Should you have an ‘unplugged’ wedding ceremony?

More and more couples are choosing to do an “unplugged” wedding ceremony and restrict guests using cameras or smart phones as they are saying their vows. - Jennifer K Photography
An “unplugged” wedding ceremony allows the guests to focus on the event and ensures that the professional photographer gets nice clean shots and not a sea of cell phones pointed at the couple. - Jennifer K Photography
Guests look on at a special moment during an “unplugged” ceremony at The Liberty in downtown Elkin. - Jennifer K Photography
- - Jennifer K Photography
- - Jennifer K Photography
- - Jennifer K Photography
- - Jennifer K Photography
- - Jennifer K Photography

These days most of us never stray too far from our smart phones, and it’s not just millennials who are attached to their devices. There’s a good chance your Aunt Gladys is on Facebook and maybe even takes a few filtered selfies on Snapchat.

In the age of the smart phone, it seems everyone has become an amateur photographer taking everything from prom photos to pictures of their latte. We tend to document even the most minute detail of our day using these devices. But what about one of the special days of your life — your wedding day.

Jennifer Kleinheksel of Jennifer K Photography in Elkin suggests that during the ceremony portion of your big day you may want to consider limiting cell phone use by your guests.

“You’ve planned for this day for months. You’ve crossed all of your t’s and dotted all of your i’s, and your big day is finally here. All of your friends and family are seated and waiting for you to walk down the aisle, but are they truly present? In a world where everyone has a phone with a camera on it, and everything is now documented and sent out for all to see the moment it happens, we have become a society where almost everything has become over-documented,” she said.

“Some the greatest moments of our lives are no longer seen with our own eyes, but from viewing it through a small screen. Some brides are taking notice of this and are politely asking their guests to relax, be with them not only physically but emotionally on their big day, and let their professional photographer take care of these memories for them,” Kleinheksel explained.

She said that about half of her clients choose to have what she calls an “unplugged” ceremony. In the last two years, she said she has seen a big jump in the number of couples who are choosing to limit cell phone usage on their special day.

“When you discourage these mobile devices at your wedding ceremony, you are encouraging your guests to look up and truly take part in the moment and be present and engaged with you,” Kleinheksel said. “This seems even more important as people are beginning to realize the importance of unplugging and recharging, and even becoming more aware of mindfulness. Sometimes it just takes a little reminder.”

Couples are finding cute and creative ways to make this simple request.

“Many of my clients will put up little signs all around the ceremony site to request no pictures during the ceremony, while others will ask the officiant to announce this, which guests seem to do an even better job of taking note and respecting the couples wishes,” she added.

Kleinheksel said couples choosing this option typically only request no mobile devices during the ceremony. Don’t worry, there will still be plenty of time to get a selfie with the bride at the reception, with or without a flower crown Snapchat filter!

As a photographer, Kleinheksel understands the importance of capturing special images and she recognizes the desire of guests to want to capture their own moments of a friend or loved one’s special day. She said however, that having multiple guests attempting to take pictures on their phones can pose problems for the paid photographer working to capture the best moments for the bride and groom during the ceremony.

“Of course myself, as a professional wedding photographer, appreciates the unplugged ceremony the most,” she said. “I have experienced many challenges working around phones and even iPads, trying not to capture guests who are trying to capture the ceremony for themselves on my own camera.”

When meeting with potential new clients, Kleinheksel said she is sure to alert them of the potential pitfalls of allowing guests to take their own photos during a wedding ceremony.

“While I certainly would never say that a bride’s guests cannot take pictures at their wedding, I do want to educate them on things that can happen when they are used during the ceremony. I will often talk about and show my clients images of guests from other weddings that are completely oblivious to ruining shots by either the flash from their camera going off at the same time I may be taking an image, or photo bombing the perfect pose, or the worst, when they kneel or jump out into the aisle right as the couple is sealing their marriage with a kiss,” she said.

”When a wedding is outdoors, I can normally compensate and navigate around these people, but when I am in a church which has strict guidelines of where I can move, it can break my heart to not have the perfect shot that I know this couple wanted due to a guest wanting this image for themselves and deciding to stand right in the aisle to get it.”

There are so many options to consider when planning a wedding. Inside or outside ceremony? How many attendants? What type of food to serve at the reception? In the digital age there’s now one more question to ask.

Is an unplugged ceremony right for you?

“This is really up to each individual couple and what feels right for them,” said Kleinheksel. “Some people are on a budget and want or need to rely on their guests for their wedding images. Other couples may be super tuned into social media and love living their lives online so the thought of not having their guests capturing every moment for them might make them very unhappy. It really boils down to what you want and feels right to you as a couple, and neither one is bad.”

Whether or not couples choose to do an unplugged ceremony, Kleinheksel said she does highly recommend having prints made of the wedding photos. Digital photos and images saved on computers and phones are great, but Kleinheksel said, it’s important, too, to have some of the memories on display in the traditional way.

“These days no matter what type of camera, phone or device you use to capture your wedding day, the reality is you will have a ton of digital images to view and go through. So often a few of your favorites will get thrown up online for people to see. This is a great way to share images with people, but all too often this is where their journey ends, with the remaining images left on phones or worse, USB drives that get shoved into drawers, never to be seen again. People in their 20s and below are the most photographed people currently, but they have nothing tangible to show for it,” Kleinheksel said.

“Think about spending the extra money to have a beautiful wall portrait made of your wedding day or bridal session. Nothing you purchase from a store to put on your walls will ever bring you as much joy as looking at one off the happiest days of your life. Consider purchasing an album from your photographer. These are very expensive items, but in my opinion, they have so much value as the years go by,” she said.

“With digital you will have an overwhelming number of images to go through and pick from. All to often people say that they plan to make their own album to save money. I think that is great if you are really going to do it, but know your self. I would say 90 percent of the time people never end up doing anything with their images. Paying your photographer to comb through these images and put them into print in an album that tells the story of your day is priceless. The best part is with these pieces, you can actually quickly and easily show your kids and grandchildren someday exactly what you looked like and pass these pieces onto future generations. How you remember life and be remembered. Print is so powerful.”

In addition to print options, Kleinheksel also offers clients digital downloads of their images as well as a personalized app with 20 to 30 pictures from their wedding which they can share with friends and family who want access to images on their smart phones.

Jennifer K Photography specializes in bridal portraits, wedding day photography as well as high school seniors and newborn photography. For more information, visit www.jenniferkphotography.com or find Jennifer K Photography on Facebook and Instagram.

Kitsey Burns Harrison may be reached at 336-679-2341 or on Twitter and Instagram @RippleReporterK.

More and more couples are choosing to do an “unplugged” wedding ceremony and restrict guests using cameras or smart phones as they are saying their vows.
https://www.yadkinripple.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/web1_DSC_3063-formatted.jpgMore and more couples are choosing to do an “unplugged” wedding ceremony and restrict guests using cameras or smart phones as they are saying their vows. Jennifer K Photography

An “unplugged” wedding ceremony allows the guests to focus on the event and ensures that the professional photographer gets nice clean shots and not a sea of cell phones pointed at the couple.
https://www.yadkinripple.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/web1_DSC_3333-formatted.jpgAn “unplugged” wedding ceremony allows the guests to focus on the event and ensures that the professional photographer gets nice clean shots and not a sea of cell phones pointed at the couple. Jennifer K Photography

Guests look on at a special moment during an “unplugged” ceremony at The Liberty in downtown Elkin.
https://www.yadkinripple.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/web1_DSC_7372-formatted.jpgGuests look on at a special moment during an “unplugged” ceremony at The Liberty in downtown Elkin. Jennifer K Photography

https://www.yadkinripple.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/web1_DSC_7428-resized-formatted.jpgJennifer K Photography

https://www.yadkinripple.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/web1_DSC_8218-resized-formatted.jpgJennifer K Photography

https://www.yadkinripple.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/web1_DSC_8236-resized-formatted.jpgJennifer K Photography

https://www.yadkinripple.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/web1_DSC_9647-resized-formatted.jpgJennifer K Photography

https://www.yadkinripple.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/web1_DSC_9669-resized-formatted.jpgJennifer K Photography
Thoughts from a professional photographer on weddings in the age of the smart phone