It is beautiful to see how many couples in the world have been honing in what they want and desire on their wedding day, to ensure the create a beautiful experience for their guests and themselves. One definite shift has been in the intentional unplugged ceremonies. Has the thought crossed your mind?
I have three main hubs of clients: Milwaukee, Toronto, and Croatia. What I want to do for you is draw a parallel that I am seeing in North America and around the world. As a Milwaukee wedding photographer clients hire me for photography as well as wedding design in the absence of a planner. We spend time disucssing what works on photos, but also what trends are current, timeless and a valuable investment. As a Toronto wedding photographer, I focus strictly on photography and art direction, exclusively photographing weddings with planners and designers. In both markets, the trend of having an unplugged ceremony is especially high.
I originally wrote this post about a year ago, but wanted to bring you an update that’s current for your 2021 and 2022 wedding planning. Since about 2017, I’ve seen many ceremonies make the request of guests to “unplug,”meaning ever so kindly asking guests to “please leave the phones in the car” or “be in the moment” with the couple. But in 2019 and 2020, it was becoming an expectation by not only the couples, but also with guests.
Unplugged ceremonies have yielded incredibly intimate ceremonies. So much so that I could notice it as a photographer. Heads were up, phones were put away. Guests were engaged, and officiants and religious officials have stepped up to use this engagement in the ceremonies. “My priest took time to involve my guests in the ceremony. In his sermon, he asked questions, guided the guests through a beautiful song, and had us engage with the guests by facing them. It was such a moving ceremony, I couldn’t believe it was ours. The only reason it worked was because guests were engaged and present,” said Jessica Dickinson a 5th Photography Milwaukee 2020 bride.
Jessica and her partner Philip used a kind message with their guests, delivered via private notes on church pews and on a large hand-written calligraphy artwork on an easel situated just outside the Milwaukee ceremony doors. It read:
Thank you for being here today. Our heart are overjoyed. Please be in the moment with us during our ceremony. The greatest gift you can give us is to be fully present.
We kindly ask that you turn off all phones and cameras for the duration of the service and enjoy our ceremony with us.
It would mean the world to us to have you fully present in this moment with us.
Clients have been making the request in many ways. The most typical approaches I see are:
Including the request in the invitation (accompanied by a reminder the day of)
On the wedding program (and stated by the hosts handing out the wedding programs)
On a large sign as you enter the ceremony (in a very conspicuous location)
On each of the individual ceremony seats (as a small tent or on a paper accompanying the program)
William and Alexandra, a Toronto wedding client couple of mine from early 2020 used a genius approach. Prior to the wedding, the couple made arrangements with my 5th Photography team to prepare a same-day slideshow to present to guests via phone during the cocktail hour. We prepared an online viewing gallery link ahead of time that the couple had printed on programs and given to guests as they entered the ceremony. As soon as the ceremony was concluded, my team uploaded a selection of photos photos from the day to share with guests. The guests loved this.
The results of going unplugged is an intimate and beautiful experience for the couple and their guests. Guests are able to focus on the words and mood of the ceremony and be entirely present. You can look out into the crowd and see engaged faces, looking up, smiling, crying and supporting you as a couple. As the photographer, I am then able to get every shot, find more emotion in those photos and avoid cell phone photo bombers in the background. You’ll have a beautiful set of ceremony images that capture celebration and guests who are present…over the mediocre, instant gratification of cell phone images.
Thank your guests during the reception for respecting your sacred day and for celebrating by being in the moment together with you. Their presence means the world to you, having them there along side you, is a compliment to them and are words spoken from you heart.
Thank you so much for inviting me into your planning. I truly hope this guide and checklist serve you in your planning. If I can be of help in your photography or for consulting services, please reach out to me. Until then, best wishes.
Check out the other Planning Resources waiting for you on the blog.