The choice to ask guests (and expect them to abide) to keep their phones, cameras and iPads in their purses and pockets during the ceremony is fairly easy. The way I see it there are straightforward pros and cons:
PROS OF AN UNPLUGGED CEREMONY
- People are more present for your ceremony
- Nothing obstructs your photographer’s view for the shots you are paying for
- A tad less frightening, because you know your every move isn’t being recorded and subsequently shared with who in God’s name knows
CONS OF AN UNPLUGGED CEREMONY
- An unplugged ceremony is difficult to enforce, you almost have to scold guests into obliging your request
- You might not get to see any photos of your ceremony for quite some time, depending on the turnaround time of your photographer and what sneak peeks they send you
- Any guests who couldn’t attend won’t be able to watch your ceremony
Simple right? I mean, either you want people to really pay attention to your ceremony, or it doesn’t bother you.
Not so simple: enforcing an unplugged wedding ceremony. Here are a few ways that you can sternly encourage guests to hop on board the compliance train.
SIGNAGE AND STATIONERY
It all can start with your invitation and wedding website. The sooner you start dropping hints or alerting guests that your ceremony will be phone-free and sacred, the better. “Unplugged ceremony” is a great term to use. Don’t be surprised if you get some backlash from this initial announcement, and be prepared to make exceptions. Just make sure you talk everything over together before bending to the wishes of family members.
At your ceremony signage and stationery can also help reiterate your wishes, but don’t expect them to be enough. Listing something on the program, and placing a sign or two at the ceremony site entrance will help get your point across. Don’t go overboard though, you’ll start to get a bad rep as a bridezilla.
Asking your ushers to gently remind guests to ‘please silence your phone’ is a great idea. But the execution of this plan relies on a few factors. One. Your Ushers have little to no authority at your wedding, yes, they are donning boutonnieres, and yes, they have fancy paper to pass out, but no, they will not always be the outgoing and body-guard-like enforcers you’d hoped for. Ushers get spooked easily as well, so the first itme someone balks at their request may be the last time they give it.
I love this task. I love walking the entire ceremony space, gently putting my hand on the shoulder of whoever is closest to me, making direct eye contact and asking, ‘did everyone silence their phones and put them away? No vibrate does not count, try airplane mode’.
Usually because I have a smidgen of authority I’ll get asked questions like, ‘I was going to take photos, is that okay?’. Based on the conversation we’ve already had, I’ll either ask them to be mindful of the photographer and to stay out the aisle, or I will say, ‘Actually it is the expressed wishes of the couple that no pictures be taken aside from the photographer that they hired’. And then I move on to the next row leaving no room for argument.
If your officiant has spiritual authority or if your officiant looks like a both (like they are a judge, or they happen to be Amy) then people will listen. They have maximum authority, some might even be afraid that to disobey the request of a pastor or priest to refrain from cell phones and cameras would be blasphemous.
No better way to enforce an unplugged ceremony than to have your officiant announce, before the processional, ‘Ladies and Gentleman before we begin I want you all to take out your phones or other devices, press that power button, shut them off, put them away and be present for the ceremony that is about to take place. Thank you.’
Not fool proof (or should I say selfish-wedding-guest-only-looking-out-for-themselves proof) but with those tips I am hoping you’ll be able to enforce an unplugged wedding ceremony. You could also force guests to use a Yondr before entering the ceremony space, but perhaps this is only necessary if you’re a really famous person who doesn’t like publicity??
Prosperity, Love & Happiness,
Photo by Aqua Fox Photography of Kelly + Matt