3 reasons why you should have an Unplugged Ceremony

Are you reading this on a phone right now? I bet you are… they’re everywhere. I’ve got one. You’ve got one. Your mum’s got one (as evidenced by her comments on all of your insta posts). Don’t get me wrong, phones can be great: access to all your friends, the internet at your fingertips, and an amazing little camera in your pocket. Everybody’s a photographer these days. You can snap away and share online within seconds. But there’s one time and place where people shouldn’t be using their phones, and that’s your wedding day.
In fact, a sea of people photographing and filming you as you come down the aisle can be a real nuisance, and that’s why more and more couples today are choosing to have what’s known as an ‘unplugged ceremony’. What this means is that everyone present is asked not to use their phones, and it really really works.

Here’s three reasons why you should have an unplugged ceremony.

Should you have an unplugged ceremony

1) People are more present

You’ve been dreaming of this day for 25 years. You’ve kissed so many frogs to find this prince/princess, and after several years together, hundreds of dates and a long, drawn-out engagement, you’re ready to celebrate your relationship. It’s taken a year of late nights, stressful emails and careful compromises to get to this day, to bring all of these people together to celebrate with you. And still, Uncle Jed insists on checking his fantasy football team whilst you’re saying your vows. Who does that guy think he is?!

In all seriousness, phones are a bit of a nuisance when it comes to our attention span. Having an unplugged ceremony can help make sure that people are present in the moment, enjoying your ceremony instead of thinking about that email from work.
After all, you are buying their dinner, so 30 minutes of their attention is the least they can give you…

should you have an unplugged ceremony
An unplugged ceremony at Northbrook Park

2) Your photographer and videographer will thank you

As a wedding videographer, my job is to capture your wedding in the best way possible so that you, your friends and your family can relive it at a later date. The problem is that a lot of friends and family choose not to ‘live’ it in the first place. Instead, they choose to watch it all though a 6-inch piece of glass. How they choose to enjoy that unique and special moment is up to them, but it also impacts me and my work, and therefore impacts you too.

I once missed a couple’s two-year old daughter and flower-girl coming down the aisle because a guest was leaning out into the aisle with their video camera, blocking the angle of myself and the photographer. Luckily, that guest got the shot, as did many people recording on their phones, so the couple can still relive that moment. But it’s blurry, it’s pixelated, and (worst-of-all) it’s filmed in portrait instead of landscape. Wouldn’t you rather have professional video of these moments? Otherwise, why bother paying a videographer in the first place?

You could make the argument that guests recording on their phones provides a backup in case something goes wrong and my camera breaks or I lose the footage in some other way. But rest assured, I don’t need your guests – I’ve got it covered.

Should you have an unplugged ceremony

Even when guests aren’t getting in the way with their phone-based shenanigans, their screens are. Rows of phones*, raised like placards, really do obstruct us from doing our job. It means we may not be able to see you, and we certainly won’t be able to see them. Take a look at the example photo above – how many phones can you count? Imagine what the bride and groom are seeing; not the beaming faces and weepy eye-contact of their friends and family, dozens of shiny slabs of glass.

The worst thing is that those photos and videos will probably never see the light of day. At best, they’ll be used as ammunition for their insta story to show everybody how much fun they’re having. But you won’t be looking at them with your kids in ten years’ time… They won’t be framed on your mantelpiece. In reality, they’re destined to be deleted from that person’s phone six months down the line when they need to free up some space because they’re at somebody else’s wedding…

should you have an unplugged ceremony

3) It gives you more to look forward to

You know that experiment with the kids and the marshmallow? Basically, they were given a marshmallow, and if they could wait long enough without eating it, they could have two marshmallows instead of one. This is kind of like that.

Having an unplugged ceremony means that you’ll have more to look forward to further down the line. When you get to see your photos and your wedding film, you’re going to enjoy them so much more than you would if you’d already relived your first kiss seventeen times in the form of facebook posts, snapchats, and that random girl on the train that was watching it back on your bridesmaid’s insta story.

should you have an unplugged ceremony

Wouldn’t you rather relive your vows for the first time in high definition, filmed with a camera set-up that cost four times that of your mum’s phone, and by an experienced professional that’s edited it to music to have maximum emotional impact?

So there you have it: three reasons why you should have an unplugged ceremony. Hopefully this has helped you make a decision. Maybe you do want everyone to film the ceremony on their phones, and that’s okay too – it’s your day!
But if you do decide to ban phones, a simple sign or notice will do the trick, and if you mention it to your registrar/vicar/friend-who-got-ordained-online, they’ll usually do an announcement just before the ceremony begins to remind everybody. If you’re lucky, you might even get that really grumpy priest who’ll take the ban really seriously and insist on interrupting the ceremony to shame anybody they see breaking it – and that’s entertaining for everyone!

*Note: This also applies to iPads. Please don’t let people take photos or videos on their iPads. Please. In fact, if they’re the kind of person that uses their iPad as a camera, you probably shouldn’t invite them in the first place… (sorry, grandma).

Why I went to the UK’s first Wedding Filmmaker Retreat

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A couple of weeks ago, I went to RISE, the UK’s first wedding filmmaker retreat. Attended by 75 wedding filmmakers, RISE was a 3 day event down in Cornwall featuring two full days of talks and workshops on everything to do with wedding videography: from marketing, to shooting, to editing. As I’m sure you can imagine, the tickets for this didn’t come cheap, but it was an investment that I didn’t hesitate to make, and that’s for two reasons.

Wedding Filmmaker Retreat RISE

1) The Education Element

As someone who has only been a wedding filmmaker for a couple of years, I still feel I have a lot to learn. I’m really happy with how my videos have progressed and improved since I began filming weddings, but I don’t think it’s ever possible to know too much. Being able to see how other people shoot and edit weddings was an invaluable experience; not only did it affirm that some of my own methods are worthwhile, it also gave me some new ideas and tips on how to make my films better. Even seeing other people’s work that I didn’tlike, and hearing about others’ approaches that I don’t agree with, was useful, because it helps me to focus and consolidate my own approach to wedding filmmaking.

There was also definitely an element of inspiration to RISE. As you shoot more and more weddings, I think it’s easy to get into a bit of a routine and to lose a bit of that focus and passion you once had. But being stuck at a Cove for a few days with so many talented filmmakers was incredibly inspirational. Three full days hearing people talk about what they do, seeing others’ films, and discussing our different approaches left me feeling eager to dive into filming my next wedding.

Wedding Filmmaker Retreat RISEA talk from Pixel about moving away from established trends.
Wedding Filmmaker Retreat RISEPhoto courtesy of Jennie Breame from Unique Visuals – www.uniquevisuals.co.uk

2) The Social Element

Being stuck at that Cove had another, unexpected effect too. I thought I was going to RISE for the education element; I wanted to make my films better and learn from others. But the biggest benefit for me was in fact the relationships that were made there. 

Wedding Filmmaker Retreat RISEPhoto courtesy of Jennie Breame from Unique Visuals – www.uniquevisuals.co.uk

Being a wedding filmmaker can be a lonely job – I mostly shoot weddings alone, and the rest of my working life is spent editing them (again, alone). RISE provided an opportunity to socialise with a lot of talented filmmakers – some I knew already, and some I didn’t. It was a chance to talk to other like-minded individuals about an industry that I’m sure my friends and family are tired of hearing about. I can honestly say I’ve come back from RISE with a long list of people I can now call friends, and while that’s good for me from a social aspect, it’s also good business sense; forging these networks means that I’ve also come away with a list of people that I’d trust to work with me on a wedding day, and to turn to if – worst-case-scenario – something (illness or otherwise) prevented me from being able to shoot a wedding one day.

Wedding Filmmaker Retreat RISE

When I reflect back on RISE, I remember the workshops, the presentations, the 3am chats about the best way to record ceremonies… but mostly I just feel inspired. There are so many of us in this industry, and everybody has their different take on it. I feel like I have a clear sense of what my take looks like, and I’m excited to refine that over the coming season.

2019 wedding season, let’s go.

Wedding Filmmaker Retreat RISE

5 ways to help your Wedding Videographer

This is a blog-post from us, the videographers of the industry, to you, the soon-to-be brides and grooms. I know you’re busy planning your big day right now, and the last thing you want to do is read yet another list (I’m sure you’re making enough of your own as it is). But honestly, what’s the point in all that planning and all that money if your wedding film doesn’t have any speeches because your videographer missed them? What’s the point in writing those custom vows if your faces aren’t visible in the ceremony? So please, take note of our advice, and give your videographer the best chance possible of making your Wedding Film amazing!


We’ve all heard the old adage: fail to prepare, prepare to fail. Well, I cannot stress this enough: a prepared videographer is a good videographer. There is nothing worse, from a videographer’s point of view, than somebody deciding to deliver an impromptu speech at a wedding – chances are, if we didn’t know about it, we didn’t put a microphone on them so they’re going to sound really bad in your film. Likewise, don’t surprise your partner with a gift or an ensemble of stormtroopers without letting us know beforehand so that we can capture their reaction for you! The more we know, the better prepared we can be, and the better your film will be. The best rule to follow is: if in doubt, tell the videographer!

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In addition, make sure you keep us informed throughout the day. I know quite often videographers are almost invisible – you don’t notice us capturing those intimate moments, and that’s the way it should be! But please don’t forget about us. When you’re going to cut your cake, just give us a heads up so that we can get cameras set up. It’s likely we’ll want to have more than one camera rolling for these important moments, so that we can cut between different angles in your film, so tell the DJ to wait for our nod before cuing your Ed-Sheeran-first-dance-medley. Additionally, if you’re going off with the photographer for some shots, it would be great to let us know, too. Sometimes the photographer forgets because they’re so focussed on getting some beautiful photos of you, which is absolutely fine by us. But chances are, you’ll want some beautiful shots in your film too, so just give us a heads up. Maybe the photographer wants 15 minutes alone with you – that’s cool! All we ask is that we get some time alone with you, too.

wedding videographer

2) Get ready by a window

Whether you’re a bride or a groom, getting ready by a window is crucial. I’m sure your photographer will agree that this just gives us so much more to work with in terms of light. Artificial light is really yellow and makes the colour of your skin and EVERYTHING ELSE look weird and unappealing. Natural light, on the other hand, is both flattering and true to real-life colours.

Ladies, when your make-up artist arrives, chances are they’ll sit you by a window (after all, it makes sense for them to have loads of light too in order to work their magic). But if they don’t, maybe try and suggest moving. Some make-up artists will bring their own lights, and will prefer to work in front of them than in front of a window, and that’s okay! Any worthwhile wedding videographer will be able to work in artificially lit conditions – all we’re talking about here is how to foster the ideal conditions for the most best Wedding Film your videographer can produce.

Screen Shot 2018-03-24 at 16.36.44This is an example of artificial lights in the ceiling. There were no windows here, so the MUA (Lucy Hart) used this ceiling light instead. The result is that the top of the face is much more well-lit than the bottom, and the light is very harsh.

Gents, chances are your videographer will spend less time with you when getting ready, simply because it doesn’t take as long for you to get ready, and there are only really a few shots we want to get. For example, a shot of you (or your father/best man) doing up your tie is always great, as is a shot of you putting on cufflinks and throwing on your jacket. These can be relatively mundane shots in a dimly lit hotel room. But stand by a window, and we can position you such that there are all kinds of interesting shadows occurring, and it’ll just make the shot much more interesting and appealing. Plus, it means we can get some awesome silhouette shots, too!

wedding videographerHere we had some really nice window-lighting for the groom’s getting ready shots.

3) Turn to face each other in the aisle

During your ceremony, the officiant will, at some point, ask you to turn and face each other. This is usually for the vows and the ring exchange. Please please PLEASE turn fully. A lot of videographers like to get a shot down the aisle (it’s a really beautiful shot because of the symmetry and because it captures both your faces at the same time). But if you don’t turn to face each other all the way, you’ll end up being kind of diagonal, and we’ll get more of the back of your head than your faces and miss the part where you start blubbering into your own veil/pocket square. So turn to face each other head-on, so that your officiant is on one side, and your guests on the other, gaze into each other’s eyes and let us capture the magic!

wedding videographerA great example of a couple turning to face each other completely

4) Have an unplugged ceremony

Bear in mind: just because you and I are doing everything right, that doesn’t mean your guests won’t get in the way still.

Whether it’s Uncle Trevor and his new Nikon, or Stacy the Serial Insta-Storyer, there will always be somebody watching your ceremony through a screen. And while that’s a shame for you because you invited them there to be present in the moment and enjoy your day, it’s an even bigger shame for us, the videographers, who have to try to shoot around the DSLRs and the iPhones leaning into the aisle. It’s for that reason that we always recommend an ‘unplugged’ ceremony. In essence, this is a ceremony where you ban people from taking photos or videos. I’ve been to quite a few unplugged ceremonies, and the effect is fascinating: people actually sit and watch your ceremony with their own eyes! And I can get a clean shot of your ring exchange without having to have a word with Uncle Trevor – win-win!

unplugged ceremony

5) Don’t try and hold back your emotions

Speaking of blubbering, please don’t try to hold back your emotions. This one applies to men more than women; because of the whole ‘man up’ thing, we’ve found that men are generally reluctant to let their emotions show. When they see their significant other gliding down the aisle, radiating beauty, a lot of men do want to cry, but only a courageous few let that happen. The rest of you try to bottle it up, which results in some of the strangest faces you will ever pull (which isn’t ideal on what is potentially the only day you’ll ever have a professional camera pointing at your face). So don’t bottle it up… let it all out and cry like there’s nobody watching – it will make your Wedding Film ten times better. Plus, it’s a fact that the sight of a man crying is more likely to set somebody else off than the sight of a woman crying; so chances are that, once you start, someone else in that room will join in before long (and, if they’re anything like me, it may well be your videographer).

groom crying wedding videographer

So there you have it – 5 ways you can help your Wedding Videographer to make your film the best that it can be. Again, these aren’t essential, and they won’t ruin your film if you neglect to follow them, but they will help to foster the ideal conditions for your videographer to work their magic and make you a fantastic Wedding Film that you’ll be proud to show family and friends for the rest of your lives.

3 Steps to Preserve your Wedding Film Forever

Oh my god. It’s here. Your USB drive has arrived, and it’s like a tiny brick of GOLD. Moments that will never happen again, memories that are already starting to fade, faces you may never see again. They’re all on this stick, this feat of modern technology. Your entire wedding day, sitting in the palm of your hand. We must cherish it, forever!

wedding video USB

When it comes to looking after your Wedding Film, there are several things you can do to make sure you never lose it:

1. Back up

USB drives are pretty incredible. But they’re not indestructible. They can be broken, they can get lost, and they can also randomly decide to stop working. The only way to guard against this is to back up your files. This is the first thing you should be doing when you’ve received your USB (after watching your films, of course). Copy the files to your computer, copy them to another hard drive or USB drive, upload them online to Google Drive or Dropbox or something similar. Whatever you do, just make sure that USB is not the only copy you have.

2. Store it well

It probably goes without saying that you should keep your USB drive somewhere safe. But what does that mean?

First of all, it means somewhere you can remember. This tiny treasure can easily become lost, especially when you’re two children and a new house down the line, and you don’t even own the chest of drawers you used to keep it in.

wedding video USB

Secondly, this means storing it somewhere where it’s not going to be damaged by water or extreme temperatures (yes, that does mean that the fridge/oven/garden are not ideal places). Likewise, it doesn’t need to be stored in a safe guarded by alsatians – just keep it in a drawer or a cupboard somewhere.

Oh, and keep the lid on too – this protects the USB connector from getting damaged or from getting dust inside, which can stop your computer from being able to read it.

3. Use it properly!

I know you’re eager to watch. You’re just seconds away from being able to cringe at footage of your own two left feet. But slow down.

wedding video USB

Using a USB drive properly means making sure your computer is booted up and logged in before you plug in the USB. Apparently, plugging it in beforehand can risk an electric surge or shock to the USB drive, which wouldn’t be ideal. So wait before you plug it in, and then wait again before you unplug it! Don’t just yank it out to throw back in the fridge cupboard. You’re supposed to ‘Eject’ it first. This is done by right clicking and selecting ‘Eject’ or ‘Safely remove’. On Windows, you’ll then be told when it’s safe to remove, whilst on a Mac the drive will simply disappear from your Finder window and you can then unplug it.

So there you have it: three steps to preserve your wedding film. Of course, after the first point, not much else matters, because you’ll have it backed up (hopefully more than once). Nevertheless, if you do happen to forget to back up, and your safe-guarding alsatians have an off-day, bear in mind that I keep all files for one year after the date of your wedding. This means that at any point before your first wedding anniversary, I can always send you another USB drive at a small cost.

How do I keep your memories safe?

As Jack Nicholson once said, “We’re in the business of saving memories”. Okay, so that’s not exactly what he said, but let’s not get bogged down in details. The point is, as a wedding videographer, I deal in moments. My product is your memories. And “with great memories, come great responsibilities” (okay, I’ll stop butchering film quotes now).

You only get one shot at your wedding. There are no redos. It’s therefore important that a wedding videographer keeps your memories safe. In this article, I’m going to tell you about the steps and precautions I take to make sure I do exactly that.

On the day

I shoot most weddings alone, meaning it’s usually just me and one camera for most of the day. However, this is different for the super important bits: the ceremony, the speeches, and the first dance. For these bits, I’ll usually be using three cameras at the same time (two for the first dance). This has two benefits: not only does it give me different angles to cut to (providing different perspectives and capturing more of what’s going on), but it also gives me backups.

wedding videographerUnfortunately, things do go wrong; technology sometimes fails us. Whether that means a corrupt memory card or a camera freezing, I need to make sure that it doesn’t ruin the final product. Having multiple angles helps with this. Last summer, during a ceremony, a memory card in one of my cameras corrupted. Luckily, I was filming the ceremony from three angles, so the ceremony was still captured from two different angles. In the end, an expert was able to recover the files for a fee, so I could use the footage from that camera anyway! But even if they hadn’t been able to recover it, the precautions I’d taken meant that the ceremony was still captured in full.

The same is also true of my approach to capturing audio during a wedding. When thinking about a wedding film, a lot of people don’t consider the audio side of things; good, quality audioAs is one of the things that really separates a professional wedding film from Auntie Jone’s iPad recording. Audio is important, and needs to be treated as such.

wedding videographer

During an ordinary ceremony, I’ll place a microphone on the groom and the person giving the service (if they’ll allow it). Sticking a mic on a bride is sometimes difficult (wedding dresses aren’t really conducive to hiding mics), but the groom and celebrant’s mics are usually enough to also pick up the bride’s vows. I’ll also stick microphones on anybody that’s giving a reading during the service. Next, I’ll also place a backup recorder in the flowers or somewhere else nearby, just in case the other two mics fail. And on the off chance that all of those fail, my three cameras are also each recording audio. That means there are usually at least 5 back-up recordings of the vows, in case the groom’s mic fails for whatever reason.

The same applies to the speeches; I will ordinarily place a microphone on each person giving a speech. If the venue has a handheld microphone that is being used during the speeches, I’ll also attach a recorder to that to provide a backup. Finally, I’ll place more recorders underneath the people speaking, just in case. And again, if all else fails, there’s always the audio from my three cameras.

So I’ve spoken about the insurance provided by having three separate cameras for the important bits, but what about the rest of the day? What if something happens to that main camera I use? Well that main camera records onto two memory cards simultaneously. This means that, should a card become corrupt, there’s another one in there with everything on it too. In the extremely unlikely event that both cards fail, there’s also a good chance that an expert could recover the files as well!

After the wedding

Okay, we made it. We got through the day without any issues. We have footage from throughout. Twice. With three versions of the ceremony and speeches, and enough audio sources to shake a stick at. It’s been a long day, but it’s not over yet. There’s just one more job to do: back up.

business computer connection contemporary

I can’t sleep after a wedding unless I’ve backed it up. I tried it once, but a myriad of fears and worries plagued my all-too-awake mind. What if there’s a fire in the night and there’s no time to grab my camera bag? What if there’s a flood? What if somebody breaks in and steals my camera bag? What if the memory cards just spontaneously combust during the night? No, better just to back them up. So before I go to bed after a wedding, I make sure that all of your memories are stored in two places: on their original devices (cameras, recorders etc.), and on one hard drive. 

The next day, I’ll copy everything from that hard drive to a second hard drive. Your memories are now stored in two places.
However, these two copies are not enough. Again, my anxious brain worries me with thoughts of fires, floods, gas explosions, or any other number of disasters, both man-made and natural. And so, at the next opportunity, I’ll copy this to a third hard drive that I keep off-site. Only after this third copy is made will I delete footage and files from my cameras and recorders.

All of this ultimately means that, during the day, I take every precaution to ensure that, as far as possible, I won’t miss out on capturing your memories. Afterwards, there are ultimately three copies of your files: two hard drive copies in my office, and one kept off-site. Oh, and until I can access my off-site hard drive, I’ll make sure to keep a copy of your wedding on my person every time I leave the house. Yeah that’s right, I’m a paranoid wreck! Like I said earlier, as a wedding videographer, we’re in the business of saving memories, and I’ll be damned if I’m not saving them to the best of my abilities!