Etiquette

To Plug or Unplug?

To plug or unplug? That seems to be the wedding question of this decade. For those who are unfamiliar with the term, an “Unplugged” Wedding is asking your guests not to take pictures at your wedding (yikes) or at least refrain from doing so during your ceremony. Since I write this from the perspective of someone who has been in the wedding business for years as both a photographer and an officiant, I cannot promise to tread lightly with my point of view as this subject is my personal pet peeve.

Ten years ago, a professional wedding photographer’s biggest challenge during a ceremony was the occasional “Uncle Bob” with his point and shoot or pro-am camera. No problem. Most pros understood his excitement and how eager he was to shoot the wedding as if the bride and groom’s future happiness depended upon his good or not so good exposures. Typically, “Uncle Bob” showed some restraint, was respectful enough, and allowed the sanctity of the ceremony to play out without too much interference. Well folks, those days seem to be far behind us.

With today’s technology plus social media’s must-have-instant-gratification mentality, we are now faced with as many cameras in the audience as there are guests. Now mind you, a well-seasoned professional photographer can hold their own and work around any guest or guests who like to believe that they are the paid professional. No problem. The problem, in my opinion is with the end product or what is viewed through the pro’s camera lens and ultimately the overall look of the scene as it appears in the couple’s wedding album. The ceremony has become a virtual sea of point and shoots, smart phones, and my personal favourite… the iPad. Ah yes, nothing like those 9 x 7 inch devices being held high over the heads of their numerous owners. Moving about as if they were heat seeking missiles competing with all surrounding electronic devices, positioning themselves for the best unobstructed shot of their main target….the bride and groom.

And then there is always the guest (or guests) who are seated on the aisle and believe it is their duty to jump into said aisle during the processional to get that must have shot of the bride walking towards her groom, or the need to capture the look of joy on the faces of the happy couple retreating after their “I do’s”. For the couple’s sake and for Pete’s sake….please don’t. Please leave those shots to the paid professional as they are the ones hired to tell the couples story through images. I can’t speak for every bride and groom, but I can almost guarantee they did not intend to pay a photographer those big bucks just so they could take photos of you taking photos. Don’t be that guy or girl that is in every one of the pro’s images during the most important parts of the ceremony. Stop and ask yourself…is getting your shot worth potentially ruining the professionals shot? From the bride and groom’s point of view…probably not.

Ceremony photos should tell a story of two people in love. So when we see that wide angle image of the bride and groom professing that love, a sea of technical devices is probably not what they had in mind as part of their story line. Wouldn’t the more romantic and meaningful image be that of their friends and family totally engaged in their love story instead of an LCD screen?

From the officiant’s point of view… please, please, please be in the moment. If you have been invited, you are one of two things… a friend or member of the family. Please consider it an honour to be asked to witness the most important day in two people’s lives and consider how important it is to them that you be totally present in the moment and not distracted by technology. Nothing warms my heart more than to look out into a room of guests who are fully engaged and filled with emotion. The smiles, tears, hand-holding, and laughter become a character in the couple’s story where the warmth and love that radiates throughout the room is nothing less than palpable. Instead of being connected to their devices, they are actually connected to each other while silently participating in the ceremony as it unfolds before them. That same scene tells quite a different story when everyone has a camera attached to their face.

In an age where our day consists of tweeting what we have for breakfast, posting our daily activities on Facebook, and ending with an Instagram picture of where we danced the night away…can’t we all just give it a rest for twenty minutes?

And… one more thought. It is understood that not everyone can afford to hire a professional. But, unless specifically asked, please don’t assume that the sole purpose of inviting you was so you could document the day. They probably have it covered 🙂

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