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Wedding: Unplugged Weddings

by Meghann on September 18, 2012

Recently Brittany wrote a post on unplugged weddings on her blog and I thought I’d share my two cents over here. ๐Ÿ™‚

If you’re unfamiliar with the term “unplugged weddings” it’s a rising trend in the wedding industry where the bride and groom politely ask their guests to refrain from using their phone or cameras during their wedding ceremony and reception. Essentially, the goal of an “unplugged wedding” is to remove guests from technology and allow them to simply enjoy the wedding without worrying about it. It’s also the bride and groom’s way of respectfully informing their guests not to post photos of them online.



I’ve never attended an unplugged wedding (Brittany did over the weekend, which is what sparked the post), but I can see why couples would want to have one. It allows their guests to relax, prevents unflattering photos from being posted online, theoretically the hired professional photographer would have an easier time doing their job and taking all of the photos they need, and it allows for a little privacy by keeping everything off public social media networks. I 100% respect any couple who would make this choice for their wedding because it’s their wedding and they have every right to do whatever they want. However, that’s not my style.

Personally, I welcome cameras at my wedding. I say, the more photos, the better! Here’s my open invitation to anyone attending my wedding to please take a million and one photos and to please post them all online as soon as possible. I know how fast weddings fly by and how easy it is to miss everything happening around you. Yes, Derek and I hired an amazing professional photographer for our big day, but she’s only one person (well two with her shooting partner) and she can’t be everywhere at once taking photos. There’s also a 4-6 week window before we would see any of those photos. I can’t imagine waiting that long without seeing a single photo of the big day, I think I would go crazy in anticipation.

The morning after my sister’s wedding, one of the first things she did after eating breakfast was flip through all the photos I took on my camera the night before. The reception had been such a blur that she never really saw any of the details before I handed her the camera. She had missed what the cake looked like in the light, how the guestbook area was set-up, or even the final touches with the table set-ups. Her face lit up looking at the photos and recalling all the memories from the night before.

So, no, we will not be having an unplugged wedding – we’ll be the complete opposite.

I’ve even been researching various “I Spy” checklists to encourage guests to take photos by turning it in game.

Source: via Meghann on Pinterest.


There are also several apps out there that couples can set-up in advance so guests can share photos immediately. I’m looking into Flicker accounts, a separate email address for photos, and even just good ole fashioned tagging on Facebook.

What are your thoughts on “Unplugged Weddings”? Have you been to one? Would you have one?

1 Krissy @ Shiawase Life September 18, 2012 at 1:02 pm

I respect couples that do this, but some of my fave wedding pics were candid ones from our guests ๐Ÿ™‚
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2 Mary @ food and fun on the run September 18, 2012 at 1:15 pm

I love the I-Spy List! That is soo cute! And you can bet I’ll be posting stuff during your wedding. ๐Ÿ˜‰
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3 Sana September 18, 2012 at 1:23 pm

I totally feel weird taking pics at a wedding, but I think i would love to have the memories at mine ๐Ÿ™‚
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4 Suzanne @ Fit Minded Mom September 18, 2012 at 1:30 pm

I honestly do not get the whole “unplugged” wedding unless the point is to get people to buy photos from the very pricey photographer.

Just like any special day, birthday parties, Christmas, Thanksgiving I think it is important to capture those moments. Most of the photos I really cherish are candid shots. They may not be of me looking my best but they are true moments. I enjoy posing for pics when I am looking for a great shot but those are not the moments I wish to remember.
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5 Danielle @ Itsaharleyyylife September 18, 2012 at 1:32 pm

i am definitely all for cameras to be at my wedding too! I never heard of an unplugged wedding but I get where they are coming from! I want to see as many photos as possible and those ispy games look fun!
Danielle @ Itsaharleyyylife recently posted..Girls Gone Sporty

6 jena September 18, 2012 at 1:34 pm

When I got married FB wasn’t AS popular as it is now, but I did ask my family not to post anything on FB for a few days. I wanted to be the first person to post pictures of MY wedding on MY facebook. Plus, let’s be honest, people take some really horrible pictures and I didn’t want those all over my facebook.

I also feel weird taking pictures at other peoples weddings & posting them on social media sites – but if that’s what you want at your wedding, then I say go for it.
jena recently posted..Life is Beachy Keen: Week in review

7 Jena September 18, 2012 at 5:56 pm

I should add that I didn’t mind if people took pictures – I just didn’t want them posted all over facebook.
Jena recently posted..Life is Beachy Keen: Week in review

8 Chelsea September 18, 2012 at 1:35 pm

I can totally see the appeal of an unplugged wedding, but it’s not for me. One, I’m an iPhone whore and use mine all the time, ha, so it would be kind of contradictory of me to ask people not to use theirs for pictures. And two, as bad as I am, my family (and especially future-in-laws) are all camera crazy, and I think would twitch the whole time if there was something special going on and they couldn’t take pictures of it.

We’re using the iPhone app Wedding Party, and including a card with our welcome information for our hotel guests about it (we’ll also be tweeting it ourselves, so a lot of our guests will see it that way), so that way we can get photos quickly and upload a Facebook album that compiles everyone’s photos. I’m pretty excited to see how it is that that goes!

9 Brie September 18, 2012 at 1:41 pm

I would be totally annoyed at a sign like that. Taking a few pictures at a wedding does not mean I’m not “fully present,” and guests may not want to have to pay the crazy prices that professional photographers charge just to have a picture or two from a wedding they attended. It just seems like another bridezilla micromanagement move.
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10 Casey September 18, 2012 at 3:25 pm

Agreed! These people are your family and friends, so they know to turn off cell phones if the bride is afraid of ringing noises. This just seems kind of rude to your invited guests.

11 kirsten September 18, 2012 at 9:07 pm

totally agree!

12 Lisa September 18, 2012 at 1:42 pm

I attended a good friend’s wedding last weekend and they set up an Instagram hashtag that was printed on the programs. SO MUCH FUN to look through everyone’s pictures.

13 Meghann September 18, 2012 at 1:43 pm

AWESOME IDEA!!!!!!!!!!!

14 Carolyn September 18, 2012 at 1:52 pm

I saw this on Pinterest and LOVE this idea.
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15 Rachel Wilkerson September 18, 2012 at 1:43 pm

I totally get the appeal of an unplugged wedding, and will probably have a hybrid — limited or no photos at the ceremony but photos at the reception are fine. Personally, I find photography (especially flash photography) incredibly distracting…the sound it makes really breaks the moment for me, so just having a pro photographer is enough for me. Also, I’d like the guests to be in the moment like the program you shared says. Further, I’m not comfortable with complete strangers (or even my own acquaintances) seeing photos of us/our families without everyone’s permission and before I’ve had the chance to share them with my own friends/family who aren’t in attendance. I expect to be really emotional on my wedding day, so the thought of such intimate moments broadcast across social networks where total strangers can comment kind of stresses me out.

I’m looking into using the Wedding Party app to help with all this dilemma. Phones (as long as they are set to silent) don’t make noise like traditional cameras, so there’s less distraction. Second, the photos all go to a designated place so everyone you choose can see them…I think this is great, because sometimes, another person got a great photo of you and you’d really like to have it. Third, it fulfills the desire to share photos without crossing any privacy lines.
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16 Rebecca September 18, 2012 at 1:46 pm

Not my style either!

We opted to not hire a professional photographer and had a few friends with fancy cameras (that knew how to use them) take ‘official photos’ while others used whatever they had, camera phone or regular camera. I got lots of pictures this way!

I am not a fan of spending thousands of dollars on wedding photo’s. Honestly mine are in a box somewhere other than a couple up on the wall
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17 Kristy @ Kristy's Health Revolution September 18, 2012 at 1:46 pm

For some reason, an “unplugged” wedding really irks me!! I’m with you, Meghann, I want as many photos as possible. At the risk of repeating myself, here is how I responded to Brittany’s post:
“Since my fiance and I are saving money to buy a house, we don’t have a huge wedding budget, so my wedding will be the opposite. I will be encouraging people to bring their good cameras and phones to take photos — as long as they promise to share! I think it’s a little sad to have an unplugged wedding, honestly. I get where you’re coming from, it would be awful if everyone were looking at their phones during the ceremony, but that’s just bad manners!! Despite the fact that my friends are all totally tech-savvy, they are also considerate and I’m 100% certain they won’t spend my ceremony looking at their phones. But I hope they are snapping photos with them! What better honor than to have a bunch of people I love having such a great time that they want to take photos to share!? As for unflattering photos…oh well! It happens. Hopefully the most unflattering thing the cameras catch will be tears of happiness streaming down my face as I marry the man of my dreams!!”
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18 Carolyn September 18, 2012 at 1:51 pm

Wow, I’m surprised at how miffed I am at the thought of an unplugged wedding. My first thought was “I thought only celebrity couples did this.” I love taking pictures at weddings, but I do understand where people get so caught up in recording the moment, they miss living in it.

I’d be more the way of “Use #LakeWedding2012 when adding pictures on Instagram” so I could see everyone’s pictures instantly. =)
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19 Julie September 18, 2012 at 1:53 pm

As a counterpoint to the rest of the comments… I just got married and it was a little distracting to walk down the aisle and only see cameras instead of faces. And the professional photos of that walk likewise captured everybody taking pictures rather than my friends and family. So while I am definitely on-board with a camera free-for-all at the reception, it would be nice if guests would limit the ceremony shots to be less distracting.

20 Alyssa September 18, 2012 at 1:55 pm

I think for a wedding it would be great if you could have guests join this new app/website Quilt. It allows users in the same “group” to post photos to create a living, online photo album for everything occurring at the event.

My office has one and it’s a great way to look back on different events or to see what others are upto when you’re not around. I think it’d be great for a wedding because it allows live uploads from both iPhone and Android and it’s viewable afterwards online as well!

Check it out:
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21 Meghann September 18, 2012 at 1:56 pm

Thanks for the tip! I’m going to check it out.

22 lynne @ lgsmash September 18, 2012 at 4:30 pm

If more of our family and friends were as tech forward as I am, we’d have used this app: WedPic.

Guests with smart phones can upload photos to an instagram type interface and all photos from all guests would be posted on one page for everyone to look at. AND! for guests w/o smart phones? They can upload their digital camera photos on their computer at home.
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23 Sheri September 18, 2012 at 2:09 pm

I loved seeing everyone elses photos that the took at our wedding. I would never put a restriction on that.. it was so great to have them from so many different people and not just our photographer.
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24 Julie September 18, 2012 at 2:11 pm

You should check out this app: We used it for my brother’s wedding and it was awesome! You and Derek create your wedding page (takes less than 5 min), then you can use the invite system to tell your guests. Even if you don’t email everyone beforehand, people can download the app at the wedding and enter your wedding name (you create when you set up the event) and start uploading photos from your special day! We included photos from the shower, rehearsal, etc too. It’s fun because even friends and family who can’t make the wedding can join the wedding and see the photos being uploaded. Definitely check it out–we loved it!

25 Meghann September 18, 2012 at 2:15 pm

The ONLY drawback to that app is that it’s not available for Androids yet. Hopefully by January?

26 Sheelvrat Pathak September 19, 2012 at 5:38 pm

Hi Meghann,

Sheelvrat here from Wedding Party. Great topic and discussion so far! Its so nice to hear that some of your readers have already used the Wedding Party app for their weddings. Our product team is working hard to release an Android app by Fall 2012 and it will definitely be ready before January! ๐Ÿ™‚ I’d be more than happy to answer ANY questions you may have regarding our service at


Sheelvrat Pathak

27 Kashi @ Cape Island Runners September 18, 2012 at 2:12 pm

We got married last year and def did not care if people took pictures like crazy – and were pretty happy they did! Our photog is a good friend and he got AMAZING shots – but as a PP noted, he is only one person. I loved seeing pics of guests that he might not have focused on (ie not BP or close family). And I loved that people posted pics in FB, even the unflattering ones! What am I, Queen of England? So what if my eye looked wonky in a few, the smile on my face told the real story.
I also agree with a PP that the people at the wedding were considerate and did not need to be reminded to turn off their phones. Our guests seemed to laugh and cry in the places you might expect them too, so I am pretty sure not too many were secretly playing Angry Birds ๐Ÿ™‚ And to be honest, even if they were, I would have had no idea. This whole idea of being distracted by people’s cameras, etc is foreign to me. I was so emotionally overwhelmed that the only thing that seemed to exist (esp during the vows) was me and hubby and I can honestly say that I have no idea what people were up to and didn’t care! I was too busy thinking “holy shit, we are seriously getting married and I looooooovvveeee him!!!!”lol
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28 Lindsey d. September 18, 2012 at 2:31 pm

I’ll probably do a mix. I can imagine having the officiant announce that the ceremony, which will be very short, is off limit to cameras, but the reception? Bring it on!

29 Em September 18, 2012 at 2:33 pm

I was so thankful for our guests’ photos when we got married. Our photographer was terrible, and we didn’t get 2/3 of the picture he took. Our guests’ pics were great. One of my husband’s students took about 100, and they were all fabulous and better than the professional pics!
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30 Yo Momma Runs September 18, 2012 at 2:34 pm

Love the I Spy idea! I feel the same, the more pictures the better! I especially love the pics that little kids come up.
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31 Katie @ Peace Love & Oats September 18, 2012 at 2:45 pm

I’ve never heard of an unplugged wedding, but I doubt I’d want one. Maybe no flash during the ceremony, but I love having tons of pictures and totally agree I wouldn’t be able to wait for the photographer to get them back to me!
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32 Army Amy* September 18, 2012 at 2:51 pm

If I attended an unplugged wedding, I’d respect the couple’s wishes, but I’d be kind of annoyed. I feel like saying that I can’t take pictures so that I am present is insulting. I’m a grown up; I can regulate my own behavior. And I want pictures of the this momentous day in my friend’s life! *
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33 lynne @ lgsmash September 18, 2012 at 4:34 pm

I think I’d be a bit annoyed too – it’s a day when everyone is dressed up and looks their best! Of course I’d want to take my own photos with my husband or family or friends who are there. But I’m with you – if that’s what the couple wanted, I’d of course respect that.
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34 Lisa in IL September 18, 2012 at 2:56 pm

This has to be the funniest post of yours I’ve ever read! Old fashioned tagging on facebook just cracked me up. I know that wasn’t your intention but after your post on Revolution using the term old-fashioned it just seemed ironic to me. I admit I’m a tad bit older than you or probably your average reader however 26 years ago when I was married there was no such thing as instant wedding photos so there was no choice but to wait. I did hire a photographer that actually gave me my negatives (now that’s old fashioned) and I still have them tucked inside a box. Now everything is so copyrighted and even I can’t imagine a photographer giving you all the photos they actually took on a flash drive for you to do with as you please. I have numerous pictures that never made it into our album but eventually I developed. I still have one of our first dance (which was after dinner btw – not before) hanging in our foyer.

35 Kelsey@ kelseyruns September 18, 2012 at 2:57 pm

I love the idea of an unplugged wedding in the sense that I love the idea of guests being in the moment of the wedding and enjoying the ceremony and reception without constantly looking at phones, sending texts, facebooking or instagramming but no cameras? Really! One of my favorite parts of any wedding is taking photographs with the bride and groom and friends and/or family you haven’t seen in awhile. You can’t possibly expect wedding photographers to capture all those moments!
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36 erica September 18, 2012 at 3:01 pm

i have never been to an unplugged wedding. i think i’d run off to the bathroom just to use my phone! hahaha, i know my husband would just die. {i actually forgot my phone at home today and feel so disconnected!}

i’m with you…i say take a billion pictures and post them! tag me so i can see them! i love seeing pictures from other people’s point of view and they just may catch something amazing that your hired photographers did not.

but i guess i can understand the concept. i realize that on our honeymoon we were so busy making sure we had great photos on our cameras, videos, and iphone that you sometimes miss out on the actual experience.
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37 Maureen @ Organically Mo September 18, 2012 at 4:18 pm

To each their own, I guess! I am all for pictures at a wedding. Some of my favorit photos were from our guests. I am so thankful that I got married before Facebook, Twitter, etc. because I would NOT want my wedding pics all over before I had the chance to post my own.
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38 Camile September 18, 2012 at 4:23 pm

Can I just say that as a wedding photographer, it would be absolute HEAVEN if everyone did an unplugged wedding. Do you know how many times I have missed a crucial shot because someone who thinks it is their job to photograph the wedding gets in the way? Not to mention the fact that there are some couples who invite family and friends to stay around for the posed shots and then smile and pose for their friends instead of the pro. It is really, really hard now with everyone having “nice” cameras and iPhones out all the time. It makes the job of those who really know what their doing and are being paid to do a job all that much harder.

True story: I shot a wedding last summer where one of the relatives is literally in every single shot, holding his camer, taking his own pics during the reception. He was always right in the middle of the action and no matter how nicely I asked him to move, he was intent on staying there. It didn’t matter for the closeups, but all the wide angle shots have this man in them. Still makes me mad to this day.

That being said, I DO think that family and friends should take photos at weddings, but they need to be politely briefed before hand not to get in the way of the professional. And maybe limit their photo taking to the reception where they are much less likely to get in the way.

39 Camile September 18, 2012 at 4:25 pm

Oh and to the person that said this is just a ploy to buy pics from an overpriced photographer: most photographers give digital high res images now. Maybe that would have been true 10 years ago, but the vast majority of wedding photogs are not selling prints to anyone.

40 Hillary September 18, 2012 at 5:29 pm

I guess I’m a bigger fan of people putting their phones away during the reception—mainly so they can focus on dancing!
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41 Cait @ Beyond Bananas September 18, 2012 at 6:21 pm

It was determined by our priest that there would be no photography or phone usage during our ceremony. Our photographers weren’t even able to enter the aisle or come close to the alter. This was done to preserve the holiness of our ceremony.. and I completely got it. Our photographers STILL did an amazing job and I love all of our ceremony photos. Our guests were fully present and not watching the ceremony through a phone screen!

42 Brittany September 18, 2012 at 8:11 pm

The unplugged idea definitely made sense for the wedding I attended this past weekend, but it still makes me a little sad that I don’t have any photos. I’m hoping guests will put their phones away during the ceremony, but I’m pretty sure we won’t be limiting cameras. Bring on the photos!! ๐Ÿ™‚

The I Spy game sounds fun!
Brittany recently posted..Boston and an Unplugged Wedding

43 BroccoliHut September 18, 2012 at 9:00 pm

I’m with you on this one–I welcome people to take pictures of the wedding and share ASAP! I was thinking of using an app to collect all the guest photos in one place–I think it’s the one Julie mentioned above.
Interesting topic though. I am more worried about people streaming football games on their phones during the wedding–our wedding is the same day as the Alabama-LSU game!
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44 Jenny September 18, 2012 at 9:07 pm

If I were getting married, I don’t think I would find cameras bothersome, but it would be awesome if people unplugged from their talking and texting on their phones during the festivities! (I wouldn’t mind if they used them to take pictures.)

45 Nina September 18, 2012 at 9:11 pm

Refrain ๐Ÿ™‚

46 kirsten September 18, 2012 at 9:14 pm

I don’t like the idea of an unlplugged wedding. I had 2 weddings, a small (25 person) ceremony Feb of 2010 than a large (200 person) reception in Oct of 2010. For my ceremony my photographer got lost and missed the entire thing. I am SO thankful that my brother in law (and other guests) were there with cameras to document it, otherwise I would have had no pictures of my actual marriage. For my reception, I loved the candid shots guests could provide. On my honeymoon my husband and I loved looking through the pictures that had been posted to facebook by our friends and family. I wish instagram had been around then and we could have made a hashtag, what a cute idea!

47 Megan September 18, 2012 at 9:31 pm

I think the point of an unplugged wedding is to avoid distractions during the ceremony (flashes, people texting during the ceremony instead of enjoying it, camera noises, Facebooking about last night, etc…). I am all for that. You want people to pay attention to you, not their phones. I’m a photographer and definitely all about having the photos. While I’m not a wedding photographer, I’d at least suggest people don’t take photos during the ceremony. You can’t guarantee that someone won’t use a flash, and if they do at the same time as your photographer, it’s going to ruin the photos you’re paying for (plus, do you really want to hear all the beeps and clicks during a beautiful ceremony? Most wedding photogs can’t even do flash photography during the ceremony just for that reason). As for the reception/post ceremony, I say it’s a free-for-all as long as people aren’t getting in the photogs way to keep them from getting the shots you want. I love the I Spy game for the reception, though!

48 Christine @ BookishlyB September 18, 2012 at 9:44 pm

Not for me, but still a good message. I really need to unplug more, in my daily life (she says as she types on her phone).
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49 Drew September 18, 2012 at 9:44 pm

My wife’s uncles cell phone went off during our ceremony. I was so pissed. Luckily the pastor played it off nicely and asked everyone to please silence their phones.

50 Courtney September 18, 2012 at 9:45 pm

I think it’s a cool idea, just too fussy for me. The more photos, the merrier!
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51 Katie D. September 19, 2012 at 8:19 am

I can see another reason for an unplugged wedding beside the photo issue – to get people to be present! If they are scrolling through facebook, checking the news, celebrity gossip sites and playing angry birds, they are missing out on celebrating with you!

52 Natalie @ Free Range Human September 19, 2012 at 9:43 am

I think it’s a wonderful idea in theory, but from my own personal experience the photos taken by the guests added so much. Like your sister, I felt like I never really saw much at my wedding. To this day, the whole thing is a blur with a few solid memories that stick. It’s so nice to have the pictures of your guests enjoying themselves. I especially loved the ones that had absolutely nothing to do with me. What I found as the “center of attention” that I didn’t have a lot of time to spend with individuals. It was more “Hey, how are you, thanks for coming!” But, hey, to each their own!
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53 Amanda September 19, 2012 at 10:55 am

I’m with you 100%! We are getting married in March and I have no desire to wait the 4 to 6 weeks to see pictures! I encourage all of the picture taking and facebook uploading anyone wants to do. We just had our engagement pictures done last Monday and having to wait the two weeks for those is painful!
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54 Lauren @ Part Time House Wife September 19, 2012 at 10:58 am

TOTALLY agree with you! I’m for a PLUGGED in wedding! Our favorite way to pass all the rain on our Honeymoon was to scroll thru the HUNDREDS of awesome photos from our wedding day! So many people captured such fantastic moments! Most of the other pictures made it to my favorites before the professional pics!
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55 Sarah September 19, 2012 at 11:09 am

I agree 100%. I also respect those who would like an unplugged wedding, but personally enjoyed scrolling through all the photos the next day.

We ended up getting the Wedding Snap App. It was great! and a lot of fun to see what photos others took.
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56 Anne @strawberryjampackedlife September 19, 2012 at 12:12 pm

I have never been to one, and I agree with you. While I’m not a fan of flash cameras and obnoxious amateur photographers at the ceremony (especially if it’s in a church), I welcome any and all cameras at the reception. I was so excited to see people post pictures on FB the day after our wedding, so now I make it a point to do the same for my friends and family.
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57 Emily N September 19, 2012 at 12:21 pm

I am glad that we had out friends with cameras at our wedding because there were so many pictures that I wouldn’t have otherwise. One of J’s faves of me from the whole day (framed on his desk at work) is one that was taken by a friend. I can’t imagine NOT having more pictures to look at!
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58 Courtney September 19, 2012 at 3:17 pm

I’d have to say no to unplugged weddings for one reason… my sister got married a few years ago and of course we all took tons of fun photos. Well, her photographer completely flaked, broke her camera and took minimal pics, and then ended up basically going MIA. My sister got screwed and got NO professional photos at all (and yes she got her money back but that doesn’t make up for the lost pictures). So all our fun candid shots are all she has… thank goodness my family took a bunch! If she had done this unplugged wedding she’d have nothing. I know obviously that’s an extreme example, but it’s real and can happen!

59 Alissa September 19, 2012 at 8:12 pm

I agree with you, the more cameras the better. And I love the idea of a camera scavenger hunt. I may have to keep that in mind as a plan my wedding.
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60 Sarah September 28, 2012 at 2:30 pm

I love candid wedding shots, but when my SIL got married, they had to ask people at the rehearsal not to take pictures during the ceremony/key moments at the reception (cake cutting, first dance, etc) as the professional photographer they had hired for the wedding had a statement in her contract that she could charge a higher fee and/or stop photographing the event if “amateur photographers” were in her way or the flash from the camera was interrupting her creative process. Crazy.woman.!

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