Pros of an unplugged wedding (or at least the ceremony!)
It was while waiting for a bride to arrive that I had one of those life-changing conversations with a Margaret River wedding photographer, Ros Blakeney.
“Three years ago we used to be able to capture the bride walking down the aisle with happy faces all focused on her. Now, all we get are smart phones instead of faces. The bride ends up with a photo of camera-heads instead of her guests,” she said.
I’d never thought about the extent to which technology has crept into our lives — and handbags — until this moment.
Since then, other photographers have all commented on how difficult it is to capture the moment when well-meaning friends jump into the shot to get their own photo of the same moment.
“I was unable to include the first kiss shot in a particular couple’s album,” says one photographer. “A guest jumped up to take his own photo, totally blocking my view. I hope he got the shot, because he sure ruined it for me.”
“I used to include crowd shots in my albums, but now they are often filled with people looking down. They’re checking their phones and cameras — even during the ceremony — instead of taking in the scene first hand.”
Mark Peters is yet another photographer who is pro-unplugged — at least during the ceremony.
“At one wedding, two of the five family members in the front row were holding up iPads,” he said, shaking his head.
“This big chunky slab in front of their faces just looked ridiculous. There’s no way the couple would want that in their wedding photos.”
The pros, in summary:
- The couple can see the smiling faces of their guests;
- The guests can be present in their hearts during the ceremony;
- The couple are more likely to get a stunning photo album from their professional photographer, (like the one below, courtesy Steve Blakeney), instead of one peppered with camera-heads, aisle-blockers and armpits.
The cons of an unplugged wedding
At a wedding I conducted recently, the bride was late because her photographer hadn’t turned up on time. She really wanted photos of her bridesmaids helping her get ready, so delayed and delayed while waiting for her official photographer to arrive.
In this case, guest photographers would have been welcome! It would have made the difference between the bride arriving with a smile, as opposed to arriving late and full of apologies for something that wasn’t her fault.
Other times when candid shots from guests are useful include capturing the 7-year-old spinning in her princess dress while the official photographer is busy.
Or springing the camaraderie between the groomsmen as their mate/brother awaits his bride.
Or getting the tears in the groom’s eyes when he spies his bride for the first time.
Or recording the bridesmaids’ facial expressions as they witness their friend/sister saying her vows. The raw pride is stunning to see.
Sometimes it’s these small details that another eye can see — and interpret via photography — that complete a wedding album.
(You only need to see the “grandmothers” photo I took at one wedding to see what I mean.)
How to be nice / turn off the device
Couples who wish to have an unplugged ceremony do not have to go so far as to collect items of technology before the bride arrives. (Unless you have invited recalcitrant children as your guests, ha ha!)
I do have a very sweet announcement that I can make on the couple’s behalf that leaves the guests smiling and willing to put their cameras away. It goes something like this.
The couple are delighted to see your smiling faces here today, and would like to keep seeing your faces instead of cameras. They have a professional photographer to capture the special moments, so please put your cameras away, and enjoy watching the ceremony through your own eyes rather than through a pixelated screen.
If you do decide to go unplugged, I’d be happy to make this statement on your behalf.
Other new trends
Hot on the heels of the unplugged wedding, I’m noticing two new trends coming through…
The first new trend: “social media first rights”
Couples are starting to ask guests to abstain from social media until after the couple have posted their photos. The feeling is that it’s the couple’s day, therefore, the couples should have “first rights” to choose which photos they’d like to post with their big announcement.
Fair enough! It’s only manners to ask the couple’s permission to post photos of their Big Day.
The other trend: “Social Media Gang Bang!”
On the other hand, some couples are embracing social media fully. The more photos the better!
They place signs around the reception area with their twitter / instagram hashtag.
This way they can find and view the candid guest photography in one place, and enjoy their own private collection of amateur photos of their Big Day. Voila, an instant, candid wedding album!
Whatever you choose for your wedding ceremony — unplugged or otherwise — I’m here to support you.
As a responsible and caring Marriage Celebrant, it’s my job and my pleasure to create the ceremony you want!
I’ll be interested in hearing your thoughts on the matter,