Dorset wedding photographerUnplugged weddings – should you have one? Part 221st Feb 2017

A couple of months ago I posted about why you might want to have an unplugged wedding (click here to check it out). Today I’m looking at the flip side, why it might not be fair to ask people to put away their cameras.

Points “against” unplugged wedding

Your wedding day’s the only day in your life that will be fully documented. By your photographer and your guests. Every element of the wedding day. From the fun of the Bridal prep. The special “ooh” and “ahh” moments as you walk down the aisle. The tears that are shed by your parents as they watch you take your vows. The formal wedding photographs and the documentary shots of your guests enjoying themselves. The wedding breakfast, the speeches and the associated embarrassment! The whole day through to the First Dance and beyond. The photos taken on that day are indeed a snapshot. A snapshot of a moment in time. One day that will never, ever be repeated. The emotions. The events. The weather. The fashions. Your wedding really is unique.

Unplugged weddings

Let’s face it, everyone nowadays wants to see wedding photos immediately – they don’t want to wait. It’s become the way of our world. We all want to share ALL our photos the instant they’re taken. The selfie on our walk by the sea. The children’s first day back at school. Instagraming our meal. Sharing every element of our lives on social media. We might not necessarily agree with the way the world’s developing, but we can’t change things.

And so it is with wedding photography – things change. Styles of wedding photography change every few years. The way that we actually shoot weddings changes – quite dramatically. Oh boy, has it changed over the past 20+ years!!

How weddings have changed

In the “old” days of film this would be the scenario:

  • Couple marry on a Saturday (or, very occasionally on a weekday) and the wedding ceremony’s in a Church or Registry Office
  • The photographer shoots on film and covers the entire day in just 60 photographs (yes, that’s true!)
  • Friends and family take a few photos on 35mm film and drop them into the one-hour lab
  • On Sunday the photographer drops the films into the photo lab
  • On Friday he picks up the proofs, puts them into a preview album and delivers them to the couple when they get back from their honeymoon
  • The couple spend endless days visiting family and friends to show them their wedding photos
  • The couple choose their favourites for the album (and the parents’ albums)
  • The photographer gets them printed and waits for print orders from family/friends

Today it’s a completely different picture (sorry, no pun intended):

  • Couple marry in a Church, Registry Office, Hotel, Pub, on the beach – wherever (even underwater). ANY day of the week
  • The photographer shoots hundreds or thousands of images on digital
  • Family and friends shoot on phones, iPads and cameras and upload them right away to Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter etc.
  • Photographer uploads a couple of “sneak peeks” to Facebook or their wedding website a day or two after the wedding
  • Photographer spends countless hours in a darkened room editing your wedding
  • Your online gallery’s activated for you to share the photos with family and friends around the world and you get the images on USB
  • You choose your favourite images and the photographer designs a gorgeous wedding album for you to cherish

The reality of life

The truth is that, with the best will in the world, your wedding photographer’s not going to be able to show you the photos for possibly weeks after your wedding day. That’s because we have to spend so much time editing. If we have a couple of weddings each week we soon have a backlog of editing to be done.

But your Mum doesn’t want to wait weeks to see her beautiful daughter on her special day. Your friends at work don’t want to wait to see how gorgeous you looked in your wedding dress. They want to see them now. To share them.

That’s where the digital world’s given us such freedom. The ability to take a photo on our phone and share it with the world within a minute. Freedom that we’ve never had before.

Unplugged wedding

Is it right to stop people from doing what’s become common practice at a wedding?

By asking them to put down their phones and their cameras during the ceremony?

To be perfectly honest, when you walk down the aisle you won’t even notice the people with their phones. Your emotions and your adrenaline will make sure of that. Your full focus is on walking down the aisle without tripping up, without breaking out into tears with the emotion of it all and praying that you don’t fluff your lines during the ceremony!

Do guests with phones and cameras impact on your photographer? Truthfully, not really. I’ve never had an issue with guests stepping out into the aisle as the Bride walks down. I’ve had a couple of weddings where guests move into the aisle as the couple walk back after the ceremony, and I’ve bumped into them. But that’s only a couple of weddings out of the hundreds that I’ve shot over the years.

Some photographers make a really big thing about having an unplugged wedding. They put up Blog posts about how it ruins the shots if guests are taking photos during the ceremony. But does it really matter?

Your wedding day

What happens on the day, well, happens. The good and the not so good. The weather. Every element of your day makes it unique. You’ll look back on it with fond memories. When you sit down and look though the photos with your children or grand-children you’ll smile. Smile as you remember those special moments. Cringe as you look at the fashions and the hairstyles. Yearn for the youth that you once had. Laugh at the old-fashioned technology. But you’ll remember that day through the snapshot in time that photography allows us to capture.

Photography, in one way or another is constantly developing – sorry for the pun again. Since its inception it’s been a case of progress. New technologies and techniques. As advanced as we like to think it is at the moment, the next 10 years or so will see huge leaps in technology. Changes that will have a huge impact on the way that we record the world. And that’s what we do, record the world. Some of us record the life-changing events of our age, others record the personal minutae of our daily lives. But we’re all creating a huge archive of images of our lives today. Images that we can look back on in years to come. The images that your family and friends take on your wedding day are just a part of that huge archive.

Conclusion – is an unplugged wedding ceremony right for you?

The choice really is down to you. It’s your day and you should have whatever you want and I’d never try to influence a couple one way or the other.

If you’ve got any thoughts on the subject then please feel free to leave them below – I’d love to hear them.

Looking to learn more about weddings?

If you’d like to learn more about about the story behind wedding traditions, then why not check out Azazie’s recent Blog post on wedding traditions?

Want advice on various elements of planning your wedding, and things to think about? Then check out my “Advice for Brides” section by hitting the button below ….

Take me to your “Advice for Brides” page!

Blog post: Unplugged weddings – should you have one? Part 2