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I'm Tori, a portrait and wedding photographer based in central New Jersey. Thank you for visiting my little corner of the internet; I'm so happy you're here. Come check out the full galleries from recent weddings and portrait sessions, behind the scenes, personal posts, helpful tips and more. Please feel free to take a look, and let me know if there is anything special you'd love to see in a future post. I hope to hear from you soon!

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Weddings

Wedding Planning | Is an Unplugged Ceremony Right for Your Wedding?

Here’s a little something that may interest you when it comes to planning your ceremony! Have you heard of an unplugged ceremony? You may see opinions from photographers floating around on this subject, and honestly, I don’t have super strong opinions one way or another! I truly feel like this is such a personal preference, so feel free to do what feels right to YOU and the ceremony experience you want to have!

An unplugged ceremony is when you ask your guests to turn their phones and cameras off and put them away, so they can be fully present with you during the ceremony!

If you’re wondering why it matters and how it impacts the ceremony, keep on reading:

  1. What if someone’s phone rings? Whoops!! It honestly happens A LOT. It’s not the end of the world and always gets a little chuckle, but it’s definitely not ideal! Let’s just say you’re in the middle of saying your vows and your videographer has you two mic-ed up for audio recording.. and then a phone rings. It’s hard to re-do that real moment (because we can’t stop and ask for a re-do in the middle of the ceremony!) and it can impact your final video if they can’t use that audio.
  2. There’s a chance that people’s phones/arms/entire bodies will be in the aisle as you’re walking down! Although I’ve become a ninja at dodging any guests who pop their arms or bodies out into the aisle when I can to get their shot, sometimes it can be a really stressful moment! We only get ONE chance to capture you walking down the aisle and get your babe’s reaction, so when a guest steps into the aisle and doesn’t notice us, we have to do everything we can to work around them. I’ve had to kindly whisper and ask them to step over so we can get the shot all within a matter of seconds AND still capture you walking down. It’s SO important to me to be as out of the way as possible during the ceremony so your guests can enjoy it, but if I have to tap someone and whisper for them to kindly move, it can take away from your moment. I never ever want that to happen during your big moment! PS – I never want to make your day look like something it wasn’t – if there were phones, I will keep any images that show what your ceremony felt like, and I truly believe that it totally okay! I support and love anything you choose for your day, and I want to showcase it as genuinely as I can!
  3. This one is personal preference – do you care if you see phones in your photos? If you absolutely don’t want that, then I’d say go unplugged! If you don’t want people sitting there during the entire ceremony with their phones out, I recommend having them put them away. People love recording the entire ceremony, so they really only experience it through their screen instead of just watching you! If you don’t mind it at all, no need to say anything! I’ll always work around it in every way I can!
  4. Piggybacking off of the last one – living in a very digital age, a lot of us experience live events through our screens (ever been to a concert and hold your phone up to record the whole thing?!). We rarely live in the moment, hands-free! An unplugged ceremony allows everyone to be present in the moment with you. Realistically, the zoomed in, blurry iPhone photo may not really get used in any way compared to your professional images! You’ve hired your photo and video team to capture everything, so your guests can just enjoy and relax. As you’re walking down the aisle, do you want to see the faces of your loved ones smiling back at you or all eyes looking down through their phones at you?
  5. Think about your partner’s experience of seeing you walk down the aisle – I know what it looks like because it’s similar to mine! I’m always crouched down at the front of the aisle to capture you walking down and your partner beaming back at you! What we really see, though, is you walking through a sea of arms and bodies popping into the aisle with phones! It not only can block my view as I mentioned, but it can take away from your partner’s moment of seeing YOU.
  6. There’s a chance that a guest’s photo could impact the professional photos. If anyone’s camera flash goes off at the same moment that I’m shooting, it can alter the look of my professional shots (it can cause the image to be too bright, cause crazy shadows, etc.)! We only get one chance to get this right, and I wouldn’t want someone else’s flash burst to cause any unusable images on my end!
  7. Depending on the setting you’re getting married in, there are sometimes rules for photographers on where we can stand and how much we can actually move. If I’m forced to stay in one spot and someone steps in front of me (because guests aren’t asked to follow the same rules), there’s very little I can do in the moment!

Okay, but when SHOULD you definitely allow phones?

If you have a loved one who can’t be there on your big day for any reason, you can designate a family member to FaceTime them in so they can be there. I think that is a super important and valid reason to definitely have them there. I’ve seen first hand how much that has impacted a couple’s wedding ceremony to know their loved ones could still be a part of it. Just make sure to let me know, so I know not to ask them to kindly move (since sometimes they’ll step into the aisle). Also, make sure they mute and turn their volume down so there are no distractions. 🙂

I personally give my couples full rights and permission to share their gallery of digital images with friends and family, so many couples feel reassured that their guests will get the professional photos quickly to be able to save and share! If you’re not one of my couples, just make sure to check with your photographer about this! If they don’t allow you to share images with guests, you may want to have your guests take photos and videos to capture the moment for themselves!

So you want to go unplugged? The tricky part is actually getting your guests to LISTEN! Saying it just with a little sign as they’re sitting WILL 100% get ignored – I can promise you that! Here are a few ways to reiterate how important it is to you!

  1. Have your officiant make an announcement right before the ceremony! This is absolutely KEY to reminding guests to turn them OFF and put them away right before you walk down the aisle! Here’s a great snippet you can have them say that I found on Offbeat Bride: “I invite you to be truly present at this special time. Please, turn off your cell phones and put down your cameras. The photographer will capture how this moment looks — I encourage you all to capture how it feels with your hearts, without the distraction of technology.”
  2. Create an unplugged ceremony sign! There are so many great ways to word it from sincere and sentimental to funny and witty! Check out this post from The Wedding Playbook for some options! Pinterest has tons of great examples, and I’ve gathered some of my favorites for you to pull inspiration from here!
  3. Add it to your programs! If you’re printing programs for your guests, have a little blurb about it in there! Again, here is some example text from Offbeat Bride that you can use: “We want you to be able to relax and have fun with us today! This in mind, we invite you to put down all your favorite devices and just be present in the moment with us. Please leave your camera in your bag (we’ve got photography covered!), and put your cell phone on mute (we promise they’ll call back!). We’re happy to share our professional wedding photos later, but the greatest gift you can give us today is just being fully here with us in this sacred and special moment.”
  4. Put it on your wedding website, so it doesn’t come as a surprise to anyone! Offbeat Bride shares some text you can pop into your site here: “We want you to be able to really enjoy our wedding day, feeling truly present and in the moment with us. We’ve hired an amazing wedding photographer named _______ who will be capturing the way the wedding looks — and we’re inviting each of you to sit back, relax, and just enjoy how the wedding feels. We’re respectfully asking that everyone consider leaving all cameras and cell phones off. Of course we will be happy to share our wedding photos with you afterward!”
  5. Designate your unplugged ceremony team to help you out! Ask a few reliable guests to go aisle by aisle a few minutes before the ceremony to remind guests to please put their devices away.

Check out my Unplugged Ceremony Sign Inspiration Pinterest board here if you’re thinking about going unplugged when you say “I do!”

Did you find this post helpful? Here are a few other wedding planning posts to check out:

The Importance of Thoughtful, Unique Wedding Day Details
First Looks & How They Impact Your Wedding Day
Planning the Perfect Wedding Day Timeline

Wedding Planning | Is an Unplugged Ceremony Right for Your Wedding?

January 24, 2021

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