Monday, November 9, 2015

Will Unplugging Really Solve the Problem?

Search the internet for the topic "Unplugged Wedding" and you'll find TONS of articles on how offended people are by guests taking photos at their wedding or in their way while while shooting photos at a wedding.  

Article by angry photographer showcasing guests rudely standing in the way of his photos 

Article by less angry photographer about the dos and don'ts of taking photos at weddings 

A Knot discussion on to ban or not to ban

An article on HOW to word the banning of phone photography at your wedding 

(Not a single phone to be seen!)

My feelings, as a planner, is that it isn't the phone photography that is the problem, it is the rude guest that is the problem.  There are always guests at the wedding who disregard etiquette and polite conduct.  This guests is the one who will show up late for the ceremony and walk right in the front door (usually in the middle of the ceremony) anyhow or the guest who will loudly complain when the bar closes for dinner (and demand someone get them a drink).  This person is the same person who most likely ignores polite conduct in day to day life as well.

I suggest we ban rude guests from the wedding, not photography.  We can ask that guests use some basic common sense at our weddings. We ask that they please regard this as a valued and important day to the two people who are joining their lives together.  We explain that the people at the wedding are considered the most important and cared for people in the bride and grooms lives and they should conduct themselves in such a fashion.  

Other suggestions would be that they stay quiet during the ceremony, that they stay present during the couples vows and that they pay attention to the day and what the bride & groom have asked of them.  

We ask that they show up on time, maybe even a few minutes early.  We ask that they sit where they have been escorted and take the programs, bubbles or rice without complaint.  We can ask that they not argue with the bartender over what liquors are/are not available at the bar.  We can ask that they enjoy the food and their chosen entree without expecting the staff to accommodate their change in mood/mind or taste in food (which somehow only applies to that evening).  We ask that they get up and show interest for the special moments of the evening, the cake cutting, the first dance and just a few others.  We can also ask that even if they don't like the favor, they take it at the end of the night, because someone picked it out in hopes that you would appreciate the thought.  

I don't think asking the guests to be unplugged is the answer.  There are so many times that my clients have been thrilled to see all the photos that their guests have taken of their big day.  The special view that someone was able to get, the secret look that another was able to catch and the fun interactions that your guests had together are all great things you'll miss when you insist on unplugging everyone. Even I'll follow the hashtag to see what is happening at the very wedding where I'm working.  I have the chance to see what guests are doing, what they are seeing and what they are thinking.  It's fun and these are unique photos that while they will never make it to your wedding album, will be photos that you cherish having.  

I think we need to expect more from our friends and family.  We should expect polite behavior, kindness and some common sense.  I don't think that's asking too much but I do think that's asking more from people than they are normally used to giving.  I'll start a hash tag for my weddings that would be as simple as #commonsensewedding or #myguestsdon'tsuck or #stopbeingsorudeatweddings (too long maybe?) 

What do you think?  What are your stories of your guests?  Was everyone amazing?  Was everyone involved?  Share with me, and let's start a trend of awesome weddings with equally awesome guests!

Happy Planning!

Brandi Hamerstone  


  1. Have you ever been to an Asian (Pakistani) wedding Brandi? Unless the couple are strictly Islamic and have banned all photography other than by their chosen professional, you will usually have a mob of guests brandishing mobile phones pushing their way in front of the video photography team, ruining the shots or forcing the professionals ever closer to the action with their widest lenses. While we can't offend the guests there are limits!

  2. As an officiant, I urge my clients to consider having an unplugged wedding ceremony and they generally agree. Before any of the bridal party are in the ceremony area, I make an announcement to the guests to please turn off all electronic devices including phones and cameras. They not only interfere with the photographer's lighting but also the sound. I attended a wedding as a guest and was appalled at the number of people who nearly made the photographer fall down.

    As a wedding planner, I had two weddings in three years where vendors were attacked by guests. Each vendor was female and the attackers were male. The first situation was during the reception and a guest attacked the venue coordinator. Smuggled hard liquor came into play in that situation. However, the second wedding had no alcohol and the guest chest-butted the photographer into the wall and yelled out, "No!" during the ceremony vows! She had politely asked the guest twice to remove his videocamera which was leaning against a column in a precarious position making it dangerous for the photographer to get her shots. The couple had hired a videographer so the guest's camera was not needed at all. After that wedding, I decided after eight years to stop planning weddings and not look back. We don't get paid enough to watch for whomever might be coming back through the door with who knows what.

    I don't understand why couples invite people like this to their wedding in the first place! It's sad when vendors are even choosing to leave the profession or raise their prices as a result of having to deal with this type of behavior. I can see venues having a link that would go out with the invitations that explains the rules of the venue. What are they to do? Something has to be done to protect their property from everything ranging from adults, children and even dogs.