Your Guide to Having an Unplugged Ceremony

Your Guide to Having an Unplugged Ceremony

When many people see “turn off your cell phone” signs at weddings, they usually assume that this is for the sake of avoiding notifications and calls interrupting the special moment. And while having guests silence their phones is a good idea, the perk of everyone being unplugged without their phones goes beyond that!

What is an Unplugged Wedding?

The term “unplugged wedding” essentially means that couples ask their wedding guests to put away their phones/tablets/devices for the duration of the ceremony, rather than taking photos or videos.

Benefits of Having a “No-Phones” Rule

Guests are able to be fully present.

It’s no secret that if you think of day-to-day life, more often than not when phones are in the mix, people are less likely to be genuinely in the moment. Think of a concert, for example, if you spend the entirety of the time focusing on getting “the shot” or taking videos, you’ll be less likely to experience how the concert, lyrics, and energy as a whole make you feel.

Especially if you’re having an intimate elopement, you’ve been intentional about the few people who you want to be present for your day, and asking guests to set aside their phones is really only enhancing their experience as a whole!

When guests set put away their phones, they are less focused on getting the perfect photo/video to commemorate the moment with and more focused on how happy they are to be witnessing you and your partner making a commitment to each other in a beautiful location (cue the happy tears!).

You’ll have images of your guests’ happiness without a phone in front of their faces.

Something I really love to do during wedding ceremonies is to not only capture couples exchanging vows but also capture the emotions of their loved ones throughout it. It’s so special to see your best friends’ gleaming smiles at witnessing you saying “I do” or being able to see your parents wiping joy-filled tears. Because, of course, during the ceremony, you’re main focus is going to be your partner – but I want you to look back on photos and be able to re-experience it all.

Photos from your ceremony won’t have phones blocking the view.

A, maybe obvious, perk of having a “no-phones” rule is not blocking your photographer’s ability to get quality photos of the two of you throughout the ceremony – including during moments like walking down the aisle, your first kiss, and as you both exchange vows.

Although it is possible to move and re-compose photos to try to avoid this, it’s much more ideal for your photographer to be able to freely move around rather than having to dedicate time to trying to best avoid angles where phones might be blocking the view!

How to Ask Your Guests to Put Away Their Phones

If you do a Pinterest search of unplugged ceremonies, you’ll probably see countless signs and clever phrasing that couples put up at their ceremony to discourage guests from using their devices. Being completely honest, as an intimate wedding and elopement photographer who has been to countless ceremonies – those signs are always ignored!

The best way to ask your guests to put away their phones during your ceremony is to mention to it beforehand and also have your photographer or officiant mention it to them before the ceremony. Mention that the two of you want them to be fully present, encourage them that you’ve hired a capable photographer, and promise to share the images you receive with them afterward.

Tips for Still Giving Your Guests Opportunities for Phone Photos of the Occasion

At the end of the day, your guests want to take cell phone photos because they are so happy to be present and want to document it all to remember themselves. There also might be family members that aren’t present that they’re hoping to share photos with too. So there’s gotta be an in-between compromise that makes everyone happy, right?! Here are a couple of tips to get the best of both worlds.

Start the Ceremony with 1-Minute for Photos

During Emily and Sam’s intimate wedding, they had their officiant start a timer at the beginning of their ceremony and during that time guests could snap away and get photos of the two of them at their ceremony site! This also ended up being a fun occasion full of laughter as their loved ones shouted out prompts for them to kiss, hug, hold hands, etc.

After everyone was done, they put away their phones and were able to soak in the ceremony.

Save the Photos and Selfies for Post-Ceremony

Many couples who will have an elopement or intimate wedding with guests will head out afterwards for photos and adventures with their photographer but it’s always a good idea to allot time after your ceremony for taking photos with your guests and celebrating with cake and maybe even a little champagne! This will allow time too for selfies and photos of you two to commemorate the occasion, and the candids during this time with phones are always so fun.

More intimate wedding and elopement planning resources

If you’re planning an intimate wedding and elopement, I have countless resources for you to check out to make your planning experience as stress-free as possible!

Of course, I’d also love to work with you two to help share even more of my expertise and guidance throughout every aspect of your day – including your ceremony with loved ones! My elopement photography packages can be found on my pricing page and reaching out via my contact page is the best way to get all of the details about working together.