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unplugged ceremony

How to Perform an Unplugged Ceremony

An unplugged ceremony is becoming an increasingly popular option for modern couples looking to create a more intimate, present moment for their wedding day. As smartphones and cameras have become ubiquitous parts of our lives, many couples are deciding to ask their guests to put their devices away during the ceremony and truly “be there” to exchange vows.

As an officiant, it is important to understand what an unplugged wedding ceremony is and how to execute one if a couple requests it properly. Here are some comprehensive tips on how to perform an unplugged wedding ceremony and some Marriage Ceremony Order of Events:

What is an Unplugged Ceremony?

An unplugged wedding ceremony means asking guests to refrain from taking photos and videos during the ceremony portion of the wedding day. The goal is to minimize distractions and allow guests to be fully present during this meaningful moment.

Essentially, an unplugged ceremony promotes a more intimate, sacred environment for the couple to exchange their vows surrounded by loved ones engaged in the ceremony rather than worrying about capturing the perfect shot.

With an unplugged wedding, the couple asks their loved ones to witness this once-in-a-lifetime occasion without distractions. They are requesting that guests put down their cameras and phones and immerse themselves in the beautiful ceremony.

Reasons Couples Choose Unplugged Ceremonies

unplugged ceremony

There are several key reasons a couple may decide on an unplugged ceremony for their special day:

  • Minimize distractions – Guests fumbling with cameras and smartphones can be very distracting and get in the way during an intimate moment like the wedding ceremony. The sounds of cameras clicking, flashes going off, and the shuffling to get the perfect shot can detract from the ceremony. An unplugged ceremony eliminates these distractions.
  • Enjoy the moment – The couple likely wants their guests to be able to truly witness and enjoy the ceremony rather than worrying about photos. Looking through a tiny camera screen often makes people miss out soaking in the moment.
  • Professional photos – Most couples hire a professional wedding photographer to capture high-quality photos and videos. Excessive guest photos can get in the photographer’s way, making their job harder.
  • Create intimacy – Removing technology like cell phones fosters a more connected, intimate environment for the couple to exchange vows. Guests tend to be more engaged when not distracted by devices.
  • Undivided attention – With an unplugged ceremony, the couple can rest assured they have the undivided attention of their loved ones during this incredibly important moment in their lives.

Unplugged Ceremony Signage

Many couples display cute signs requesting that guests refrain from using devices to remind guests of their wishes for an unplugged wedding.

These unplugged ceremony signs can be placed in strategic locations like:

  • Near the entrance to the ceremony space
  • On easels by the guestbook signing table
  • Programs on guests’ chairs
  • At the front, where the couple will stand

The signs serve as a gentle reminder for guests to honor the unplugged wedding ceremony wishes of the couple. Funny or heartfelt wording helps convey the sentiment.

How to Perform an Unplugged Ceremony

As the officiant, you are important in facilitating a smooth, unplugged ceremony. Here are some comprehensive tips:

Inform Guests Ahead of Time

  • Ask the couple to tell guests beforehand – Encourage them to inform guests a few weeks before the wedding that they request an unplugged ceremony. This gives guests time to understand and respect the couple’s wishes.
  • Share on wedding website – Many couples have wedding websites these days. This is the perfect place to note their unplugged ceremony plans and reasoning.
  • Add to invitations – Including a line or insert card about an unplugged ceremony with the wedding invites sets clear expectations from the start.

Make an Announcement at the Start

  • Verbal announcement – The officiant politely announces the very start of the ceremony, asking guests to silence and put away their mobile devices to honor the couple’s request for an unplugged wedding.
  • Designate a photo taker – Some couples may allow 1-2 designated guests, like a relative or friend, to take candid photos at certain points that won’t disturb the ceremony, such as walking down the aisle. If the couple allows this exception, note it in your announcement.
  • Thank guests – Adding a line of thanks reminding guests that their presence is the best gift sets a grateful, respectful tone.

Add Signs as Visual Reminders

Strategically place unplugged ceremony signs around the ceremony space as visual cues, like:

  • At the guestbook signing table
  • On easels flanking the aisle entrance
  • Attached to programs guests receive
  • At the altar, where the couple stands

Perform the Ceremony as Usual

  • Once guests have put devices away, proceed with the ceremony as usual! Enjoy the beautiful intimacy and presence of the moment you’ve facilitated.
  • Focus on the couple – With fewer distractions, you can pour your full attention into creating a meaningful ceremony speaking from the heart. Make intense eye contact, speak slowly, and cherish this special moment.
  • Present and engaged – Their energy and engagement are palpable when guests are fully present rather than distracted by devices. Make eye contact with loved ones as you speak to help further draw them into the occasion’s significance.

Announce When Photo Taking Can Resume

  • End of ceremony announcement – After the final recessional and the couple has exited, announce to guests that they may now use their cameras and phones to capture moments during cocktail hour or reception.
  • Reception exception – Even if the ceremony is unplugged, most couples allow photo-taking during the reception festivities. Be sure to communicate this permission to guests!

Unplugged Wedding Reception Considerations

Some couples choose to have an unplugged ceremony and unplugged wedding reception to maintain an intimate, present environment throughout the entire day’s celebrations. Here are some factors to consider if the couple wants an unplugged reception as well:

  • Make intentions clear – Communicate the couple’s wishes to guests on printed invites, signs, and announcements during the event. Mention it will be an unplugged wedding day from start to finish.
  • Special moments exception – The couple may allow photos during special moments like first dances, speeches, cake cutting, etc. Guests will appreciate clear guidelines on when phones are allowed!
  • Table photo opportunity – Providing a “photo booth” table with fun props allows guests to take photos together during the reception but keeps cameras put away during dances, dinner, etc.
  • Limited social media usage – Rather than a full ban, a couple may request limited phone use at reception, like no phones during dinner. Still, social media updates are okay at other times.
  • Hire a professional photographer to capture moments allows guests to participate rather than view the event through their screens.
  • Embrace the present – Ultimately, an unplugged reception, like the ceremony, creates space for guests to embrace the shared joy of celebrating the couple in the moment.
unplugged ceremony signs

Performing an Unplugged Ceremony is Rewarding

Facilitating an unplugged wedding ceremony allows you, as the officiant, to create a sacred environment focused purely on the couple’s love and marriage commitments and Other Fun Wedding Ideas. When guests put aside their devices and unite in full presence for the ceremony, it sets the tone for a significant and intimate celebration of the couple’s journey ahead.

As an officiant, remember these key steps when executing an unplugged ceremony for a modern couple:

  • Communicate expectations to guests ahead of time
  • Gently remind guests at the start of the ceremony to put devices away
  • Allow for any exceptions the couple approves
  • Proceed with an intimate, distraction-free ceremony
  • Inform guests when photo taking can resume
  • Appreciate the gift of guests’ full presence with the couple

When done thoughtfully and clearly, an unplugged wedding ceremony creates a beautiful, sacred space for a couple to cherish and guests to immerse themselves completely in honoring the joy and significance of marriage. You also include children, and one unique way to include children in the Unplugged wedding ceremony is to have them participate in symbolic rituals like a unity candle lighting or sand ceremony. The children can pour colored sand into a vessel, symbolizing the families joining together. For more ideas, see How to Include Kids in Wedding Ceremony as Officiant.

Special Thanks

Photographer: Scott Surplice Photography
Celebrant: Marry Us Gary

Unplugged Ceremony

Gary is dedicated to ensuring that wedding officiants and wedding emcees like you excel in creating unforgettable wedding experiences! With a passion for celebrations, he is an enthusiastic, down-to-earth, and fun Wedding Celebrant and Professional Wedding MC, operating in Australia.
Count on Gary to provide expert guidance and a relaxed approach to help you deliver remarkable ceremonies and receptions. His goal is to empower you to curate the best possible wedding day for couples, where every detail is thoughtfully arranged, and the party atmosphere is electrifying!