How to Host a Phone-Free Wedding

A bride and groom kissing at a table during a phone-free wedding while everyone watches and claps.

Sure, everyone wants to take pictures and video to remember and commemorate your wedding. But some of us would prefer if everyone just set the phones down during the ceremony. You’ll want to decide how strict to be on this, or if you just want to gently remind guests that you’d rather they leave their phones in their pockets. Here are some tips to help guide you in hosting a phone-free wedding tactfully, so that you don’t step on anyone’s toes.

Choose a Remote Location Without Cell Service

A bride and groom running in a field surrounded by mountains at a remote wedding where cell phones don't work.

If you’re really set on people ignoring their phones during your celebration, just hold the wedding at a spot where there’s no service. Simple! Remote mountain village? Top of a ski hill? Tropical beach? Great! One way to provide some sense of relief for those who may have emergency situations on their hands or want to check in with the babysitter is to create a hotspot. Establish it a little bit away from the celebration site to help your guests feel comfortable, knowing they can enjoy the event for as long as they like because they can still always check in.

Provide Plenty of Activities

If you’re going to ask people to ignore their phones and come to an area with little cell service, make sure you provide entertainment for them so they’re not bored without the use of their phones.

Provide a Specific Time to Take Photos and Video

A bride and groom posing for a picture their friend is taking with a smart phone.

You can gently let people know you’ve hired a photographer, but folks still want to take their own pictures. If you want to request no one post pictures of your wedding to social media, you can do this, too. But most people who make the decision—and it’s a big one—to go completely technology-free at these kinds of social events designate a time for guests to take all the pictures they want. They open a small window for people to get their access time, so that guests don’t feel entirely cut off. You don’t want to make them feel unwelcome, but you also want to create the wedding of your dreams—and that doesn’t include folks witnessing your vows through the lens of their iPhone.

Designate a Child as Phone Police

This depends on your crowd, but giving the right child the job (they often love having something to do at long, adult parties) of patrolling cell phones keeps things fun, but also acts as a reminder that you’re serious about people not having their devices out. You might not want to play the role of enforcer at your wedding, so even if there’s no child suited to the role, you could do multiple children and make it fun with a small and quiet whistle, a police hat, or some other type of costume.

Create a Functional Seating Chart

Wedding guests enjoying conversation and their meal without cell phones.

You don’t want someone to feel isolated at a table of strangers, only to reach for their phone and ignore everyone. Take extra time to make sure you’ve placed guests in the ideal location, so that they’ll be busy talking rather than staring at their phones. If you play your cards right, everyone should feel comfortable enough not to have to resort to that awkward, I’m-so-lonely-and-bored, fake phone checking.

Use Signage to Get Your Request Across

This might be an option for some and is another way to get your point across without having an actual conversation. Funny printed slogans designating areas or times for phone use, like “phone-free zone,” or “We’d love it if you could keep your phones off for the ceremony,” can work well, depending on the tone of the event. Get creative with it and incorporate signs into your wedding aesthetic, whether they’re DIYed or printed at a shop. We recommend having a sense of humor with it so that you don’t come off as unappreciative of those who spend time and money to attend.

Whether you and your partner are anti-phone hippies or simply prefer that people not stare at their screens during important moments, going technology-free (or with limited technology) at your wedding can encourage people to enjoy the time together and create memories. And you might be surprised—some guests may really like it once they get used to the idea!

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