Smartphone Etiquette and Unplugged Weddings

Think about the last time you were at a wedding. How many guests had their cell phones held up the moment the processional music started to play? I’m willing to bet there were quite a few. You may have even been one of them!

Smartphone Etiquette and Unplugged Weddings
Your guests’ phones capture their joy in your big day — but they can also become a distraction.

I remember planning my own wedding years ago and wondering whether to request that guests keep their phones down during our ceremony. Would I come off as too bossy or nitpicky? Is it a guest’s right to take photos and videos at my wedding? (Spoiler: We wound up keeping things lax and were glad we did — our guests wound up capturing some of our favorite moments.)

If you’re navigating this debate for your own wedding, there are some factors to consider when opting for an unplugged wedding or letting guests snap throughout the ceremony. These tips can help you decide what’s best for your big day.

Going Unplugged

unplugged wedding sign
Image via Amazon
You can communicate your desire for a phone-free ceremony with beautiful signage that all your guests can see.

Typically, the term “unplugged” applies to the wedding ceremony, not necessarily the entire event. An unplugged ceremony can be a great option for your wedding if:

  • You want your guests to be free of tech distractions.
  • You don’t want to risk any photos being shared on social media.
  • You don’t want any cell phones (or screens) to show up in your professional photos.

Worried about how guests will take your request? Don’t be! There are easy ways to communicate your desire to keep your ceremony cell phone-free. You can start with including a note on your website that the ceremony will be “screen-free” and display a sign in your venue where guests will see it prior to your ceremony as a friendly reminder.

unplug for the wedding
Even with the best intentions, you may wind up with a few guests who can’t resist the urge to snap some photos during your unplugged ceremony.

Even with the best intentions, you may wind up with a few guests who can’t resist the urge to snap some photos during your unplugged ceremony.

Of course, even with the best intentions, you may still have a few guests who claim they “never saw” your polite requests. Just roll with it. For me, the handful of phones that made it into our professional photos showcased the collective excitement in the room — not a symbol of distraction as I had expected.

Leaning in to Screens

wedding hashtag sign
Image via Amazon
Make sure your wedding guests know your hashtag so you can easily scan social media for all the special moments they captured.

If you’re really trying to go for the chill bride vibe, but you’re still struggling with the idea of your guests being on their phones during your wedding, consider a few reasons to let your guests snap away:

  • You don’t mind a few phones making it into your final shots.
  • You have a wedding hashtag and want guests to share on social media.
  • You want to capture your guests’ unique perspectives — and potentially end up with some unexpected (and great) snapshots.

To me, allowing guests to take photos and videos with their phones is almost like choosing not to make a choice. You’re not prohibiting screens, but you’re also not requiring your guests to become professional photographers either. What you can do is remind them of your unique hashtag with signs posted around your venue.

guest taking photos at wedding
If you want a movie-worthy wedding, expect your guests to take a few photos — this kind of romance doesn’t happen every day!

A final word on unplugged weddings:

If you’re a guest at a wedding where the couple has politely asked guests to remain off their phones, respect their wishes. Whatever the reason, the couple has put a lot of thought into every detail surrounding their big day, and the decision belongs to them. As tempting as it may be to secretly snap a quick photo, it can also be refreshing to experience the full event without tech distractions.

Planning a modern wedding is anything but simple. In fact, it can open up a lot of questions and leave room for confusion — do you go with tradition or choose your own adventure? — but lucky for all you brides and grooms out there, we’re here to help! If you’re wondering about your own wedding, send your questions over to [email protected].

Featured Image from Etsy seller Harbor Design Co.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. The ideas are ours, but we may be compensated if you make a purchase by clicking on one of the links. Thanks for your support!

2 thoughts on “Smartphone Etiquette and Unplugged Weddings

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