They have become more popular in recent years but what is an unplugged wedding? Well, it basically means that guests don't take any photos or use social media at either your whole or part of your wedding and are therefore 'unplugged' from the outside world.
With the quality of smartphone cameras improving over the last decade and more affordable DSLR's more and more people have the ability to take photographs. However, even though the technology to take photographs has improved the skills and abilities of people to take a good photo hasn't.
How much of the wedding is unplugged is down to you but usually it will just be the ceremony as, understandably, guests will want to take pictures of the day and share them to social media.
But why would you have an unplugged wedding? There are a few reasons and the first is so the guests are more in the moment. This is why most unplugged wedding only stop guests using their phones during the ceremony. You, as the bride & groom, want everyones attention to be on you and not their phones.
The second reasons is that the offical photographer will find it more difficult to find an angle where there isn't somebody in the way with their smartphone outstretched and if the guests are using flash then this can easily mess up the photographers exposure. Also, a lot of ceremonies take place in locations that don't have much light so the phone pictures will come out blurry and grainy anyway and it would be much better to let the photographer capture those moments so that they are crystal clear.
Also, you want to be courteous to other guests. If someone is trying to watch the ceremony but then the person in front of them is holding their phone out it could obscure their view of the ceremony.
From a personal point of view I find that guests are much more emotional when they aren't using their phones at the ceremony because their whole attention is on you and not partly taken up by their smartphone.
How do you let guests know that your are having an unplugged wedding and what one of them is though? (Linking to this article is a start ;p). But on a more serious note, you can let your guest know at an early stage by including it in the invites and then also have it signposted as guests are walking into the ceremony and then really make it clear by having the officiant announce it before you start the very important process of getting married.
What are the downsides to having an unplugged wedding?
There aren't that many to be honest. However, one of them is having a few upset guests because they can't take photos of the ceremony. In this situation it is worth remembering that your wedding day is one day where you can be selfish. This is your day and if you want an unplugged wedding then it shouldn't matter who it upsets as long as it makes you happy.
Another downside is that your guests won't be able to have photos of the ceremony immediately. The counter argument to this though is why do they need to share them immediately? They were at the cermony and experienced it first hand and that should really be enough. Also, when I deliver the edited images to you I give you a link to access them from an online gallery, which you can share with whoever you like, so your guests will see the images and also as a few weeks will have passed it will be as if they are at the ceremony all over again.
It's not all about being bah humbug though!
That isn't to say that smartphones are bad things to have at a wedding though. I agree that ceremonies are better if they are unplugged but the rest of the wedding day is a hive of activity and fun and guests capturing those moments is great. There are apps that these photos can be shared on so that people can instantly see them if they want, this can also be achieved by using a wedding hashtag.
A really good opportunity for guest to use their phones is if you are having a send off in the evening. It is usually dark by this point and if all the guests take out their phones, turn the torches on and hold them high up over you then this can look really good in your offical photos.
I'm not against having phones at a wedding but I do think that having an unplugged ceremony makes the occassion all the more magical and means that everyone is more in the moment and concentrating on the important act of you becoming husband and wife.