unplugged wedding: requesting that guests refrain from taking images on any camera or device during a wedding ceremony.

Have you been to an 'Unplugged Wedding' yet? Have you shot one or are you one of the increasing number of photographers asking your clients to arrange one so that you can get nice clear shots of the ceremony? Lisa Devlin is putting across her argument against demanding the Unplugged Wedding.


Unplugged is a term that we are used to hearing about music events, so when did it become a thing at weddings? Well probably not too long after the selfie stick was invented I imagine! 

It seems that you literally cannot do a damn thing these days without our need as a species to record it on a handheld device. What started out as a way of communicating with people has ended up being an all encompassing means of recording and sharing our entire lives. The kids cannot go back to school without a tidal wave of cute first day images on facebook, our fancy dinners in restaurants go cold while we perfect the art of instagramming our food and of course when it comes to life's big events, the birth of a child, graduating college and wedding days, there we all are snapping, sharing and hashtagging it for all to witness.

Alternative London Wedding Lisa Devlin 246

It's a huge part of modern life and as such has had an impact on wedding days and the photographers and videographers that record them.

At the heart of every wedding day, there is the ceremony with all the tradition, emotion and logistics that they bring. The doors open, the music begins and in walks the bride. She sweeps down the aisle, hers eyes lock on his and the moment she has dreamt of since being a little girl playing dress up with old net curtain over her head falls into place. These days that aisle will more than likely be lined with a sea of ipads and phones. Is it distracting to the couple? Not really, they are so high on emotion that most of them wouldn't notice an elephant sitting three rows back chatting with their Auntie. Is it annoying for the photographer? Well it can impact how clear a shot that you get but so does a video crew, oversized floral arrangements, vicars who walk in front of the procession or bridesmaids who go down the aisle first.

Let's flip it on it's head and think about how we engage with our wedding photography. It tends to go a little like this...

  • Couple get married on a Saturday.
  • Guests spend between then and the following Monday uploading their phone images and tagging the happy couple.
  • Couple worry about if they really did look that shiny/red eyed/drunk all day.
  • Boom, you sneak peek a couple of your gorgeous images on Facebook.
  • Phew, couple are relieved that they did in fact look hot and you win at being the world's best wedding photographer.
  • You then deliver the full set and curate a stunning blog post showing the full story of their perfect day.
  • You create a beautiful album for them and now those Facebook images really are utterly forgotten and the wedding is forever remembered through your photographs.
  • And then a few years down the line, they look back at those wedding images and that picture of her walking down the aisle and they think.. look at all those crazy old fashioned phones and ipads. Remember how they used to be a thing?

You see, wedding images are really the only time most of us have a full photographic record of a day in our lives. And as much as we may think we are producing something 'timeless', in actual fact, we are producing something totally of it's time. So embrace that and all it encompasses. When you look at old wedding photographs, what are you drawn to? I'll bet it's the elements that date the images. So celebrate the devices, incorporate them into your narrative, although feel free to shove anyone too keen back into their seats.

Also let's not be the spoilsport, meanie photographer going in with demands. Your photos won't be ready for weeks but the bride's Mum wants images immediately. Those phone pics that she gets might not look as incredible as your DSLR ones but they are from her exact perspective on the events. So what if she grabs a few to share with her bridge club buddies?

I predict that in a few years time, that aisle will be lined with people in Blade Runner style communication helmets on and we will all look back to the handheld device era with a fondness, ha!

Lisa Devlin has been a wedding photographer for 15 years, has industry accolades including Wedding Photographer of the Year from the British Journal of Photography and regularly speaks about her work and wedding photography. She is also the big boss at Photography Farm.