How to Have an Unplugged Wedding


You probably read about the unplugged wedding phenomenon — where guest cameras and camera phones are (politely) banned — sometime in 2013. Professional photographers complained that “guest photographers” were ruining their images, and couples noted that guests weren’t fully present because they were so busy trying to capture the wedding for social media. In response to all the picture-taking and over-sharing, many couples said, “To heck with tech!” and asked guests to power down before the “I dos.”

We know that asking your guests to turn off their phones is difficult. People are very attached to their devices and you don’t want to alienate anyone at your wedding. But if you’re delicate and respectful, explaining why it’s important to you that your wedding remain device-free, we’re certain your guests will support you.

If a low-tech wedding sounds right for you, here’s our best advice on how to make it happen:

Talk to your photographer.

We know that you want to see the faces of your friends and family members when you’re walking down the aisle, not the backs of their smartphones. But remember that guests take photos at weddings because they want to share and remember the joy of the day. Talk to your photographer about getting access to a few photos right after the wedding that you can share with your guests, that way they can relive the celebration on social media but still be present on the day of the event.

Decide how unplugged you want your wedding to be.

Perhaps you’d like to have the full attention of your guests during your wedding ceremony, but you wouldn’t mind having them snapping and sharing during the reception. Or, maybe you’d rather have guests be fully present for the whole wedding and refrain from posting photos to social media for the duration of your event. Whatever direction you decide to go, be sure you’re clear on exactly how unplugged you’d like your wedding to be before making any requests of your guests. (Note that parents who’ve left little ones with babysitters will definitely need to have access to their phones at some point in the night).

Inform your guests.

Now the hard part: You have to let your guests know that you’ve decided to go unplugged. Below are a few suggestions for how to politely make the request.

  • Post a sign at the entrance to your venue asking guests to turn off their devices for the duration of the ceremony (or the whole wedding, if you so choose). Offbeat Bride has some great printable templates that you can use.

  • Make a note of your wedding’s unplugged status in your program. You can go into a bit more detail in your program about why it’s important to you to have guests be fully present at your celebration.

  • Note that you’re having an unplugged wedding on your wedding website. As above, you can explain in more detail why this is important to you.

  • Ask your officiant to remind guests to turn off their cameras and phones before your ceremony begins. Your officiant’s announcement could be anything from a heartfelt plea to a funny reminder.unplugged wedding sign

Appoint an enforcer.

OK, calling a member of your wedding party the “enforcer” might be a little extreme, but you do need to ask a specific person to take the lead on reminding guests to power down. Be sure your point person feels comfortable doing the job and won’t shy away from reminding guests of your wishes.

Encourage guests to participate in your wedding.

In your program or on your website, you can get guests excited about any entertainers you’re featuring at your wedding, or any activities — think lawn games or a photo booth — that you’ve included in the day’s events. Encourage them to get wrapped up in the energy of the day and be sure to let them know you’ll be sharing lots of fun images with them in the days following your nuptials.

A special note for the bridal party: If your bridesmaids and groomsmen are snapping photos of you getting ready, remind them not to post any pictures to social media before the wedding. The last thing you need is an accidental “first look” before you say “I do”!

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