unplugged wedding
30 August 2017

The Unplugged Wedding: Should you consider banning camera phones from your wedding?

Unplugged weddings… At some point, this all boils down to a simple question that you need to consider: What do you want your wedding photographs to look like?

Do you want your photographs to show you walking down the aisle, your guests clapping and crying, laughing and cheering? Or do you want them to take photographs on their phones that you can have a look at (giving you even more photographs to enjoy your day through) – but have the emotional value of your wedding photographs slightly impaired? Furthermore, have you considered that the camera phones, ipads and digital cameras they will stick up, over and out of their seats during the ceremony will get in the way of your shots – and may be a great hindrance to how your professional pictures turn out?

[[ I’d like to take this moment to reiterate that every photo I have featured in this blog post is absolutely stunning and the couple are absolutely breathtaking – camera phones or not. This is simply a debate as to your preference – would you prefer that the cameras and mobile phones weren’t there or not? ]]

unplugged weddings

What is an unplugged wedding?

An unplugged wedding is one in which the wedding couple ban mobile phones, digital cameras, ipads, and any other form of electronic device except for the photographer and her (or his) professional equipment. This is done for two reasons: to stop guests from being distracted. If guests are looking at their phones/cameras, then they are not being truly engrossed in the beautiful moments of the ceremony – and therefore they won’t appreciate it as much and the emotions will not be shown on their faces for the professional photographer to capture. The second reason is that guests are not used to photographing around a photographer, and more often than not they put their phone/camera/tablet into the middle of the aisle, above the row of heads or even step out of their seats to take their own mobile photos – which may look alright, but will block the photographer or seriously degrade a shot by having a device shoved in front of it.

Unplugged weddings - ban camera phones at wedding - the barnyard wedding photography

The unfortunate fact is that, although having phones to take more photos may seem like a great idea, they often get right in the way and spoil the shot – just like this example above. It’s a stunning shot of the bride and groom, and I love their wedding and this photo – but what if the lady with the phone was throwing confetti or clapping instead? What if she was engrossed in the moment and sharing in their joy instead of taking the photo? Would you prefer it, or do you think it’s worth it for the extra photos?

It is often a subject of debate amongst brides and grooms. The topic of “guest photographers” has come up recurrently in the wedding groups that I am an active participant in, and someone asked  “what’s the big deal? who doesn’t want more photos of the big day? the more the better, right?”  While some couples may encourage their guests to snap as many photos as possible to remember their day – some prefer to sacrifice quantity for quality: allowing the professional photographer to get the best pictures possible. Some couples ask friends and family to sign up for apps that make it easier to compile everybody’s photos in one place, and creating wedding hashtags. There are strong arguments on both sides – there is something amazing about seeing your wedding day from 15 other people’s points of view, but again we have to revisit the fact that “guest photographers” can compromise your professional photographs.

It’s also a great discussion amongst the photographic community – one that can cause a great divide. Many photographers are outwardly irritated by the number of guest photographers who get in their way, shoot over their shoulder and generally make our jobs a lot harder to do. But some also bring up the perfectly valid point, “why wouldn’t we want guests to capture more photographs for our clients?” And it’s a wonderfully valid question. I, personally, don’t have any problem with guests taking pictures and sharing them with the couple. It’s reassuring to know that if there are any moments missed by me (I am only one person, I can’t be everywhere at once in a large venue), another person may have captured the photo! And I can entirely understand that taking photos is addictive. It’s my career, after all… I love it! We can’t stop.

why have an unplugged weddings - ban camera mobile phones at wedding ceremony

Want to play a game? Count how many mobile phones/cameras you can see in this photo I took last week! I counted 6 in this shot, but I could be wrong!

Many couples opt to simply keep the ceremony phone-free and let the devices come out to play once the nuptials are finished – and that’s perfectly fine too! It’s honestly the ceremony that can be the most affected by phones in the shot! I personally think this is the best choice. Just asking the guests (or having your celebrant/officiant to ask them before the ceremony starts) to put the phones away for half an hour while the ceremony takes place is enough to ensure that the main part of your day is professionally captured to the highest quality. There isn’t much of a need to ban cameras from the rest of your wedding – although phones will be a debate, as many of the younger generation love to stand around in a gaggle or group saying absolutely nothing to each other and just scrolling through Facebook – that can kind of put a downer on the party! But that’s up to the wedding couple.

wedding exit with confetti photography

The guests decided to line up and throw confetti over this couple as they exited their ceremony! Not a phone in sight, and the expressions on the guests faces show how happy they are to see their friends getting married!

If you do choose unplugged weddings (and I would seriously recommend it, the quality is so much better and the focus will be on the two of you) then I would recommend getting a beautiful wedding sign for your guests to read and know that they should put their phones away. Here are a few examples that I think are pretty amazing myself:

unplugged wedding photographer kentunplugged wedding sign photographer

So what do you want? The extra photos from your guests or the better quality professional photographs of your ceremony? Comment with your choice: Unplugged or Plugged!

barnyard wedding photography kent phone mobile camera ruin wedding photos unplugged wedding



If you liked this wedding and want to see more, why not visit my recent posts? Or to inquire about my availability for your own wedding?Or to find out more about unplugged weddings?