For starters, what even is an unplugged ceremony?
It's when your guests aren't using their phones, cameras or devices during your ceremony or even your whole wedding. It is your choice to make as a couple but here are some pro's and cons for you to consider when making this choice.
Now. The pros of allowing guests their phones and devices during your wedding.
If you don't have a professional photographer or videographer it's a great way to have a whole bunch of mobile phone photographs from your day. If you have no confidence in your photographer it's a great way to have a bunch of mobile phone photographs taken by your guests. It's another perspective of your wedding from your guests. If you do this you might like to have a facebook group, event or album where your guests can upload all the images they take to it to share with you. Just remember that facebook will compress the file sizes and that you will unlikely be able to print these photographs very large in good quality.
The reason why I recommend an unplugged wedding though?
If you have invested $1000s of dollars to have your wedding photographed and/or recorded by a videographer, those guests who so enthusiastically want to stand in the middle of the aisle are going to be in the way of those people doing their job that you have paid them for. The guests that are super excited about your wedding and need to take 199 images of your ceremony, they tend to stand right in front of the photographer or videographer not even realising they are doing so. They hang out of the middle of the aisle blocking the grooms view of the bride walking up the aisle. They stand on chairs to get that perfect shot on their little mobile device during your ceremony. They really REALLY need to get that shot, so bad sometimes that they sometimes ever come right up to the alter to take a photograph of you in the middle of the ceremony. Sometimes they stand right behind you recording it, you can basically feel their sweaty breath at your 3.00pm Summer ceremony.
My guests totally won't do that. Yeah, I've heard that a lot. I can guarantee you, someone will. Even when you have had it announced that this is an unplugged wedding or that you have invested in a super pretty sign to tell them to put their phones away, some one will sneak their phone out. I promise you. And when that one person does it, the rest of them somehow become this crazy herd of mobile phones that just have to get a better photograph than the person next to them. I have no idea why, it's the craziest thing I have ever seen, but I'm not even kidding right now. This is a real thing.
Imagine your wedding ceremony is a movie, you can't concentrate on a movie when you are busy on your phone, texting or swiping or zooming in. Choosing what filter is going to look best. You miss half of the last sentence because you aren't concentrating. Well that's your wedding ceremony. The guest's on their phones are busy and distracted and they aren't with you in the moment.
I personally would love my guests to be present with me, I want them to listen to my vows, I want them to be smiling at me or clapping or cheering as I walk up the aisle. I want to see their faces not their phones. I want them to remember my wedding as it truly happened, not through a mobile phone.
As a photographer I love to sneak around the front and sides of ceremony and capture your guests watching you being married not just the two of you. I love to capture the emotions, the smiles, the tears. The tightly held hands and the comforting arm around a shoulder. I love to capture the moments that you aren't even seeing as you stare at the love of your life. If you choose to allow your guests to take photographs throughout your ceremony, what I'm going to capture for you is a phone in front of your mothers face. A giant iPad with a flip case in lime green polka dots in front of your grandmas face. I'm going to capture you walking up the aisle in amongst a sea of mobile phones. I'm going to capture your guests standing on chairs behind you with their phone up in the air.
If your concern is that your photographer might miss something that a guest might get, I suggest you look at your choice of photographer and evaluate why you chose them. Experienced wedding photographers constantly work on their craft to capture your wedding is even better than the last one, they know the moments that happen at certain times throughout a wedding and ceremony. They are constantly on the look out for things to document for you. If you are afraid their camera might break and you won't get any photographs? Again look at why you chose your photographer, did you see if they carried back up gear? Do they have safe guards in place for storing your images, backing them up, spare gear, spare batteries and lenses and memory cards? Just ask them. Double check to put your mind at ease.
Now although we might be able to work around two or three guests on their phone and avoid getting their phone faces in too many photographs, buttttt it's really hard to work around 150 guests on their phones. It happens, trust me. It's some kind of weird herd complex.
So if you do want to have your guests present during your ceremony, have them watching your ceremony and listening to your vows to one another. I recommend an unplugged wedding, let your photographer and your videographer do their job properly without having to elbow guests out of the aisle when they should be taking photographs.
Now, if you have decided you want to have an unplugged wedding. I highly, highly recommend having your celebrant announce that before you walk up the aisle. I say before you walk up the aisle so that you don't walk up the aisle to a sea of mobile devices.
Have them word it that it is a request by the bride and groom, groom & groom or bride & bride, not the photographer. They don't give a damn if I want their phones away, you are far more scary than I am on this particular subject. Ideally a celebrant that isn't afraid of putting across enough authority and humour on this subject to get them to listen is a great choice.
Have a sign if you want one, that they cannot miss on their way to your ceremony, definitely don't rely on this alone though. This will not deter that herd mentality. Some how the excitement of one person has their phone out means we don't have to listen to that sign on the way in anymore and can do what ever we want.
I might sound dramatic, but I'm actually just being honest. In a world of mobile phone and social media addiction this is what it has come to ha!
But do remember, this is your day. Talk it over with your partner and do what ever it is that you want. These are your photographs, your memories and your wedding day!