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Unplug your wedding: Turn off the phones

by | 22 November 2014 | Couple

Ahh mobile phones. Whether we like it or not, we live in an eyes-down, thumbs-typing-at-lightning-speed culture. And we have a ‘can’t live with them, can’t live without them’ attitude towards our phones. But, whatever relationship you have with yours – maybe you’re a minimalist mobilist who only uses it for calls and texts; or perhaps you’re a mob-sessive that whips it out at any occasion – how do phones fit in with a modern-day wedding? This week, I’m exploring the idea of having an unplugged wedding – one where no phones are allowed.

Imagine it’s your wedding day. Not a mobile phone in sight…

When you walk down the aisle, the only person taking photos is the professional photographer you hired. When you and your partner look around to check on your guests, everyone’s laughing and getting to know each other. And when you have your first dance, all eyes are on the both of you twirling around enjoying your new marital status, not on mobile phone screens.

At the reception, no one is sitting in the corner checking the football scores or waiting to upload pictures to Facebook. And there definitely isn’t a Generation Y huddle happening over by the cake as they choose the most flattering Instagram filter for their #weddingcakeselfie. People are doing what people did before social media: making conversation with each other, soaking up the atmosphere and just being in the wedding-day moment.

Okay, okay. So maybe that’s an unrealistic ideal. And let’s be honest, you can’t tell people what to and what not to do with their phones. Yes, you might be the couple getting married. You might have spent months planning and saving up for the big day. But you don’t control the universe, or do you?

If you’re thinking about having an unplugged wedding…

Give it some careful thought. It might seem like a fair, manageable request. (I mean, what’s one day without your phone?) But think of how your guests will react. Some will want to check on their kids who are at home with the babysitter. Others might have a poorly relative that needs regular attention. Heck, you might even have a modern day hero at your wedding – like a doctor or fireman – who happens to be on call. And these guests will all need and want their phones on them. And, let’s face it, they’ll bring them whether it’s an unplugged wedding or not (or worse, they won’t come at all).

After mulling it over, you both might realise that telling people to leave their phones at home is an unrealistic request that’s bound to come with resistance. It might also dawn on you that the real reason you wanted an unplugged wedding in the first place was to stop guests shouting about your wedding online before you. Not because your mum’s next door neighbour popping outside to speak to her kids would bother you. So, maybe…

…what you probably (really) want is a partially unplugged wedding.

It’s partially unplugged because you’re not banning phones entirely. That just wouldn’t work, what with mobiles doubling up as cameras nowadays. All you’re doing is establishing some limitations. It’s not as severe a request as a completely unplugged wedding. It’s just a more adult way of asking guests to respect your special day by being aware of how much they use their phones.

Say you want to be the first to upload your wedding photos online. Or you don’t fancy waking up the day after your wedding to a Newsfeed crammed full of the Maid of Honour’s photos. One of your limitations might be to ask guests to hold off on uploading things online. Also, if you’re concerned about the internet becoming awash with unflattering photos of you shoving cake in your gob, why not ask guests to run shots passed you before they put them online?

You might also request that guests put their phones on silent; avoid updating their statuses, and checking work emails. And why not? These kinds of asks aren’t you being a diva. It’s you taking ownership of your day. After all, you’re the one who will live through the hair-tearing-out moments.

But how do you let everybody know?

Once you’ve decided on the limitations, you have to find a way of breaking the news to your guests. The obvious option is on the invitation. And how you deliver the news really depends on the relationship you have with your guests. If you’re having a small wedding with your closest family and friends, you could be super straightforward with them and tell it how it is. You can even make light of it. But, if your guest list includes a family you’re not too familiar with, make sure your message is clear and assertive, but polite. The last thing you want is somebody taking your no-phone request as a joke. Or worse, bad mouthing you at your own wedding.

It may seem more trouble than it’s worth. But unplugged weddings seem to becoming more and more desirable. It’s clear that it’s not a one-size-fits-all notion. But that’s not to say you can’t incorporate the fundamentals into your big day, in one way or another. The real challenge lies in establishing the phone-use limits, informing your guests of them and then policing it, if at all.

Do you still think you can pull off a completely unplugged wedding – or better still, have you had one already? Or do you think a partially unplugged wedding is a more realistic option? Tell us in the comments box below.

And if you’ve ever wondered what the opposite to an unplugged wedding looks like, keep your eyes peeled for our upcoming article on plugged weddings.

About the author

Jo Wigley

From her word-nerd studio (way) down under in New Zealand, the copywriter in Jo crafts websites, advertising campaigns, scripts, blogs and brochures for businesses across the world. While the creative consultant in her helps brands, big and small, find their voice in one heck of a noisy world.


Couple Unplug your wedding: Turn off the phones