Today’s guest post (and all the photos!) comes to us from Mandy Solner of Love Above Photography. This post will definitely make you rethink your wedding!
The eagerly anticipated day has finally arrived; you are standing at the alter next to the man of your dreams, waiting breathlessly to know that you are finally husband and wife. You gaze longingly into each other’s eyes, and then glance out towards your family and friends in the audience. It’s only then that you realize no one is looking at you. They are all looking down at their smartphones and camera LCD screens; present physically, but mentally, are they truly present? As a wedding photographer, it saddens me to deliver images to a bride and groom that contain nothing but shots of the guests at their wedding ceremony staring down at their hand held devices.
Learn more about unplugged weddings after the jump…
I admit, I am as guilty as anyone when it comes to living a technological lifestyle. My smartphone is always somewhere on my body, iPad at the ready, Kindle nearby. I spend an inordinate amount of time in front of my computer editing photos, and hours behind the lens of the camera, so I know more than most how critical it is to pull away and become truly present in the world around us. Look up at the sky, revel in the clouds, smell the flowers, feel the world moving around you. A wedding ceremony is one of those occasions that really requires that you to be present and not staring at a small screen. Discouraging your guests from using devices at your wedding will force them to become as “in the moment” as you are and help afford a relaxing, technology free environment.
Many churches place severe restrictions on professional photographers, yet impose none on the guests. I’ve seen time and time again guests firing away from halfway back in the church, flash after flash after flash. It is times like these that I love thinking about how more and more couples are considering the nontraditional idea of having an unplugged wedding ceremony. Don’t let your guests fall prey to experiencing your wedding through a viewfinder, or from behind their smartphone; instead, encourage them to experience the moment with you.
Dealing with Wedding Guests: A Professional’s Perspective
Guests can act as paparazzi at your wedding and lose sight of the real reason for the day, becoming swept up in their need to document everything as it happens. Unfortunately, it seems as though digital media has grown exponentially faster than society’s ability to cope or learn social protocol. Common courtesy and etiquette are thrown out the door when it comes to a wedding, and I find myself often having to prepare for battle before every wedding like Chicagoans prepare for a Chicago Bears vs. Green Bay Packers football game. Some days, it feels like an all out war with “Uncle Bob” (Uncle Bob is the name that professional wedding photographers use for guests that are aggressive amateur photographers at weddings). I have been blocked, elbow checked, and knocked over in guest’s attempts to get a shot. It never fails to amaze me when someone steps directly in front of me, completely blocking my view, so that they can take a photo with their smartphone.
What guests don’t realize is that they are making my job so much more difficult. I constantly have to jockey for position among guests when important moments are happening, and I spend countless hours retouching and saving images that would have been great…except that Uncle Bob’s awful point & shoot camera flash ruined the shot, or he jumped in front of me as I was taking an image, or he kneeled in the aisle blocking the view of the vows. You get the idea. An unplugged wedding is a great way to let all of your guests know that you have paid a professional to be there, and you would love for them to allow the professional to do their job, and that they can sit back and enjoy the ceremony.
It’s come to the point that I even show couples photos like the ones in this post when I meet with them, and encourage them to ask their guests to put down their smartphones and cameras. Many giggle and laugh at the images and tell me “I never realized people do that” and assure me that “they don’t have any family that would be that rude.” No matter if you think that the case, you would be surprised at how brazen wedding guests become when armed with a camera and confronted with a beautiful bride. Or how about when a bridesmaid posts an image of the bride in her dress before the wedding on Facebook – and then the groom sees it online? This phenomenon has ruined the surprise of a groom seeing his bride to be for more than one couple in recent years.
In a world of 24 hour non-stop connectivity, where there is a smartphone in every purse and pocket, a Facebook check-in at every location, a camera-toting Uncle in every family, and people tweeting their every move, it is important to consider just how much technology you want to allow into your wedding day. As a couple, I encourage you to discuss what is right for your wedding and carefully consider the issue. Do you want the ever-present digital devices present at your wedding? Ultimately, as the bride and groom, the choice is yours, and it’s up to you to put the idea of an unplugged wedding out to your guests.
Turn off the devices!