Considering an unplugged wedding?
It's an increasing problem that I see more and more with every wedding I shoot. The happy couple has spent so much time and money to dress up the church, the reception and themselves, but what I see through my lens is the guests blocking the view of the bride and groom - just so that they can take a quick snap with their iPhone!
In the last year, I haven't seen a single wedding go uninterrupted by guests with their phones and tablets.
That's not to say there isn't a time and a place for these impromtu photo opportunities, but it's certainly not during the ceremony itself.
I've had guests jumping in front of me while I'm framing the perfect picture of the bride walking down the isle, when the couple are walking in to the reception, during the first dance and even while they're cutting the cake. It's not just frustrating for me, but it's ruining the results that the bride and groom have paid me good money to get for them, and there are no 're-takes' when it comes to weddings.
And that's not the only problem. Both brides and grooms have expressed to me their frustrations that when they're standing together at the alter and look back to see their friends & family, all they see is a sea of phones and tablets covering everyone's faces!
Take a look at this photo. The groom actually has to step away from the alter and try to peer around the guests-with-phones just to see his bride walk down the isle towards him...
9 out of 10 grooms agree, the most memorable moment from the day is seeing your bride walk down the aisle, rather than the back of her friends' heads
(Picture: This groom had to leave the alter and peer-over to actually see this moment for himself)
So if you're planning a wedding, please consider these points and seriously consider having a completely 'un-plugged' wedding...
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 and 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.
This photo shows how a badly placed iPad can ruin a shot...
A perfect shot ruined by an iPad, but no-one is watching.
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 and the looks of joy from your own friends and family members. And do you really want to spend your big day having your space invaded by well-meaning relatives trying to get the perfect snap for their Facebook page (while blocking the photographer you hired in the process)? The following is not the best way to remember your first dance...
Invading your space and blocking the photographer you hired - a double whammy
3. The guests' photos usually end up being average-to-poor quality. I'm sorry, but it is true. You can't take great photos with your camera phone by leaning into the aisle of a dark church to photograph a moving subject. Even a lot of professionals have trouble with this.
4. Those photos will be the first published photos on Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites before the best photos are available. Is that how you want everyone you know to see and remember your wedding? Is aunt Judith really the best person to showcase your magical wedding to the world?
Photos from a mobile phone or a compact camera is ulikely to showcase your big day well
5. Your guests won't be 'fully-present' to share in your special occasion if they're focussed on their LCD screen and the little icon they have to tap to take the photos they want. How many friends and family members in this photo are really enjoying the occasion with you? Even if you looked back at them, you'd never be able to tell because you wouldn't be able to see their faces!...
Would you rather look out at the smiling loving faces of your friends & family, or see an ocean of mobile-phones?
So in your invites, tell everyone you're having an unplugged ceremony: "No technology, please!"
Write it on a chalkboard which guests can see as they arrive on the day. Ask your minister or priest to tell the guests about this at the start of the ceremony. Add it to the invites that you send out so people don't bring all their gadgets with them and get disappointed that they can't use them on the day.
Finally, here are some ideas to help you achieve the wedding day you really want...
And guests: You've been invited to this wedding to share and celebrate the love that two people feel for each other. They didn't invite you along to take photographs that neither you or they will look at more than once or twice anyway. They want you there with them, fully present in heart and soul, and they want to see your tear-filled eyes as you form part of their wedding ceremony. You are witnesses to their marriage and the special occasion that marks the beginning of their life-journey together, so for goodness sake, watch them with your eyes, your minds and your hearts, not your phones.