What is an “Unplulgged” Ceremony?

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(Extracted from a Huffington Post Article, but it says describes my thoughts as I have experienced many times, very clearly.) 

Recently, “Guest Photographers” came up in one of the photography groups I am a part of online, and someone asked what the big deal is; why wouldn’t we want more people capturing images for our clients? I thought this was a great question! I don’t have a single problem with guests taking images and sharing them later on with the couple. It makes me happy to know there will be other pictures and photos of moments I may have missed or alternate angles that I couldn’t cover. I also completely understand that some have a love for capturing images and enjoy taking pictures at weddings they attend.

However, my heart literally breaks when a guest ruins an otherwise lovely image or jumps in front of me when I’m capturing a key moment from the day. It completely slays me when this happens because, while I am not remotely egotistical at all, I am fairly confident that my image would have been better than the one they captured. In the past six years of being a professional wedding photographer, it’s also been sad to watch the progression from seeing smiling, encouraging and happy faces as the bride is escorted up the aisle to faces hidden behind the backs of cameras and cell phones that line the aisle. These are all reasons why I am elated when I hear of couples opting for an Unplugged Wedding — or, at the very least, an Unplugged Ceremony.


From Stephanie now: If you’re considering having an “unplugged ceremony” - awesome! I am behind you 100% and can promise every angle of your moment will be covered and then some. But, if you’re still considering allowing your guests to take photos during your ceremony - I want to share what I’ve learned during 2017:

There are some churches that do not allow me to go past a certain point, (in fact one didn’t allow me in the chapel at all - that was a new one!! Always double check that your church allows for photos). If I can’t be up close and personal, I have to photograph from a distance over your guests. Sometimes if you plan to have a unity ceremony and its not directly centered down the aisle, again, I have to photograph over your guests. 

If there are small children at your wedding, and if the parents are free-spirted and allow their children to play and run around during the ceremony - well, I do the best I can, but I literally had a child run down the aisle the moment of a kiss... luckily by standing I was able to avoid his presence in the photo, but my heart skipped a beat when this happened. What if I had missed this shot? I know you would be so disappointed not having your first kiss captured.

My goal is to be a silent witness and photographer during your ceremony. In the event your loved ones are so determined to get that shot of you - even though you are paying me thousands of dollars to get professional shots - I won’t be able to stop them. If I see someone sitting on an aisle who extends their device a lot, if I can, I kindly ask them to keep their devices inside the aisle. If I can’t, well, you see the images above.

Cell phones, camcorders, and tablets (yup, I run into them all the time) distract and take so much away from photos that literally only happen once. Your ceremony is not something to be staged and do again with all your guests seated and no phones out. I get one shot at capturing those moments, and I can’t be responsible if your loved ones think they can get a better shot then I can. 

Also something to consider - I bet they aren’t paying attention to your ceremony or your vows to your spouse. They are more concentrated on recording that moment to be able to watch later (though if you speak softly, only professional audio equipment will be able to hear it, which not many people have to bring to weddings). Maybe this is a crazy concept, but wouldn't it be nice to have the friends and family you invited to your wedding pay attention to the promises you're making to your spouse? Having an unplugged ceremony allows your guests to be present and attentive, and not on their phones sharing to facebook or instagram.

I can’t tell you what to do, but as technology evolves and increases in social necessity, it has become an overwhelming issue in the wedding photography community that at the very least, I do ask my couples to consider having an unplugged ceremony. 

If it wasn’t so bad, do you think I would be blogging about it?

Huffington Post Article source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bridal-guide/why-you-might-want-to-con_b_3331528.html