Destination weddings in Ireland and DC/MD USA. Your Irish wedding planner – styling and coordination to die for weddings since 2006. Based in Dublin and Maryland.

Planning Advice: UNPLUG those phones!

Photo courtesy of Hannah Way Photography

Without a doubt one of the biggest pet peeves for wedding industry professionals is the overzealous wedding guest photographer. It’s become an almost obsessive race to social media platforms, who can snap the perfect filtered shot first and share it with the world.  In theory, a great idea. But as many great ideas often do, falls desperately short on practical application.

Texas-based photographer Hannah Way Hannah Way Photography recently posted a shot she took at a client’s wedding with a caption that’s since gone viral. It’s pretty self-explanatory, and adds to the (already long) list of other photos arguing for the case on hosting an unplugged wedding.

The Argument To Unplug

The first and most glaringly obvious is the guests gets in the way of the professional photographer you’ve hired (and spent a good amount of money on).  As Hannah posted in her post, “…not only did you ruin my shot, but you took this moment away from the groom, father of the bride, and the bride. What exactly do you plan on doing with that photo? Honestly. Are you going to print it out? Save it? Look at it everyday? No. You’re not. But my bride would have printed this photo, looked at it often and reminisced over this moment as her dad walked her down the aisle on her wedding day. But instead, you wanted to take a photo with your phone, blocking my view, and taking a photo that you will not use.” 

A compelling argument to make.

Especially for destination weddings, you’ve purposely chosen a location for its spirit, natural backdrop, unique details and although the temptation to document every moment is there, there really is no substitute to fully immersing yourself into the space. When you’re busy snapping every shot you’re really cheating yourself out of that experience and it’s a shame. Encourage your guests to put the phone away, and invite them to experience your destination wedding in Ireland with all of their senses! They’ll remember it far better than any photo!

Getting Your Guests On Board

You’re proud of the location and details, all of the hard work that’s gone into months of planning and you’d love to delight in your guests’ reactions and admiration. And the reality is, asking them to not bring their phones at all is probably not going to happen.  Here are some ideas to help you structure your wedding day so your guests can actually enjoy the day (and your photographer can capture it all beautifully!):

  1. Things like wedding hashtags are great but can send a confusing message to your guests; consider not encouraging copious guest photography by eliminating this wedding trend.
  2. If asking them to unplug completely for the day probably won’t happen, think about asking them to unplug for just the ceremony itself, then letting loose at the reception. Keep that moment (and point of the whole event!) sacred and all attention focused on the importance of your vows rather than getting the perfect angle and filter.
  3. Display a sign at the entrance to your ceremony space asking guests to keep phones on silent and no pictures during the ceremony.
  4. Ask your celebrant or wedding coordinator to make an announcement before the wedding begins.
  5. If you really think it’s not a possibility, have a frank conversation with your guests before the day asking them to be discreet and draw some clear boundaries: avoid the aisle, standing in the aisle at any point is completely out of the question, do not stand up or reach up/out during the ceremony, etc.
  6. Limit the devices to smaller iphones — literally no reason to be bringing an ipad to a wedding to take pictures and leave the Nikon for the sight-seeing!
  7. If you’re hosting your wedding in a particularly amazing location (Cliffs of Moher comes to mind), asking guests to keep their phones away may not be realistic. Instead, try building in some time for them to have with the ceremony space and scenery before your ceremony starts so they can document the day as they like. Then have your celebrant make an announcement to put them away before your cue to walk begins.

Remember, this is your wedding day and you deserve to have the attention and adoration on you both and what you are doing: joining your lives together. Flowers and castles are wonderful, but they are not the important part. Send a clear message to your guests and encourage them to engage with one another and take in the environment you’ve worked so hard to create.

Hannah really says it best: “You are important to the bride and groom, you would not be attending the wedding otherwise. So please, let me do my job, and you just sit back, relax and enjoy this once in a lifetime moment.”

We couldn’t agree more.

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