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:

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 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:

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!

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

  1. YMMV, of course, but i have to say – i am SO GLAD we didn’t do this for our wedding. yes, it was definitely a ceremony that was outside and more casual than a quiet churchy affair. we had one team captain photographer (a pro photojournalist who actually worked his way through a shot list – family, brides w/ bouquets, getting ready shots) and then encouraged our other friends with nice cameras to shoot and upload anything they wanted as long as they tagged it so we could find it. (one excellent video shooter who attended politely declined, actually, because he didn’t want to feel like he was working – which was totally fine.) my favorite images of the night were the least expected and were only available to us because we had so many people taking as many pictures as they wanted.

    as for the attention deficit question: i can barely remember anyone but my wife that day. there could have been bears dancing in the aisles and i would have just kept staring at her. 🙂

    • As I said in the article I toooootally expect that not all couples (or even MOST couples) would want to go this route, but I do want to clarify one thing: most of the people who I see expressing interest in it aren’t going for “quiet churchy affairs.” Specifically, I’ve heard from a couple Pagans who were very clear that they wanted their guests actively participating in the ritual of their wedding ceremony.

      My point here is just to discourage assuming that this is a “quiet chuchy” thing. Many churches have rules about camera use — it’s the folks getting married outside churches who have to establish their own rules.

  2. As a professional wedding photographer I’m no longer surprised, when reviewing photos, to see parents of the bride or groom in the background taking photos during the ceremony. How can they possibly be appreciating the moment?

    Unplugged wedding? Genius 🙂

    • And before the days of cameras and phones, people would pretend to read the program or stare out the window, or at the floor, or at their feet. If they chose to ‘not appreciate’ the moment, that’s their problem. We can’t go around being the police- besides who are we to assume that because someone is taking a photo they aren’t appreciating the moment? Something obviously inspired them to want to capture the moment in front of them.

  3. Isn’t there a problem with the font? My eyes hurt because of the oversize font starting from “talk to your photographer”. Am I the only one having this?

      • Oh man, I wish you’d said something yesterday! There was a header tag that wasn’t closed correctly, but most browsers (Firefox, Chrome, ie9) compensate for that. I didn’t realize ie8 was naughty in that particular way. Regardless, the issue has been fixed — next time you notice broken formatting, please let us know!

  4. I find this whole request really strange. We didn’t have any problems with ringing phones or people taking photos of people taking photos. A lot of our guests had really nice, professional cameras and we set up a flickr page for them. I’ve not seen a single terrible guest-taken photo on it. Our photographer even stepped aside and said “okay, you guys have 2 minutes to take photos and then they’re mine” and people abided by this rule just fine.

    Honestly, we were so busy chatting with every person at the wedding I didn’t even see ANYONE taking photos (and when I saw photos of myself everywhere from that day, friends and photographer both, I didn’t even realize they’d been taken).

  5. I was looking at a friend’s wedding photos the other day and there isn’t a single picture of their family of four looking at the same camera- one of them is always looking at grandpa!

  6. I had never even thought about this, but after reading the articles posted over the last couple of days we have decided to go unplugged as well. Thanks for the wording and signs!

  7. Ok, I give up. I’ve read both articles and the discussion on the tribe and I just can’t wrap my head around this.

    I’m not a huge fan of technology, I have never yet used my phone to go online and was very suprised that I managed to take 80 photos at a music festival, but my natural reaction to cameras at my wedding was the complete opposite of this idea.

    I put a note on our website reminding people to bring cameras and will have a page up for them to share photos afterwards, I’m even planning to bring my own camera just in case. All on top of hiring a pro.

    Honestly for me the benefits of having more photos overall and letting everyone get the shots they want far out weigh the negatives, especially since I’ve never seen anyone actually getting in the way at other weddings. I don’t doubt it happens but I feel safe with our guests.

    That said it’s an interesting idea and I’d like to hear how it works out for other people. Only thing is I definately agree that you need to share the pro photos with all your guests and let them know that in advance so they know they’re not being asked to miss out for the sake of your album.

  8. I love the idea of an unplugged wedding ceremony – and part of me wishes I could do it for the reception too but knowing my fiance’s family that’s not going to happen!

    I have a big thing about my privacy, to the point where I HATE people putting pictures of me on fb without asking, or tagging pics of me. Yes I am that anal 🙂

    What would annoy me most I think is seeing pics of my wedding all over fb for the world to see. I know some people don’t mind this but for me it’s a complete no no.

    • You can always put something about please refrain from photos during the cermony… photos are welcome at the reception, however if you are posting on facebook, the bride and groom kindly request that you do not tag them in the photos.

      Also, if you do get tagged, you can untag yourself and the person won’t be allowed to re-tag you in that photo again.

  9. I think the hard thing to remember in all of this is it is YOUR wedding. Those vows mean a lot to you. But to the majority of the people of the wedding (minus your very very close family) it really won’t mean a whole lot to them. Besides another wedding. Telling people what they can and can’t do in your wedding is a little offensive. You can’t MAKE people pay attention to you if they don’t want to.

    • Amen. THat is my point exactly. Most of the people attending your wedding, aren’t going to give much a crap about stuff. I mean honestly, can you remember vows from any weddings you’ve been to? I sure can’t. I remember things like, “oh that wedding was so non-fussy and we had a total blast!” or “oh yeah I remember that wedding, it stunk because it was ‘all about the bride’ and we were constantly reminded of it with all their rules. Gee we didn’t enjoy or have fun at that wedding”

      People aren’t going to remember all the little details so many brides seem to fuss over.

      I realize vows are important and special to the bride and groom and possibly parents and immediate family, but as the above poster stated, to the rest of the people there- they don’t mean much “it’s just another wedding.” Sure they might remember, “it was nice” or “it was sweet” or “wasn’t it cute when their kids got up and said something”? But they aren’t going to remember or be so enthralled in what’s going on…

      I am also curious, those who are commenting worrying that guests aren’t going to be focused on them, are you also not allowing children to the wedding?

      • If other people’s weddings are so boring and you “don’t give a crap about stuff”, why do you want so many pictures?

      • Why are you even on this site? I mean, seriously… do you understand why people commenting and sharing may care about weddings other than their own?

      • I remember every wedding I’ve been to and all the intricate details. There’s something about someone I love pouring their heart and soul into a day that makes me want to pay attention and appreciate it.

      • i only plan on inviting people who actually “give a crap” about what’s going on. why would I invite someone to such a personal event if they don’t care about us? I don’t go to weddings of people i don’t care about, when I attend one it’s because I have a close bond and intend to respect what they request of the guests.

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