Unplugged Wedding: Is It For You?

I’ve seen it myself: The look on the bride’s face as she glances out at her people on her wedding day to see her aunt, cousin, or friend checking their phone in the middle of the ceremony. It’s a terrible look. Part of me is thankful that I was married 10 years ago before technology became such a big thing. Maybe that’s why an unplugged wedding is starting to trend.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m a huge fan of cellphones and the modern devices of the 21st century. I think that the trend for wedding day hashtags is a cool way to see how guests experience your special day. But the past few years have seen a growing trend in what is called an “unplugged wedding”. 

Not sure if an unplugged wedding is for you? Well, let’s look at what it is, what goes into it, and how to decide if an unplugged wedding is for you. 

Unplugged Wedding couple walking down isle with people watching.

What Is An Unplugged Wedding?

An unplugged wedding is when the wedding couple asks their guests to turn off their phones, tablets, cameras, and any other digital devices during the ceremony or reception, however, mainly the ceremony.

There isn’t any rule for how far you can go with instituting an unplugged wedding. There is no right way or wrong way to organize one. No matter how far you decide to go with the rules – or how strictly you choose to implement them, here are a few questions I recommend asking yourself before choosing to have an unplugged wedding. 

Why Do You Want An Unplugged Wedding?

Some of the common reasons that couples choose to have an unplugged wedding are…

  • They want their guests to be present in the day
  • They don’t want their wedding pictures to be pictures of their guests on their phones
  • Guests should stay in their seats and not moving around to get a photo during the ceremony
  • You want control over the social media presence of your wedding – and to be the one to provide photos

All of these are valid reasons. If you can identify why you want to have an unplugged wedding it can help you decide how far you want to go with the rule. Most couples I encounter are more concerned about the ceremony than the reception but it really comes down to personal preference.

Is This Rule Necessary For Your Guest List?

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No one knows your guests better than you. Before you decide to institute a rule or to ask your guests to stay unplugged, think about if it’s necessary or not. If your friends and family don’t have a problem with putting their phones away, then it might not even be necessary. 

What Regulations Will You Put In Place Around The Rules?

What part of the wedding do you want to be device-free? Is it just the ceremony? Or the reception? Or both? How much of an ask VS a rule do you want the unplugged aspect of your wedding to be? Are guests handing in their phones at the beginning of the day or just keeping them in their pockets?

Think about these details before you make any announcements. Be prepared to lay out the details. This is especially important if you want the entire night to be unplugged, including the reception and after-party. 

photo of a cell phone taking a photo of wedding couple at their ceremony

For many people, taking their own pictures and recording the night is a fun part of being at a wedding. While this day should be all about you as a couple, many couples do put the enjoyment of their guests high on the priority list. 

Again, there’s no right answer to this – but it’s something to think about. 

How Much Will It Bug You If People Don’t Follow The Rule?

You can ask your guests to follow your request and, with it being your day, hopefully, they do. But people will do what they want to do. The last thing you want to be doing on your own wedding day is being concerned or getting anxious if you see people with their phones out. 

If people don’t follow your rule, how upset will you be? 

Weddings can be stressful as it is. The last thing any bride or groom wants is to be distracted about a rule which was made to make the night more personal and intimate in the first place. 

wedding guests and bride laughing during ceremony

How Will You Present This To Your Guests?

There are a few different ways to announce an unplugged wedding. A sign at the ceremony entrance is a trendy way to present it. It can be used as a friendly reminder if you included the decision in the invitation or wedding announcement. Another way to announce it is to literally announce it. The DJ or officiant can ask guests to turn off their phones and put away all devices once everyone is seated. This method may work best for ceremony-only unplugged weddings. 

Like everything else, how you announce it completely depends on you and your preference. 

You may have a lot of mixed thoughts if you’re deciding to have an unplugged wedding or not. My best advice? Don’t concern yourself over what your guests might think or how they will react – this day is about you. If you decide an unplugged wedding is right for you, then go for it! If not, that’s okay too!

At the end of the day, the choice to have an unplugged wedding is the same as any other choice that a bride and groom make for their day: It completely depends on you two as a couple and what vision you have for your day. Put that first, and everything else will fall into place. 

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