This is a guest post by Anne Kleinberg
An unplugged wedding is when you ask your family, friends and guests to turn off their phones, tablets, cameras and other digital distractions during the ceremony and / or reception.
After your wonderful wedding is over, the recollections of your big day will be etched into your heart and mind forever. While no doubt you will have myriad photos and films to look at again and again, it will be the memories that you carry within you that will be the most exceptional: the gleam in your father’s eye; a loving touch on your shoulder; the admiring glimpse of someone you haven’t seen for ages – those will be your most treasured mementos.
With all the planning, there’s an element you may not have considered which can affect the atmosphere. It’s the question of how you want to treat the use of digital devices at the wedding. It might be a phone buzzing (assuming your guests have the sense to turn off the ringers), a camera clicking or an iPad blocking the view. People today have a tendency to be so totally involved with their devices that they often miss the real life experiences happening around them.
There are endless examples on the Internet as to how devices have interfered with the sanctity of the marriage ceremony. I live in Israel and while I know this is by no way common elsewhere, here in the Levant it is perfectly acceptable to be on your phone before, during and after the ceremony. I actually witnessed a man answer a call and speak on his phone as he was walking up to the chuppah to bless the couple and offer one of the Sheva Brachot (Seven Blessings). No one but me seemed horrified.
Images top to bottom: David Bastianoni | Chris Giles Photography | Chris Giles Photography
Another personal example… not long ago I hosted a bride and her family on the day of her wedding. I have a boutique Bed & Breakfast and brides spend the day here getting ready and then the night following with their new husbands. I’m not shy to say that the place is gorgeous and the photographs that are taken here are stunning.
This particular young woman had lost her mother to cancer only six months earlier. Her aunt is an acquaintance of mine and when I heard that they were looking for a lovely location to get ready before heading out for the chuppah I jumped at the chance to offer Casa Cala, at a huge discount. I felt that if I can contribute in some small way to that girl’s happiness, I wanted to do it. The aunt accepted with glee and gratitude and indeed it was a very exciting time.
Last week I saw the video that was made here and at the wedding venue itself and it was incredibly touching. My house had never looked better and the bride was truly glowing. While the video played, the girl was speaking: about her husband to be, their love, their family, and how important the day was to her. I was moved to tears and couldn’t wait to share the video on my Facebook page. But I couldn’t get it to share. I reached out to her and asked what was I doing wrong, why couldn’t I share the video? She answered me in the most apologetic but sincere way – that she was very very sorry, she really loved her time here, the whole experience of being at Casa Cala was amazing but she felt the video was private and she had posted it only to certain people – me and others who were especially close to her.
She implored me to understand that while she very much would like to promote my business, she wanted the film to be viewed only by the people she chose. I looked back at the video and realised there wasn’t one camera or mobile phone or tablet in the hands of any of the guests. Her friends and family were there for this couple in body and soul, totally revelling in the moment and not getting lost in capturing it on their digital devices. Naturally I understood and was touched by her explanation. My business will certainly survive without that video while her sensitivity and the thought that went into her wedding left a very strong impression on me.
Image: Chris Giles Photography
There are endless examples of how devices have ruined intimate moments. Flashes going off interfering with the photographer’s equipment; cameras shoved at you when you’re trying to concentrate on what’s happening; people walking around with iPads covering their faces asking other guests to move out of the way. I’m sure you can think up a few more situations without any help from me.
Your wedding is not only about the party; it’s about the joining of two people who have decided to commit their future to one another. You are about to walk over the threshold to the next phase of your life with one very special person, and you have chosen to share that experience with the people you love most in this world. Doesn’t the moment of that union deserve every ounce of concentration? Shouldn’t the focus of everyone’s eyes and thoughts be on you and your husband to be? Don’t you want to sip wine from the glass that he holds out to you, and watch as he slips the ring on your finger and see, out of the corner of your eye, your mum wiping away a tear without your friends madly clicking away at their mobile phones, tweeting their live and up-to-the minute broadcasts? Its almost as if we don’t know how to communicate anymore without a device in our hand sending instant messages around the world. How much have we missed out on because we were busy adjusting the focus, playing with the sound, uploading, downloading, clicking through apps, tweeting, Instagramming, posting, etc.?
While I wouldn’t consider suggesting you shun all manner of photographic documentation, I would implore you to live each moment in the moment and for the moment. At least think about how you would like to handle this subject. Would it be too outrageous to suggest an unplugged wedding? Leave the photo taking to the professionals and find a way to encourage your guests to be there for you – without a device in their hands?
If you would like to consider the option, and Smashing the Glass encourages you to, then there are some really lovely and creative ways to let your guests know that you would like them to totally be there for you – and to please leave their devices at home, or at least turn them off during the most significant moments. (By the way, none other than Internet sensations and social media power duo Tanya Burr and Jim Chapman declared an absolute ban of all digital devices at their wedding). Isn’t it refreshing to see not even one guest holding an iPhone or iPad in their aisle image below?
Images top to bottom: Dominique Bader | Chrisman Studios | Buffy Weddings | TheDoodleCoop
One option is to let guests know early on, and then ever so slightly remind them again on the day of the wedding. Include a cute line about “No Mobile Phone or Cameras Please Until After the Chuppah” in the invitation. Perhaps a poem or haiku written by you or a talented friend? A basket at the entrance of the venue with a note for them to kindly drop their phones in until the ceremony is over? (They probably won’t, but it will remind them to at least shut them off). Certainly an icon of a mobile phone with an X over it printed on the escort cards should get the message across.
Going a bit to the extreme – consider labels on the back of all the chairs in the venue where the ceremony takes place – “We’re so happy you’re here. But please consider our feelings and don’t use your digital devices. We want you to enjoy the moment with us – not capture it!”
If you don’t mind the reference to devices preceding your ceremony, you could ask the Rabbi or officiant to make an announcement requesting that phones be turned off and cameras put away. There are plenty of sources out there for unplugged wedding ideas, have a look at these for a few subtle and not so subtle suggestions, and you could always purchase ready-made signs from Etsy.
The thing is, this is your day. You should organise it the way you want and the exclusion of intrusive phones and cameras is well within your prerogative. If you’ve thought about it and you truly don’t mind device participation then go for it! Create a wedding hashtag, let them click away and have a ball. But if you would like to preserve the intimacy and sanctity of your wedding, or a particular part of it, then definitely express your wishes so that your guests know how you feel.
What do you think? Devices denied or approved? Plugged or unplugged? How are you going to handle it? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.
About the author
Anne Kleinberg, former New York interior designer, had an epiphany and moved to Israel. The design career segued into writing: lifestyle journalist, cookbook author and novelist (her novel Menopause in Manhattan has been wildly successful). Anne’s latest passion is Casa Cala – Casa Caesarea – an awarding-winning Bed & Breakfast catering to brides and international guests in her luxurious villa on the golf course in Caesarea.
Top image: Thomas Stewart
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