What I wish I knew before my wedding day

Should you have an unplugged wedding?

We’ve been blogging our answers to different questions we’ve been asked by our J&M Sweethearts. In previous posts we’ve talked about should you hire a planner, should you do a first look, and tips on what to wear to your engagement session. We’ve even shared some wedding planning advice from former brides.

In today’s Bride Advice blog we’re going to help you answer the question, “Should we have an unplugged wedding?” There’s quite a few articles out there written by photographers to explain why they would like you to have an unplugged wedding. But here we’re going to talk about reasons you as the bride and groom may want to consider having an unplugged wedding. But first…

A wedding guest takes a picture of a bride and groom with his cell phone during a wedding ceremony-Should you have an unplugged wedding?, written by Texas Wedding Photographers, Jason & Melaina Photography-www.jasonandmelaina.com 

WHAT IS AN “UNPLUGGED WEDDING?”

If you haven’t attended an “unplugged” wedding yourself, or haven’t come across the concept in your wedding-planning Pinterest searches, you may have never heard of an “unplugged wedding.” An unplugged wedding is a wedding where the couple asks their guests to put away their cell phones, iPads, and cameras, and refrain from taking pictures. Most often this is only requested during the ceremony portion of the day, but could potentially be a request for the entire ceremony and reception as well.

3 REASONS TO CONSIDER AN UNPLUGGED WEDDING

Being fully present

Imagine it’s your wedding day. You’re standing up at the altar with your sweetheart, preparing to say your vows and commit your lives to one another. You look out into the audience at all the most important people in your lives who have come to witness this day with you. And all you see is a sea of cellphones, tablets and cameras aimed at you, hiding the faces of those most important to you. Or people looking down at their phones as they post the picture they just took on their social media account.

Having an unplugged ceremony invites your guests to be fully present with you during this important moment in your love story. It allows you to lock eyes with your friends and families, truly cherishing this special once-in-a-lifetime moment you’re all sharing. If the thought of missing that connection with present guests makes you sad, you may want to consider requesting guests to put down their devices for your ceremony.

A wedding guest takes a picture of a bride and groom with her cell phone during a wedding reception-Should you have an unplugged wedding?, written by Texas Wedding Photographers, Jason & Melaina Photography-www.jasonandmelaina.com

Public sharing of wedding images

Speaking of posting pictures to social media...If you consider yourself a more private person in what you share on social media you may want to consider an unplugged wedding as well. Guests are excited to share the pictures they have taken at your wedding to their Facebook or Instagram accounts, and will often tag you in the images. So it’s possible images of your wedding ceremony, your first kiss or first dance, or even you in your dress before the ceremony could be shared online for a lot of people to see before you’ve even seen pictures yourself. It could even be possible an excited guest or member of the bridal party will snap a quick picture of you before the ceremony and share it to social media, potentially ruining any sort of surprise you wanted to have in what your wedding gown and hair/makeup looks like. And if you didn’t do a first look and your groom-to-be happens to be scrolling social media on his phone before the ceremony and sees the post? Well that’s a bummer!

Less accidental photobombing

Our first two reasons for having an unplugged wedding dealt with the actual wedding day, but this last reason deals with the images and video footage you receive after your wedding from your photographers and/or videographers. I took the following image of Jason at a recent wedding as sort of a behind-the-scenes shot for our business. But it highlights the potential problem of well-meaning guests accidentally photobombing your photographers and/or videographers.

A photographer in the aisle during a wedding ceremony-Should you have an unplugged wedding?, written by Texas Wedding Photographers, Jason & Melaina Photography-www.jasonandmelaina.com

I wasn’t worried about Jason taking this position in the aisle because 1) I knew Jason was aware I was behind him and was going to stay crouched down so I could photograph over him, and 2) I knew Jason wasn’t going to stay posted up in the center of the aisle the entire ceremony so I was still going to be able to get my shot of an empty aisle with the bride and groom at the altar.

However, we don’t always know this with guests at weddings. Excited guests who want to record those special moments, like your dad walking you down the aisle or your first kiss as husband and wife, may not realize they’ve accidentally stepped out in the aisle in front of the photographer or videographer you’ve paid to professionally capture that moment for you. Your guest may be so excited to capture video of your dance with your dad they step out onto the dance floor to get a better video, placing themselves in the frame of the sweet moment your photographer or videographer was trying to capture.

Granted, we can often move our position or change our framing of the moment. Or we can strategically crop the image later. And we’re often on the look out beforehand for guests with cameras or phones, taking into account their potential movement into our shots during pivotal moments so we can limit the number of accidental photobombs.

But sometimes, moving quickly is difficult for us, especially if the venue limits our mobility already as some chapels and churches do. Or the guest stands up the entire ceremony to film with their phone and there’s never a way to not have them in the wide-angle shots we do of the ceremony. Or lastly, your guest themselves may not end up photobombing the image, but the flash they used on their camera to take a quick picture of your kiss at the altar ends up completely throwing off our lighting settings for our cameras, and then it’s impossible to edit the bright flash out of that image later.

We can do a lot to make sure we capture those important images for you with as little photobombing as possible. But having an unplugged wedding drastically reduces the chances of any accidental photobombs during your wedding day.

SO SHOULD YOU HAVE AN UPLUGGED WEDDING?

We know your family and friends are going to want to take pictures with you and of you during your wedding day. And we actually love that! We love that your families and friends will be able to capture moments from their perspective on your wedding day, and be able to share those images with you. We also think it’s really fun when our couples have a wedding day hashtag and encourage guests to post images with it, so our Sweethearts can search that hashtag after their wedding to see all the fun their guests had that day. So if you can't wait to see all the different images from your guests documenting your full wedding day, then maybe an unplugged wedding isn't for you. 

A wedding hashtag signs-Should you have an unplugged wedding?, written by Texas Wedding Photographers, Jason & Melaina Photography-www.jasonandmelaina.com

But if you find yourself torn between wanting to have guests use a hashtag but also wanting to have fully present guests who won’t accidentally photobomb your wedding photographers or videographers, a great compromise could be having an unplugged ceremony. It could be as simple as having a sign at the entrance to the ceremony or something printed in the program asking guests to be fully present with you in this moment and put their phones away. You could even have your officiant make the request before the ceremony begins. And then, as guests head into the reception, you can have signs up or cards on the tables sharing your wedding day hashtag and encouraging guests to get those phones and cameras back out. Then it's a win-win!


What are your thoughts on an unplugged wedding? Leave us a comment below to let us know!

Wedding Planning Advice from Former Brides | Waco Wedding Photographer

Bridal Gown and Teal Bridesmaids Dress hanging together in bridal getting ready room at Moon River Ranch

When we walk alongside our J&M Brides as they are planning their weddings, year in and year out, wedding planning becomes second-nature to us. But we know for the majority of J&M Brides, this is their one and only  wedding, and their first time planning a wedding. 

Even if you helped plan your sister's or best friend's wedding last year, the amount of decisions needed to be made for your own big day can still seem overwhelming. (Trust us, we remember our own wedding planning journey!)

So we reached out to some of our close friends and former J&M Brides to ask them what one piece of wedding planning advice they'd offer a bride-to-be in the middle of wedding planning. And we wanted to share those nuggets of wisdom with you. So let's pretend you just gained a handful of big sisters/BFFs who have gone down the aisle before you and want to help you learn from their experiences.

 

Groom sings to bride, emotional father-daughter dance, wedding photography in Waco Texas and Horseshoe Bay
"Hire a professional wedding photographer and videographer as soon as possible. Don't rely on your family and friends (unless they are professionals who you hired). When you hire professionals, they are focused on previous conversations y'all have had about what you expect from them. They won't be distracted by having convos with people they know at the wedding. They will be focused on the two of you and capturing beautiful moments that you would otherwise completely forget about! Unfortunately we did not hire a videographer and relied on a good friend with a nice video camera. We don't have a wedding video. Let's just say this is a topic we don't discuss even 8 years later! Hire professionals. That's what I learned!
Also, find a couple who had been married a while and ask them to mentor y'all throughout this engagement and first year of marriage. It's always helpful to have a couple in your life who is not family and has experience in marriage. The advice and wisdom they can provide for you will be priceless.  - Kelly

 

Waco Texas bride has hair styled on wedding day while bridesmaids look on
Stay organized and provide an agenda for the wedding weekend so everyone is on the same page. I'm a crazy planner (it's the teacher in me) so it made it so easy for everyone to know where to be and when to be there. I got complimented on this by a lot of our wedding party who had been in previous weddings where they would have to constantly text to figure out where they needed to be and when. Also create a spreadsheet of hair and makeup and times and give your bridesmaids the totals beforehand so they have cash or check ready to speed up that process. This made it a very smooth process and my hair dresser greatly appreciated it-especially since I had 10 bridesmaids, a junior bridesmaid, a flower girl, and mothers and grandmas that had to be done. - Ashlee
Bride and grooms look lovingly at one another during weddings in Waco TX and Victoria TX
Two things: 
It's ok to say you don't like something, like an idea or suggestion. It's your wedding. Just be gracious. Also, if something doesn't turn out the way you want it or you can't do something you wanted to, don't let it steal your joy. Choose joy!
Ok, three things, haha: Remember to cherish this time you have with your family and friends, during the planning process and in the day of. Remember to take "mental snapshots" of how you felt, how he looked at you, etc. You'll flip through those in your head over the years more times than you will a photo album. - Myka
Waco TX bride and groom hold hands before wedding ceremony at Carleen Bright Arboretum
We both picked three things that were important to us for our wedding. We really tried to make sure those things came out the way we wanted and it was ok if all the other details weren't exactly perfect. It helped us focus on what was important (the marriage) and also love our wedding without a lot of stress or unmet expectations. - Dache
Waco TX bride walks toward groom during a "first look" before their wedding ceremony

We hope these suggestions from real-life brides help you as you plan your dream wedding day. And if you, dear reader, have any other nuggets of wisdom for brides-to-be leave them in the comments below!