Maybe I'm aging myself, but when I hear "unplugged" I think of the days when MTV actually had videos and shows about music. They would air "Unplugged" specials with musicians from all genres playing acoustic versions of their songs. The most memorable for me was of course Nirvana, but they featured everyone from Stevie Ray Vaughan, Page & Plant to Mariah Carey and beyond. The idea was fantastic. Fans could hear stripped down versions of their favorite songs in an intimate setting. I can't imagine being one of maybe 100 people sitting feet away from Paul McCartney or Springsteen or Annie Lennox giving a once in a lifetime performance. By the time they were on Unplugged, they had long since stopped doing shows for less that thousands of people at a time. Imagine being in that audience. Then imagine what it would be like if every person there had a cell phone, iPad or camera recording every second of it and only watching through the tiny screen facing them. There are professional camera operators there filming the entire concert, but everyone wants to be the first to upload, share or post before anyone else can see or hear the magic. Would it be the same experience if those devices were allowed?
If you haven't yet figured out where I'm going with this then let me explain. An "unplugged" wedding ceremony is when a couple asks guest to turn off their electronic devices and put their cameras away. This allows guest to be present and take in the ceremony as it unfolds. There used to be a saying "be here now" (also a book title written by a spiritual pioneer of the 60's) that really applies to an unplugged wedding. Be here now is the idea of living in the present, this moment, today, now. The digital age is here and with that people document every moment of their lives on some sort of device and broadcast it to the world instantly. I've seen people at concerts filming on their mobile phones so that they could go home and watch the concert. *crickets* This happens all the time! People are so caught up with social media, instant gratification, capturing these tiny segments of their lives and they're forgetting to LIVE them. Be here now, be mindful, be aware, be present and see the big picture. Not just what is on a tiny screen. Your wedding day will be one of the most significant days of your life. By the time you're standing in front of your guests you've invested hundreds of hours, thousands of dollars, millions of tears and you're about to make the biggest commitment of your life thus far. As a bride or groom I would want the people that I've invited to truly experience the moment. After all, that's the whole reason that they're there to begin with. I'd rather have them focusing on us than on something else, namely a camera or a phone.
Ok ok, I'll stop pounding my hippy dippy, mindfulness approach to unplugged weddings and get into the whys from a professional photographers standpoint. We've had our initial meeting, most likely an engagement session and discussed our coverage of the wedding. You've paid for our services in full and expect us to capture the true essence of the moment for you to re-live for years to come. Here comes the bride or groom! As you make your way down the aisle, gazing into the eyes of the love of your life, your uncle pops into the aisle and blocks our view of you. Not only that, but he blocks your view of your fiance while he's snapping pictures on high speed like a mad man. Now, I'm sure we can move around and get some pretty good pictures of you with the back of Uncle Jim's head in the shot, but the moment to capture that look on your face when you first lay eyes your soon-to-be spouse is gone. Hopefully Jim has top of the line equipment and knows how to use it because he would be the only one that would have had the chance to get that shot. Now, don't get mad at Jim. He was just excited, but that enthusiasm took one of the most treasured photos you could have out of your wedding album. Another reason to unplug: social media. Again you're paying professional photographers to give you the highest quality of photos money can buy, but the first picture shared on social media of your big day is taken by a guest with a phone from the worst angle possible. Most brides and grooms prefer to see the ceremony images first and then choose the ones that stand out the most to share with their family and friends.
These are just a few of the many reasons why we only shoot unplugged weddings. We're artists. We do this for love of the game. This is our calling, our passion and anything worth doing is worth doing right. We've had potential clients say "I'm not going to tell my family they can't take pictures." That's cool, it's your wedding. We're just not your photographers. Most importantly we're only talking about the ceremony. During the reception is a great time for people to whip out their cameras and go nuts! We even recommend getting a Polaroid 300 and creating a photo booth area for your guests to take their own pics. The Polaroid 300 is a small, stylish camera and it costs less than 100 bucks! It's a fun way to get a couple of images instantly; one that guests can have as a keepsake and one that they can write a message on for you. There are a million ideas on Pinterest as to how to present to your guests that you'd prefer to have an electronics-free ceremony. Some couples choose to have the wedding officiant welcome guests and make a short announcement that you prefer they unplug and be here now. Others put it in the program or both. No matter what you choose for your wedding or who you choose as your photographer just remember to have fun and be true to yourself. We wish you the best & to those of you getting married, congratulations on your engagement!
Written by: Dia L. Martori
Note: We have photographed some absolutely gorgeous weddings before going unplugged. The ceremonies were so beautiful and we are truly grateful to have been part of the occasions. We want to make sure everyone understands that over the years we made a choice as artists to only shoot weddings unplugged. This is just our style. We do not want to give the impression that your wedding would otherwise be ruined or terrible if you allow cameras to be used during the ceremony. We are perfectionists and prefer to have every opportunity to capture the moments ourselves.