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Today I want to discuss the rather contentious issue of unplugged weddings! I touched on this subject a few weeks ago in Diary of a Boho Bride, when Becki was discussing whether she should have an unplugged ceremony or not.
Since then the issue as come up more and more and as a planner and a guest at weddings I am noticing the trend of asking guests to switch of their smart phones and put away their cameras becoming more and more popular with wedding couples.
The last two weddings I have planned both couples requested their guests not take any photos during the service and to leave the picture-taking to the professional photographers. One bride even asked ALL of her guests to not put any of their own photos on Facebook until the professional photographers had uploaded their photos to their page, stating that she wanted the first pictures people saw of her wedding to be the professional ones, not those taken on an iPhone in a drunken stupor! And you know what, I totally get the point!
As you probably know I am an avid amateur photographer, I love any excuse to get my DSLR out and take a few snaps, but as a guest at the last wedding I went to I decided to leave my camera at home. Why? Well I wanted to live in the moment of the wedding and also not get in the way of the professional photographer and I enjoyed the wedding a lot more. I still manged to get loads of pictures of the wedding as the professional photographer uploaded them to Facebook for everyone to share, and if I want a printable version I’ll simply go and buy one for a few pounds from his site! Now isn’t that better than spending all day behind a camera and not enjoying the day itself?
My name is Sara Williams, and I’m having an unplugged wedding ceremony.
For the uninitiated, an unplugged wedding is where you ask guests to quietly put down their iPad or digital SLR and observe what is occurring.
Debates about unplugged weddings are hot on the blogosphere at the moment on both sides of the Atlantic. I’m not a bridetator or a bridezilla or any of the other monstrous caricatures brides are hit with for having strong opinions about one of the most special days of their lives. I simply don’t believe that guests can enjoy a ceremony to its fullest if they are preoccupied with getting the perfect shot for their Instagram or bookface page.
Over the last couples of years I’ve been to more than 15 weddings and after an initial burst of enthusiasm, I unplugged myself. Firstly, it’s too much effort – what are photographers paid for? Sweat and grime. Secondly, you miss key moments. While you were altering the resolution of your latest snap, the father of the bride wiped a tear from his eye, the groom and his best man shared a glance and a smile and the mini maid and pageboy stole a kiss – priceless memories.
On my wedding travels, I’ve witnessed guests in their quest to get the perfect snap, bumping into photographers, a bride’s uncle getting so close to the bride and groom he could have exchanged vows and beautiful Jimmy Choos ruined as guests trampled each other to get a shot. Weddings are comedy value, but this is crazy.
One US blog recently described unplugged brides as micromanagers who should just ‘let go’. This misses the point entirely, it’s not a case of loosening the reins and letting go, it’s about actually living in the moment. Are we digitally documenting every aspect of our lives for the benefit of others, or ourselves?
The cult of the selfie is at an all-time high and shows no time of abating. That said the tide is turning against the use of camera phones at other events, such as music gigs. Zooey Deschanel recently banned camera phones at her latest She & Him gigs, as she wanted fans to enjoy the music.
Another element of this is amateur photography. I’ve sat in on many conversations with friends whose preoccupation has spilled into the realms of wedding photography. I’ve seen numerous wedding images where guests faces are hidden behind a huge lens. I’ve also heard and read of many stories about how guests have ruined the professional photographer’s shot as they walked down the aisle.
Our photographer is Shelly from Toast Photography. She is an advocate for unplugged ceremonies. We know she’ll get the shots we need to remember our wedding by… we don’t need our guests to record it for posterity whether that be on their camera phone, their point and shoot or their professional grade DSLR.
We are having an intimate ceremony in a stately home and our guests will surround us in a horse shoe shape. As we sign the register we will be able to turn and see a cascade of guest’s faces before our eyes.
I’d rather engage with a smile than a smartphone.
So what are your thoughts? the debate at the moment may be a tad one-sided but I’m going to make no bones of the fact that I feel all ceremonies should be unplugged! But you may disagree?
A photographer is paid to do a job and I have heard far to many stories lately of guests loosing sight of the ceremony itself because they are stuck behind a camera, phone or even worse an iPad (why????? for the name of God?? Why!!). I have also heard stories and been witness to guests using flash guns at the wrong times, so ruining shots for the professional photographer, getting in the way of the photographer, following the photographer, and generally being a nuisance.
And then there are the photos appearing on Facebook, twitter and instagram before the day is even done or the evening guests have arrived!
So for me it’s a no brainer! Put down your camera, phones, leave the iPad at home (they make rubbish cameras anyway) and live for the moment, enjoy the wedding and let the professionals do the job they are paid to do. Their photos are going to be a million times better than yours anyway!