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!