Smartphones at a wedding can be both a blessing and curse. On one hand, you’ll get a lot more pictures from different angles. On the other hand, do you really want to look out at your guests and see a sea of smart phones? For those that want their guests to get their noses out of the screens and simply be present at their wedding, “unplugged” weddings are on the upswing.
For one, having an unplugged wedding means fewer distractions for the guests. They’re enjoying the moment, listening to your vows and experiencing your big day with their eyes, not through a screen.
Secondly, an unplugged wedding makes the photographer’s job a whole lot easier. There are fewer people jockeying for a position at the end of the aisle to get the new husband and wife exiting the church, and there are fewer flashes that could potentially ruin the photographer’s shot. For some insight into how it can all go wrong, check out this photographer’s collection of horror stories on The Huffington Post.
Having an unplugged wedding also means Facebook, Twitter and Instagram won’t be plastered with photos of the bride before she’s walked down the aisle, and it allows the couple to have control over which pictures are made public, and when.
Some couples simply ask guests to turn their phones off or on silent. But others are asking guests to hand over their devices as a condition of entry. For parents who have hired a babysitter for the night, or for a doctor on call, this could be a deal-breaker. So, if you’re opting for the strict no-phones policy, make sure to state it clearly on the invitation.
There are some middle ground options worth considering. One rabbi, quoted in The New York Times, said that when the couple arrives at the pulpit, he tells guests they have a few minutes to take pictures. Then he asks everyone to silence their phones and keep them tucked away for the rest of the ceremony. Another wedding, also mentioned in the same article, created a coat-check for phones. Guests left them at a secure station and were allowed to visit periodically to check for messages.
A few tips for an unplugged wedding…
- Be clear beforehand. Make sure your invitation and your website states clearly that phones will not be allowed. Give guests the chance to make an informed decision about whether or not they can abide by that rule before they show up.
- Be clear at the door. Have a sign at the entrance, and designate a person to remind guests face-to-face. If you’re simply asking people to put their phones away, you need a bouncer, someone with authority, to make the request. Also consider having your officiant make an announcement before the ceremony begins.
- Be prepared for pushback, especially if you’re asking people to give up their devices. For most of the tech-obsessed, handing over their phones can be anxiety-provoking. Make sure the person collecting them is able to persuade the stressed and hold strong against the annoyed.
- Be flexible. If some of your guests are worried parents, for example, have them write their ring tone down for the phone minder. That way if it rings, the minder can come get them right away.