Wording from an Unplugged Wedding program

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Last year, we addressed the trend of “Unplugged Weddings,” where couples ask their guests to put down their cameras. We even gave you some examples of how to word your request.

Well, a year later, we're starting to see more and more couples choosing to unplug their weddings. New York's Ryan Brenizer Photography recently posted this photo of a wedding program on Facebook, with the caption, “I saw this in the wedding program yesterday. Fantastic.” Looks like this couple (Andrea and Richard) read Offbeat Bride — we recognize our wording template! Hopefully we'll see more from their wedding soon.

Photo courtesy of Ryan Brenizer Photography on Facebook

The response has been, uh, dramatic with people desperately chiming in on whether this is rude/tacky (yawn!) or brilliant. We had that debate last year, so we'll just say that we love it when couples feel empowered to speak up and create the ceremonial space they need to make their wedding day feel right for them.

(Thanks to Jessie from Eclectic Unions for cluing us into the fact that this was going viral on Facebook!)

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Comments on Wording from an Unplugged Wedding program

  1. We had one, and it worked so well for us. We had a posted sign, a note in the program, and our officiant invited people to put away their cell phones and cameras and be “truly present” and “capture how the moment feels.” I love that we only have photos of our guests looking at us, and no one’s cell phone went off during the ceremony. It was perfect.

  2. The varied response is interesting to me. Kind of worries me since we are planning on doing this. However we are planning on just asking that for the ceremony and not the cake cutting etc. So hopefully no one will be too miffed.

    • There will be “varied responses” to most nontraditional wedding decisions. All you can do is make the decisions that feel like the best fit for you and your guests!

      • What floors me is that it’s now considered “nontraditional” to ask your guests to please turn off their devices and leave the photography to the professionals. Is it really that hard to hang up for a few hours?

    • Agreed. I kind of feel like the cake cutting exists solely to be photographed. It certainly wasn’t something I looked forward to as an emotional moment (although some may, and that’s fine!)
      However, we did an unplugged ceremony and it was so worth every minute of worrying about whether we’d offend people and whether they’d obey. They very kindly did and it was so amazing to look out during the ceremony and see our loved ones experiencing it with us. Even if something happened to our pro photos, I would rather have had that experience.

      • I feel the same way about things like the cake cutting, its not super emotional to me and does just exist because its what you do (especially since we’re having a dessert table and just a small cake for the sole purpose of cutting). But my problem with everyone having their devices out for it is that when I go back and look at the pictures of my wedding I don’t want to see a crowd of people with cel phones out in the background. So I’m contemplating asking for no devices during these ceremonial events as well.

        • The reason we didn’t want non-professional photography for the cake cutting was not because it was particularly ceremonial. It was because of crowds that tend to make it impossible for shorter people to see anything that’s going on. (Yes, that’s my wedding program. Yes, I’m responding years later. I didn’t mind the drama, I just thought it best not to comment myself back then.)

  3. We had something similar in the “additional info” pages of our wedding invitations for both weddings. It’s a great idea if you have a good photographer, not so great if you don’t. Some of the best photos of our second/actual wedding were taken by guests. I only wish more of them HAD photographed the ceremony because what the photographer dished up most amateurs wouldn’t want to put their name to.
    I’m not fussed much if people consider it tacky. I was aiming for tacky anyway, so nobody should have been disappointed. Your wedding, your rules. Don’t like it? Don’t come. Simple.

  4. We put up an unplugged page on our wedding website explaining what an unplugged ceremony is. We have decided not to limit photos outside the ceremony, but from processional to recessional we’d like all devices to be off.
    So far all the responses we’ve received have been positive. “What a good idea!” “I’ve never heard of this but I like it!” Etc.
    Since cell phones are not a traditional part of a wedding I’m not sure how someone could argue tradition. What’s traditional about a facebook post?

  5. How can it possibly be tacky? And that’s coming from someone who usually sees tacky as good. I often like tacky (though I’d be in favour of unplugging), but that means I know tacky when I see it, and that (concept OR notice) ain’t it. Oh and I agree with jayem; it’s your meaningful day; your rules, or people can fcark off.

  6. We had an unplugged wedding ceremony! It was very important to my Husband. We had a similar message in our program as well as a sign at the entrance. No one took any photos and I think people really appreciated our ceremony because of it. It didn’t seem like we offended people either. We had the pro photos available to our guests for download after the wedding.

  7. We had an unplugged ceremony as well. We knew our amazing photographer would get great shots of the ceremony (she did) and we wanted everyone to pay attention and share in the moment. We put brief wording to that effect in the program, then the best man made a short “no cameras and phones” speech before the ceremony began.

    No one seemed to mind. In fact, I swear I felt a sort of captive magic during our ceremony. People really did pay attention. They laughed, they responded when necessary–they cried. There were no flashes or clicks or beeps and I could hear people sniffling at emotional parts. It really felt like everyone was part of the ceremony, not just us and the bridal party.

    One of my favorite during-the-ceremony photos that the photographer captured is a candid shot of my aunt, who I worried would be offended at the no-camera rule. She is the camera queen of the family. In this candid, she is looking up at the ceremony, completely enraptured. That photo alone made me realize that the unplugged ceremony was absolutely the right decision.

    We did invite people to photograph away during the reception and we’ve got some great, fun photos as a result! But I’m really happy that everyone was THERE for the ceremony instead of behind a lens or screen.

  8. This is so interesting to me, because I’m Jewish and have mostly been to Jewish weddings where it is forbidden to take pictures during the ceremony (even by the professionals. The only picture I have of us actually getting married is taken through mostly closed doors at the very back of the hall). Nothing really to add to the conversation, but I think its beyond reasonable to ask people to not be “clicking” away.

  9. its very funny that some people thought this was the photographer’s way of insuring that everyone would buy his prints of the wedding… i think they missed the point.

    • I was helping a neighbor with their wedding many years back and I came across a few photographers that insisted on no other cameras through the entire wedding (reception and all) because they wanted people to only be able to buy their prints. Although I’m not sure if that would even be something you could claim anymore since everything ends up online now and even if downloading of photos is blocked people can always screenshot and save. And except for the bride and groom, most people at the wedding are only going to want to have a digital copy anyway not actual prints.

    • Yep, they really missed the point. Particularly because we sent out prints with all of our thank you notes. We included this because we wanted to, not because our photographer asked us to. We had complete trust in him, and we were not disappointed.

  10. I love the wording of this, we are lucky in the sense that cell phones don’t work where we are having our wedding, but I really want to encourage people to put down their cameras during the ceremony.

  11. We asked for a unplugged ceremony too and no one seemed to mind. It was a lovely feeling knowing that everyone was in the moment with us rather than trying to take the perfect photo. We worded it and left it in the info book on every guest seat as they came in.

  12. Thank you for this post and examples! I got inspired and created own our version for our upcoming wedding.

    Sharing in case its helpful to others as we are trying to balance what we would prefer with family wanting to take photos.

    Request is focussed on unplugging for the ceremony and then leaving the reception more open.

    Whilst it is our wedding, as others have posted comments on, I also have been to many weddings where wedding ‘rules’ have made it difficult as well for guests ie no children, so we are trying to strike a balance.

    Welcome to our Wedding

    We are sooo excited to have you here with us today

    We are respectfully requesting that during the ceremony, including when the lovely bride and her family enter and when we walk out as a newly married couple, that all cameras and electronic devices are put away.

    The reason for this request is that we have awesome professional photographers X and X(you may have seen their fab work for our engagement photos, so you can be confident that they will work their magic) and we really want you to relax and enjoy the moment. We also want to be able to see your lovely faces in the ceremony photos, not your cameras. Also the groom isn’t keen on having his photo taken at the best of times, so a short break will help him as well.

    Don’t worry there will be a moment in the ceremony where our lovely celebrant will let you know you can take a photo. There will be plenty of opportunities at the reception as well. We also have a family member who has kindly agreed to video the wedding so we can capture all the other special moments. We will be sure to share the photos with you all.

  13. I can’t stand people having their cell phones permanently glued to their faces/fingertips at the best of times, so I think it’s incredibly rude to even consider having it at someone’s wedding ceremony. I think it’s safe to say my wedding next year will be unplugged completely!!!

    • These are my thoughts exactly- plus weddings are so expensive (my fiance and I are paying for the bulk of our wedding ourselves), I don’t think it’s rude to ask someone to NOT be on their cell phone during the ceremony.

  14. I wish I did this. I was so mad people uploaded pictures and tagged me mid-ceremony. I didn’t want something as precious to that as me on Facebook, nor did I want it on someone else’s page. I think the bride and groom have every right to control what pictures they decide to share with people, not what people want them to share.

    We had a private website for photos for people to view for a reason!!!

    • To me this is one of the biggest reason to ask guests to unplug! Social media is so pervasive and I feel like the bride and groom have a right to ask people to respect their own privacy boundaries and not start sharing things in real time. Not only that, but if you’re sharing, you’re not truly experiencing, and I don’t want that for any of my guests!

    • Oh you poor thing! We had someone from the “bridal party” load a link onto his facebook page that allowed his friends, random people we don’t know, to our wedding album on the hosting website. From there we ended up with several people we don’t know registering to view our wedding photos. It was awful. I still feel like someone has been rifling through my undies drawer. The hosting website were next to useless but our photographer agreed to close down the photos, delete the people I wanted deleted and then reopen the file and email a pin code to the people still registered. Of course the hosting website didn’t bother to wait until that had happened. They just emailed the security pin to everyone who was registered including the people we didn’t know. ***sigh** They’ve also spent the last 9 months spamming our wedding guests on a regular basis and generally driving me nuts in a variety of ways that I won’t get into now. Suffice to say I want to send a crack team of mutant ninjas to their California offices to kill, crush, destroy…not really..well…let’s just say that in my dreams their torture is long and horrible and involves Liberace reruns and being force fed cold sago pudding. I told people very early on that we didn’t want our photos turning up on FB. It’s our wedding. A deeply personal and profound day in our lives. We didn’t want that shared around with random strangers. I really don’t understand how people have become so blasé about other people’s pictures and personal information.

  15. I think this is GENIUS! I’m a wedding photographer in SA, Tx as well as ‘2nd shooter’ for several other photography-ers in town. I’m cool, calm collected and polite when it comes to family using their hand helds and coolpix, but its secretly very annoying. I’ll never admit it to a client, but it is. Youre paying me $$$$ to get amazing photos to document the night, so you dont have to remember…. and folks are jockeying for position around me. I thin this is a very polite way to tell folks ahead of time to keep the wedding… unplugged. 🙂

  16. Our wedding was last Sunday, and we had an unplugged ceremony and received nothing but great comments about it. We must’ve asked at least three different people that were helping to remind the guests it was photographers only during the ceremony, to make sure everyone understood.
    It was amazing to walk in and have the ceremony and see everyone’s eyes on us, filled with love and smiles and happy tears. After the ceremony, we didn’t exit immediately but instead started playing a song and informed everyone that now it was okay to take their own pictures. After everyone got their pictures, we exited and waited for our guests outside, and everyone came out after us (and took more pictures). We also had our cake cutting outside, in the sunset, with enough space and pretty much for the sole reason of everyone being able to take their own pictures.
    We didn’t receive one bad comment about how anyone was upset to not get pictures from the entrance or the vows or whatever, they were all happy to be present and take their pictures afterwards. Once we get the pro pics back, we’ll share them as well.

    I think this was a great compromise. Everyone was present but afterwards still got to take their own pictures in the ceremony setting for the memories.What we saw so far from our photographers’ pictures is pretty amazing too so I’m guessing nobody will be upset to get awesome pictures instead of ones taken with cellphones either 😉

    I’d do it again, anytime.

  17. The more I think of doing an unplugged wedding, the more I love the idea. I’m SO planning on doing this. I also thought about doing a cellphone/camera/device drop off basket/box/table so that people aren’t tempted, but it might not be very practical because people might forget them. But I so want an unplugged wedding.

  18. Thank God that we DIDN’T have a totally unplugged ceremony at our daughter’s wedding!! Phones were turned off…but cameras were allowed. The pictures we got from friends and family “saved the day” for us.

    We had, what my daughter THOUGHT was “an awesome photographer”…but who ended up not even getting ONE decent shot of her entering the church on her daddy’s arm. She consistently framed the shots with a rather large guest in the foreground, that took uo half the picture! There was not ONE shot of her complete wedding party during the ceremony (The photog kept cutting off the maid of honor/best man and two attendants who were soloists). She got a picture of the EMPTY “stage” area…but not one with the whole wedding party on it. That’s just the tip of the iceberg of what didn’t get captured by the professional. The most frequent comment of the day was “WHERE IS SHE??!!”….because she was nowhere where there were sweet moments happening.

    The guests caught more of the essence of the newlyweds than the pro did.

    So very sad. We hired a new photographer, later, to at least get “newlywed” pictures of the two of them that they could be proud of.

    There needs to be some sort of standard that people who charge so much for photos (she was not cheap) need to have some sort of guarantee that they’ll live up to what they promise.

    I understand the delight of being able to rest in “an awesome photographer”…but it didn’t work for us.

    Before you hire someone for a totally unplugged wedding, make sure you insist on seeing their ENTIRE coverage of a wedding that is the same in size and scope as yours will be. I think our photographer was out of her comfort zone…and it showed up in the way she handled herself that day, and in the results. 🙁

    Our only recourse would be to sue for a refund…but it will never give us the images that were lost and unrecoverable. We have the memories….and some guest photos and videos to remind us of how pretty and how special the ceremony was.

    Make sure that the photographer truly IS awesome. Or…make sure you really truly won’t care if you have images and value the experience more than the images.

  19. I must say, I quite like the idea of unplugged wedding. People should avoid carrying cameras as it is very annoying for wedding couple and family members.

  20. As a wedding photographer, I try to ignore phones & cameras never saying anything, but the smaller weddings I have made suggestions and I have posted a video of red dress blocking my wedding kiss shot. Blerg!

  21. I’m definitely requesting an unplugged ceremony, using much of the wording you’ve provided here, but during the reception festivities, they can go nuts. 🙂

  22. I have re-posted the article from this group a few times and the response has always been positive whether it was from a bride or other wedding professionals. I have had several couples unplug their ceremonies this year and they were thankful that I mentioned it them after reading this article. I have been really good too at biting my tongue when I suggest the unplugged wedding ceremony to a couple and the bride says its ok, because the photos will get on Facebook faster this way.

    This summer I had a family member with an ipad nearly knock over a photographer to get the shot that the photographer set up, this weekend I did have a cell phone go off during a ceremony. These real life experiences are validation for me to educate, promote and encourage all couples to do so. In my own personal opinion, its using common sense, good manners and a common courtesy. People did not do this at weddings before there were camera phones!!!

    This summer I also started leaving my cell phone in my car unless there was not a day of coordinator, I use my phone primarily to know what time it is and if there are any last minute messages from someone in the bridal party. If I do have my phone with me, it goes into silent or airplane mode before I get out of my car.

  23. Last weekend I included the words “They know how hard this will be… but they also know that you love them enough to be respectful of their wish that no photos be taken during their ceremony. They have worked hard on what will be the most important words of their lives and they want you all to be emotionally and intellectually present with them in this once in a lifetime moment. The photographer will capture how this moment looks but it is you they encourage to capture how it feels with your hearts, without the distraction of technology. There professional photos will be shared freely online after the ceremony, in which they look forward to see your smiling faces unencumbered by modern technology.

  24. I want to have a *mostly* unplugged ceremony, but being the social media addict that I am, I plan to include one or two ‘designated photo ops’ where the officiant lets our guests know that they’re permitted to take photos for a minute or so (for example, just after the ‘first kiss’, possibly one or two other moments). That way all of our friends and family can have their photo of the ceremony, but we don’t have professional photos of nothing but phones.

  25. I’ve been toying with the idea of an unplugged wedding for a while now.

    I REALLY don’t want people to have their cell phones out posting stuff online and tagging my wedding. I hate when people tag me at locations in everyday life (its just a little too stalker-ey for me) so I especially don’t want that for something as personal as my wedding. I also keep thinking of my fiancee’s brother who drives me crazy because carries his ipad around everywhere like its a purse…seriously, who needs an ipad to do a walmart run for toilet paper? And he’s always on it playing video games at the most inappropriate times, like when his niece is blowing out the candles on her birthday cake or during thanksgiving dinner (and in case you were wondering, he’s a grown man in this 30’s not some teenager that grew up in a techno world and doesn’t now any better). And if he did this during the wedding I’m pretty sure it would end with doctors having to surgically remove the ipad from his body.

    I’m also paying a lot of money for a good photographer that’s taking me an insanely long time to find. We don’t have a big budget and the photography is taking up about half of it. So I don’t want my pictures filled with people on their phones and I don’t want my photographer having to trip over people trying to get a better shot than her and I don’t want to have to hold a pose for 20 minutes just to make sure every person has a picture of the same thing.

    That being said, I have quite a few photographers in the family (including myself and my bridesman whom I’m putting in charge of my old film slr at the reception) so I don’t want to ban cameras completely. I’m going completely unplugged at the ceremony, but for the reception I would like people to be able to be able to take pictures. But my worry is that there’s a very fine line between “I’m using my phone as a camera” and “I’m using my phone as a camera…but while I have it out I’m just going to upload this pic/tweet/fb.” And to be perfectly honest, I don’t trust my family to respect my wishes and only use their phone as a camera.

    So I think what I’m going to do is buy a few cheap digital cameras on Amazon (or maybe I can find something on black Friday) and have them available for use by guests, kind of like a throwback to when people would put disposable cameras on the tables at a reception. That way I can still ban cell phones (cameras would still be allowed, but I know many people don’t even own a camera anymore everyone just use their phone) and still have people taking pictures. I’m only expecting 30-40 people so I’m not really worried about anyone walking off with a camera since its a small enough group for the bridal party to keep an eye on people, plus I’d be attaching a big ol’ tag to each of the cameras that said something along the lines of “take a picture and pass it on.” Also this way I’d have all the pictures from the cameras at the end of the night and I wouldn’t have to worry about trying to track everyone down to get their pictures. And I know this kind of thing opens me up for the obvious drunken guest taking a picture of their junk on my cameras but I’ve got the kind of friends that do that sort of thing anyway so a surprise shot of someone’s butt or privates here and there isn’t going to phase me.

  26. I think this unplugged Wedding idea is very good and innovative.Through this unplugged wedding idea guest in ceremony fully Contribute in the wedding ceremony and Enjoy the day with Bride and Groom.Because this day is the most important day for the couples and people have to appreciate this type of innovative idea.

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