Going Unplugged – is a social media ban on guests the way to go?

Like most wedding photographers, I lose many minutes  – *cough* hours *cough* – each day ogling pretty square after pretty square on Instagram, soaking up inspiration and curating a feed that’s full of #wedspo for brides and grooms who want elegant, timeless and naturally pretty images (psst – if that sounds like your thing, you can follow me on Instagram here!)

Can any of us really imagine life without social media in 2018? For me as a creative working in a competitive industry, Instagram is both an artistic project and an invaluable marketing tool. Plus, personally I use Facebook to keep family and friends far and wide updated with my life and my work. Social media definitely has a valid function and I certainly won’t be switching off any time soon…

So why am I seeing more and more couples opt for an unplugged wedding – i.e. one in which they ask their guests to soak up the atmosphere of the day without posting it all over their social media platform of choice? And an important related question: how to ask people not to post pictures of your wedding without getting lots of eye-rolls in response?

Well, I’ve witnessed brides and grooms do this in a whole host of gentle, tasteful ways, either by making a verbal announcement at the ceremony or with a written request at the ceremony or on their invitations. One of the best ways I feel, is to give a reason why so that the request doesn’t sound too controlling or authoritative. For example, “The bride and groom would like to be the first to share their photos with loved ones who are absent today, and are asking guests to kindly refrain from posting photos of the wedding party until the professional photos have been shared. Huge thanks!” By the time you get your professional photographs back – and choose to share them – it’s highly likely people won’t go back to post their own pictures. Clever, eh?

And so now that we’ve covered the how, what about the why? Well, picture the scene: a mind-blowing meal arrives in front of you; there’s an amazing sunset on holiday; your partner does or says something wonderful – and suddenly there’s the itch to share it on social media. To take out your phone, flick to the camera and record the moment for the sake of other people’s responses. And if we’re honest that’s where the impulse stems from, isn’t it? We want other people see what we’re experiencing and feel something – pride, pleasure, jealousy, if we’re totally honest with ourselves – rather than feeling, enjoying – and preserving – that moment for ourselves.

But as a professional, I’ve got another axe to grind about when weddings and social media addicts collide beyond the ‘just enjoy the moment’ argument. You see, when I’m at a wedding, it’s my job to capture the best images I possibly can of the moment that really count. That’s literally what I’m being paid to do. And yet so often when my bride comes down the aisle looking radiant, a wave of camera phones appear as guests jostle for a shot. A shot that, let’s face it, is often badly-framed, blurry and unflattering. A shot that again, let’s face it, hardly anyone will ever look at again. With all of those phones waving around in the air, I can’t get a clear capture. And so my bride’s chance of having a beautiful image of a beautiful moment – walking down the aisle with her father, mother or another relative to meet her soon-to-be wedded spouse – is lost.

My last reason for you to consider an unplugged wedding isn’t so grumpy – ready? Going unplugged really heightens your anticipation for seeing those first professional photographs. Trust me: waiting a few days for your preview pictures will take your excitement to stratospheric levels. Couples who’ve asked their guests to hold off on the photos are always so thrilled to receive their professional images – I can hear their giddiness in their responses (take a look at some of my testimonials here to get an idea)! Nothing brightens the post-wedding dip like some gorgeous, polished pictures of you and your loved ones by someone who – even if I do say so myself – knows what they’re doing.

So tell me, have I convinced you – will you be having an unplugged wedding?

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