The Top 5 Reasons To Have An Unplugged Ceremony (And How To Explain The Concept To Your Guests)

Celebrity wedding planner David Connolly from Rich Bride, Poor Bride has joined Weddingbells as a guest blogger answering all of your burning wedding-related questions. Need some help with the planning process? Have a question about etiquette, organization or budgeting? Post your question in the comment field below and we’ll forward it directly to David.

Here is this week’s reader question:

Q: “I am getting married in 18 months and I would like to “ban” cameras from the wedding and reception. I do NOT want photos of my wedding posted on Facebook without my consent and to be honest, I am paying a very large sum of money to a professional photographer so it should be ME that gets to share photos of my wedding, not other people. We are happy to provide professional photos to anyone who wishes to have them for their own personal use. How should I deal with this situation?”
- Jen Gibson

A: Jen, congratulations to you and your fiance on your engagement.

Out of the billions of people in the world, you found each other and decided life would be better if you spent it as husband and wife. Out of the billions of people in the world, you will invite a trusted community of friends and family to become the ‘public’ legally required to witness you proclamation. Gather them with one common goal: to clearly remember the moment you proclaim to love one another forever. You see, forever lasts quite a while, so there is a possibility one of you might forget how you felt in that moment, for a moment, but fear not, someone from your carefully nurtured, chosen public will be able to remind you because they were fully present, in the moment.

I have a feeling Jen, you’re wondering, “What the heck does that have to do with ME and my private event that we PAID for?” Well, the crux of your issue is a fear of guests acting contrary to your wishes and without your consent. Can you identify those people on your guest list? If so, change your guest list. If not, change your perception. Imagine every single person in attendance is on your side. They believe in your union enough to prioritize their plans for that day in order to support you. They got their hair done, shelved their grudges, and blamed the cleaner for shrinking their ‘good suit’ that buttoned last summer just fine. “Be our guest” means “You are welcome to do as you wish, without condition.” The more love, respect and credit you give them, the more you are likely to receive.

Also, if it is potential social media activity that is causing you such anxiety, delete, click. Pretty simple. Too cold turkey? Do you spend more than the average 19 minutes per day on facebook? No worries, you have time to ease off it for a few months and still have a whole year before the wedding to allow the acts of sabotage and betrayal you mention to dissolve as concerns. Just think of the extra planning time you’ll gain! Perhaps over time, you’ll wonder what gave you reason to believe strangers cared enough about your candid pictures to form an opinion. And if they did, why you would care? Most importantly, cyber abstinence will allow you, without hint of hypocrisy to include a message in the program similar to, “As your full presence is our present, this ceremony will be ‘unplugged.’”

If you choose to remain ‘friends’ with the 500 million Facebook users worldwide who have uploaded over 4.1 billion photos to the site, then do so — for better or for worse. Meaning, with the exception of your unplugged ceremony, people may take as many pictures as they want. In the blink of an eye those images become memories of the people in them and you are going to want proof when you tell your kids about Aunt Charlotte’s reversible gold lame / leopard-print bolero jacket, Darlene’s dress that was too high, too low, too tight and OMG white, and Viv’s hat — so big she needed two ceremony chairs reserved. It’s your family’s legacy. Be flattered. Be grateful. And for heaven’s sake, do not turn anyone away from your ceremony if they have made an effort to be there.

Best of Luck,
Find me on Facebook at

Top 5 Reasons To Have An “Unplugged Ceremony”
1. Pro photographers’ pics are compromised by competing camera flashes and the domino effect of shooters trying to shoot around shooters.
2. Not being able to identify guests in the pro shots because their faces are obscured by phones and cameras.
3. The audible distraction of whirl, click, snap crackle pop as guests power up and down and occasionally push “ringtone” instead of “mute.”
4. Most agree that only well-honed professionals can experience what they are shooting fully through a lens. The rest of us detach ourselves from the present as we try to chronicle the past for use in the future.
5. This is a once in a life time event and you have not been invited as paparazzi. You have been invited to SHARE the ceremony with the COUPLE, not the world wide web.

There is never an appropriate time during a wedding ceremony to have anything in your hands but someone else’s or a hankie.
- David Connolly


  • Pingback: The “Unplugged Wedding” || Why and How? || Tips to Unplug your Wedding Claire Dam Photography

  • cuteshannon

    Welcome to 2013, where planning a wedding requires not just seating plans, and color schemes but also a social media strategy. If you have never considered the effect of social media at your wedding, photofiesta would like to offer you a few tips.

    First of all, everyone planning a large event, like a wedding, needs to come up with a social media strategy. It is important that your strategy assures that only high quality photography (instead of pics. from friends’ iphones) ends up on the internet.

    Many people hope that friend’s photos will help document the big day, but several problems do exist with this strategy. One of the biggest problems with asking guests to use their smartphones to help document your wedding is that these DIY pictures are often the most viewed… and the poorest quality. These images usually get far more views than the images that you have paid a professional photographer to take.

    Another consideration to be taken into account is the experience of your guests, at a typical wedding, guests spend a lot of time staring into their phones instead of interacting with each other. In fact, 7 out of 10 twitter followers admit to sending tweets during weddings! Ideally, you want your guests to experience the wedding, not document it, and certainly not to miss key moments while they update their facebook wall! Another problem is that flashes from amateur photography often ruin a great shot that your photographer was trying to take. Many photographers have become increasingly frustrated by these ruined shots and are forced to try to convince guests to turn off their devices themselves. Many couples find that when they get their pictures back from the photographer that special moments (like a first dance) have a background that is totally obscured by devices and the picture looks more like you are dancing in front of a paparazzi scrum than a crowd of well-wishers.

    In fact, more and more couples are opting for an “unplugged wedding” – where guests are asked to turn off or surrender their phones for the duration of the wedding.

    The problem with an unplugged wedding is that social media has become such a huge part of how we interact as a society and couples don’t want to cut that part of their life out of their wedding day. In addition, almost all weddings have at least one cherished friend or family member who was not able to attend. Social medial can allow that person to participate in the event as it happens rather than hearing about it later.

    The solution? Simple, have a social media strategy in place before the wedding. Simple software like photofiesta allows your professional photographer to showcase their images on an ipad in real time. This ipad can be carried with your photographer or set up in a beautiful kiosk. Guests can view and interact with the media and easily upload it to a variety of social media.

    There is usually a period of time between the ceremony and the reception, while the wedding party has additional photography done. This time is often particularly problematic for out of town guests who have nowhere to go. This is a great time for guests to be able to interact with a kiosk and upload professional shots from your ceremony, and the images taken immediately before and after the ceremony itself

    The best part of a photofiesta type kiosk is that if you do get a picture to trend or go viral it will be of professional quality. Ask any bride and she will tell you – the most viewed picture, better be a good one!

    This type of software also encourages guests to be more engaged in your wedding by encouraging groups to view the content and discuss the pictures together.

    Hopefully, on your wedding day, you can get all of the benefits of social media, and guests can keep their phones in their pockets – where they belong!

  • Pingback: Excuse me Miss, but your Pad is showing! « Diaz Digital Discoveries

  • Pingback: handyname newcastle

  • Pingback: Web Designers

  • Pingback: The Top 5 Reasons To Have An Unplugged Ceremony (And How To Explain The Concept To Your Guests) | AISLE FILE

  • ADL

    Oh Jen you may regret that decision. We checked thru many many photographers before we chose the one we used. Looked at his worked, spoke to people we knew who used him, everything was great, until that day. It was awful, unprofessional, he missed so many of the requested shots. They had us try some shots without my glasses of which we said only a couple as I get severe headaches without them on, his assistant walked away with my glasses & after a couple minutes I almost collapsed. Thus wasting 1/2 of our photograph time. Then when we got the photos back many many many months later they were AWFUL!!!!!!!!!!! We were SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO thankful that our guests had taken a lot of shots & we have used them for the most part for our album. As far as I remember only 1 person posted pics on FB & they were listed as friends only. Just a thought, I am not the only person I know that this has happened to, with something going horribly wrong with the photographer.

  • David Connolly

    Hi Jen, Only TWO? You are in a very lucky minority if there are only two guests on your list you wish weren’t. But they are. So the question is: How can you curb their image recording habits and direct their lenses away from you when they get snap-happy? Simple: Sincerely solicit their help. “It’s Sunshine that melts the Ice.”

    For the ceremony, appoint them exclusive ‘unplugged’ ambassadors, explaining that you believe they are the most capable of serving the delicate reminder, gently and with tact to fellow guests. For the Reception, explain that the Professional Photographer is focussed on you (literally), which means he can’t chronicle your parents and immediate family as they react to the big moments: first dance, cake cutting, speeches etc. which are shots you would love to have. Lastly, explain that since their wedding party partners will be busy, these tasks may prevent them from feeling out of the loop’ and be of a HUGE help to you. Which it would. Set this up well in advance and you’ll need to find another excuse for that grey hair. Sunshine Jen! Be the Sunshine!

    Marsha, Excellent reminder that guests can assemble ‘clique’ shots. Photo stations manned by an amateur photographer friend are great for capturing groups old and new, (and for keeping the amateur photog busy, out of the pros way) Include a schedule in the program: 9:10 “All Cousins, Both Sides” 9:20 “Jr Regional Mixed Baton Twirling Non-Placing, Participant Ribbon Recipients of 1997-2000″ 9:40 “Twitterville Community College Fighting Artichoke Pep Band Roadies” etc.

    Thanks Jen and Martha for taking the time to comment. All are welcome to do so as blogs are meant to be INTERACTIVE – that’s what makes it a SOCIAL media! (and no, I am NOT bitter about our squad losing 4 years in a row. Or being the reason they had to change the name of their competition from “Twirl Girl!” to “Twirl World Inc.”) Follow me on Twirler, I mean Twitter: @DavidConnollyTO

  • Jen

    David, thanks so much for your feedback. Sadly it is only one or two guests that are the problem, they post every photo under the sun on Facebook and I feel our wedding is our business, I do not care if they post photos of each other. I really dont want them at my wedding to begin with but they are the partners of the men in the wedding party and I’m stuck with them (this causes me untold stress and is turning me grey). The reasons you listed for having an unplugged ceremony are exactly why I don’t want cameras there at all. Perhaps I will let them know that photos are not allowed in the chapel and be done with it.

  • Marsha Bagwell

    Great advice David.
    A bride has too many things to worry about on her special day. She should not try and be a control freak with her guests! What do you think of supplying cameras at the table for people to take candid shots or more group shots at the table? I have found some of those helpful in case the photographer doesn’t get everyone at the reception. Also, usually people that know each other take pictures together (high school friends, college friends. co-workers). The photographer does not know how to group those people since he/she doesn’t know them. I have been sent photos of several groups I took photos with in my thank you note from the bride. It was great to have a shot like that with people you cherish and on a special day AND lookin’ good at the same time!
    Great Blog!!


You can unsubscribe at any time.