"Unplugged" Weddings vs. "Hashtag" Weddings

Photo Credit: Katherine Miles Jones Photography

Photo Credit: Katherine Miles Jones Photography

As you may have noticed, Gather Together recently created an Instagram account exclusively for our event planning and design images {follow us here}! We are clearly fans of Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook and all of the other image-sharing social media sites out there. They provide us with copious amounts of creative fodder, connect us to our clients and friends, and allow us to stretch our creative legs with simple composition and editing options. Basically, we heart fun social media! However, we also know that sometimes these apps take us down a boredom rabbit hole that can distract us from our real lives. 

Something we are seeing more and more of in the wedding industry is couples making the decision to "unplug" their weddings. It's increasingly common for the bride and groom to request that guests put away their cameras and phones during the wedding ceremony. Less common (though not unheard of) is the request for guests to "check" their phones for the entire event à la most celeb couples. I recently sat down with Katherine of Katherine Miles Jones Photography and talked with her about the pros and cons of an "Unplugged Wedding", and different ways to go about achieving a good balance.

We both agreed that confiscating, or even nixing the use of any type of picture taking device for the entire 5 or 6 hour event, even with a professional present to capture images, is a little extreme (although I do admit to tossing the idea out to my own wedding planner in a moment of extremism whilst in the midst of my own planning frenzy). Some of my favorite pictures from our reception were candid cell phone pics my friends have shared with me. Not to mention, no one wants to irritate their closest friends and family right before they join you for one of the most important days of your life.

Plus, encouraging people to utilize social media at appropriate times can be fun! We have seen some really cute signage for couple's personal wedding hashtags. In fact Katherine is about to shoot a wedding in which the bride has created an "Instagram scavenger hunt" for her guests during the dinner and reception portion of the evening along with a cute unique hashtag for the new couple. Adorbs right?

Katherine shared an interesting insight from the viewpoint of a guest at two weddings recently, one taking an Unplugged approach, with the officiant inviting guests to truly be present during the ceremony and put away their phones and cameras. She said that at this wedding, she felt a true difference in people's emotional responses. Guests seemed more connected and focused on the importance of what was happening. She offered that sometimes looking through a viewfinder can distance someone from the emotional impact of a moment and that even if you don't remember exactly what color the bridesmaid's bouquets were, you'll remember the way a certain reading, or look between the couple made you feel, and what a beautiful thing that is to remember.

Photo Credit: Katherine Miles Jones Photography

Photo Credit: Katherine Miles Jones Photography

The key to us seems to be striking a fun, and comfortable balance for the couple and the guests. If you choose to go Unplugged, be clear and firm about it to avoid hurt feelings. Put a bulletin on your wedding website, or add a line on the invitation, and then have your officiant remind guests before the ceremony starts. Offer to share with them the pictures that your photographer captures so they don't feel like they'll miss anything. We think that your guests will respect your wishes and enjoy being with you in the moment.

If you decide to go with more of a Hashtag Wedding approach, be fun with it! Give guests a game to play with it to encourage fun and unique shots. Create cute signage about a personal hashtag or photo-storing website where guests can contribute images. Create a photobooth backdrop with props for your friends to use with their own cameras and phones.

But dear sweet Gather Together brides/fiancees/readers, as always we leave you with this piece of advice above all others; be yourselves. Do what will make you and your love happiest and own it!

'Til we Gather Together again...

-Fay