An Unplugged Wedding?

February 1, 2020

Have you been to an unplugged ceremony?  Unplugged weddings are when all attending guests and family are asked to turn off their phones, cameras, iPad and any other electronic devices that may cause a distraction during the ceremony or reception.


With our daily lives becoming increasingly distracted by electronic addiction, unplugged weddings are growing in popularity. Our days consist of scrolling through Instagram, posting a status update, responding to emails or checking text messages. You may be an engaged couple weighing the option of an unplugged wedding. Over the last few weeks, we discussed the concept of unplugged weddings with four women. Two of the four women got married in the last couple years and two are planning their weddings in 2020.  Their perspectives will hopefully offer some clarity in deciding if the unplugged wedding is the right choice for you!


Bride #1 had a local wedding with about 150 guests. She did not mind if guests took pictures. She felt most guests were respectful of photographers and would not intentionally be in their way.  Afterwards she was glad that guests took lots of pictures because one of her favorite photos came from someone’s iPhone!


Bride #2 had a destination wedding with 50 guests. She decided against an unplugged wedding as all her closest family and friends were there, so she didn’t mind. While there were no negatives, she did wish she had more guests take spontaneous shots throughout the weekend that the photographer may have missed.


Bride #3 is planning a local wedding with 150 guests. She is debating on the idea of an unplugged wedding. One concern is that a guest taking a photo may block a shot the photographer is trying to make along with the concern of possible distractions during the ceremony. She does love the idea that she would get photos from guests before the professional portraits came out and it means a lot to her grandma and other family members to be able to share a photo right away on social media.


Bride #4 is planning a local wedding with 250 guests. She has decided on an unplugged wedding because she wants the photographer to be the first and only to catch the photos of the ceremony. She also wants to limit the distractions that could arise during their church ceremony.


Why go unplugged?

-Be Present. The guests who don’t have phones in their hands actually get to watch you and focus on being present in the event.  

-Privacy is an issue.  Why would any bridal couple mind if you post a picture of them on your social media?  Why would any guests or family members mind if their picture is on your social media?  Why would anyone mind if you post pictures of the flower girls or ringbearers?  While we don’t often think about it, privacy and respect are important.

-Photobomb. As was mentioned above, guests with phones can sometimes intrude on the photographer’s job. Imagine the first kiss photo, with an iPhone in the corner of the picture.


Why not to worry about it?

-No pictures for weeks! Most photographers, no matter how fast, will still have a turnaround time. We simply aren’t trained to wait for pictures.  I remember when digital cameras first began to have small screens on the back of the cameras. Every photo taker, whether professional or amateur began taking the picture then looking down at the small digital pic on the screen… after every shot! And that habit quickly transferred to our phones. Rarely do we take pictures and then not look at them right away. Having an unplugged wedding will mean you have no pictures for days or weeks after the wedding.

-Not everyone lives digital. Once you get the photographers photos back, it’s up to the couple to distribute those to family.  And for older guests who don’t do the online thing, they can be left out.

-You don’t need a photo booth. Sorry to venues or photographers that offer this for an upcharge.  You could still have the table of photo and costume props and just allow people to do what they would normally do. Take selfies.

-Embrace it. Put out hashtags and sharing options so that you can get all of those shots back to you.

It is hard to control what your guests do!

Whichever way you go, don’t forget, it is hard to control what your guests do. Even if you have a sign and ask your minister to mention it before the ceremony, don’t get consumed with trying to control the actions of your guests. Human nature is simple… rules are important, and they apply to others, not me. Your guests on wedding day are excited to be a part of your big day and that should be flattering instead of frustrating. Do what you can to create the atmosphere you desire but get lost in the moment of your big day; it will be captured perfectly from your photographers and maybe by guests.  


Blog Post co-written with my daughter, Elizabeth Squirek. Check out her blog at

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