In the past 7 years of shooting weddings, I’ve seen a few near-disaster photography moments. Here are some questions you might not know about an unplugged wedding.
If you’re asking yourself, “should I have an unplugged ceremony?” the answer is YES. Here are two reasons why:
1. You want awesome wedding photos – not just good enough.
2. You want your guests to be emotionally present for your ceremony – the most meaningful & important part of the wedding day.
the best wedding photos possible:
I once heard someone say, “a good professional photographer should be able to work around guests with phones”. Sure, of course we can. But is that good enough? Do you want a photographer who 'did their very best... in mediocre circumstances'?
Of course not! You want them to cry, “it was magical – everyone was in the moment – it was the most touching ceremony I’ve ever seen!!”
Yes, it is possible to move around and re-compose an image, when there’s time and opportunity. I can creatively crop out guests and cameras, block them behind furniture, avoid the phone-lookers altogether, or throw them out of focus... But let’s be real; the photos won't be as wonderful as they could have been. Seeing a happy, teary-eyed best friend beaming at the bride, as she walks down the aisle, just isn’t the same when she's surrounded by phones and iPads.
Now, I do my fair share of diving and dashing in order to "get the shot" – it’s my job. But I don’t want to distract, block, or disturb anyone, as you stand up there and say your vows. I don’t want to run hither-and-tither through your guests, because an eager uncle has suddenly popped up in front of me, or someone’s phone randomly jabs into my line of view... I move as quietly as possible – often only when others are moving (i.e. guests going from sitting to standing). This is something that photo-enthusiast guests do not consider. Weddings are inherently intimate, no matter the size. So discretion and respect are also part of my job, and something that distinguishes a professional wedding photographer from an amateur.
Also, there are moments when there just isn’t time or space for extra maneuvers. The ceremony is the one part of the day you can’t do-over. If a guest unthinkingly moves into my field of view at the last second, then it’s possible to miss an important moment. Photographers are given rules by the officiant about where they’re allowed to go, and where not, and they obey as much as possible. But guests aren’t given this information. There might be a tight spot where it’s the only angle I can capture your facial expression, and in the background is a person holding up a huge camera (or just staring at their phone in their lap).
Noooo! Don't even picture it!
Breathe. It doesn't have to happen to you.
Being emotionally present for your wedding ceremony:
The second reason for an unplugged wedding is much more simple. You've invited a select group of people to witness your wedding ceremony. As much as we think we can multi-task, brains just aren’t wired that way. Let your people put down their devices, and be there with you. When you look out at the crowd, see their eyes shining up at you, and feel the love – the hope and excitement and possibility and romance, and the feeling of family and friends, and hearts overflowing. It’s only 30 minutes, but what a gift.
In the future, when your guests actually remember that moment, and they have beautiful, candid images of themselves (that the professional photographers captured) they will be happy and grateful, and so will you.