One Photographer Reminds Us Why An "Unplugged Wedding" Should Be A Rule

Photographer Thomas Stewart took a stand in the name of precious moments when he took suggested to folks to have an "unplugged wedding..."

Life & Travel

Want to capture the perfect picture on one of your most important days?

Well, a little hint: You may have to actually put your phone away!

Recently, one photographer by the name of Thomas Stewart took a stand in the name of precious moments worldwide when he took to Facebook to suggest that future married couples should consider having an "unplugged wedding." This means that upon arrival, have your guests be advised that absolutely no photos are allowed. After all, that's what you have photographers for.

But before one thinks that the money is the motive, it's more like the "moment" is the motive.

The ex-lawyer turned professional photographer revealed that upon review of some of his own photos he was hired to take for a recent ceremony, he stumbled across his share of photo bombers that completely ruined what would be great shots. He uploaded the following flick on Facebook while tagging more than a few people, and ranted:


Right, I've had enough. I want to talk to you all about guests using mobile phones / cameras at weddings. I want to plead with you, and I'm going to make this very simple: brides and grooms, please have a completely unplugged wedding ceremony. Look at this photo. This groom had to lean out past the aisle just to see his bride approaching. Why? Because guests with their phones were in the aisle and in his way.
This sucks. And I'm not blaming these guests in particular; I actually take a large amount of responsibility for this occurring. In the past I should have been more specific with my clients in explaining to them why guests should be told no photos. Well, from now on, I'm going to make a pretty big deal about it.

In 2018, it's safe to say that ironically, people will risk losing an actual moment for the sake of trying to capture it for social media.

Stewart then went on to state a few reasons to support his logic, as well as suggest how to control the issue:

  1. Guests with phones, iPads and cameras get right in your photographer's way. They have no idea how to stay out of our way. They often ruin many of our shots. They will make our photos worse. You're paying a photographer quite a bit of money; that means you want great photos. We cannot do our best work with people getting in our way.
  2. These same guests will get in YOUR way. You will miss moments of your own wedding day because there'll be an iPad in the way. You will miss seeing your partner's face in the aisle.
  3. The guests' photos are usually crap. I'm sorry, but it is true...
  4. Imagine you're in the middle of your wedding ceremony. You're elated. You decide to take a quick glance towards your guests as you're sure they're sharing these happy moments with you, possibly even shedding a tear of their own. What do you see? NO FACES AT ALL AS THEY ARE ALL HIDDEN BEHIND PHONES AND CAMERAS! I highly doubt this is the way you want to remember your wedding ceremony.

Stewart then recommends to people to place a tasteful, yet stern, disclaimer in their invites reminding guests that they are attending an "unplugged" ceremony. He also suggests to have whoever is actually marrying the couple - be it celebrant, minister or priest - remind guests prior to commencement, that no phones, iPads, tablets, etc., are allowed!

Honestly, when you think about it, how bad could this be? On average, a wedding ceremony is about an hour to an hour and a half long.

After all, we put our phones away for movies, so why not weddings? Are movies more important than moments?

Quite often thought of as a "Celebrity Disclaimer" enforcing that there be no phones or photos during a wedding may not be such a bad, universal concept. Years ago, Gabrielle Union and D.Wade had an "absolutely no photos" policy at their lux wedding at the Chateau Artisan Miami. Not only did they request that guests ditch their phones at the door, they also demanded that attendees sign confidentiality agreements. This of course was an effort to secure the high profile couple's privacy, however, we could only imagine how much more fulfilling it was for attendees to fully enjoy and take in the moment.

Although people were getting married long before phones and emails were a even a thing, I do feel that in this day and age, it's important to be mindful of the different demands for certain guests. For example, you may have an attendee that was barely able to make it (but would not want to miss your big day for anything in the world), that may need to be by their cellular device for such emergencies as a high demand position at work. Or maybe a new mom who just had a baby and is trying a nanny out for the first time- that's beyond nervewrecking! In any case, I do think the bride and groom should be mindful of accommodating some of their guests to a certain extent, like perhaps no phones in the church, but allow it for the reception.

The crazy thing is, Stewart actually became hip to getting behind the lens full-time after incurring his own wedding disasters.

In the Aussie photographer's online biography, the 32-year-old mentions a series of unlikely events that kept occurring on the days leading up to his wedding, including a custom marquee that fell and was destroyed in a storm the night before he and his wife-to-be were to tie the knot. He mentions that after stressing what his idea of perfection was, he reminded himself 24 hours before his wedding to not overcomplicate anything because ultimately, love is what matters most.

That is why I became a wedding photographer. Because of love. The ability to be involved in, and be able to document, the single thing that connects every human being on the globe. Deep down, love is the reason we all keep going.


Featured image by Shardayyy Photography on Unsplash

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