at your friends and family after your first kiss, or glance around the room as you sign the register you want to be met with smiling faces of friends and family drinking in the moment. You don’t want to simply see their devices.

father of the bride

There are other times when it can be a good idea to put the technology away too. I once witnessed a father of the bride enter a room to see his daughter in her wedding dress for the first time, with his ipad right in front of his face. The poor bride was heart broken. Another father of the bride walked down the aisle with his camera in his hands. I HATE being bossy, but I once asked all the bridesmaids to put down their phones and just be in the moment as they stood poised with smart phones waiting for their friend came out of her dressing room in her dress. I’m so glad they did agree and the resulting reaction shot was completely worth it.

I’m not trying to be an arrogant bossy photographer here who thinks they’re in charge of your whole day or wants all other cameras banned from the wedding. Far be it. I actually think that it’s really important that guests take their own photos on the day if they want to, and especially when I shoot the group photos I’ll often encourage the guests to grab their own shot quickly too once I’ve taken mine. Like wise the registrars will usually give the guests the opportunity to take a photo of you with the register once I’ve finished the official photos.

But, I don’t think that technology should compromise the lasting memory of your day, or stop you and other people being in the moment. You’ll want to drink it all in, it goes by so fast. And you’ve invested a lot in professionals to capture your memories of the day so let them do their job.

So, if you like the sound of an unplugged wedding you might be thinking, well how do we tell people to ditch their phones in a nice way? There are a couple of options. I’ve seen blackboards, or signage placed at the entrance to the ceremony, or printed in the orders of service. I would also mention to your vicar, registrar or celebrant and ask them to make an announcement before your entrance. Quite often they will ask for no flash photography during the ceremony anyway, but ask them to mention specifically that there should be no photography as you walk down the aisle, both as you enter and exit. There will be plenty of opportunities to grab photos of you during the drinks reception.

Here’s a great example of some wording that was included in an order of service:

“We want you to relax and have fun with us today. With this in mind we invite you to put down your technology and be present in the moment with us. We want to see you and your smiling faces as you walk down the aisle not your devices. Please leave your camera in your bag (we’ve got the photography covered!) and put your phone on silent. We’re happy to share our professional photos later; the greatest gift you can give to us today is just being fully present with us in this special moment.”

I really hope that’s helped you understand what an unplugged wedding is and why you should have one. If you’d like to have a chat about it, or have any questions let me know.

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