Should I Have An Unplugged Wedding?

Ooh, this is a bit of a hot potato at the moment, and there are numerous debates raging across the internet as I type this. Should you allow your guests to photograph your ceremony with their phones and iPads, or should they be focusing on being in the moment and sharing your special day?

Let’s face it, everyone has a smartphone or tablet these days, and the wonderful thing about these devices is that it allows people to indulge in and enjoy photography on a scale not witnessed before. There’s no need to plug your phone into your computer to download the photos; simply share them across your favourite social network with all your friends and family. I love my smartphone too, as it means that when I’m out and about I can leave all my cumbersome DSLR equipment at home and wander about snapping to my heart’s content.

As you can see from the links above, there’s a growing trend for couples requesting that their weddings are unplugged. So what exactly is an unplugged wedding? It’s where guests switch off and put away their phones / tablets, and enjoy the ceremony without viewing it via a small screen.

To be honest, I’m slightly torn on the subject. It’s not my job to tell couples that all their guests should put their devices away and be present in the moment, but there are a few things you should be aware of if your guests are allowed to take photographs:

Weddings are all about emotions

It’s difficult to truly appreciate the love and joy of a ceremony when you’re ensconced behind a screen and trying to take a photograph (leave that to me, I’ve got you covered). Heck, there are even times when I put the camera down to take in the moment (don’t worry, I make sure all the important photographs are captured first, but it’s definitely nice to share in the emotion of the day from time to time and to remember exactly why we’re all there).

Smartphone photos will be the first wedding photos you’ll see

As good as smartphones and tablet cameras are, they’re definitely not designed (or capable) of taking sharp, well exposed photos in a dark church. Do you really want the first photographs of your wedding to be dark, blurred and underexposed, especially when they’re being shared to thousands of people on social media?

Your professional wedding photos may be compromised

Picture the scene: you’ve been pronounced husband and wife, and you’re gleefully walking back down the aisle smiling at all your family and friends. I’m standing at the back of the church capturing these emotions as you walk towards me, and from out of nowhere Uncle Simon lurches out into the aisle with his phone and completely blocks my view. I like to think I’m a very good photographer and the equipment I use is state of the art, but even I or my gear is unable to see through people. What should be one of the most joyous photographs of the day has now been ruined, although I will have a super-sharp, beautifully exposed photo of the back of Uncle Simon’s head.


It’s a difficult one, I’ll have to admit. As you can see from the photographs in this post, some great moments can be captured of people photographing your wedding on their phones. It’s a free world and it’s certainly not up to me to tell you whether you should or shouldn’t contemplate having an unplugged wedding. Just be aware of the caveats above, and that your overriding memory of the day might be the back of Uncle Simon’s head!

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