Mystwood retreat is one of my favourite hunter valley wedding venues, captured by james white hunter valley wedding photographer

Unplug Your Wedding

Unplug Your Wedding!

When was the last time you attended a gig without a sea of smartphones blocking your view of the stage?

You’d think the audience who paid for tickets would much rather watch the actual show than the shitty footage they’re taking on their devices. But apparently, their obsession with documenting every little thing that happens in their life is more important.

It has become so second nature in modern society to film and photograph every moment that we’ve ended up with a really disturbing trend, so even the notion to unplug your wedding seems disastrous and painful.

I’m not the only one who is constantly being blocked by amateurs… there are loads of photographers who have this complaint from every wedding: when they load up the shots they have taken they can hardly find any that don’t have some dick holding up a smartphone in the background. So what is the solution?

mystwood bride and groom walk down the aisle, confetti thrown on them

Enter: The unplugged wedding

The concept is simple: politely ask (or downright DEMAND) your guests to leave the documentation of your big day to the professionals you hired. 

You’ll be paying your photographer and videographer thousands of dollars. You might as well not have a bunch of smartphones blocking the shots, right?

But how can you make sure all your guests follow this simple rule? The crap news is you can’t, not completely anyway. 

The good news is it’s heaps easier for your photographer and videographer to handle a couple of hard-headed guests than an entire venue’s worth of camera-happy wankers (can you tell how much this pisses me off yet?).

How to unplug your wedding

A lot of couples only limit the no-photos-and-videos rule to the ceremony itself. Guests can take as many of their own dodgy photos and videos as they want at the reception. It’s a celebration, after all. People should be able to have fun and show everyone on social media.

Of course, if you want, you can also do a full smart device camera blackout. The downside is that you won’t have any photos and videos to look at until the official ones come out—that and you’ll probably annoy some guests.

Either way, if you want to up your chances of getting as many people as possible on board with your decision to go unplugged, there are a couple of things you can do:

  1. First, get the word out. Do it early. Use your invites to let everyone know you’re doing an unplugged wedding. This will help you weed out anyone who’s absolutely against the idea early on.
  2. Explain to the guests why you’re doing it (not just because your photographer will be frustrated, but so you can have more than a handful of stunning, high-quality photos that look like a wedding… and not like you have only invited people with phones for heads)
  3. Remind your guests about it several times before the ceremony starts. Come up with some good threats… like if you pull out your smartphone you’re buying your own drinks—that will make them think twice! It’s also a good idea to mention this to your celebrant so they can make an announcement before the bride’s big entrance. 
  4. If you’d rather your guests didn’t document any part of the wedding and reception, find a way to give them photos to take home (e.g. a photo booth or you could  hand out some polaroid cameras).

bride and groom enjoying first kiss as the sun sets across a field behind them in the gorgeous hunter valley

At the end of the day, it’s all about you and your partner

Will all your guests be happy about your decision to go unplugged? Probably not. But who cares? It’s not their day, it’s yours. 

You may need to set aside five minutes for Nana or Aunt Susan to take their own shots after the ceremony and during the reception. And that’s ok because it will save me from producing dozens of beautifully posed shots… of someone else’s back. 

The trade-off of being able to unplug your wedding? Your official photos and videos will definitely turn out spectacular. And… who would have thought… the guests will look like they’re having a good time too. 

If people freak out about this one… repeat after me… IT’S YOUR DAY. Not theirs. 

If they can’t set aside their obsessive need to document every single thing, then maybe you’re not as important to them as you thought and they probably shouldn’t be at your wedding in the first place. 

Read more: Why have a pre-wedding shoot?

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