Put the Cell Phone Away, already!!

I’ve written about it before, posted on chat boards, and spoken of it often – but it bears repeating. Really, it’s that important.  Over and over I see this happen, and, to put it kindly, it is simply bad etiquette. Do not use your cell phone, iPad or camera at a wedding ceremony! Unless you have been designated to take pictures or video, leave it to the professionals. Sure, at the reception, have as much fun with it as you like, but a ceremony is a special time, a sacred time and a serious moment to be fully ‘present’ for this milestone in the couple’s lives. It is  distracting and disrespectful to be using your device. There is a time and a place for everything.

There's always one (or many)

Let’s explore this situation further because it is becoming a bigger issue by the minute.

Back in ancient times, say, a decade ago, I would see one or two people snapping pictures, but now everyone has a smart phone. Do you really want your guests to be more engaged with their phone than with what is happening right in front of their eyes?

Another concern is the spoiler effect: people posting photos of the wedding before the couple chooses to do so. It is the prerogative of the newlyweds to decide when to post and what photos to post. Your photos (yes, you – guest with an iPhone) may have caught one of the odd moments. You know, the one with closed eyes, or funny expression, or out of focus, tilted or heads cut off. Yes, we all think we’re brilliant photographers but there is a reason people pay a lot of money for professionals!

Because, clearly I really want people to put the phones away, when I walk to the altar to begin the ceremony, I do not want my first words to be an admonishment. Scolding the guests is not a great way to begin. So here are a tactful few ideas to encourage your guests to turn off their phones and pay attention.

– Include a notice in your program (if you are doing one). Wording might be something like: Welcome to our wedding – please be present in the moment and turn off your cell phones, cameras and other devices.

– Say it with a graphic: the old ‘circle with a line through it’ over a camera or phone image. You can remind guests that you will happily share your photos later.

– Make signs to place at the entrance of the ceremony site stating the same.

I grabbed this shot at a wedding.

– If you have a DJ for the ceremony have him or her announce it before the start of the ceremony.

– Have your ushers repeat the mantra as they escort people. In a friendly way, with a smile, of course! “Don’t forget to turn off your phone and put it away!” “The couple has designated the ceremony as unplugged.” “No photos during the ceremony please!”

– You can also have your officiant make the announcement.

There are many ways to put it, and the idea is gaining traction. You may want to point out that the love, support and complete attention of guests is a gift to the couple. You can make a statement sound funny, spiritual, emotional, spiritual, or just straight forward – but please consider doing it!

All the professional photographers I’ve worked with agree. And to make it worse – guests are getting in the way of the professional. As the pro is ready to snap the very important photo of the bride walking down the aisle, someone pops out of their seat and blocks the shot (shot blocking?). The couple may have paid many thousands of dollars to have beautiful pictures, only to have it spoiled by someone who won’t get as good a photo anyway.

So keep turn them off and put them away, just for a short time. Take a breath. Enjoy it or bear with it… you can power back up soon enough!

After the ceremony - ok, go!


Photo Credit: Diana Lewkowicz – LIFE CHRONICLED PHOTOGRAPHY


This entry was posted in Ceremonies and Celebrations, Pocono Weddings, Tips on Weddings, Wedding Ceremonies and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment

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