The Ranty Bride Takes on Unplugged Weddings

After reading this article on technology-free weddings, I was surprised at some of the backlash. (Though, I probably shouldn't be, as every decision surrounding a wedding from napkin color to program protocol seems to be divisive.) We went no phones, no cameras at our wedding ceremony, and it was one of the best decisions we made that day.

After reading this article on technology-free weddings, I was surprised at some of the backlash. (Though, I probably shouldn't be, as every decision surrounding a wedding from napkin color to program protocol seems to be divisive.) We went no phones, no cameras at our wedding ceremony, and it was one of the best decisions we made that day.

The Ranty Bride Takes on Unplugged Weddings
Image Courtesy of: Ben J. Haisch

I've been to many, many weddings over the years, but one big change I've noticed is the skyrocketing number and intrusiveness of guests-with-cameras-and-phones during the wedding ceremony.

There was the wedding where we couldn't hear the vows because of the guests who couldn't be bothered to turn off the camera-y sounds on their digital devices (IT'S A SETTING, PEOPLE). At another wedding, the photographer had to keep dodging guests who climbed out into the aisle to take pictures – INCLUDING when the couple was walking their way back DOWN THE AISLE. There were all the times I could barely see because of people standing on tiptoes, holding cameras above their heads to get whatever shot they think they're getting.

Then, when you view the couple's professional photos of their wedding ceremony, you see the lovely couple…and 100 guests with cameras and cell phones blazing. In. Every. Shot.

If you're extra lucky and pop on Facebook in between the wedding and the reception, you'll also likely see all sorts of unflattering, half blurry shots of the bride and groom – many of which were posted DURING the actual ceremony.

Here's why this bothers me:

a) These pictures rarely look great, if they even come out. You are not a professional photographer – in fact, the hordes of guests-with-cameras-and-phones are likely negatively impacting the actual professional(s) that the couple hired. IF the couple wants you to take pictures for them, they will ask.

b) Another thing you're not? An on-the-scenes reporter. Sure, there are probably a handful of people who will cherish those photos they take forever and ever. The other 97 percent just want to be the first to post something on social media. If anyone should get the honor of the first social pics, it should be the bride and groom.

c) If you're taking picture after picture, you're not paying attention to the wedding and the meaning of the ceremony. You're. Not. I don't care how good you think you are at multitasking. The bride and groom invited you to share the moment with them. Again, if they want you there to document it, they'll let you know.

After all the weddings I've been to where the cameras and phones have been non-stop and over the top, there was no way I wanted that at our wedding. Even if we were so caught up in the moment that we wouldn't have noticed the onslaught of amateur photographers, it would be distracting to the people who actually wanted to pay attention. Our ceremony was a whopping fourteen minutes long, with 100 people in a very small church. If even 50% of those people had cameras and phones out during the ceremony, it would have been completely overwhelming. 

The article recommends taking all phones away for the duration of the ceremony and reception. We didn't go quite that far, but we did have a no-cell-phones-or-cameras note in the ceremony program, and our officiant announced it at the beginning of the ceremony. He hates photography in church, period – the pros had to shoot from the halls and vestibule – so he preferred it that way for all couples unless they absolutely insist otherwise. Having him make the announcement was no problem, and was probably the best way to reinforce that no means NO.

Did people complain? Yes, the same people who threw fits whenever we made any decision they didn't like. (You can guess who based on my previous posts, it rhymes with "other-fin-maw".) But, we paid for the rights to own our final professional photos, so everyone could download copies of the ones we posted after the fact, negating the 'BUT I WON'T HAVE ANY PIIIIIIIIIICCCCTURES" objection. And, considering how many cameras were shoved in our faces during the reception – including one cell phone video of us eating and looking irate, which had to be lovely – I can't imagine those same guests would have maintained any sense of decorum during the ceremony. 

Should it be common sense that, at certain important events, guests should pay attention and leave their digital distractions alone? Yes. Did I trust my guests that much? Most of them, but I also knew that the few likely offenders would also be the most obnoxious and obtrusive. 

If you're at all on the fence, go no camera, no phones. You won't regret it, and your guests will survive to pick a fight about some other detail of your wedding.