Wedding Photography

What Are the Benefits of an Unplugged Wedding?

The music starts to play. The bridesmaids enter, followed by the flower girls. The guests stand in anticipation of the bride coming down the aisle. This is the moment everyone has been waiting for. In years past, family and friends watched as the bride was escorted in, maybe looking back to see the groom’s reaction. But times have changed, as well as technology. As amazing as it is to have a camera at your fingertips, it has created a bit of a dilemma – aisles have become a sea of cell phones. So what can you do? Consider having an unplugged wedding ceremony. Check out our extensive list of Wedding Photographers in Melbourne to help capture your special moments.

What Is an Unplugged Wedding

Unplugged weddings are simply when the bride and groom ask guests to be present by putting away all cell phones, tablets and cameras. This allows family and friends to engage in the celebration and not be tempted to snap pictures or two for their Instagram feed. This can be communicated in a few different ways. Usually, the officiant or loved one announces before the ceremony starts. We’ve also seen cute unplugged wedding signs posted near the ceremony site. While guests are encouraged to take photos before and after, unplugged weddings set an intimate scene for everyone in attendance.

An “unplugged wedding” is when a couple getting married have decided that they would prefer it if their wedding guests didn’t take photos and/or upload them to social media. There are many variations on this, from having an unplugged ceremony only, when guests are encouraged to put their phones and cameras away until after the marriage certificate has been signed, to a strict ‘no photo policy for the entire wedding celebration, to a complete ‘social media blackout’ until the following day or when the bride or groom have a chance to announce their marriage themselves.

Why You Should Consider an Unplugged Wedding Ceremony

What is an unplugged ceremony? During an unplugged wedding ceremony, guests cannot use cameras, phones, tablets, or other forms of technology. By doing this, everyone can focus on the real reason they gathered together: to witness the love and commitment of two people they care about deeply. Unplugged weddings allow for better professional photography, fewer distractions, and more privacy for the couples and guests. 

What’s the Big Problem With Taking a Few Photos?

Over the last 10-15 years, advancements in technology like the development and affordability of DSLR cameras, the quality of built-in cameras in cell/mobile phones and the immediacy and capacity to share photos on social media have changed everything. These changes have meant that most people now can take photos or video and share them for the world to see in a matter of seconds.

In many everyday situations, this is not a problem. Still, it only takes a short conversation with a publicly recognized identity, parent or event manager to tell you that it can cause big issues with public relations, privacy requirements, exclusivity contracts and embargo agreements. For the average Mr Groom or Miss Bridey McBride, the consequences of guests taking photos at their wedding and sharing them publicly aren’t generally as litigious as this. Still, the effects can be infinitely more profound and long-lasting.

The Benefits of an Unplugged Wedding

Wedding Photography

There are many benefits to having an unplugged wedding, wherever you choose to get married, albeit at one of the many stunning Cotswold locations or in a town. Having your guest’s full focus on the ceremony will ensure they can enjoy making their great memories from your special day. 

When guests use their cameras, there are many ways that this affects the photography that you’re paying for. Guests are often taking photos simultaneously, and their flashes interfere with our cameras, leaving you blown out completely (and unsalvageable) images or weird shadows and lighting throughout the photos. 

Guest cameras can leave a red or green dot from their focusing mechanisms. These may show up in our images. If guests don’t turn off their cameras’ noise, this can be very loud when taking the photos. This can be very distracting to you and your guests. 

Speaking of distracting – let’s talk about iPads and other tablets used to take photos. They are HUGE and are very distracting. If we are taking a wide photo of your ceremony, your eyes go straight to the tablet and completely ignore the beautiful couple exchanging vows. 

Guests will often get in the aisle or stand in front of the professional photographers, blocking their shot. Sometimes, it’s too late for us to get them to move, and we certainly don’t want to upset your guests by making them move. 

During family formals, guests will often stand around photographers to get shots of their own, creating harsh lighting if they use their flash. Even if they don’t use their flash, it causes the group to be looking around, leaving wandering eyes constantly. It’s hard for the photographer to get a good photo with everyone looking at the camera when multiple people take photos around you. Most importantly, if your guests are taking photos, they cannot fully enjoy the moment. They are absent and distracted by their picture taking and posting. 

Your Guests Will Listen and Interact More

Without the distraction of their phone and/or camera, your guests will be free to immerse themselves in the experience that you’ve spent months planning. They will be more likely to listen to and remember your ceremony better (so make it awesome!), engage and react to your heart-felt speeches and cheer you on for your first dance rather than experience it through a viewfinder or small screen.

And, without constantly checking their phone, your family and friends will be much more open to and may even actively seek out (gulp!) interactions with other guests that they may not have met before.

“These days, 90% of my weddings are unplugged and so when the ceremony is ‘plugged in’ I notice it now – mainly in how engaged/disengaged the guests are. Phones are such a huge part of our day-to-day lives, so it’s nice to have an excuse to switch them off and be in the moment to witness our friends’ once in a lifetime commitment.” — Vicky Flanegan, Marriage Celebrant.

Your guests are present in the moment with you. As a bride walking down the aisle, you get to see not only your handsome groom waiting for you but your family and friends who are there to share this time with you. Instead of their faces being buried behind their screens, you see all the smiles and happy tears. There is something about really being there without any distractions that are so special.

Your Professional Photos Won’t Be Compromised.

Here’s the harsh truth: although the technology of taking photos has advanced, the photography skills of most people haven’t.

A professional and experienced wedding photographer will make the best of any lighting situation so you can skip the unflattering, inappropriate, grainy or dark photos that some guests think are okay to upload to social media.

As photographers and videographers, we always strive to get the best angles and images. But on occasion, excited guests move in to snap a photo and unknowingly hop in front of our cameras. 

The extra benefit of not having a camera in everyone’s hands means that your photographer won’t need to jostle for prime position with Aunty Beryl, be blocked down the aisle or have blinding flashes to overexpose the photos they do take.

Every Guests’ Privacy, Including Yours, Is Respected

Some people love posting everything that happens in their lives online, and others avoid it at all costs. If you want to get technical when a guest takes a group photo at a private wedding, they assume that everyone in the shot is okay with it being publicized, which may not always be the case. Although the person who takes a photo owns the copyright (not the person that owns the camera or phone – always good to know), they don’t automatically have the right to share the photo.

In addition to your wedding guests’ rights being considered, a couple also needs to think about the people they didn’t invite. A couple often walks a fine line in deciding who will be present on their special day and who will not. Sharing photos and video with those who have not been invited (even inadvertently) can sometimes lead to uncomfortable and awkward social situations and confrontations. Looking for the best Wedding Photographer in Melbourne? Check out our ultimate list here.

You Control What Is Shared.

This is your special day! Be the first to share photos from your wedding ceremony – and professional photos at that. Choose your favourites and post them when you are ready. The last thing you want is a photo to end up online that you didn’t feel your best in.

No Distractions

Getting a phone or a WhatsApp message or any other notification is common when your phones are on. Even when couples are getting married, getting notifications and rings are common. Nowadays, many people keep on filming themselves and marriage, even if they have booked a professional photography service. The shout out to look at their cell phone or camera is quite disturbing. The unplugged marriage ceremony assures that there are no distractions.

Everyone Making Memories Related to the Marriage Ceremony

When there are no distractions because of the digitization and gadgets, everyone will focus on the ceremony and things related to it. Being attentive and focusing on the event can let everyone create their memories related to your wedding. The unplugged marriage is the only kind of marriage in which everyone present at the ceremony stays 100% present.

Make Sure There Are No Weird Pictures of Yours

Wedding Photography

Being a couple, all you want is to look good and have great shots. For this reason, couples invest in the best wedding location, attire, professional photographer, etc. However, if everyone or anyone present at your wedding becomes a wedding photographer, you will likely give them some weird shots knowingly and unknowingly. The unplugged wedding makes sure that only the professionals do their job and the rest enjoy the wedding.

Keep it a Private Ceremony.

Nowadays, putting everything on social media has become common. Not all couples like to leak their wedding pictures or ceremony on social networking platforms. You cannot stop everyone from using social media, but the unplugged wedding can.

Better Professional Photos

Couples hire professional photographers for a reason. Photography is their expertise. They know how to capture the perfect shot using adequate lighting, proper angles, and the necessary equipment. When guests cannot use their devices during the ceremony, they are not visible in the professional pictures, especially in instances where the wedding party is walking down the aisle or when the couple says I do. The photographer also doesn’t have to compete with other guests to get a good shot as the floor is theirs. 

Fewer Distractions

Camera flashes block the aisle, and people are holding up their devices can be very distracting for everyone involved throughout the ceremony. An unplugged ceremony allows guests to live in the present and appreciate all of the hard work that went into planning the wedding. They won’t miss important moments or details because their attention will be devoted to the couple. The lack of devices also promotes interactions between guests. They can discuss their relationship with the couple and get to know one another before the ceremony begins and when it ends. 

More Privacy

Some couples may want to keep their wedding ceremony more private and intimate. They may not want photos to be leaked or shared with the public until they are ready to do so. An unplugged ceremony gives the couple the respect they deserve when it comes to handling photography. 

Is There a Downside to Having an Unplugged Wedding?

The biggest concern couples have about having an unplugged wedding is that their professional photos will take too long, and they want to get a glimpse sooner. Just ask your photographer ahead of time if they could send a few teaser photos while you wait for the rest of the gallery. Also, we encourage a “plugged in” reception. After the ceremony is over, click away! Use a wedding hashtag to collect all the fun memories from your friends and family. This way, you get to see fun pictures from your wedding day while maintaining a peaceful ceremony.

Have a Sharing Plan in Place and Let Your Guests Know About It

Talk with your photographer about sharing a ‘sneak peak’ of a handful of photos a few days after the wedding on social media to whet everyone’s appetite until the rest are ready.

Also, be sure to discuss the timeline of when your photographer will have your photos ready and make arrangements to have an online portal or file sharing process for your guests that don’t compromise your photographer’s copyright.

Give Your Guests Some Photos to Take Home

Bringing in a photobooth for the reception or having an instant camera and props available for your guests is a smart way for them to capture the moment and take some memories home with them.

Limit the ‘unplugged Part’ of Your Wedding

You don’t have to have an entirely unplugged wedding from start to finish. 

Your ceremony is the perfect time to ask guests to put their phones away and enjoy the moment. You can then make it clear by arranging for your priest/celebrant/officiant/MC to announce the ceremony’s beginning and end. The most important part of arranging an unplugged wedding is the communication of your wishes to your guests. For some family and friends, your wedding may be the first time they’ve heard the term ‘unplugged wedding’, so you need to be very clear about what you are requesting of them and why.

There Are 3 Main Steps:

  • Let your guests know ahead of time via your invitations (but never ON the invitation ― use an insert in the envelope or add the notification to your wedding website). Avoid cutesy poems and funny verse if you can help it. This is your first opportunity to make it clear what your expectations are.
  • Something simple like: “We invite you to be truly present at our ceremony and respectfully request that all cameras and phones be turned off. We look forward to sharing our professional photos with you after the big day.”
  • Nominate a diplomatic friend or two to encourage other guests to put their phone/camera away and have signage or a program to back them up.
  • Ask your priest/celebrant/officiant/MC to make a housekeeping announcement before the ceremony begins.

Conclusion

As you can see, an unplugged wedding ceremony has many benefits. It gives the couple the freedom to have their dream wedding the way they envisioned it. It’s also important to note that just because the ceremony is unplugged doesn’t mean the reception has to be. Many couples allow phones and other devices to be used during the reception celebration, implementing fun hashtags and photo-ops for guests. At Boutique Events Group we have compiled a list of the Best Photographers in Melbourne to help you choose who captures your magical day.

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