What is an Unplugged ceremony?
Why go Unplugged?
As a videographer I’ve been burnt so many times. Grandma hangs her digital camera out right in front of my video camera as the bride arrives. Uncle So-and-so is thrilled to have a chance to use his old handycam, so he squats down in the middle of the aisle to film his radiant niece. Or, a very common scenario is having between 20% – 40% of the guests holding up their phones as the bridesmaids and bride do their grand entrance. So the expensive video and photos you are paying for can end up looking… like a sea of arms with phones dangling from them. See examples (not my own) here >>
- It looks HORRIBLE on your wedding video.
- It looks HORRIBLE in your wedding photos.
- Most importantly, for you, it means your nearest and dearest aren’t present with you, in the moment. Instead, they are watching a tiny version of you on a screen in front on them. (And then allow about 90 seconds after that for them to be looking down at their phone as they upload to Instagram or Snapchat).
- I wish I was exaggerating.
How to Go Unplugged
1. An announcement
As a minimum, you should DEFINITELY get the celebrant/priest to announce what you want. Be really clear with him/her about what the announcement should include, and possibly write out a message to be read to the awaiting crowd. The more the celebrant lays it out for them, the better they’ll behave. Some people go rogue if there’s any grey areas!
Don’t forget to mention phones AND cameras or Uncle So-and-So will think it’s carte blanche for his handycam. And by all means, don’t say “Put your phones on silent” because that implies you don’t want phones ringing, but you are OK with them being used to take pictures.
It is best to do it in your own way, in your own words. But if you’re struggling for inspiration try something like this:
[Bride’s name] and [Groom’s name] have requested that you all put your cameras and phones away from now on, and refrain from using them at all until the completion of this ceremony. We have professional photographers and videographers here and our couple will happily share those images with you all. They would love you to simply be in the moment with them now, on this momentous occasion.
Optional extra: They also request there be no posting on social media until after the ceremony.
(Some couples insist on no social media until the couple have posted their first photo, but that’s somewhat of an impossible request these days).
2. A sentence in your ceremony booklet
There is always someone who goes rogue. Always. So to back up the celebrant’s message, you should probably also put a message on the front page or first page of your booklet. Something along the lines of:
Welcome to our “unplugged” wedding. We kindly ask you to put your phones and cameras away until the completion of the ceremony.
3. A sign at the entrance
Some couples put a sign / blackboard out the front of the ceremony with a cleverly worded request for people to put their devices away. Pinterest has plenty of great ideas if this option appeals to you. Simply search for “unplugged weddings”.