It’s Time to Start Unplugging Weddings

As a photographer, based in Los Angeles, I get to see a lot of trends at the weddings I photograph. I find most to be interesting, fun and entertaining. However, there is one trend that is out of control­–guests with cameras. By cameras I mean real DSLRs, small point and shoots, cell phones and my favorite, the iPad. I am sure if you were to survey a group of wedding photographers – guests getting in the way with their cameras would rank in the top three problems they experience on a regular basis.

The problem is most prevalent during the wedding ceremony. As soon as the bride starts down the aisle, out come the cameras with guests standing and sometimes getting right in the middle of the aisle. The result is photographs that should be beautiful and memorable for the bride and groom end up losing their sense of wonder, and look more like the paparazzi on the red carpet. See the photo below for an example:

wedding photographers guide to unplugged weddings

Another example is where I noticed the groom’s aunt in the front row with an iPad. Before the ceremony started I politely asked her to refrain from taking photos, as she would be in my background. See how successful I was in the photo below:

how to have an unplugged wedding

Many brides and grooms are aware of this issue and are now having “Unplugged Weddings”. With “Unplugged Weddings,” guests are requested to enjoy the moment, and refrain from taking photos. Here are some of the ways couples are communicating this to their wedding guests.

  • Wedding website. Many brides and grooms have their very own website dedicated to their wedding with all sorts of information. This is a great place to politely ask that guests refrain from taking photos during the ceremony.
  • Although not as popular as they once were – wedding programs are another great way to get the message out. Be sure to have it worded in a nice way, but where everyone can see it.
  • A popular trend these days are hand-painted signs. I see many weddings incorporating beautiful signage. They include everything from signs announcing the couple’s signature cocktail at the reception to signs suggesting where to sit during the ceremony. This would be another great way to ask your guests to turn off their cell phones and cameras. See the photo below from the “” for an example:

professional photographers tips on an unplugged wedding

  • If you are using Ushers to seat your guests, they can quietly mention the “no camera” request as they escort people to their seats
  • The most popular method seems to be having the Wedding Officiate make an announcement before the ceremony begins. It can be something as simple as “The bride and groom have requested you to all turn your cameras and phones off. They have hired a professional photographer to capture the day and would like you to be in the moment and enjoy their celebration”.

My favorite informal method of communicating to guests was at a recent, fun outdoor wedding. Before the ceremony started, the Officiate asked me to come forward. He introduced me to all the guests by name and title (today’s photographer). He then asked all the guests to pull out their phones and cameras and take a photograph of me. See the photo below:

tips for wedding photographers

After they were all done – he informed them that the bride and groom would now like them to put their devices away and leave the photography to me. There were a lot of groans – but most people chuckled and complied.

If you perform a Google search for “unplugged weddings” you will find many great ideas on how to incorporate this into a wedding. As wedding photographers, I believe we need to discuss this with every potential client and be able to offer them solutions that will fit their particular wedding.


To see more of Los Angeles Wedding Photographer William Innes’ work please visit

unplugged wedding advice from a professional photographer

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