What’s your preference: an unplugged wedding with no mobile devices or a hashtag wedding where guests are recording every minute in a running news stream online? If the thought of your every move being photographed and discussed in public as instantly as it happens makes you shudder, then perhaps an unplugged wedding is for you. Wedding Unplugged raises the question: do we need a new rule in wedding etiquette when it comes to technology, and is it ok to ask guests not to use devices at your wedding?
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You would think most people have enough respect to put their mobile phones down during your marriage ceremony but not everyone does, so some couples are now formally asking guests to switch off their phones altogether, which is certainly a good move from the professional photographer’s point of view but also better for the bride and groom in so many ways. Weddings unplugged are a good idea for many reasons.
Virginia Thomas is a wedding photographer based in Ireland, she told me: “I had a family member actually push right in front of me with an iPad to get a better view of the bride as she walked down the aisle.”That well-meaning family member didn’t want to miss a thing but in doing so they prevented the professional from doing their job. And I wonder who would have got the better shots …
With so many of us now reliant on smart phones it is simply about asking your guests to be truly present in the moment, focused on the day unfolding and not engrossed in the outside world.
The flip side is the hashtag wedding, where photos and comments about your big day are made public in a running commentary instantly tweeted to Twitter; there are several drawbacks to the hashtag wedding though.
Hashtags are not unique in the same way that website and email addresses are so anyone could hijack your hashtag. There could be awful photos or a speech that didn’t go to plan that you don’t want circulated but surely the main drawback is that whoever is tweeting or filming is actually distracted and not engaging with those around them. And if that’s a large proportion of your guests then it can make a real difference to the actual dynamic of your wedding celebration.
A new rule in wedding etiquette
So do we need a new rule in wedding etiquette for the twenty first century stating that smart phones and iPads should not be used during the marriage ceremony?
It may seem common sense but not everyone has the same perspective. If you don’t want a hashtag wedding, you will need to ask your guests not to Tweet your every move… You could simply add a line to the bottom of your wedding invitations saying something along the lines of: “Please no mobile phones during the ceremony” or “We are having an ‘unplugged wedding’ with no smart phones or devices so we can all be truly present in the moment.”
It could be seen as a step too far to ask guests not to bring phones at all or to keep them switched off until the reception but your guests will understand why you don’t want phones on during your marriage ceremony.
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Fun cameras and photo booths
In formerly asking your guests not to use smart phones you could provide fun cameras and a photo booth at your reception instead. Reassure guests also that you will send out a professional photo after the wedding, perhaps with your thank you cards, that way no one will feel they are missing out.
Unplugged weddings are here to stay and we think they’re best. What do you think? Tell us here.
Kate Thompson is Confetti's features editor and wedding expert, and has worked in the wedding industry for 15 years. A widely published lifestyle writer, she has made BBC television and radio appearances discussing wedding trends in the UK.