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The unplugged wedding

The unplugged wedding

unplugged wedding

More and more couples are asking their guests to put away their smart phones during their weddings. In a world that is more and more mediated through screens, this is a startling, even radical, suggestion.

In the past, the reason to ban cameras in the ceremony was because of the disruption caused by the flash or of inexperienced photographers who intruded on the ceremony for the sake of the best shot. Now, people are asking people to put down the phones and cameras so that they be fully present in the ritual, and not mediate the experience through the screen.

Mike Brown writes in the International Business Times:

Samantha Heinrich met her fiance, Andrew Bosco, at a bicycle race in Wisconsin. They are both avid cyclists. Bosco, 26, repairs bikes for a living, while Heinrich, 28, is a hobbyist graphic designer. After two years and three months as a couple, they’re getting ready to tie the knot.

“To be committing our lives to one another is the biggest commitment we could ever make, something we’d like our guests to actually be there for,” Heinrich said, emphasizing the phrase, “be there.” Firm believers in the importance of being present in body and spirit, Heinrich and Bosco have declared war on one of the great distractions of our time: They are not allowing smartphones at the ceremony.

No ifs. No buts. No phones.

The Rev. Curtis Farr, assistant rector at St. James’ Episcopal Church in West Hartford, Connecticut, says

“There is a bounty of meaning in the words and movements of the liturgy, and that meaning ought to be fully embraced in the flesh without the hindrance of an electronic leash,” Farr said. “I think it is a loving gesture to put away the phone and experience the ceremony to the fullest. Plus, the iPhone shot from seven rows back is going to look terrible anyway.”

It is not only clergy who are drawing the line, so are wedding photographers.

Unplugged ceremonies are an uphill struggle against a culture dead set on recording everything, even if the moment is being recorded by everybody else around them. Photographers lament beautiful group shots lost to a sea of cameras standing on either side. When it’s time to click the shutter, nobody knows where to look. Eyes dart off in all different directions, and the photo is ruined.

“The worst ones are the people taking selfies at the ceremony,” said Jonathan Hons, who works with his wife, Brittani, at The Hons wedding photographers based in Florida. He remembers one instance where the bride was walking down the aisle, with four selfie sticks stuck straight in the middle to record the big moment. “It’s just dangerous,” he said.

St. James’ Episcopal Church’s Farr holds a much stronger view. “I have yet to experience a selfie stick at a wedding, but I can tell you right now that I won’t tolerate that s—,” he said. “Keep it at the reception. Actually, you know what? Just lose the selfie stick altogether.”

What’s next? Unplugged baptisms?


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Rev. David Justin Lynch

At Saint Cecilia Catholic Community, where I am pastor, we absolutely prohibit cell phones at all our services. We announce before the service that all cellphones must be turned off. Cell phones and liturgy do not mix!


You can never go wrong with good manners. (I can still hope, can’t I?)

Paul Woodrum

I’m sure this will be a long list of horror stories. I once had a guest climbing up on the altar to get a shot looking down at the couple exchanging their vows. I caste him into outer darkness. The altar guild would never have forgiven me if I permitted footprints on the fair linen.

JC Fisher

No, Paul, this one doesn’t get lost. LOL, a new low!

Michelle Jackson

When my husband and I got married, 38 years ago, we and our priest insisted that no photographs be taken during the ceremony. Before and after were fine, but sacred means paying attention to people and liturgy, not screens.

Sara leiste

I was at a wedding where the program asked for phones and cameras to be put on their “most worshipful setting.”
Sara Leiste

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