Go Unplugged: The Polite Way of Telling Wedding Guests ‘No Phones’

guests throwing confetti over bride and groom

Who would have thought that gadgets like mobile phones can ruin the biggest, most romantic day in your life? If you haven’t gotten the memo yet, the use of smartphones has gotten way out of hand in solemn weddings. A series of text chimes in the middle of the sharing of vows. Thumbs aimlessly flicking through social media newsfeeds at the reception. Snaps here and there as the bride walks down the aisle, with the groom bending their neck over just to see their lady.

Do you know who can relate to your struggle? Your photographer and videographer. Their job is to capture heartwarming moments, things that happen in a blink, which can’t be repeated or replicated. They miss out the tear shed by the father of the bride, the yawn from the flower girl, or the tender laughs at the cake-cutting. At best, you have these defining shots, only with the unsightly background of people without faces, blocked by smartphones held out.

For your sanity, go for an unplugged ceremony. Now, this isn’t the easiest thing to communicate, given that most of your guests are so used to flipping their phones out for any big moment, but there are lots of creative ways to do it. There’s even a polite manner to doing it.

The Phone-Free Announcement

The earlier that your family and friends know that you’re going for a device-free ceremony, the better. You don’t want them to be caught in a surprise. If you can get the word out in your wedding program or have a host announce it before everything starts, do it. Be 100% clear what an ‘unplugged’ ceremony is for you. Do you want them to turn off their phones or just put it on silent mode? Do you want them to refrain from taking photos throughout the event or only at the big moments — let’s say, the walk-down-the-aisle, the couple’s kiss, the father-daughter dance? Do you want them to postpone posting on social media or is it okay to do it real time? The principle is to be detailed in what you want guests to do.

After the meat of the announcement, highlighting the fact that you want family and friends to relax, enjoy, and be present at the moment. Reassure them that you have a team of professionals capturing every moment, so they need not worry about missing out on moments. Tell them that you’ll be sharing the photos with them later. If you can flash the pictures at the reception in real time, that would be great. At least show some pictures and videos at the end of the event, making it the wrap-up of the day. For this reason, make sure that the photographers and the wedding video company you’re working with can deliver fast results.

The No-No’s

group of people using their smartphones

The polite way of telling your guests about going unplugged not only refers to the do’s, but also to the don’ts. For instance, never ask the guests to leave their phones at home. That would just be bordering demanding. Also, remember that your family and friends may have kids at home or sick relatives who might be in emergency situations at any time. Your guests won’t be able to sit back, relax, and enjoy your ceremony if they’re thinking about their toddler and babysitter.

Another no-no is calling out a guest who violated the phone-free rule. You see, regardless of how clear and concise your announcement is, there will still be guests who will forget or ignore guidelines and flip out their phones. It’s easy to go bridezilla on these moments, but you don’t want that ruining your day, of course. Let it go and extend patience. If it bothers you, pull the guest away from the crowds and talk to them in private.

Phones and weddings don’t exactly make a great combo. Consider going unplugged for your ceremony. Just make sure to communicate it creatively, and more importantly, politely.


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