So there you are at the altar, gazing into the eyes of your beloved, saying your vows. You turn to sneak a glance at your wedding guests, all your favorite beloved friends and family and are greeted by a sea of down-turned faces staring at their LCD screens.
When your photos come back from your wedding photographer, all your guest shots include your favorite people staring at their favorite devices. People are smiling, but they’re all staring at little screens.
Welcome to the era of the over-documented wedding, where, even if you’ve hired a professional to take your photos, every guest has a camera in their iPhone and is tweeting and facebooking the entire event. They’re there with you, but are they really present?
Be nice, turn off your device!
In this digital age, it is so difficult to shy away from a screen for a few moments, but I think it’s critical to be truly present. Smell the air, look around, feel the texture of the world around us. A wedding ceremony is exactly the kind of fleeting, important moment when it’s especially valuable to really be present, rather than relating to the world through a small screen.
When you discourage devices at your wedding, you encourage your guests to look up and drink in the world. Let’s call it “in-the-moment matrimony.”
While many churches have no camera policies, I’m hearing more and more from nontraditional secular couples that they’re considering an unplugged wedding — at the very least, asking guests to turn off their devices during the ceremony.
Now, let’s acknowledge that a fully plugged-in, hyper-documented wedding makes perfect sense for some couples. Micro-budget brides sometimes skip professional photography, opting to rely on guest photographs — so of course guest cameras make perfect sense in that context. If you’re hyper digital literate and announced your engagement via Facebook, had an iPad-wielding officiant, read your vows off an iPhone, and live-streamed your ceremony, then there’s no reason you should unplug your wedding.
If, however, you and your partner are looking for a few less beeps and a bit more face-to-face connection with your guests, an unplugged wedding could be a good fit for you.
So how to tell your guests to stuff the phones :-)?
“Please let our professional photographers be the only PAPARAZZI during our ceremony . . .
Our amazing team of professional photographers will capture every aspect of our ceremony. We invite you to sit back, relax, and enjoy the moment with us. We respectfully ask that you leave your cell phones and cameras locked away. We will happily share all of our images with you afterward!!”
“We want you to be able to really enjoy our wedding day, and feel truly present and in the moment with us. We’ve hired an amazing wedding photographer who will capture every aspect of the way the wedding looks – and we invite each of you to sit back, relax, and just enjoy how the wedding feels. We respectfully ask that everyone leave all cameras and cell phones off and pocketed during the wedding ceremony and the ‘ceremonial part’ of the reception, including the first dance, parent dances and cake cutting. We ask this of you so that we can see your face, and you can see ours both now and forever in in the photos that out photographers will capture. Of course we will be happy to share our wedding photos with you afterward!”
or just simply:
“The bride and groom have asked that you share in their wedding fully and not through the lens of a camera or cell phone.”
Appoint a member of your wedding party to help encourage other guests to put down their devices at the wedding. It doesn’t have to be high-drama: all they have to do is sidle up to their fellow guest and say quietly, “The bride and groom have asked me to respectfully suggest guests to put down their electronics and just enjoy the day. Can I ask you to put your camera/phone away?” Whatever you do, don’t rely on your photographer to be the heavy; it’s not their job to make your guests behave. Plus, when the request to put away the camera or phone comes from a fellow guest, it’s less likely to be seen as a grumpy encounter.
Wording ideas for officiants
The easiest way to remind your guests to power down their devices is to have your officiant make a brief announcement before the ceremony. A few ideas, ranging from the sacred to the silly:
The couple respectfully requests that all guests honor the sanctity of this moment by turning off cell phones and cameras.
I invite you to be truly present at this special time. Please, turn off your cell phones and put down your cameras. The photographer will capture how this moment looks — I encourage you all to capture how it feels with your hearts, without the distraction of technology.
Ladies and gentlemen, prior to wedding take-off, all seat backs and tray tables must be in their upright and locked positions, all bags properly stowed, and all portable electronic devices turned off and stowed. This includes cell phones and cameras.
As Shakespeare once said, please turn off your cell phones.
Have the officiant ask the bride to turn around and face the audience after her parents walk her to the alter. At this time they say, “Everyone, get the photo you really want now, because we ask that your cameras remain off for the remainder of the ceremony.”
“Good afternoon! It is my pleasure to welcome you to the wedding of Bride and Groom. Please take a moment to silence any cell phones or other noisy electronics. If you would also take a moment to put your cameras away, Bride and Groom have requested that no photos be taken during the ceremony today — thank you so much for your understanding. The ceremony will begin shortly.”