Considering an unplugged wedding?

You’re getting married! I'm sure you can hardly contain your excitement and you can only imagine how you stoked your friends and family are for you. In this super-connected world we live in, many folks feel an urgent pang to keep their social feeds updated but, of course, there is also a growing movement for social media users to safeguard privacy and be more intentional about when and how to share their news. During the pandemic era, it was super common to see cellphones and extra cameras out during wedding ceremonies because that was the best way to share the experience without creating a super spreader event. Now as we emerge from the Covid times, it's time to reflect on best practices and cellular device etiquette at your wedding.

The couple’s preferences are paramount when considering an unplugged ceremony. With the overwhelming number of social media platforms available today, perhaps you may want to have the first opportunity to share your announcement in your own special way. There are many reasons to have an unplugged ceremony–the top of the list seems to be encouraging your guests to be present and distraction-free while you and your partner formalize your commitment to each other. From my perspective as a photographer, if you invest in hiring a professional, you want to set them up for success. The pictures should show the smiling faces and teary eyes of your guests–not that little glowing rectangle blocking their expression. Perhaps this policy may even spark conversation and new friendships between your guests?

But it’s not just cell phones that impose distractions. There's also the intrepid camera ready aunt or uncle or your college friend who’s trying to develop their wedding photography portfolio. These well-intentioned folks likely will not have the skillset to get the shots without interfering with your chosen photographer. Avoid any awkwardness by letting those folks know that your pictures are being handled by a pro. 

Stephanie Diaz Eldredge wedding planner with Cape Cod Celebrations says that unplugged ceremonies are continuing to grow in popularity, “In our ever-connected world, guests can actually find it refreshing to be reminded to be present for the marriage moment instead of watching it via a handheld device.” 

Of course, not everyone thinks unplugged weddings are a great idea. There are comments from brides in wedding planning forums declaring the practice “obnoxious” and that since your guests are helping you make the event possible by making travel arrangements, bringing you gifts and giving you their personal time, they should have the freedom to take their own photos.


In my humble opinion, this is the couple’s call to make. There’s no blanket approach for every wedding but it's certainly worth considered that looking out at a giant sea of screens doesn't strike the right tone for the inspired romantic occasion you two have curated. Your guests should respect your wishes simply because it’s your special day and they want to be part of the experience.

Here are a few ways to convey your wishes to your guests in a polite way with a chalkboard or sign describing your requests.

Welcome to our unplugged wedding. We’ve hired a professional photographer to capture this special occasion so we ask that you kindly refrain from using your handheld devices. We want to see your smiling faces in our photos! 

We invite you to be fully present at our ceremony, and respectfully request that all cameras and phones be turned off. We look forward to sharing our professional photos with you after the big day.

Oh snap! Thank you for coming! We have just one plea, please help us keep our ceremony cell phone free. Our I-dos are unplugged, but our reception is not. Once we finish the first dance you’re free to take all the shots!

You can also ask your officiant to make an announcement about your unplugged policy and also remind folks to silence their devices.

Even if you are clear about your preferences, you should expect that some of your guests will defy you! If you feel strongly about unplugging, have a designated person to remind guests about your request. Take that 25-30 minutes to unplug and connect the old-fashioned way. Your photographer will thank you and you’ll see more lovely faces in your photos.