Google+ Expert Advice: The Unplugged Wedding - Southern Weddings

Southern Weddings

The idea of an “unplugged wedding” is not new (it even made it into the New York Times this year!), but we wanted to take a few minutes to offer our own two cents, Southern style :) Perhaps the most interesting thing about this trend is that it’s paralleled by an equally strong trend of “hashtag weddings” — celebrations where couples are explicitly encouraging guests to hop online and share photos. Gracious — talk about a tech conundrum!

Y’all know that digital devices are everywhere in our daily lives, which means that contemplating the role you want them to play on your wedding day is almost unavoidable. There’s no one right or wrong path to take — you just have to find the one that resonates with you and your fiance! For our money, though, the best solution seems to be a ceremony where guests are encouraged to put down their devices, and a reception where they’re encouraged to pick them up — within reason.

A wedding ceremony is a brief and intimate moment shared between people who have been brought together as witnesses to the beginning of your marriage. What a beautiful idea! We truly believe that a meaningful ceremony can change lives — but probably not if guests are too busy clicking away to hear or see what’s happening. What bride wants to be greeted with a sea of LCD screens instead of smiling faces as she walks down the aisle? Not this one, I can tell you that — I wanted our guests to watch, laugh, clap, and dab away tears — and really listen and remember — instead of click and post.

Landon Jacob via Southern Weddings

So, how can you make this happen? There are a number of strategies:

1. Give guests notice of your intentions on your wedding website. A simple note can go a long way! Try: We are honored to have you all as witnesses to our vows and the beginning of our marriage. We invite you to be truly present at our ceremony, and respectfully request that all cameras and phones be turned off. We look forward to sharing our professional photos after the big day!
2. Include a note in your program. Something similar to the above wording should work beautifully.
3. Get your officiant in on the plan. Ask him or her to make a brief announcement at the beginning of the ceremony. For whatever reason, when the request comes from the officiant, guests will often be more likely to respect the couple’s wishes. If you’re getting married in a house of worship that doesn’t allow photos, you have even more backing on your side!
4. Consider a limited photo opportunity. At my uncle’s wedding, the officiant gave guests one chance after the processional to take as many photos as they wanted — even encouraging them to get up and stand in the aisle to do so. Then, he asked everyone to turn their phones off for the rest of the ceremony. I thought it was a nice compromise!

Anna K via Southern Weddings and Pure 7 Studios via Southern Weddings

While the same reasons for wanting guests to put down their phone hold true for receptions, many couples also love the idea of seeing their celebration from their guests’ perspective, and the additional sense of community that online interactions can create. If you’d like to encourage your guests to share your reception, we think social media hashtags are a great way to organize postings. You can post one on your wedding website to get guests excited before the big day, but make sure to post it at the reception, too. It might even be a good idea to mention it in your ceremony program to make your wishes clear for the different parts of the day: We are honored to have you all as witnesses to our vows and the beginning of our marriage. We invite you to be truly present at our ceremony, and respectfully request that all cameras and phones be turned off. Please feel free to share photos at our reception, however, using hashtag #carolineandben!

The South is famous for its hospitality, graciousness, and sense of community. When social media enhances these things — and it can — that’s a beautiful thing! Hopefully these tips will help y’all do just that.

Are you having an “unplugged wedding”? Will you have a hashtag for your wedding? We’d love to know!

emily Written with love by Emily
  1. avatar Anna reply

    We got married at the end of may and we didn’t have to worry about an unplugged wedding because my itty bitty town has no cell service. But it was fun to see the posts as they happened over the next days as people returned to civilization. We followed along on our phones while we were on our honeymoon road trip.

  2. avatar Lisa reply

    I am a HUGE fan of the unplugged ceremony, and will definitely be doing it when I get married someday! I’m not against encouraging people to share pictures during the reception, but I definitely think the ceremony is a time for people to put their technology away and focus the incredible moment happening for the bride and groom!

  3. avatar Laura Bitler reply

    As always, a wonderful post!! I wish I had read this BEFORE our wedding because I love your ceremony wording. We did the hashtag (which you graciously participated in) and it was so much fun for us to search for that # later. We were able to see the wedding through the eyes of our guests and see photos of details we didn’t notice or moments we missed. Since it’ll take a while to get the professional photographs, this was an easy way to chorale a variety of wedding photos that our guests captured.

  4. avatar Kaitlin reply

    Emily, I love your perspective on this!! We definitely want a ceremony where everyone is present, so I love your wording example to put in the programs! We will have a hashtag and encourage friends/family to share photos at the reception but the ceremony will stay more intimate :)

  5. avatar Emily Alice reply

    I love the idea of having the ceremony be completely unplugged, then with an Insta/Twitter hashtag for the preparation, reception, etc. Not only do cell phones distract for the ceremony attendants themselves, but no one wants professional photos with iPhones in the air!

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    Great idea! I’m an avid instagrammer but your I Do’s are a special moment.

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  9. avatar DimityC reply

    I am sooooo glad I found this. I will definitely be having an unplugged wedding, and now i know how to do that with tact. I am quite a private person, and the thought of seeing a see of mobile phones pointed at me as i walk down the isle… well…. it makes me very annoyed to say the least. The last thing i want is for my special day to be all over facebook with unflattering lighting, filters and angles…… eeeeewww. I want it to be remembered as gorgeous and perfect, which i will leave in the capable hands of my photographer.

  10. avatar David Roddy reply

    We wanted to have a traditional, and unplugged wedding. We used Photo Etiquette Cards for my event, and they worked great! There are always different forms of Wedding Etiquette!

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