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Tips for Hosting a Social Media-Free Wedding

If an unplugged wedding is the right choice for your big day, here's how to pull it off.

hosting a social media-free wedding
Wedding

It’s no secret that smartphones have basically become another appendage in the modern 24/7 world of streaming, social media and texting. And our relationship with our phones can be complicated. Sure, it’s nice to feel like you have the world at your fingertips, to connect with friends and family, and to take beautiful photos and videos whenever and wherever you want. (Especially when it’s never been easier to get affordable photo books printed and delivered to you!)

The downside? When you’re on your phone, you’re distracted and not fully present in the moment. And when it comes to your nuptials, the last thing you want is for unflattering snapshots to flood social media before you've even had a chance to say "I do!" Let's face it, nobody wants their first wedding photo to be a candid, blurry shot taken by Aunt Barbara with her outdated smartphone. Especially when you’ve spent a lot of money on a professional wedding photographer to capture those precious moments in the most flattering light possible. It's only natural that you'd want a wedding day without distractions and your carefully curated photos to be the ones shared first—on your terms!

It's no wonder more and more soon-to-be-married couples are opting to go unplugged, social media-free or with a "no photos, please" policy. Just a quick scroll through wedding forums reveals countless brides fretting over rogue snapshots ending up on Facebook for the world to see.

Sure, it may be a Hollywood trend to enforce a "mobile phone ban," with wedding guests surrendering their devices at the door to protect their privacy. But for us non-celebrities, broaching this topic without sounding like a "bridezilla" can be a tricky task indeed.

So, how do you delicately handle this digital dilemma and stop guests from posting about your wedding without ruffling feathers? It's a question many brides and grooms grapple with, but with a little finesse and diplomacy, you can ensure your wedding day remains picture-perfect in every sense of the word.

What Is a Social Media-Free or Unplugged Wedding?

This can mean a variety of different things, but first and foremost it means that you’re asking guests to limit their smartphone use in some way on your big day—whether that’s asking them not to post photos on social media or to completely turn their phone off.

But let's talk about the delicate dance of social media etiquette. Your wedding is a deeply personal affair, yet it's also a celebration with your nearest and dearest. Balancing control over what gets posted online while still being gracious to your guests can feel like navigating a potential minefield.

Here are some tips to pull it off successfully.

Decide How “Unplugged” You Want Your Wedding to Be

First things first, you should think about what level of smartphone or social-media free you want to go. Maybe it’s most important to you that people are fully present during your ceremony (because vows are the point, after all) but you’re ok with people using their phones during the reception. 

Another reason to ask people to refrain from phone use during the ceremony is that you don’t want people on their phones or taking photos while you’re professional photo is working hard to capture those special moments (people holding up phones in the background can really ruin a vibe of otherwise beautiful photos that you’ll look at in a photo book for years to come). 

Or maybe you want to go fully unplugged and ask guests to turn off their phones for the entire wedding, including during the reception. 

If your concern is more about privacy, you may simply decide it’s enough to ask guests not to post any photos from the wedding on social media. This can also be a way to avoid family and friends posting shots on Facebook before you even get the chance. Or being tagged in a bunch of unflattering pictures taken from all kinds of awkward angles or with your eyes closed (because they looked cute in the photo, right?).

The point is that there’s really no right or wrong way to do this. It all comes down to what matters to you.

Communicate Your Decision in Your Wedding Invitations

Once you’ve decided what your wishes are, you’ll want to set expectations up front—starting by communicating them in your wedding invitations. After all, your wedding day is all about you and your partner, and it's perfectly acceptable to have requests to ensure it's everything you've dreamed of. Most guests will be understanding and respectful once they know your preferences. The key is to communicate your wishes in a friendly and polite manner. A simple and courteous request can go a long way in ensuring everyone enjoys the celebration to the fullest.

Here are some example invite wordings you can use:

Wedding Invitation Wording Ideas to Stop Guests From Posting About Your Wedding:

We're so excited to share our special day with you. As a personal favor, we're asking that you help us keep our wedding off social media. We can't wait to celebrate with you in person!

We’re looking forward to sharing our special day with you but not on social media so we’re requesting that you refrain from posting photos or videos of our big day on social media.

We politely ask that our guests don’t share photos of our wedding on social media. Thank you for your understanding.

We kindly request no photos on social media until we post our first picture as Mr. & Mrs.

Wedding Invitations Wording Ideas for an Unplugged Wedding:

Please note we are having an unplugged wedding and respectfully ask that you power down your phone during our [fill-in-the-blank…ceremony, ceremony and reception, etc].

Unplugged Wedding: We can’t wait for you to join us in celebrating our special day but not so much your smartphone, so please power down while in attendance.

Your presence is the best present! That’s why we are having an unplugged wedding and requesting smartphones be turned off at the door.

Sidenote: If you’ve chosen to have a social-free wedding, it’s probably best to skip having a wedding hashtag that you’re using ahead of time so you don’t send guests mixed signals.

You can also add the reminder to the FAQ section of your wedding website, if you opt to create one.

Remind Guests on the Big Day

With invitations having likely gone out months ahead of the actual event, you’ll definitely want to remind guests on the day of your nuptials, as well. You can do this in several ways. If you’re having a completely unplugged wedding, definitely place a tasteful sign at the entrance (you can use the same wording from your invites) and several throughout your venue. One cute idea to do this is by using chalkboards, but you can also have posters professionally printed.

If you have chosen to only have your ceremony be unplugged, you can have your officiant ask guests to get their phone out and turn it off before beginning the ceremony. You can even make it a fun moment by saying “ok, let’s all take one last selfie” (and do it together—including the officiant with the wedding party) before asking them to power down their devices until the vows are over.

Even if you have chosen to have your entire wedding be unplugged or social media-free and have signage indicating this throughout your venue, it can be a good idea to have the officiant give a reminder before they begin the ceremony anyway.

Consider Providing an Alternative Way for Guests to Capture Their Own Images

Since our smartphones are now also our cameras, if you are asking guests to go phone-free, they won’t have a way to take any of their own photos. Of course, the professional photographer you hired will be snapping lots of amazing shots, but there are lots of other moments guests may want to take pictures themselves to have their own memories of your special day. 

One idea is setting up a digital camera with a remote in front of a fun backdrop and a basket of props to let guests take pics throughout the event. Afterwards, you can share a digital gallery with guests to download their pictures and create a photo book of your favorites afterwards.

You could also provide instant polaroid cameras then invite guests to take prints home with them and also leave some on a designated table, then have your photographer take individual shots of them so that you can create a mini photo book for a uniquely artsy (and very modern) perspective of your wedding, which could even be combined with personal messages from your guestbook for a DIY wedding guest book.

One more option is renting a photobooth, which will print a strip of candids for guests to take home as a favor (and again, you can print your favorites in a photo book later).

When it comes to weddings, everyone wants to celebrate your love. And although they mean well, you don’t want to risk your aunt’s outdated smartphone stealing the limelight. If you’re aiming for a distraction-free day while also curating when and where photos of the happy couple appear on social media, an unplugged wedding may be the way to go. And after the big day, you can print your picture-perfect wedding photos in a Premium Layflat photo book to look back at for decades to come!

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