How to have an unplugged wedding: copy ‘n’ paste wording and templates

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We've talked about why some couples are planning unplugged weddings, asking guests to put away their cell phones and cameras. Today, we're diving into the nitty gritty of how to make it happen.

vintage-quirky-1So you want to have an unplugged wedding — maybe at least the ceremony. Encouraging your guests to put down their favorite devices can be a delicate dance… as one member of the Offbeat Bride Tribe snapped, “If I was told I had to leave my phone at home, I'd likely stay with it.” Yikes! As with any special request you make of your wedding guests, you need to be sensitive and respectful.

If you're unsure how to request unplugging in a way that won't piss off your guests, we're here to help. Below, we've got copy ‘n' paste wording ideas for your officiant, wedding website, program, invitations — and even a pre-designed printable sign you can post at the venue!

Before the wedding…

Talk to your photographer

Remember: wedding guests take photos because they want to be able to re-live and share the experience of the day. If you're considering an unplugged wedding, you must commit to sharing photos with guests and make plans for how you're going to do so. Work with your wedding photographer to ensure you can make a small set of photos (even just five shots!) available digitally to guests within a couple days of the wedding. You can share them via email, your wedding website, or facebook — the method doesn't matter. Just make sure you've got it figured out with your photographer before your unplugged wedding.

Wording for wedsites & programs

If you're sharing wedding information online with guests via a wedding website, you can warn give them some perspectives before the wedding about why you're asking them to leave their devices off:

Unplugged wedding
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!

You could include a short note in your programs:

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.

Offbeat Bride Tribe member Aron is including this text in her program:

The bride and groom have asked that you share in their wedding fully and not through the lens of a camera or cell phone.

Offbeat Bride Tribe member Audra included this text her her program:

The text reads: No Pictures Please
We are honored that you are here today and present with us during the ceremony. Two photographers are covering the ceremony. We request that you refrain from photography during the entire ceremony. We promise that there will be plenty of images at your disposal!

At the wedding…

Enforcing unplugging

[related-post align=”right”]Appoint a member of your wedding party to help encourage other guests to put down their devices at the wedding. It doesn't have to be high-drama: all they have to do is sidle up to their fellow guest and say quietly, “The bride and groom have asked me to respectfully suggest guests to put down their electronics and just enjoy the day. Can I ask you to put your camera/phone away?” Whatever you do, don't rely on your photographer to be the heavy; it's not their job to make your guests behave. Plus, when the request to put away the camera or phone comes from a fellow guest, it's less likely to be seen as a grumpy encounter.

Wording ideas for officiants

The easiest way to remind your guests to power down their devices is to have your officiant make a brief announcement before the ceremony. A few ideas, ranging from the sacred to the silly:


The couple respectfully requests that all guests honor the sanctity of this moment by turning off cell phones and cameras.


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.


Ladies and gentlemen, prior to wedding take-off, all seat backs and tray tables must be in their upright and locked positions, all bags properly stowed, and all portable electronic devices turned off and stowed. This includes cell phones and cameras.

Thanks to Offbeat Bride Tribe member Rockwell for this one:

As Shakespeare once said, please turn off your cell phones.

Offbeat Bride Tribe member Cat named mouse shared this anecdote:

At my best friend's wedding, the rabbi asked the bride to turn around and face the audience after her parents walked her to the altar. At this time he said, “Everyone, get the photo you really want now, because we ask that your cameras remain off for the remainder of the ceremony.”

Jessie Blum of Eclectic Unions uses this template:

Good afternoon! It is my pleasure to welcome you to the wedding of Name and Name. Please take a moment to silence any cell phones or other noisy electronics. If you would also take a moment to put your cameras away, Jody and Steven have requested that no photos be taken during the ceremony today — thank you so much for your understanding. The ceremony will begin shortly.

Printable sign for ceremony venue

We'll be rolling out some downloadable signs to print and post at your wedding venue:


After the wedding…

Share your photos!

Make sure you share a few images with your guests within a couple days of the wedding — for a Saturday wedding, Monday or Tuesday is ideal. The wedding is still fresh in your guests' minds, and it's a great way to carry some of the wedding day job into the work-week. As soon as all your wedding photos are available, make prints to include with each thank you card. If possible, also make wedding photos available to guests online.

So, are you having an unplugged wedding?

We'd love to hear from you about how you're respectfully asking guests to turn off their cell phones and cameras. Leave a comment below!

Comments on How to have an unplugged wedding: copy ‘n’ paste wording and templates

  1. I’m kind of torn–I like the image of everyone just observing the ceremony, but I also want a whole mess of pictures, including the grainy candids from my friends’ cellphones and shitty cameras. One thing I *will* make sure that the officiant asks for, though, is NO FLASHES. They’re super distracting.

    • Good luck with no flashes — that assumes that guests like, say, your grandmother know how to turn their flash off. In my experience, most folks don’t know how to change the settings on their point ‘n’ shoots. ๐Ÿ™

      • We’re actually going to be blessed/cursed with an absence of elderly family members and guests. I think our list is techno-savvy enough that we can manage it, but yeah, I’m not hoping for 100% compliance. ๐Ÿ™‚

      • I’m doing this too and that is the very thing I like about this option. I’ll have several pro photographers in the crowd, if they want to keep shooting they will turn their flashes off, but hopefully those with less experience will give up and chose to just watch instead. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • As a bride I thought I would have loved a million photos (which I did get because I didn’t have an unplugged policy) – but in the end it just made me appreciate the good quality, well exposed professional photos even more. The grainy, low res awkward photos (and poor quality videos) didn’t remind me of how pretty and happy and in love with my husband and friends and family I felt on that day (the way I felt when I looked back on the great photos). Some of the amateur/friend-taken photos were just awkward and made me feel awkward about how I looked talking or getting up. Or they were just poorly composed, poorly exposed duplicates of what my professional photographer had already taken.

      This all applies to the ceremony. And even with all the photo taking, I wasn’t bothered by it because it was a daytime wedding outside and no flashes went off. I was also nervous being up in front of everyone (shy introvert!) so I just looked at our priest and my husband for the majority of the ceremony.

      I did definitely appreciate my friend’s extra photos from the reception though.

      • Yes to the amateur photos at the reception! Our photographer(s) spent so much time taking pictures of *us* that if it weren’t for the photos of friends and family I wouldn’t have very many pictures of our guests and decor. I still have fewer than I would like. Also, there are at least a couple pictures from the ceremony itself where the amateur pictures filled in a few small gaps from the professionals. I wouldn’t go entirely unplugged, personally, but would encourage people to keep picture taking to a minimum.

        • This is why it’s so important to hire the right Photographer and to be specific about what photos you want taken IN WRITING. Thank God your friends got the photos you wanted! Many of the important details of our wedding were missed by or Videographer, and we can never get those moments back. The ceremony itself doesn’t require amateur photos in my opinion, but the reception is not quite as formal, and friends taking photos are much less intrusive at that time.

      • I appreciate the post about the amateur photos. As a bride to be, it’s only in my budget to have ONE professional photographer, with no second shooter for the ceremony or reception. I thought maybe guests will fill in the potential blanks, but at this point I’m willing to leave that to the reception. The ceremony itself will be fairly traditional, so it shouldn’t be too hard, or too much to capture?

  2. Amazingly enough we didn’t have this issue. Then again, the first few rows were our closest family and friends, and they all knew they’d be getting copies of the professional things. Plus our families are pretty horrible about remembering to take pictures most of the time because we’re busy enjoying the moment, so that factored in as well. It was kind of an issue at the reception, though. I realize everyone wants pictures of the bride and groom, but the bride and groom want to enjoy themselves and have been posing for pics all day long! I wish we would have had a “No camera, just party” sign at the reception.

  3. We did one like the ridiculous one. We asked people to put their seats up and put their tray tables up was well. It worked out really well for us. Started the wedding out with a chuckle.

  4. I have to admit that the photos filled with everyone looking through their cameras have always bothered me, though it never occurred to me to ask people to not use their cameras.

    I thought that at the very least, I’d be able to log onto facebook as soon as I got home from the honeymoon and see all the awesome amateur photos. So when I logged on from the airport on my way home, I was very disappointed to find that only 1 photo had been posted from my wedding.

    My professional photos are full of people with their phones and cameras taking pictures, none of which got posted, and only one person has bothered to send to me.

  5. This is one of my favorite posts ever. Every so often, a couple will have family and friends all over them during the ceremony taking photos. As an urban officiant used to crazy situations, it does not bother me too much. But it is awkward. What a pain for the professional taking the images — and the videographer.

  6. I’d suggest that couples who do this make SURE to have a plan for guests who just don’t give a shit. My cousin’s wedding was the first one I went to with a no-phones-or-cameras request. What did my mom, ie the groom’s aunt, spend the entire ceremony doing? Taking blurry, grainy, dark pictures with her camera phone from the second row, most of which she deleted afterwards anyway. There was a sign in the lobby, and a note in the program, and the minister mentioned it at the beginning of the ceremony, and I reminded her about it, but no dice. Some people just think the rules don’t apply to them, whether because of their relation to the couple or just their general sense of entitlement (or, in my mom’s case, both!), so seriously, plan.

    • We have a usher that is going to be a camera “bouncer”. One of the usher that no one really knows, so it doesn’t matter if the end up not liking him. I ‘ m a amature photographer and I chose my photographer very carefully and she’s very expensive. No one is messing up my photos! But I have made it clear that we have a Instagram & a photo booth for later!

  7. Great ideas. Another fun idea would be to have the bride call the groom before walking down the aisle to tell him that he should ask people to shut down their phones. Ha…

  8. Good people, we request respectfully that you refrrain from using your cameras, cell phones, smartphones, laptops, pagers. (Are there still such things as pagers?) and other electronic devices during the ceremony. WE have several photographers with whom we have already arranged to document the proceedings, and we would far prefer to know that you are here experiencing the ceremony than to have that one extra photo.
    And if you’re still not convinced, your device will be taken away and handed to a small child, who will also be given a large popsicle and possibly some ketchup. You have been warned.

    • “And if you’re still not convinced, your device will be taken away and handed to a small child, who will also be given a large popsicle and possibly some ketchup. You have been warned.”

      Words can not express the amount of joy & giggletude I felt while reading that.

  9. We understand that some of you are at an age where you have trouble with controlling your flow of tweeting. You may feel the need to tweet at frequent intervals, or the urge to tweet at an unexpected moment. You worry about having an accident, or not being able to tweet when you have the opportunity. We repectfully request again, please do your best to resist these urges…. and if you still find that you have STFU (Serious Tweeting Frequency Urges) please take not of the warning above relevant to small children and popsicles…. If you find that this is not a sufficient treatment, be aware that the aforementioned small child may be placed on roller skates as well.

  10. I think we’ll try to put a no pictures please note on our programs for the ceremony, but let people know it’s okay to take pictures during the reception (yes, I want to see my friends dancing like nerds if I’m not right there!).

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