Inspired by fabulous London wedding photographer Jordanna Marston Photography
We began to unplug about 5 years ago, when the novelty of aunties having camera phones became a really big deal at weddings. Rather than seeing rows of happy faces, brides began to see rows of iphones (flash on) hiding faces as they walked down the aisle. Distracting, much? And those who thought about it in advance would make or hire little signs telling the aunties their wedding was Unplugged – and to kindly stop taking photos of all the best bits.
Not everyone minded; not everyone’s aunties could confidently operate their phone cameras; sometimes it wasn’t a big deal to have elderly ladies snapping away through the ceremony.
And then coronavirus came along. And lockdown. And human contact was banned. And we haven’t hugged our aunties or even our mums in weeks. The thing we’re all missing more than anything is human contact and hugs – and this makes unplugging at weddings a massive deal for 2021 couples.
Here are 10 essential things to consider when deciding whether to have an unplugged wedding
One photographer is plenty. When you’re paying to hire a pro, you’re not going to need extra pics from your family. I’ve heard about mums desperately wanting a photo of their daughters walking down the aisle, or the first kiss, “in case the photographer misses it”. Seriously, no need. The photographer won’t miss it!…
… unless the crucial moment comes, and mum leans out into the aisle with her phone to get a quick photo (it’s never quick; there’s fumbling, then “one more for good luck”) completely blocking the photographer’s view, and quite possibly standing right between you and your other half waiting at the other end of the aisle. When it comes to getting all the beautiful images you want, it’s easier for your photographer if they’re not in a scrum.
When we’re allowed to gather with our friends and family again, being together will be so special. We’ve all got a lot to catch up on, and that time to connect is precious. Human connection goes eye to eye, without a phone held up in front of auntie’s face to block your view of each other. An unplugged wedding means you can make genuine eye contact; your smiles won’t be forced. And we all need that connection, badly.
Do you want to share your ceremony with the world? Not all instagram accounts are private; if your guests are sharing pics early on you’ll end up with friends of friends of friends seeing your wedding before your evening guests, or before your gran who couldn’t make it to the ceremony but someone’s bringing her for half an hour later on. Sharing your day with your special people first is a nice reason to unplug.
How many guests – sorry – selfies are you having? I’ve yet to see the group selfie becoming a major part of every wedding photographer’s portfolio… but it’s the one photo all of your guests will want – sorry – need to get. On one hand it’s a lovely thing to hug and smile with all your besties; on the other hand I’ve heard of brides getting selfie fatigue on their wedding days.
All that said, we are pretty addicted to our phones, and asking everyone to hand them in at the door would be a bit much. Unplugging completely isn’t realistic as people will want to keep in touch with babysitters. And it’s about football matches and work calls, not just photos! If there’s a “big game” on, you’ve got trouble. Choose a location without wifi or 4g if it’s FA Cup final day 😉
Think about how long you’ll ask your guests to keep their phones off for. You could ask guests not to photograph the ceremony, or not to take photos of you at all. It’s up to you how far up the unplugged scale you go, but be clear (and nice about it) from the start so everyone knows the deal.
Entertainingly, it’s not our generation who are the main phone culprits these days – it’s our parents, aunties and grandparents. The novelty of uploading and sharing and getting a DM right back from all their facebook friends will NEVER wear off. So if you think you can unplug your wedding by having a quiet word with your mates, think again. They won’t be the ones glued to those captivating tiny screens, I bet you.
It’s wise to communicate your unpluggedness clearly – both on the day and before. Start with your invitations or wedding website, and make sure your parents know (because they have some sort of secret network when it comes to weddings, fielding questions from inquiring relatives about guest lists and dress codes and confetti). Getting news of your intriguingly ‘unplugged wedding’ on the parental grapevine is the best possible thing you can do!
Use clear signs on the day as well, and add a note to your order of service if you’re having one. The more times you mention that you’re having an unplugged ceremony or wedding, the better! You can hire pretty signs, make your own, and even announce that your wedding’s unplugged to arriving guests. Good places to put signs are by a wedding timeline sign, on the cards table, or a little distance away from the door of your ceremony. For unplugged receptions, a reminder could be given as part of the speeches (although once your guests 3 wines in all hope is lost…)
You’ll need to lay some brilliant entertainment on to stop your guests reverting to their phones. Garden games (races, things where everyone gets involved and everyone else can laugh at them) and photo booths are the obvious first choices. Photo walls with hilarious photos of you and them from years gone by are always awesome. Creative favours (like Soph & Jack’s personalised DVDs) that will keep everyone talking are absolutely next level genius. Magicians, interactive entertainment, roaming bands and caricaturists will keep everyone entertained, as will constant supplies of creative snacks and a steady supply of beer and fizz. Hungry thirsty people get bored faster!
Unplugged weddings used to be about politeness and keeping weddings under wraps; they were a response to our social media addiction. Now it’s about so much more! Weddings in 2021 will be so special: a chance to reconnect and to enjoy family and love and friendship the way we all used to.
I’m already done with only seeing my folks and friends on an iPhone screen, and I know we’re all desperate to escape from the virtual world! So having an unplugged wedding where no one is looking at their screen anymore sounds like a wonderful, magical thing to look forward to.