Should you have an unplugged wedding?

At most of the weddings I’m present at, it’s the norm for friends and family to be snapping away all day, usually on their phones but also on pretty decent cameras sometimes.
I once met a couple who were considering an unplugged wedding – that is, telling all guests not to take or share any photos. I’m not just talking about the ceremony (where it’s almost the norm for couples to request no guests take photographs), but the entire day.
The thinking behind this is that guests can enjoy the day and be in the moment without living the whole day through their phone screen. I can see the reasoning behind it.
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The other thing this stops is the inadvertent viewing of shared images on social media too early. For example, what happens if a bridesmaid uploads a photo of the bride all dressed up in her wedding gown, which is then seen by some guests – and even worse the groom – in advance of the ceremony – is that special moment when the happy couple see each other at opposite ends of the aisle lost forever?
On the flipside, it’s really great to have lots photos of your day from all different perspectives. It means that when these images are shared with you, you’ve got lots of tiny moments of the day recorded that you might not have noticed at the time.
Another good point is that whereas the professional photographs will be mainly centered around you, guest photos often record other guests and their time at your wedding, which can be really nice for you to look back on.
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You want your guests to enjoy the day, and for a lot of people at weddings they love to take pictures of you looking your best. People love taking photos – hell, I know that more than anyone! And guests love to look back on the photos they’ve taken and remember what an amazing time they had, or share them on social media to let the world know how awesome you wedding is.
From the professional photographer’s point of view, the only problem comes when I’m ready and waiting for that perfect shot, only to miss it because someone has stuck their iPhone right in front of my lens, totally blocking the camera’s view.  iPads are even worse for this as it’s like sticking a dinner plate in the way of the photo I’m trying to take. When this happens it really does break my heart as I’ve missed a special moment that the couple is paying me to be there and capture for them. This is happening a lot more frequently.
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Another issue is flash – I generally only use flash on the dancefloor where it’s very dark or at other points throughout the day if I’m trying to create some sort of effect. Different photographers have different styles, and some use flash a lot more than I do throughout the day and create beautiful photographs by doing so.
For me though, flash during a ceremony is just too distracting and I try to avoid it where possible, only using it if absolutely necessary. If a camera flash from a guest camera goes off at the exact moment when I’m taking a photo, it’ll ruin my shot as I’ll have set my exposure based on the natural light in the room. And that’s it. That moment is gone. Guests love flash too. In my experience, they use it almost all the time.
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As a wedding photographer, I feel my position is to advise couples of the pros and cons of the decision. At my own wedding, my wife and I asked guests not to take photos until after the ceremony, as it was important to us that for the part of the day when we were actually getting married there was no distraction at all. After that, we wanted our guests to relax and enjoy the day. Ultimately, the decision lies with the couple. It’s their day and should be a total reflection of the two of them.
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Ed 🙂

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