Wedding Etiquette: Turn Off and Tune In

Say “I don’t” to electronics for an unplugged wedding ceremony.

Although we live in a world of hyperconnectivity, where we are plugged into technology 24/7, some brides and grooms are saying “I don’t” to electronics at their wedding ceremonies and asking their guests to put away their cell phones, tablets and cameras.

“I wanted my guests to be present in the moment, and to not be overly concerned with getting their next shot,” says Heather Guffey of her unplugged May wedding in Odessa, MO. “You’re emotionally detached when you’re taking pictures and not listening to the vows. I wanted people to listen.”

Many celebrities, including Michael Jordan and Kim Kardashian, have imposed an Internet black-out when saying their “I dos,” but regular folks are doing it, too, in the hope of focusing their guests’ attention, as well as to ensure better professional photos.

“I’ve seen wedding photos where there are so many arms sticking up with cell phones in every picture, and I didn’t want that,” says Teddi Botteron, of Wesley Chapel, FL, who married last September. She posted a sign outside the venue kindly asking her guests to put away their electronics during the ceremony.

Local photographer Cricket Whitman is thrilled that more weddings are going no-tech.  “It’s like an obsession; everyone thinks they are a photographer,” says the co-owner of Cricket’s Photo & Cinema in Winter Garden. “I’ve had people plant themselves right in front of me,” and all of those extra flashes can ruin a once-in-a-lifetime photo.

She recently got an email from a bride asking her to edit out all the cell phones from a wide shot of the church. “It was a difficult request,” Whitman says, because there were so many hands in the air holding devices.

Whitman likes to get pictures of the family’s reaction during the ceremony, but at one wedding she noticed the mother of the groom taking her own photos and missing out on the action in real time. “They forget that I’m the professional who was hired to do the job.”

To alert guests to their wishes, couples often include a polite note in the invitation or post a sign at the entrance. But, advises Whitman, it works best when the officiant makes an announcement before the ceremony begins. “Otherwise, nobody listens,” she says.

If you really want to enforce the rule, there’s always Yondr, a national company with the slogan “Be Here Now.” It provides lockable pouches so guests can store their digital devices during a cell phone-free event. If you get a call, the pouch vibrates, and you can step outside and unlock it at a designated station.

Yet, even those who ban electronics from the ceremony usually encourage a “plugged in” reception. Like Botteron, they provide special Snapchat filters or custom Instagram hashtags and encourage guests to go selfie crazy at the cocktail party and reception and post to their heart’s content.

Then, the more photos the better, says Guffey. She enjoyed seeing party pictures online as soon as her wedding was over, instead of waiting weeks for the photographer’s proofs. “It was fun to see everybody’s different point of view,” Guffey says.

Photographer Whitman welcomes those pictures, as long as the crowd lets her get the classic shots, such as the couple’s first dance and slicing the cake. Candids can capture another aspect of the celebration, she notes. “After all, I can’t be everywhere.”

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