Unplugged Wedding Ceremony – Yay or Nay?

Unplugged wedding ceremony Sign

The ceremony -one of the most emotional moments in your life as you pledge your commitment to your beloved before your closest family and friends. As you look out to the gathering of your nearest and dearest, you’re overcome…by a sea of iPhones, iPads and digital cameras. No one is paying attention as they’re all focused on ‘getting the shot’.  You turn to your partner, about to kiss for the first time as Mr. and Mrs…and you spy your photographer (whom you’ve paid an arm and a leg for), being elbowed out of the way by your Uncle Bob with his $500 camera.

Uncle bobs

How many cameras do you see? Captured from a video by Jonathan Yonkers


Thanks Uncle Bob, for getting in the shot – that’s going to take a while to Photoshop you out. Photo by Comfort Studio

Thanks to social media and everyone being ‘plugged in’ at every waking moment, weddings are experiencing an epidemic of Uncle Bobitis (from the term “Uncle Bob”, a guest at a wedding with a decent camera who believes he is, in fact, the wedding photographer). It seems like everyone is paying attention to their camera and not to what is actually happening – which is just two people pledging their lives to each other for ever more.

More and more couples are heading Uncle Bobitis off at the pass with ‘unplugged ceremonies’, where guests are gently requested to put their recording devices away, thus letting the professional photographer do their job properly and allowing everyone to be fully present for the monumental life passage happening before them.

There are a few ways to gently ask guests to be nice and put away the device:

a) have a sign posted at the entrance of the ceremony site

Unplugged sign
via Small and Chic Home

Unplugged ceremony sign

via Justin Marantz


b) include a request in the program.

This is one a bride, herself a photographer, created as an Unplugged Wedding Manifesto, which she included in the invitation as well as at the wedding (photo above):

An Unplugged Wedding:

We want you to be able to really enjoy our wedding day, feeling truly present and in the moment with us. We’ve hired amazing wedding photographers and videographers who will be capturing the way the wedding LOOKS and we’re inviting you to sit back, relax, and just enjoy the way the wedding FEELS. We respectfully ask that everyone leave all cameras and cell phones turned off. Of course we will be happy to share our wedding photos and video with you.

c) have the officiant make the request once everyone is seated, just before the procession starts. An example would be:

Dear Friends,

Bob and Sally are deeply touched that all of you have joined them today to bear witness as they embark on the most magical of journeys, that of marriage. They respectfully request that you please be fully present during their ceremony by turning off all recording devices at this time. Sally and Bob have hired a fantastic photographer and will be happily sharing all the great photos with you to have your own keepsakes. So now, please sit back, relax and welcome Bob and Sally as they begin their life as husband and wife.

There is a great blog post over at Offbeat Bride about unplugged weddings, with some interesting perspectives from brides weighing in on the subject.

Personally, as a wedding planner, I welcome the unplugged movement as I’ve seen too many weddings with clueless ‘Uncle Bobs’ getting in the way. Just the other day, we had an Uncle Bob who had squeezed himself in between the groom and infinity pool during the ceremony. People were focused on him, waiting to see if he was going to fall into the pool or not. The professional photographer had to finally ask him to move as he was ruining the shot.

More often than not, the professional photographer is dealing with guests filming behind the couple, shooting from the middle of the aisle, getting in the way and in the shot. It’s frustrating for them and heartbreaking for the couple when they get their photos back and half of them have somebody’s iPhone in the foreground. There is only so much Photoshopping a photographer can do, afterall.

Unplugged ceremony - Weddingbells.ca
Photo via Weddingbells.ca

So, dear Lazy Brides, what are your thoughts on the whole unplugged ceremony idea? Too bossy or a much-needed concept in this hyper-connected era?

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