If you haven’t heard of the concept of an unplugged wedding, it’s something that you need to know about right now. Being unplugged means taking away all electronic devices. This includes phones, tablets, cameras, and anything else that you can think of. Ideally, in an unplugged wedding ceremony, you should be the only person with a camera.
This is becoming more and more necessary because of the way that smartphones in particular are ruining weddings. Here’s why you should tell your clients that an unplugged ceremony is the only way to go.
When you are shooting at a wedding, a lot of the guests will feel tempted to get out their phones and cameras and take a few shots, too. The problem is that a lot of them don’t really know how to do it on a professional level like you do, and it won’t occur to them for the most part that there could even be a problem. When they use a flash to take a shot at the same time as you, you could end up with a blown-out highlight on your image, or the wrong exposure altogether. Combine this with a big white dress and it’s a disaster waiting to happen. There’s nothing you can do to stop this from happening if they insist on taking pictures. Even if you get the exposure right by some miracle, their flash could throw large and ugly shadows on the walls behind the bride and groom.
Guests at a wedding can also get in the way by blocking your view to the bride and groom. If you have not experienced this yet, you are likely to at some point! Some venues, particularly churches, might request that you stay outside, so you only have a limited scope to work with. When someone steps out into the aisle to take a picture or record a video, you might only be capturing their back for the rest of the ceremony. Guests never think about walking into the aisle during the ceremony except for this reason. Even if they don’t actually stand up, they may hold their phone out to the side, which leaves you with a square of light in the way for the whole ceremony.
Children sometimes want to take shots on their phones, and, unbelievably, parents can get involved too. It sounds like the stuff of fiction, but more than one professional photographer has experienced the ridiculousness of a parent telling them off for getting in their child’s way. Not only is a wedding no time to have this kind of argument, but it’s also your job to take photographs, not the child’s. You don’t need the hassle of getting pushed around as you try to capture the most special day of your clients’ lives. Banning cameras and phones from the ceremony will stop this from happening.
While we have talked about the ceremony so far, problems can come up at the reception too. Particularly in moments like the first dance, you can end up with photobombs by people who mean well. They want to get up close to the bride and groom to be sure that they have a great shot. All this means is that they end up appearing in all of your photos, too. Not only might you end up with heads and faces in the way, but also elbows and phone screens. This is a real pain because once the dance is over, it’s over – you can’t go back and reshoot. There are lots of poignant looks and moments during this dance that you could miss forever thanks to a photobomb. The worst part is that you know the guest won’t have photos that are as good as yours would have been – and they may never even send them on to the bridge and groom.
Even when guests stay to the side and shoot at different times to you, they can still be a real pain. A lot of handheld cameras will have focusing lights, which may be red, white, or green. If the guest is focusing when you push the trigger, you can end up with these lights shining on the faces or the clothes of the bride and groom. This will leave distortion behind and will affect your shot hugely. You may be able to fix it in post-production, but this is a big time waste for an issue that simply should not crop up in the first place.
In the Moment
The other issue with everyone using their phones and cameras is that they simply aren’t present in the moment. There is nothing more awkward than having a first kiss be met with a small smattering of applause because almost everyone is trying to hold their phone with both hands to get a good shot. It’s also pretty rude for guests to use their phones during the ceremony. Rather than trying to watch everything through a screen, it will be so much better for everyone to focus on what is really going on in front of them.
How to Make it Happen?
So, you’ve convinced your clients that they should have an unplugged ceremony. The final piece of the puzzle is figuring out how to enforce it. Make sure that messages are sent out as often as possible so that they really sink home. The invitations should include the detail that the ceremony will be unplugged, so that guests are aware ahead of time. On the day of the ceremony, signage at the venue should indicate that phones and cameras are to be turned off. Make sure that those tablet users don’t slip through the net, either! Finally, the officiant should take a moment to remind everyone that electronic devices are not permitted to be used during the ceremony before it starts. At least that way, everyone will have had as many chances as possible to understand the information.
Having an unplugged ceremony is the best way forward for everyone involved – even if you get a few grumbles, it’s more than worth it.