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.
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…
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.
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…
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.
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).