Cell phones have become the modern-day equivalent to lighters. Sure, we could joke that they burst into flames (thanks, Samsung!), but we’re thinking more along the lines of concerts. The gag used to be that they were used only during rock music, but now you can see them at many shows, from the synthpop CHVRCHES to poppy Kesha to, yes, rock music. Look around you at the next show you go to: chances are someone will lift their phone to light up the room. They don’t have the same nostalgia as the tiny flames, but the effect is similar.
As much hubbub surrounds wedding ceremonies, they’re not quite the same as a concert, and that’s the problem. Cell phones during vows can be, for lack of a better word, a bummer. Think about it–your family and close friends are there. You’ve invited everyone you wanted there, you’re surrounded by people you love, you’ve been planning this once-in-a-lifetime (we hope!) experience for over a year, and you can’t wait to walk down the aisle to meet your partner, all your guests there to witness your love.
But they’re not present.
Instead, their phones are out, cameras and Instagram at the ready. Now, we know we’re guilty of using our phones a little too much at times, but during a ceremony like this, during something that’s absolutely lifechanging, well… that’s where unplugged weddings come in. Simply put, in case you haven’t heard of this trend, an unplugged wedding is when guests are asked to turn off–or at least refrain from using–their electronic devices during the ceremony. It doesn’t matter if you’re livetweeting, if you’re ready to snap that perfect photo, or if you’re trying to keep up on sports: the phones are down.
With social media being such a large part of our electronic landscape nowadays, guests can be excited to post and see real-time video and photos, to share the day with their loved ones, including those who can’t be present. Sure, the wedding party might grant an exception to this rule for, say, a Skype call for a loved one across the country, but with the growth of this type of ceremony, it seems that more and more people are trying to refocus. It’s not out of disrespect, not at all–from what we’ve seen, wedding parties usually feel downright blessed to have such loving and eager guests. The issue they often raise, though?
Guests can’t see. The bride and groom can’t see. The photographers can’t see.
Instead, from all points of view, we see guests raising their arms high in the air, cell phones clutched in their hand to try and tape the nuptials. The wife’s Uncle Bobby, all six-foot-five of him, is standing up right in front of friend Sharon’s daughter and blocking her view; the groom’s coworker Susan is in the aisle, almost trailing right behind the bride, keeping the photographer from their job. Some people even use the dreaded selfie stick! There’s nothing wrong with them as an item, but during a wedding? We’ve been fortunate enough to have not encountered them yet, but they can be a distraction. All of this can be. Instead of the bride and groom, instead of love and light, all the focus is drawn to the dreaded screen.
We’re not anti-technology. We’re not anti-social media (obviously!). The same almost always goes for brides and grooms who implement an unplugged wedding. That being said, unplugging has become the “it thing”–you can even buy personalized signs when you’re planning the ceremony! From straightforward “welcome to our unplugged wedding!” posters to the pithier “oh snap! This wedding is camera-free!” chalkboards, there’s a myriad of ways to announce your wishes. Sometimes these signs are combined with something to soften the blow, from notifications of when photos will be posted to requests for photos during the reception. One thing we particularly like ourselves is the use of a unique hashtag. It’s a neat way to collect every memory in one place, and encouraging the use of it during the reception while asking for the ceremony to remain unplugged is a wonderful compromise that helps guests feel like active participants.
Of course, signs aren’t the only way to do it. Program inserts are another great way, and sure to be seen while guests are wondering when dinner is–they’re also a fantastic reminder a year down the line when friends and family want to see more but might have forgotten your union’s hashtag. Officiants, too, can be a great way to let people know about the policy: a few words before the ceremony begins can go a long way. Even invitations may help invitees prepare.
Some guests might find an unplugged wedding a bit of a letdown. Like we said before, one major draw of a wedding is to take and share photos of an event designed around everlasting love. Unplugging isn’t the only option, of course, but in our age of social media obsession, they can be a welcome respite. Besides, if you just can’t wait to see the photos from your big day… there’s always our sneak peek posts! 😉
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