Should I Have an Unplugged Wedding?

There are so many decisions to make as you plan one of the biggest days of your life; it can be really overwhelming! One of the terms that has been getting tossed around quite a bit lately is “unplugged.” Will you have an unplugged wedding? Should you have an unplugged wedding? What the heck is an unplugged wedding!?

Backing way way up - an unplugged wedding is the phrase often used when couples politely ask their guests to refrain from using their phones or technologies during their wedding; most typically during the wedding ceremony. Considering the popularity of social media apps (shoutout to Instagram, my fave app of all time), sometimes people need a gentle reminder that while your Snap Streak is super important…someone’s wedding is maybe not the most appropriate time to work on it. 

Should I have an unplugged wedding?

This has become an issue because believe it or not, well-meaning guests have actually ruined images taken by professional wedding photographers because of their need to ‘Gram. And that’s where my crew comes in! This seriously fires us ‘togs up, and rightly so; we want the best for our brides and grooms, and when they’re investing $3,000-$5,000 or more on wedding photography that they intend to treasure forever, it’s absolutely heartbreaking that once-in-a-lifetime images, like a bride walking down the aisle or a couple’s first kiss, may be ruined because someones giant iPad got in the way (this seriously happens!).

man using cell phone at wedding reception

Here are just a couple of reasons why I think unplugged weddings are the way to go.

1. It's a good reminder for your guests to enjoy the moment

I honestly believe that people are genuinely good at heart; they just often need some reminding. We are so used to having our phones on us every second of every day, and selfies are second nature (especially when we’re looking fly for a wedding!) so I totally get that people may have a little lapse in this situation. At every unplugged wedding I’ve been a part of, it just takes a gentle reminder from the bride in groom (there are tons of different ways to do this that I talk about down below!), and people are super respectful. 

man using cell phone at wedding ceremony

2. It’s one thing you can control 

There are a million things that can happen on your wedding day that are outside of your control. I always tell my couples to worry as little as they can, because by hiring professionals, like a photographer, who have been there, done that, we can avoid a lot of these issues (or at least know how to deal with them when they come up!).

The issue of someone getting in the way of a photographer with their phone or iPad can easily be avoided; so why not just avoid it, and check that worry off the list. I've been lucky to always deal with kind people who just don't realize what they are doing, and they gladly put the phone or iPad away when I ask. I've never had a shot ruined by a wedding guest (praise!) but it absolutely happens.

3. It’s not all or nothing

One of the biggest arguments against having an unplugged wedding is that then there won’t be any candid photos to enjoy immediately after the big day is over. Believe it or not I completely understand that! Jeff and I got married before “unplugged weddings” were really a thing, and we proudly promoted our wedding hashtag everywhere so people would share their photos all over the place. Even though we had an amazing, incredible, professional photographer, I still treasure those grainy, low-quality Instagram photos - and they were so fun to look back on the next day! 

So what’s a good compromise? Easy! Just have an unplugged ceremony. Honestly, there is virtually no reason for guests to be taking photos at that time. What the heck are they going to do with those photos? How amazing can they be from 12 rows back anyway? And why can’t they just enjoy the moment without looking through a screen? Have an unplugged ceremony, and invite your guests to whip out their phones as soon as it’s over to Snap the night away. You could even have a photo booth or wedding hashtag on display at the reception so they know it’s time to get their ‘Gram on. The reception and dance (or dinner, if you’re into that - #foodstagram) are way better times to document anyway.


If I’ve convinced you to have an unplugged wedding (please!), you may be wondering just how the heck to pull it off. I’ve got great news, friends: that’s the easiest part! Here are a couple simple suggestions.

  • Hang a sign at the entrance, by the programs. All Mad Photo brides have access to a collection of gorgeous hand drawn signs by K. Homan Designs, as well as beautiful frame options in a variety of styles to put on display at your ceremony. They're all super classy and polite!
  • Make a small note in the program. Just a short blurb will do just fine! Here's an example: We invite you to be totally present at our wedding ceremony. Please turn off all phones and electronics until after we're married.
  • Have your officiant make a polite announcement at the beginning of the ceremony. Honestly, with the amount of accidental rings that happen in places of worship, many do this anyway! 

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Should I Have an Unplugged Wedding? | Mad Photo and Design