The celebrant is getting ready to start the ceremony. You and all the other guests are buzzing with excitement. Phones are out, ready to capture the wedding party making their entrance when suddenly you hear ... unplugged, please put your phones, cameras and all devices away.
WHAT? No way!!
It's becoming more and more popular for couples to request that no photos are taken during their ceremony. Why you ask? Well think about it. It’s your relative or friend’s big day and probably (hopefully) the only time you’ll see them get married. They’ve paid a professional photographer, and sometimes also a videographer, to capture the special moments during their wedding day – the walk down the aisle, the first kiss, the confetti toss as they walk out as newlyweds or the cutting of the cake - are just a few. The last thing they want see when they get their professional photos back is Uncle Bill's camera stuck out in the middle of the aisle or all of their guests' faces covered by phones.
Let’s face it, the photo you take on your phone will never come close to the professional photos and really, after you’ve shown a few people in the office on Monday, are you going to keep those photos to look back on in years to come? Probably not.
One of the greatest gifts you can give the couple on their wedding day, is to be truly present during their ceremony. So respect their request, put your phone or camera away, and just enjoy the moment with them.
So what’s the go, when should or shouldn’t you take photos?
If the celebrant doesn't let you know it's unplugged and there aren't any signs – ask. Better to be sure then cop the wrath of the couple as they spot your camera aimed at them. I’ve found that couples who choose unplugged usually only request ‘no photos’ at their ceremony and then after the I do’s and the big smooch, their guests are invited to snap away while they're signing the marriage register.
Your wedding, your decision
If you’re getting married and really don’t want your guests taking photos at your ceremony, or maybe throughout your entire wedding, let your celebrant and MC know. They’ll find a nice way to pass on your request and deal with any grumbles from the guests. Or you can use a sign or chalkboard to explain that your wedding is unplugged - definitely the prettiest and easiest way to let your guests know.
In most cases your friends and family will go along with your request, but be prepared, there will always be one or two who won't (yep, they’ll still try to take a sneaky one if the think nobody is looking). Try not to stress about it or let it ruin your day.
If you're going completely unplugged and really don't want any photos taken throughout the whole day, hire a photobooth with some dress-ups, props and signs. It's a fun and entertaining option for your guests.
What about posting on social media?
The wedding is over! You had the best time and now want to post some photos. Stop! Don’t do it!
The couple should be the first to post photos of themselves on social media. Don’t take that moment away from them. If the photo is of you and friends or family, or the amazing cake or the beautiful reception styling – sure, just not photos with the couple in it.
Best of both worlds
When couples tell me they want to go 'unplugged' at the ceremony but know that some of their family and friends won't be happy about it, this is what I suggest they do. Right at the start of the ceremony, when the couple have settled into their places, I say something like – J and J know you’re dying to take a photo, so quick let’s do it now! This is usually greeted with cheers and a lot of laughter. The guests get their photos and it also gives the couple a few minutes to soak up the good vibes, take everything in, smile, breathe and relax...before we get underway again.
Do I like unplugged weddings?
I love when photographers take photos of you and your guests that are natural - no set shots and no forced smiles. I think these are the photos that bring the whole feel of your wedding day to life.
Sometimes your guests will take more of these types of photos and long after the photographer has left the reception when the party is really happening. If you choose to go unplugged and don't invite your guests to take photos at all throughout your wedding day, you just might miss out on some priceless moments being captured.
So I'm going to sit on the fence and let you decide. As I like to remind my couples - your wedding, your day, your way!