On a Plugged-In Wedding

I know I’m not the first bee to tackle this subject, and I’m probably not the most eloquent either! Mrs. Mink and Miss Otter covered the subject well and gave arguments for having an unplugged wedding, of which there are many. Both Mrs. Mink and Miss Otter shared this photo, which shows the biggest downside of allowing guests to use their phones at will.


Image via Offbeat Bride / Photo by Solare Photography

I think all of us would say we would rather have guests watching us in person than staring at us through a tiny screen, right? So why not post a sign like this and ask guests to stay unplugged for the duration of the wedding?


Photo by Jodi Miller Photography

A couple of reasons. In fact, I’ll number them for you. Here’s my personal justification for having a plugged-in wedding—which to me means not just allowing devices, but actually encouraging them. I’ll get to that in another post!

Note: If we were getting married in a cathedral, this post would probably be different. If we were having a formal wedding, again—this post would probably be different. Everybody’s situation is…different. You get it.

1. It’s hard to control. I don’t want to be the “cell phone police,” asking people to turn off their phones or put them away because this is my moment. No, I don’t think all unplugged weddings are like that! But I don’t want to feel like I’m back in high school with the teacher taking away someone’s phone for texting in class.

2. I love to use my phone at weddings. I snapped this picture at my cousin’s wedding over Christmas. Awful picture? Yep! Great reminder of a moment I wouldn’t have otherwise? Also a resounding yes. The photographer at the wedding mainly took group shots, pictures I’ll probably never see. If I hadn’t taken this picture (and some others) on my iPhone, I wouldn’t have any memories of hanging out with my crazy family.


Personal photo

3. I really, really want those pictures. Not the perfectly posed and framed pictures with the guys looking dapper and handsome—OK, I mean I do want those!


Image via Niki Marie Photography

I mean the casual, “just happened to snap a photo as you guys were laughing” pictures. The ones the photographers can’t always get because, well, they can’t be everywhere at once. If you catch my dad crying as he walks back to his seat, take a picture. I want the pictures of groups of people at tables that I only got to visit with once or twice and the kids playing with their food. Heck, take a picture of your kid screaming because he can’t have more cake!

I can’t wait to see them.

Anyone else doing a plugged-in wedding? Thoughts on unplugged versus plugged-in weddings?


Mrs. Lemur

Greenville, South Carolina
Wedding Date:
May 2013
Gallery of the Day
The Name Game

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  1. Guest Icon Guest
    cbl, Guest @ 7:39 am

    We had noon wedding with an afternoon reception, so we were home together pretty early that night. One of the best moments was taking the time to look at all of the photos people were already putting up on Facebook from our wedding. Part of it was seeing all of the other “moments” the photographer didn’t catch, but the other part was just feeling all of the love that people had such a great time, they wanted to share it with others!

  2. Member
    lovemikey 680 posts, Busy bee @ 7:39 am

    I completely agree with you as it pertains to the RECEPTION. But we had an unplugged ceremony, and I wouldn’t have changed that for anything, I wanted our guests to be present in the moment. Our ceremony turned out to be even more emotional than I had anticipated (complete with me bawling up front like a blubbering mess), and I am infinitely grateful that my guests got to share in those emotions 100%, rather than only half paying attention so they could make sure they got the “perfect shot.” People tell us all the time that our ceremony was the most personal and enjoyable one they’ve ever been to, and I’d like to think that being unplugged and truly in the moment had at least a little bit of influence on that.

  3. Member
    BookishBelle 1629 posts, Bumble bee @ 7:51 am

    We encouraged friends to take pictures, and I’m SO happy we did. My photographer definitely didn’t get everything the guests did (in fact we may not have had any photos of some guests had they not taken their own pictures), ESPECIALLY during the ceremony! For instance, when I walked down the aisle, the photographers were focused on shooting me and DH…but a guest from a side angle got a great shot of me and my dad walking down the aisle, with one of my best friends in tears with her hand to her chest across the aisle. I would have never seen that amazing photo if I had made the ceremony unplugged. PLUS it’s been 4 weeks since the wedding and we still haven’t gotten pro pix back, whereas I’ve been able to look at hundreds of guest pix within hours and days of the wedding!!!

  4. Member
    anjanette.thomas1 166 posts, Blushing bee @ 7:53 am

    I agree. I want all types of pictures from everywhere. I think those pictures are the best. That’s one reason I chose to do I spy at the reception..Those candid moments that my photographer can’t get.. I am one to use every resource possible to capture this day for myself.

  5. Member
    Yinka 38 posts, Newbee @ 7:57 am

    This topic is a very tough call, I remember walking into the church for my wedding and was overwhelmed by the flash from the cameras and phones as I walked in and it touched me. I actually had to fight back the tear as my son escorted me in. I promised myself I won’t mess up my make up, and did I have a fight on my hands with my tears. Eventually I got it under control like a good 20 minutes later. I did not mind the photos at all as over seas guest will want their own memories of the occasion . I felt they cared enough to want to secure the memories.

  6. mswallaby Member
    mswallaby 2070 posts, Buzzing bee @ 8:02 am

    We planned on having an unplugged ceremony (I hate when people are playing around with the settings on their cameras instead of being fully present!) but forgot to make a sign or ask our officiant to make an announcement. Amazingly, very few people pulled out their cameras – it was really emotional and I think people got carried away by the moment. But I will tell you, we’ve had a really tough time tracking down guest photos. You may want to create an instagram hashtag or hand out cards with a link to Flickr or something, because it’s hard to know who took photos unless they upload them to Facebook. I wish we had set out photo request cards on the tables or something. But what we did to share photos was uploaded our pro pics to a Flickr page and wrote the URL into our thank-you cards, so our guests can print them out at home or at Costco or wherever they like.

  7. Member
    shortbread 290 posts, Helper bee @ 8:18 am

    I want our guests to take all the pictures they want at the reception. However, we’re getting married in an chapel from the 1600’s and I feel like out of respect they should keep their phones and cameras put away. We may have the minister politely ask everyone to silence their phones but probably will not put a sign up. As other posters have stated I want our guests to be as fully present as possible. At the end of the day I’m sure some people will still take pictures at the ceremony and I probably won’t even notice. I’ll be too busy marrying the man of my dreams. As Mrs. Wallaby suggested we are doing and Instagram hashtag and letting people know about it in advance. I can’t wait to see what pictures come out of the reception.

  8. Member
    maricontrary 2244 posts, Buzzing bee @ 8:19 am

    We’re splitting it, and the info will be on both our website and the programs. Ceremony – everything turns off. It’s a half hour, they’ll deal with it. Cocktails and reception is totally different though, we’re actually encouraging our guests to take pics and send them to us. We’re still working on the wording though, so I’d love suggestions if anyone’s done it!

  9. Member
    wb3245 4225 posts, Honey bee @ 8:22 am

    I’m SO GLAD I’m not the only one who feels this way! I’m actually putting an instructional card in my invitation to explain how to install and join an app to share pictures with me of my wedding!

  10. Member
    debeachgirl 543 posts, Busy bee @ 8:47 am

    I made an instagram hashtag for our wedding and put it on mini-moo cards at the tables. I wanted to see not just pics of us but any photos guests took of themselves and friends. I loved looking at them all in one place. My SIL took a photo of my husband and I at the end of the night that I love she titled it “happy groom” it was taken right after I grabbed him and said (rather loudly) I f****** love you. Not my classiest moment but the truth. I love that that photo reminds me of that moment. Also my neighbor took some amazing photos of us at our wedding which allowed me to change my facebook photo long before I will get any professional photos.

  11. Member
    blonde17jess 1290 posts, Bumble bee @ 8:53 am

    I am going back and forth in terms of the ceremony. Part of me does wish those precious moments (the dad-crying one) could be caught randomly by a guest, but I’m moreso in the camp of “if I turn and look out at the guests and all I see are cameras and phones instead of faces, it will ruin my mood.” So I think I’ll likely end up opting for the unplugged CEREMONY.

    For the reception, anything goes. I love snapping pics at receptions, and wouldn’t have it any other way. I’d actually be really disappointed if someone told me not to take my own pics at the reception, because then I wouldn’t have most of the pics I have of FI and I looking nice and dressy when we’re otherwise very casual and don’t take pictures together.

    HOWEVER, a few moments of the reception I wouldn’t mind being unplugged would be the major ones, like the first dance and cake cutting. It’s so aggravating to have the amateur photogs up there blocking the view of people who are actually trying to see and experience the moment instead of trying to memorialize it for the sake of having the “best guest photo” or whatever.

    Am I the only one who feels like those people are always competing with each other?

  12. Member
    xlsm 187 posts, Blushing bee @ 9:42 am

    We’re also doing a “plugged in” wedding. I made an instagram account and hashtag and made cute little signs for tables at the wedding. We’re also doing a photo scavenger hunt and are providing a disposable camera per table in addition to the guests’ own personal camera or phone. I hope we get a lot of fun pictures :)

  13. mslemur Member
    mslemur 616 posts, Busy bee @ 9:47 am

    @cbl: This is super encouraging to me! We’re also having a morning wedding. I’m so looking forward to seeing everyone’s pictures… hopefully on the same day or the next morning lying in bed remembering how awesome the day was :)

    @LoveMikey: Awh I’m so glad it was so memorable for you! I would probably do the same if the reception and ceremony were separate… in our case they’re in the same room and it’s a really casual setting, not a church or anything.

    @BookishBelle: Ugh I’m going to be waiting SO anxiously for the pro pics! It’s going to be superrr hard for me to wait. I’m hoping the guest pictures make it easier on me 😉

  14. mslemur Member
    mslemur 616 posts, Busy bee @ 9:50 am

    @anjanette.thomas1: That’s what I”m hoping to get too! How did it work out for you? Did you get a lot of pictures? I’m just worried people won’t use it.

    @Yinka: That’s so sweet, and I can just imagine being overcome by tears with your son escorting you down… congrats on what sounds like an awesome wedding!! That’s something I touched on in the second point, I want guests to be able to have those pictures too. A lot of weddings I either never see pro shots or they’re posted months later.

    @Mrs. Wallaby: I’m willing to trust our guests to use decorum, and it sounds like your guests did just that! I am planning on having cards, plus there’s information on the website about downloading the app… not sure how many people will do it, but it would be an amazing way to get the pictures super easily.

  15. mslemur Member
    mslemur 616 posts, Busy bee @ 9:54 am

    @Shortbread: Oh I totally agree with having an unplugged ceremony in your situation. Like I said in my post, if we were getting married in a formal setting or a church I would probably do the same. Because it’s a casual lodge and the ceremony & reception are in the same room I tended more towards making the whole thing plugged-in.

    @MariContrary: Oh definitely, that would be tough wording to come up with! The picture that I used was one of many if you google unplugged weddings—that might help!

    @HiroshymaTetrastar: Our app information is on our website! But because I know not everyone will see it, I’m also putting little cards out.

  16. mslemur Member
    mslemur 616 posts, Busy bee @ 9:59 am

    @DEBeachGirl: Oh I so want to do this! How many pictures did you get? I’m afraid I’ll think I’m going to get a ton but then I’ll only get a few… I feel like other people I know who have tried this haven’t really gotten many pictures out of it.

    @Blonde17Jess: I totally understand! About wanting certain moments of the reception unplugged though… I’m not sure you can dictate that. It’s kind of hard to say that everyone has to put their phones away for the cake cutting or whatever. Maybe you could deal with people trying to get a picture by just asking everyone to give the photographer space at that time. That way they can still take pictures… outside of your personal bubble :)

    @xlsm: We’re not doing the disposable cameras because I feel like a lot of guests will have a camera or phone, but we’re definitely doing the rest! I haven’t decided how to make the cards yet. Mini Moo cards are always fun :)

  17. Member
    stephk527 987 posts, Busy bee @ 10:42 am

    I am so with you – I want ALL of these pictures. I want the picture you snap of me walking down the aisle in my dress, I want the picture you snap of my flower girls picking their noises, I want the picture of my BMs crying, etc. I totally get the idea behind the unpluggedness and I support it, for those who prefer it. It’s just not for me/us. Like you said, photographers can’t be everywhere, and I want pictures from everywhere. 😉

  18. Member
    amftodd121314 11 posts, Newbee @ 10:46 am

    I’m not going to tell people they can’t use their phones but I will choke someone if it rings during my ceremony!!!!

  19. mink Member
    mink 2178 posts, Buzzing bee @ 10:53 am

    I completely regret my unplugged ceremony. I’ll be writing about it soon.

  20. Member
    Yinka 38 posts, Newbee @ 11:04 am

    Thanks Miss Lemur, my wedding was really lovely, it was worth every moment.

  21. Member
    MissFireFlower 1885 posts, Buzzing bee @ 11:18 am

    We’re totally embracing the cell phones. We put it on our wedding website and will be putting info on our programs so people know where to upload the pics they take!

  22. Member
    MissFireFlower 1885 posts, Buzzing bee @ 11:19 am

    @Mrs. Mink: regret? Why?

  23. mslemur Member
    mslemur 616 posts, Busy bee @ 12:14 pm

    @StephK527: I totally agree. I 100% support brides who have an unplugged ceremony and I would NEVER pull out my phone if the bride didn’t want cameras & phones out! But for us, I think a plugged-in wedding is best. Besides, I kinda have a thing for crappy iPhone shots :)

    @Mrs. Mink: I am really interested in reading this post. I noticed your comment on Miss Otter’s post & looked for a follow-up so I could read more but didn’t see anything yet. Can’t wait to read your thoughts!

  24. mslemur Member
    mslemur 616 posts, Busy bee @ 12:20 pm

    @MissFireFlower: We’re using mywedding.com and they have an app that goes with it… I’m excited to try it out! Pictures from there go directly to the wedding website where we can see them. Plus I’ll use a hashtag for Twitter/Instagram and an email address… I will get these pictures one way or another 😉

  25. mspony Member
    mspony 9265 posts, Buzzing Beekeeper @ 1:09 pm

    I loved the pictures our guests got from our ceremony, I got to see things from a different perspective and so many other little things I never noticed on the day of.

  26. Member
    Almost Mrs.P 2056 posts, Buzzing bee @ 1:10 pm

    I have the same feelings. I love seeing what people capture at weddings– there are always some gems!

  27. mslemur Member
    mslemur 616 posts, Busy bee @ 1:26 pm

    @Mrs. Pony: There’s going to be over a hundred people there, and I’m definitely not going to catch everything! I’m hoping I’ll get some pictures where I’ll be like awh they did that? Or they had fun!

    @Almost Mrs.P: I love the gems—the really good sweet shots that make you tear up—and I love the awful blurry shots too! Because either way the person thought enough of the moment to snap a picture and you get to share that moment too :)

  28. sword Member
    sword 1029 posts, Bumble bee @ 2:32 pm

    I agree completely, I want my guests to stay PLUGGED in, but I don’t want to hear their phones go off during the ceremony…

  29. Guest Icon Guest
    lia, Guest @ 2:49 pm

    I’m so torn about this myself. Ever since I read Mrs. Unicycle’s post about freaking out and that picture she posted of all those guests smiling manically & flashing their cameras, I’m terrified of the idea. I’m not someone who gets stage fright and I’m TOTALLY that guest with my camera out but I’m thinking I might choose specific unplugged moments… The walking down the aisle and the first dance in particular. I’d like those to be special moments when I can focus on my husband and not worry if I’m smiling weird.

  30. mslemur Member
    mslemur 616 posts, Busy bee @ 4:10 pm

    @Miss Sword: Oh girl me either… I’m hoping they have the etiquette to turn them off without me tapping on their shoulder and asking them to silence it!

    @lia: That’s a tough one… I have to remind myself that no, I’m not going to look like a model in all (any?) of the pictures, but that doesn’t matter. And heck yes I’ll be deleting pictures if they’re really awful 😉

  31. Member
    lealorali 4827 posts, Honey bee @ 5:35 pm

    Plugged-in, hell yeah! I find the unplugged thing SO strange and even a little presumptuous. Who am I, a miserable US Airways stewardess asking people to Please power off their electronic devices?
    I’m a high school teacher. I say “Put your phone away” about 230984 times a day. Definitely not doing it at my wedding. Hopefully as adults they know to turn their ringers off.

  32. Member
    skellener 14 posts, Newbee @ 11:30 pm

    So god! They are beautiful!

  33. Member
    debeachgirl 543 posts, Busy bee @ 4:50 pm

    @Miss Lemur: probably about 100. Just make sure you are friends with everyone. Anyone that has their instagram set tonprivate wing show up unless you’re friends. Also I spread the word before and told people to tell others and did a few prep photos/sneak peaks to get people on board. Make sure its unique enough to not have others use it but short enough for others to use.

  34. Guest Icon Guest
    Sarah, Guest @ 11:37 am

    We did whole the Instagram-hashtag thing for our wedding and LOVED it. Hubby and I looked through all the photos while we waited to board our flight the next morning and it was so sweet to see our guests having fun at our wedding. Especially since the day was SUCH a whirlwind for the two of us and we missed a lot of those fun, silly moments. We had a lot of guests at our wedding and unfortunately the photographers weren’t able to get pictures of all of our guests, so it’s nice that we have a number of photos the guests took themselves. Would never imagine doing an “unplugged” ceremony.

  35. otter Member
    otter 1321 posts, Bumble bee @ 11:46 am

    It’s funny that you wrote this, because my very next post is about how I’ve changed my mind on this issue! I hope you’ll enjoy reading since we share some key points 😉

  36. Guest Icon Guest
    Signkick, Guest @ 11:56 am

    For my ceremony I agree with having friends have the options of taking photos with their cameras and phones, however I know that both my SO and I will be asking our guests to not tag or post pictures on social media as we both professionally work in the mental health field and do not want those items out there for public viewing

  37. Member
    CPearson1016 117 posts, Blushing bee @ 12:21 pm

    My photographer suggested an “unplugged” ceremony and I like the idea for a few reasons… 1st) I want an intimate and personal ceremony without the clicks and buzzing of digital cameras and phones. 2nd) We’re paying a professional to do a job that they are really good at, they shouldn’t have work around or over our guests to capture that perfect shot. Especially since our ceremony is going to be “in the round” this is even more important! I think I’ll just spread the word and post on our website and not worry about it… If a there are a few clicks here and there it won’t be a big deal!

  38. Guest Icon Guest
    Zoe, Guest @ 12:29 pm

    We are going for plugged in. Found an app (wed pics) that lets people add their photos to our site through the web or the app. We are not hiring a photographer, so will be heavily relying on our little group of favorite people to capture our most special moments.

  39. Guest Icon Guest
    Hope, Guest @ 12:32 pm

    My wedding will be what we consider a perfect combination of both. During the ceremony I will have a place for people to leave their phones so that they can be present with us during the ceromony. Also so that our photographer might captures candida of our guests. However, after the “I Do” I want everyone to snap away. I have an app for people to load the pictures to so that we can all enjoy everyone’s point of view. I love pictures. I plan to have 2 photographers. But there was a time when people would pay attention at a wedding. A time when people came dressed up because that was what you did. Now trust me, I love my phone as much as, well actually more than the next person but I want my wedding to be a shared experience, which is why these people were invited. And I plan to notify guests prior to their arrival that cell phones and cameras are banned during the ceremony.

    But, this is what I want.

  40. mslemur Member
    mslemur 616 posts, Busy bee @ 12:33 pm

    @Sarah: Awh, I’m so excited to look through photos together on our honeymoon! I can already tell the wedding is going to go so fast and I’m going to want to remember those moments :)

    @Miss Otter: I’m super excited to read both yours & Mrs. Mink’s! By the way, if you want me to unlink you from this posit I’m more than willing to. I didn’t mean it in a bad way at all :)

    @Signkick: One of the nice things about the app I mentioned in my most recent post is that it allows you to collect those photos without posting them to social media. Another way to do that is photo sharing sites with password access. I totally understand where you’re coming from, and the desire for privacy.

  41. mslemur Member
    mslemur 616 posts, Busy bee @ 12:37 pm

    @CPearson1016: I totally understand wanting an unplugged ceremony! I think your approach is great… people will definitely respect that although I know there will be a few who don’t catch on, but like you say that’s ok. Overall I’m sure it will be intimate and personal!

    @Zoe: I went with an app as well! I wrote a post yesterday on the app we decided to go with — Wedding Party. I’m excited to see how it works!

    @Hope: It’s definitely about what you think is right for you! If you’re interested in reading more about apps, I wrote a post about the app we’re using. We’re using it for the ceremony and the reception but you could definitely just use it for the reception and get the privacy and respect during the ceremony.

  42. Member
    aves3888 27 posts, Newbee @ 1:22 pm

    I also have created a hash tag for my wedding (wayyy in advance). Have already done some testing with it in which each time someone tags us I get an email and it rolls out onto our wedding website! That way guests can go back to the site and look through all the wonderful memories! So excited to see this (hopefully) work!

    In terms of unplugging my ceremony – I think that I will be super busy with the emotions of getting married to notice if people are taking pictures… :)

  43. Guest Icon Guest
    Jason Geary, Guest @ 11:28 am

    This is why I developed my software is for this exact reason. I know you pros are going to love it because it gives everyone an opportunity to share IMMEDIATELY from the nice Digital SLR camera with the professional photogs logo in the bottom left or right side and also sends your digital biz card along with it. Finally a way to share certain photos right away and a way for you to relax as the wedding goers become your social media marketers. Did I say it was instant? Yes instant.

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