June 1, 2017

Should I have an unplugged ceremony?

What is an Unplugged Ceremony?

When you post a sign, or have your officiant announce, that there are no cameras/phones to be used/out during the ceremony.

should I have an unplugged ceremony

My bride’s ask me all the time, ‘should we have an unplugged ceremony?’  and my answer is always that it is completely up to you. My personal opinion on unplugged ceremonies is that the idea is nice — although the follow through can sometimes be a bit rocky.

I can also understand the train of thought that your guests may have of:

  1. The desire to photograph this special day from their own perspective.
  2. Concern that they may not receive access to the professional photographs.
  3. The immediate-ness of capturing their own images vs. waiting for the professional ones.

What made you consider it to begin with?

  • Do you want your guests to put their phones down and watch with their eyes/enjoy the moment?
  • When you look back at your photos do you want to see phones and camera flanking the edges of your image?
  • Are you afraid that you might have a guest that will go overboard and prevent your wedding professionals from capturing the images you’ve been dreaming of?
  • Does it bother you to think about looking out over your guests and see a sea of phones instead of faces?

To be completely honest…

As a professional wedding photographer, it doesn’t bother me to have cell phones and cameras in the shot. It’s part of the moment, those guests want to capture your special day too and it doesn’t bother me in the least to give them that courtesy. Of course there are horror stories of guests that have blocked the professionals from capturing the first kiss/ring exchanges/etc. And I have had close calls earlier on in my career. However, now that I have a good many weddings under my belt, I can typically pick out the guest photographers that may cause an issue and am able to speak with them before the ceremony.  I never ask anyone to put their camera away – However, I do ask that guests remain in their seats during the ceremony so as to not block me from getting your images. I have had guests refuse this before, and I am happy to say that (unless we are at a venue which limits where I can stand) I was still able to get a respectable amount of shots without the guest photographer in them and I still deliver wide shots even if they do have an obstructed view.

Now, on the other hand…

The photo below is from my second shooter who was standing at the top of the stairs at The Swan House to get a photo as the Bride and Groom exited. As you can see, there are many guests out of their seats with their cameras and it is very distracting in this image.

Now take a look below that image, where you will see the images that I captured from my angle at the back middle of the aisle when they exited, and from in front of the furthest front camera during the ceremony.

Bride and Groom at the Swan House in Atlanta, Georgia Bride and Groom at the Swan House in Atlanta, Georgia
Did I have to get creative to get these images without other cameras in the shot? Yes.

But guys, here’s the deal. You are paying me to be creative, to use my ingenuity, experience and ability to think on the fly. This is literally my job. If you don’t mind cameras at your wedding, then I don’t mind cameras at your wedding.

Were there cameras still in a lot of my shots? Yes.

I will do my very best to get at least a few images without other cameras in them but at the end of the day, I’m capturing your wedding day the way it happened; with or without extra cameras.

And hey, at least when iphone 26plus comes out you’ll have your wedding photos to remember that the 7plus was the next big thing 😉


If you are having your ceremony at a venue where photography is highly restricted (i.e. Catholic churches where we are not allowed anywhere except the edges of the chapel or something similar) then I absolutely recommend an unplugged ceremony. In this scenario, if Uncle Bob decides to stand up in the middle of the aisle during your first kiss (or the whole ceremony for that matter), there is literally nothing I can do to get in front of him and your images will likely be compromised. Of course it’s still up to you, but I tell the truth because I love you and want you to have gorgeous photos of your gorgeous wedding!

xoxo Ashley

Charlotte Wedding Photographer Ashley Sue Photography

Ashley Sue is a Charlotte based Piedmont and High Country Wedding Photographer specializing in capturing the moments in between the posing. Ashley is energetic, optimistic, and a perpetual romantic. While Ashley has photographed weddings nationwide from simple church ceremonies to elaborate ballroom receptions; her authentic + joyful style shines brightest in outdoor locations such as the Blue Ridge mountains of Asheville, NC and architecturally rich surroundings of Charlotte, North Carolina.

Ashley is available for travel world-wide + is passport ready. To view Ashley’s bucket list of locations available for travel cost only, click HERE. (coming soon)

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