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Cell Phones and Your Wedding Ceremony

If you have been to a wedding in the past few years, you have probably seen it.   The bride begins her graceful stroll down the aisle toward her groom when suddenly, a sea of cell phones and even ipads push their way into the aisle to capture the moment.  Meanwhile, the professional photographers hired are trying to capture the bride as she enters the area, the moment she walks down the aisle, her grooms reaction, the moment she arrives at the end of the aisle near her groom, and the moment her father or other precious family member gives her away.  “Can’t the photographer just move a few steps over to get the shot?”  Well sure, but in the moment that your photographer is in position and anticipating the capture of an important part of the ceremony and a couple of cell phones unexpectedly pop up, this can be unrealistic.  Unfortunately, when this happens the bride and groom end up with the sea of those cell phones and the image results are disappointing because the phone popped up and concealed the couple and important elements of their ceremony.   It is even worse when it is a friend or family member who did it.  Did they mean to invade and possibly ruin your ceremony pictures?  Most likely not.  Living in a plugged in society where our cell phones are always within reach and sharing content on social media is “normal” means that you will likely end up with the scenario above unless you educate your guests prior to your wedding ceremony. 

Keeping Your Wedding Unplugged

How do you go about keeping your wedding unplugged?  There are multiple things you can do to ensure that your ceremony is tech free.  The ceremony, being the formal part of your wedding day, and with people seated, it is the easiest for those devices to sneak their way into your images, potentially blocking your photographer.  It is okay to request guests to keep devices put away during this time.  If you “set the ground rules” and communicate your request early, it will save you a lot of headache on your wedding day.  First, you can include verbiage about your tech free ceremony in your wedding invitation.  A brief mention about how you are excited for your guest to be a part of your tech free ceremony will give them the first “heads up”.    It is a good idea to also include signage at your wedding to remind guests of your wishes for your ceremony.  How do you say it without being offensive? 

For your wedding invitations, keep it simple:  “You are invited to our unplugged wedding ceremony,” Or “We request the joyful sight of your smiles, without the distraction of electronic devices.” 

For wedding ceremony signage, I recommend mentioning your guests being fully present or the presence of your wedding photographers so that guests understand that their presence means a lot to you and that the photography is being taken care of.  Below are several great examples of wording for your ceremony signage, courtesy of

“We’re so glad you’re here! Please stow away your phones and cameras until the reception. We promise to share the beautiful pictures taken today.”

“Please switch off your devices and stow them away, we’d love to see your smiles aiming our way.”

“Welcome to our unplugged wedding. We invite you to be fully present with us during our ceremony, so please turn off all phones and cameras. Thank you!”

“Welcome family and friends! We’ve hired a photographer to capture how this moment looks with their camera, so you can capture how it feels with your hearts.”

“We’ve asked a professional photographer to capture this special moment so that you can sit back, relax and enjoy it with us. Our beautiful images will be available after the wedding.”

 “As we tie the knot, please be our guest. Our photographer will take care of the rest!”

Check out OAKYdesigns for even more ideas!

Cell Phones at Your Wedding Reception

As for the reception, I recommend allowing guests to have their phones out.  It is reasonable to request phones be stowed away for a 30 minute ceremony.  It is a little less realistic to request this for the reception, unless it is for security reasons.  Often guests will incorporate their phones into the fun.  People naturally love to capture meaningful moments with their cell phones.  So encourage it!  Work with it!  You can choose to provide a hashtag for wedding reception photos at various locations at the reception or just allow guests to post randomly.  When you assign a hashtag, images posted on Instagram, for example, will be easy to find.  You can also utilize “The Guest” app from The Knot, an app that allows guests to upload their cell phone images during the reception.  If you provide the information for guests to sign up prior to the reception, guests will be able to download the app and get signed up within about 5 minutes.  You will need to plan ahead to set up your event and provide guests with the information so that they can access “your event”.  Once they are in, they will be able to get started sharing!