Thoughts on an “Unplugged Wedding”

Earlier this afternoon, I saw this photo shared on Facebook from a few local Buffalo photographers. This request, from a bride and groom, was printed in their wedding program, and asked guests to “unplug”, be present, and share the special moment with them (as they were invited to do!)

Courtesy of Ryan Brenizer Photography on Facebook

Not long after, I saw this story on Twitter from Offbeat Bride about a Philly bride who is considering going the “unplugged” route for her ceremony. I can absolutely see the reasons for and against an “unplugged” wedding. Like the story mentions, the benefits are many:

  • The wedding photographer you’ve hired — you know, the one you’ve been stalking for years waiting to get engaged so you could book them — can do the job they were hired to do.
  • Your guests can be fully present with you, and can participate and witness the blissful union of you to the love of your life.
  • Your wedding photos will have more faces than electronic devices.
  • All of your guests will be able to see the ceremony, and not have to bobble their heads up, down, and around to get a good view.
  • You won’t be blinded by flashes walking down the aisle (processional and recessional)
  • You — the bride and groom — will be able to see all of the wonderful friends and family who came to celebrate with you!

Me as photographer

I feel the frustration as a photographer. It’s tough to balance being respectful to the Uncle Bobs of the world, while still being able to document and capture the day like you were hired to do. Once, a bride was making her way down the aisle and I turned around to see this HUGE camera in my face. Attached to it was that contraption that holds the flash in place (but off camera). I was like, “Whoa.” And then I didn’t have time to think about anything else because I had to figure out how to 1) escape the flash, and 2) find a new angle so that the mega camera wasn’t in the shot.

Me as bride

While looking at my own wedding photos, I did notice a lot of cameras (see below, my dad has TWO!) in many of the shots.

But looking back as a bride, I’m so glad I didn’t ban cameras from the ceremony. Because if I did, I never would have captured one of the most meaningful gifts I would ever receive. Brandon — who had been planning to sing this song to me as his vows for months — knew I didn’t care for a videographer.

He didn’t question me because he knew this is what I wanted. And if he tried to convince me otherwise, I would’ve raised an eyebrow and tried to figure out what he was up to. I hate surprises, in case you couldn’t tell.

So, to keep the surprise a surprise, only a few days before the wedding did he ask my dad to see if one of my uncles could bring a video camera to record the song. And for that I am grateful, because I was able to experience that moment again (and actually know what was happening). Thank you to my family members involved in shooting & editing the video.

So, where do you stand?

As a photographer, it all comes down to what the bride and groom want. Obviously. Maybe it means only asking guests to “unplug” during the ceremony. You have to take it on a case by case basis. Some events are meant to be photographed and shared up the wazoo, and others, like one of the most intimate days of your life, may not be. It’s hard to play bad cop in the digital age when everything has a camera on it, but with enough pre-communication, perhaps there can be a happy medium.

I guess it’s hard for me to say ABSOLUTELY NO CAMERAS because I come from a mega family of paparazzis (and I mean that with all my love)!

In my perfect world, the first pictures that I — and the Internet — would see from my wedding would be the professional photos from my professional photographer (even via blog). So, no sharing on Facebook, please.

Baby photo policy

Now this is making me think about what the photo policy will be when we finally decide to gift a grandchild to our parents — ABSOLUTELY NO PICTURES OF ME IN THE HOSPITAL ON FACEBOOK unless I approve. You heard it here first . . . don’t pretend like I didn’t tell you ;)

So what do you think about this topic? Should brides kindly ask for guests to “unplug” from the ceremony? Or do you think that more cameras = better?