The smartphone vs. the wedding

How to manage shutterbugs during your ceremony

It might seem strange for two technophiles to tell people to put away their cell phones, but that’s just what Rachael and Jaime Jacome did last June when they decided to unplug their wedding ceremony.

Rachael read about the idea on the blog “A Practical Wedding,” and the couple opted to do it for their own ceremony, which the pair, both technology service specialists at a Chicago technology-consulting firm, wrote themselves.

“[It’s weird] because we love social media aspects,” she says. “We’re both techies. But the ceremony was emotional, heartfelt and sentimental, and if people are texting and taking pictures, that wouldn’t happen. If people are on their phones the whole time, then they’re not feeling what we’re feeling.”

The Jacomes’ officiant delivered the no-phones request at the beginning of the ceremony, giving guests time to take pictures of the couple before asking them to put their phones and cameras away. “I didn’t hear a single phone go off during the ceremony, so I think it worked,” Rachael says.

The Jacomes aren’t alone in asking guests to power down their devices during
the ceremony.

“Couples today, they really want their guests to be in the moment with them,” says Stacey Sainato, an event planner and owner of Peony Events, which operates in Morristown and Pine Brook, N.J. “Clients
don’t want their pictures [of the ceremony] on Facebook, social media, don’t want to hear the cameras or have 200 iPhones staring at them when they’re looking onto the crowd.”

Photographers also appreciate unplugged ceremonies.

“Mostly it protects the integrity of the images during the ceremony,” says Corey Ann Balazowich of Corey Ann Photography in northeast Ohio. Balazowich advocated for unplugged ceremonies by blogging
images where wedding guests have gotten in her way and ruined important moments during the ceremony.

Balazowich notes that some chapels have rules for where photographers can stand, and sometimes they can only shoot from one spot or from the balcony. “There’s nothing I can do if someone is standing in the aisle. I can’t move to get a better angle, or it happens too quickly.”

If you want to unplug your wedding, there are several ways you can communicate this to your guests.

The Emily Post Institute’s Lizzie Post recommends making note of your distraction-free desire on your wedding website. “And you want to use your pleases and thank you’s,” says Post.

Using your officiant is an easy and direct way to get out the word. The officiant also can ask guests to wait to post pictures on social media or put phones in airplane mode so they don’t disrupt the ceremony if calls come in, Post adds.

Signs at the front of the ceremony site and small notices on the back or bottom of the program also work well, too, says planner Sainato. A more unusual way to convey the message is to have the flower girl and ring bearer come down the aisle with signs. “This can be cute, but it depends on the personality of the bride and groom,” Sainato adds.

With these reminders, wedding guests usually follow the bride and groom’s request. “For the most part, people follow the rules. They get it,” says Sainato. When they don’t, that’s where an idle helping hand can do some work.

Sainato has discreetly gone over to nonconforming guests during the ceremony and quietly reminded them of the couple’s wish. “They’re almost embarrassed that they didn’t follow the rules,” she says.


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