Technology… There’s no stopping it.  iPhones/iPads and cameras are getting ever smaller and the age-range of people using them is bigger than ever.  More and more, there seem to be devices and accessories to accommodate both. So what is one to do when Aunt Jenny sticks her iPad in the aisle as the bride and her dad are approaching the altar? If you are like me, you move around and try to shoot around it. With that being said, it’s always a blessing when the officiant mentions that this will be an unplugged wedding.  And as of late, I have seen more and more couples leaning toward doing this; either having a sign from Etsy that states it, or having someone casually mentions it to guests. Even church attendants are speaking to the guests that are sitting along the aisle section of the pews beforehand, and telling them to not extend their hands outside the aisle. While most of the time it’s not an issue, sometimes people take it upon themselves to document the day as well with no thought of the working professionals.

So you may be asking, why write about it?

First, ceremonies.  Most officiants have certain rules and guidelines as to how they want the decorum of the photographer to be, including which areas are off limits. I have been to many a wedding where a guest has brought their entire camera system and have gone onto, behind and around the altar. If there is one major no-no during a wedding, it would be just that (unless of course you are the one getting married or officiating the ceremony). Not only is it a distraction to guests and the couple, but it now presents an obstacle for the photographer trying to maneuver you out of the shot when you are in the background of the bride or groom. Now, it doesn’t always pose an issue, but if I can tell you one thing without hesitation, I’d tell you that I see a minimal of 5-10 phones or iPad with arms poking out into the aisle. It’s at this point that I often ask myself, “What is more important. Is it that shot on your iPhone, or the one from the person that has been hired to be there for the day?”  While I understand people want to take images for Facebook and Instagram, more often than not those photos won’t come out great or even good.  A blurry shot in a dimly lit church from 15 pews back is not worth blocking the groom’s view with an iPad as the bride and her father are walking down the aisle.  Not to mention, if I had to imagine what would mean more to a couple between seeing their guests faces, or seeing the back of their mobile device, I’d hedge my bets on the first one.

So what are the benefits of having an unplugged wedding?

Presence

Plain and Simple; being in the moment, seeing the tears stream down the face of the two people getting married and knowing the couple will share a gallery link or copy of the photos when they are ready. Also, it’s great knowing you don’t have to lug your gear to an event. After all, when you go out to eat, do you bring your own utensils and ingredients and start cooking in their kitchen? Imagine the couple having actually been able to see their guests’ smiling faces. Or think about the satisfaction of knowing that you aren’t in the way of the professional hired  by the bride and groom potentially ruining the shots that this professional will have to submit to the couple.

In preparation for writing this article which has been on my mind for a while now, I reached out to several colleagues to see if this is something they have encountered as well. As I already knew, there were several instances in which this had happened spanning many states. The one below happened at a wedding from Raleigh wedding photographer, Dave Shay.  Family members often approach wedding days with the best intentions, but in this case the documentation of this moment was ruined; the bride and groom washing each other’s feet as a sign of their dedication to serve each other in their marriage.

Thressa+GregForOffline&PrintUse(203of1091)_©Dave Shay

or there are more prevalent ones like this  from New Jersey Wedding Photographer,Stephanie Massaro. I myself encounter this at 99% of my own weddings.

IMG_2431©Stephanie Massaro Weddings

With that being said, Whenever I give the couple their images. I always provide a link to show guests and family members that want to see. Hopefully I have provided some insight as to why it’s best to leave the cameras at home and just enjoy the day!