I stumbled across a video today that inspired me to write about "Unplugged Weddings" for anyone that may be a little lost on what this even means. An Unplugged Wedding is a wedding in which you request, or sometimes insist, that guests put away their cameras or smart phones for the wedding that they are attending, particularly the ceremony portion of the events. Now before you get in a huff and say, "I'm out of here! I'm not going to ask that of my guests!" hear me out.
Not every wedding photographer makes an unplugged wedding a necessary aspect on their contract, and there are many that will work with what they are given. I have met a few that said they openly refuse to photograph any weddings that aren't unplugged because they feel it will harm their final product, the picture. Now, I get what all of these photographers are saying, frankly because I've lived it.
The one thing I have experienced at unplugged weddings more than anything are distractions. When guests and family members have their cameras and phones in their hands, they are usually doing the same exact thing that your wedding photographer is: trying to get the best shot. This can result in cameras showing up in some of the most random pictures, whether it is front of the mother of the bride during the ceremony (true story), in the middle of the aisle while the doggie flower girl is running down (true story), or even in front of the groom while the bride is starting to walk down the aisle (not my true story but someone else's). These guests (or as many wedding photographers like to call them: Uncle Bobs) are so excited when they are celebrating the wedding day with you, that they become a little too engulfed in capturing the perfect shot that you've already paid someone to do.
I too am guilty of committing the sin of being an Uncle Bob at a close friend's wedding. I was good to not try and get in the photographer's way but I was taking pictures, in my seat, all through the ceremony, with my professional camera (that was probably loud and the bride and groom didn't have microphones). This was after the bride, one of my best friends, told me that she'd prefer to hire someone to take the photos so that I could enjoy the wedding and not work during it. I never truly appreciated what she was saying until I shot my first big solo wedding just a month later. Luckily my camera died 20 minutes after the ceremony so they were spared hundreds of horrible on camera flash photos, eek! I'm so sorry Kayla that I was a stubborn Uncle Bob and was probably in some of your wedding photos with a camera, where I shouldn't have been.
Additionally, you may have noticed I said that my camera died 20 minutes after the ceremony of my friend's wedding, and I did it for a reason. Non-Unplugged Weddings will affect you at every stage of your wedding. Often during family photos I hear: "Oh wait, can I get that same picture too!" Which, on the surface is perfectly fine, I'm not going to fight with a guest that wants the picture too; however, there's only so much time left after your ceremony to take family photos and photos of the newly married couple before the sun is gone, we need every second we can get to make sure we get all of the pictures you are wanting before the sunlight is gone.
Now that you've read all of this in preparation for your wedding, I hope you'll at least consider going "Unplugged" for your wedding by including a bit about it on your invitations and on programs or signs at the actual wedding. If you feel like that's asking too much of your guests though, you don't have to do it, just be prepared for a few photos that may have their cameras, smart phones, or iPads (true story) in them. If you're considering booking a wedding with me and want to see some of those true story example photos from some camera filled weddings, click on the Contact page in the menu above and send me a quick message.
You can view the Wedding video featured on Petapixel of the guest trying to photograph a wedding and getting a little "too" in the way here: How NOT to Photograph a Wedding as a Guest