How to have an unplugged wedding in 2020

Updated Feb 10 2020
Guest post by Bailey Gaddis
"Oh Snap!" unplugged wedding ceremony sign available from CreateNTreasure

It was a balmy summer evening on a pink beach in Nicaragua. As I walked down an aisle of sand and gardenia petals I looked up to smile at my friends and family… But instead of seeing their faces, I was met by a bunch of phones. My mother-in-law even went so far as to have her iPad in front of her face.

Our guests were excited and wanted to chronicle the wedding, but it created a divide. They could have had the same experience staying in their hotel rooms and tuning into a live feed of the nuptials!

Then there’s our wedding video. Because many of our guests had their phones held high for the majority of the ceremony, the video cameras set up by our professional photographers were often blocked. My husband and I are only visible for about 25% of the video. Sigh.

Weddings photobombed by devices

I’m not the only one that’s experienced a screen-saturated-wedding. More and more couples are sharing wedding footage that was bombed by someone’s device, and expressing frustration at how guests were disconnected from the present moment.

Because of this, more couples than ever are requesting loved ones do the unthinkable and stash their devices – at least for the ceremony.

With all that said, an unplugged wedding isn’t for everyone. Some couples want to skip a professional photog in favor of guests capturing the moments, while others simply aren’t bothered by the idea of devices pointed at them while they say their I dos.

But if you feel irked by the idea of friends and family taking in your big day from behind a screen, consider the following…  

  • Decide how unplugged you want the wedding to be. Do you want a total moratorium on devices during your ceremony, reception, and everything in between? Or do you just want them banned from the ceremony? Talk it over with your fiancé, then move on to the next step.
  • Tell guests before the wedding. To avoid confused, or even indignant, guests the day of the wedding, add your unplugged-guidelines to your wedding website, and send an email about your decision a week or two before the celebration kicks off.
  • Give guests access to your professional photos. Going all-in with an unplugged wedding? Then consider satisfying your guests’ desire for documentation by creating a digital folder of the professional wedding photos you’re comfortable sharing. Make sure to fill them in on this plan when making your initial unplugged wedding request, as it could soothe anxiety they might experience at the thought of being camera-less during a monumental event.
  • Create clear parameters for sharing. If you’re allowing cameras at certain phases of your wedding, but want to be the first to share the images, tell your guests. In the age of live streaming, and posting the moment instead of being in the moment, many don’t think twice about whether the couple is cool with others sharing their wedding images.

If this is important to you, discuss with your fiancé what your ask should be – for example, no posting on social media until two weeks after the event – and communicate the ask on your website.

One last option if you're going for an unplugged wedding…

Go old school with disposable cameras. For a completely phone-free event, consider having disposable cameras up for grabs at the reception. This helps folks satisfy their click-cravings, while providing you a slew of photos from various perspectives to fill that wedding album.

To make sure you end up with the cameras, make an announcement near the end of the reception that you would like the cameras to be left in a designated area. 

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