unique wedding ideas

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!

Unique Wedding Day Ideas

It's always fun to observe how different couples' personalities will shine through in the elements of their wedding day. With each ceremony, I always find one unique thing or an example of thinking-outside-of-the-box I wish we had incorporated in our own wedding years ago. Alas, Pinterest was not around yet to serve as a treasure trove of wedding planning ideas.

If you find yourself in the midst of wedding planning and are looking for some fun ideas to incorporate you and your fiance's' personalities into your big day, here's a collection of the most fun, touching, and unique wedding day ideas Jason & I have seen recently. 

The Wedding Time Itself

I'm not sure of the exact statistic, but I'd bet the vast majority of weddings occur Saturday evening with the reception lasting late into the night. Want to be really unique when planning your big day? Get married Saturday morning. One of our recent couples did exactly that. They took their love of coffee, and "meh"-feeling towards dancing, and had a lovely Saturday morning wedding followed by a brunch-themed reception. THEY. HAD. AN. OMELET. BAR. AND. STARBUCKS. COFFEE. It was such a fun way to spend a Saturday morning.

Meaningful wedding day gifts

If you aren't planning on doing a first-look, a great way to have a connection with your soon-to-be spouse is to write each other a heartfelt note before the ceremony. You can even send your photographers over to your future Mr. or Mrs. to hand-deliver the note and document the moments you read his/her sweet words.

During her bridal portrait sessions, one of our #JandMbrides had us take her picture holding this sign, under the guise it was to be a present for her dad since her mother was there with us. We got her the image and she had it framed, writing a sweet letter to her parents on the matte. Before heading to the ceremony on her wedding day, she gave the framed picture and letter to her parents. It was such a sweet way for her to share with them how much they meant to her on this special day. 

Before, During, and After the Ceremony

Have one final celebration with your bridesmaids before the ceremony by providing a mimosa bar in the morning. Sipping on mimosas while you have your hair and makeup done is a relaxing way to start the wedding day.

There are a lot of different ways to symbolize the uniting of two families in a wedding ceremony besides the traditional unity candle. But hands-down the most unique and most perfect personality-capturing unity symbol we've seen was a unity tree. Each set of parents poured soil into the large jar. Then the bride and groom planted a tree into the mixed soil. After their wedding and reception, the couple carried their unity tree with them to their new home in Oregon to be planted in their front yard. 

Some people cannot wait for the DJ to start spinning tracks and hit the dance floor. But some guests would rather do anything but dance. One fun option we've seen at a reception was to provide dozens of board games for your guests to play. Nothing brings families and friends together like board games!

Photobooths are really fun and a neat way to send guests home with a commemorative picture. But have you ever considered a personal caricature? One of our brides found an art student at Baylor University to draw caricatures for any of her guests during the reception. It was so much fun, and super popular. The artist had people waiting in line to get their caricature drawn. 

Looking for some unique entertainment for your guests during cocktail hour? One of our couples hired a local polka band to come play for the guests. It was so unique, and so fun. The kids especially loved twirling around and dancing to the music.

A lot of women wear super-cute high heels to weddings. While these shoes may look great with their dresses and be perfect attire for a wedding ceremony, by the end of the night these ladies may be unable to dance the night away with you because their feet are hurting. A great solution is to provide a stash of complimentary dancing shoes displayed in the women's restroom of the reception venue.

Speaking of dancing, everyone is aware of the traditional dances which open the dance floor at a wedding reception. There's the newlywed's first dance, then the father-daughter dance. Occasionally there's even a mother-son dance. But one of our tender-hearted brides (remember the picture she made her parents?) had a surprise mother-daughter dance with her mom. Her mother had no idea until the DJ called her to the floor. They danced for a little bit before the DJ called all the daughters and mothers on to the floor to join in the dancing. Luckily I was only holding our off-camera flash and not taking pictures at the time, because I was a blubbering mess. It was such a sweet moment and truly showcased this mother and daughter's meaningful relationship.

We love seeing how each bride and groom add unique elements to their wedding day to truly make it their own. Those are some of the most unique wedding day ideas we've seen recently. Leave us a comment below to tell us and other brides what you've seen. We'd love to hear it!