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

Updated Aug 29 2019
arielmstallings

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

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:

Spiritual:

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

Emotional:

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.

Ridiculous:

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 UnionsThey ♥ OBB; we ♥ them 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:

vintage-quirky-1

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!

  1. I'm planning on doing a semi-unplugged…We're doing a destination wedding in Jamaica in which the same photographer will be capturing the pictures for both the the destination ceremony and home reception. I'm making up signage for Jamaica that requests all phones and cameras are away for the ceremony and dinner, and that also encourages "After dinner, for the fun…#ourweddinghashtag" And plan on doing similar at the home reception encouraging to hold off until after dinner and the ceremonial first dance, speeches, etc.

  2. After going back and forth between the reasons why I want an unplugged wedding and why I shouldn't go through with asking guests to be unplugged for my nuptials next May I decided to meet in the middle. The wording I will be using for our wedsite is as follows:

    Though we are very honored
    By your wholehearted desire
    To capture the same special moments
    That our photographer will acquire

    We'd much rather see your faces
    And your lovely smiles from ear to ear
    So please refrain from taking photos
    Until after the processional clears

    When Bride reaches Groom
    Go on and capture that shot
    But once the minister begins
    We're asking that you not

    And if you're worried you'll be missing out
    On having your own pictures too
    We'll gladly share our professional
    photographs with all of you

    One more thing to request,
    We hope you don't mind
    But if you would silence your cellphone
    It would be extremely kind

    I added my own twist to the original wording found here: http://forum.scottishweddingdirectory.co.uk/showthread.php?24098-Unplugged-Weddings and will have our officiant make a remark about putting away devices once the ceremony commences and having him/her advise to take out devices for the couple's first kiss and recessional.

    All in all, I think for ME, this works out best. It is up to each bride to decide. Good Luck to you all!!

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  4. I'm so grateful for this post and all of your comments. I'm looking forward to the candid reception shots from some of our friends with better skills, but definitely going to count on the professional for ceremony shots. Unfortunately, I've witnessed horrible social behavior involving those little screens on a daily basis, and it frequently bleeds over into really important emotional moments and photos. So sad. My vote is for the happy couple to determine how their special day should be recorded.

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  6. I hadn't really thought about this issue until someone I went to high school with recently got married. We weren't really close friends, but I am Facebook friends with her. This meant that though we weren't close enough for me to be invited to the wedding, I saw the whole thing because my news feed was plastered with images from her ceremony, first dance, father daughter dance, etc. Many of these were even uploaded while the events were happening!! I was utterly horrified that people would feel entitled to share so many photos from such an intimate event all over social media, and I decided right then and there we're having an unplugged wedding!

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  8. So, we're doing a destination wedding and I really want all my guests to fully be present for the ceremony and for our plated dinner service on the beach but want them to snap away when we're having fun and celebrating later. I'm sending out an e-mail to my guests pre-departure with details and this topic included, and in our ceremony program the wording is "We want you to be able to really enjoy our wedding, feeling truly present & in the moment with us. We've hired an amazing photographer 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 respectfully ask that everyone leave all cameras and cell phones off & away during the ceremony and dinner. After dinner, for the fun…#onelovevella"

  9. How about a quote:
    "The best gift we can have is living in the present moment and really enjoying it for what it is." – Amy Smart

    Followed by a brief statement:

    Please turn off your phones, cameras, and other electronic devices during the ceremony – your presence is the greatest gift we could receive.

  10. The bride and groom would like to see your smiling faces while looking at their family and friends, not your devices.

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  13. My photographer actually has a clause in our contract that asks us to let guests know we would prefer if they refrained from taking any pictures during the ceremony. She said she's had great shots ruined by some one sticking their arms, bodies, and iPads smack in her shot. I honestly didn't see it as a problem. I'm paying her a lot of money and if this makes her job easier, gives me better photos, and encourages guests to be a bit more present. We are having a Catholic Ceremony with no mass, so it is more traditional, but even if it wasn't my photographer would still have that clause and I'd still be inclined to agree with her. I'm the kind of person who always tries to be present for the couple, no matter how close we are, because I understand it's an important day for them and they've asked me to share it with them. I'm a photographer myself (not professional but I do have a degree) and would never be offended if I attended an unplugged wedding. It isn't about me and how I want to take pictures and my feelings might get hurt if I'm kindly (or sarcastically because I respond perfectly to sarcasm) to please put my phone or camera away. I'm a Lit nerd by profession and so we went with a spin of the Shakespeare comment because it made me giggle so much.

  14. I agree- it is important to talk with your photographer before the wedding to make sure they know how many different shots you want. Not only does this inform them of your expectations, it allows you to get a price estimate. Also, I had never thought about the printable sign before! I might tell my sister about that so she can print some for her wedding in a few months!

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