Stories and tips from the life of a wedding photographer by Ali Hormann, Ali Hormann Photography
By now is you have perused Pinterest long enough you've seen cute ideas for wedding signs indicating to your guests that you are having an "Unplugged Wedding." If you don't have a full grasp on what that means, essentially you ask your guests to put down their cell phones and cameras during your wedding ceremony and simply be present as guests, like you asked them to be.
I have to admit, I've seen it all when it comes to weddings and I've got advice coming out my ears, but no piece of wedding wisdom do I tout more than having an unplugged ceremony. Sure, it's good to make sure there aren't a million cell phones (or God forbid, iPads) in the photos of your ceremony but it is so much more. Here are a few things you might not think about when you ask guests to set their phones aside.
It's a totally radical concept
In today's ever-connected world, it feels almost natural to witness life events through a 4-inch LCD screen. But if we're honest with ourselves, we all know those devices own way too much of our time, even on a day like your wedding day.
Marriage is, in itself, a radical concept. It's telling someone you will love them for better or worse, through highs and lows and morning breath and student debt and ultrasounds and promotions andflossing. So, if you're going to be doing a radical thing, ask your guests to do the same and invite them to live outside their digital boxes and back into real life, if only for 35 minutes.
Get the photos you paid for
Wedding photography isn't cheap, I know that. So when your Uncle Bob (which is the industry term for the inevitable family member who shows up with a big camera) stands in front of your processional with his Canon Rebel or his iPhone5 I can't get that shot. His better-door-than-a-window stance isn't disrespectful to me, it's disrespectful to the thousands of dollars you paid for that photo.
And be honest with yourself, how often have you printed an album or a canvas with your friends' iPhone photos? How much are you hoping your Aunt Betty's disposable camera photos turn out so you can hang them on your wall?
The fine print might come back to bite you
Many photographers, myself included, have a non-compete clause in their contracts that states your photographer is the only professional photographer allowed to take photos that day. It isn't because we are selfish and want your beauty all to ourselves, it's for the sake of our business and its reputation.
So if your fiancé's cousin is starting her own photography business and she brings her camera to your wedding and then posts the photos on her Facebook page with the caption, "It was such a pleasure to photograph my cousin's wedding!" she just breached your contract. And even though you didn't ask her to post them, you could be held liable nevertheless.
You invited them to be guests
Everyone wants to ask how they can help when you're planning a wedding, especially when you're on a budget. But the truth is, as a couple you really hope that your friends and family can come and enjoy the party, so ask them to enjoy it, even if it means hard conversations. And when your buddy from college says he'll photograph it for free but you've hired someone you trust more than that guy who once licked his shoe on a dare, you need to tell him to leave his camera at home.
Think about it, if you had a cousin who loved doing hair and makeup and she started blending your eyeshadow while your HMUA was looking away, you'd be appalled. If your mom's best friend brought a three-tiered cake because she has been practicing really hard, would you forego the cake the bakery brought? My guess is, no.
Above all, one thing I have seen over and over, if you ask your guests to put aside their digital devices early on in the day, they spend more time looking at each other, talking to each other, dancing with each other, and not just @-ing each other on Instagram.