Unplug it on National Day of Unplugging (and Other Important Times)

Some topics are worthy of revisiting. This is one of them. And before you assume this is about weddings – it is about so much more.

It seems like everyone is connected to a device today, usually a smart phone. I realize that I, too, waste way too much time on the internet. It’s a real problem for children and adults alike.

That is why it is so important that we make an extra effort to disconnect at important times in life. Weddings are just one of them. 

As a guest you should be paying attention to the ceremony, not taking photos, tweeting or updating your facebook page. The ceremony is an important and even sacred time in the lives of the couple. It is not only distracting but downright rude to be fooling with your phone. There is a time and a place for everything. You will have lots of time for those selfies at the reception.

But there’s a bigger picture to consider. It has been shown that  constant connection can wreak havoc not only on your physical well-being, but on your mental health. One of the greatest benefits of unplugging from your phone is that it helps you relax and mentally get away from it all.

The first Friday in March is National Day of Unplugging. This holiday consists of a 24 hour period from sundown to sundown, to unplug, unwind, relax and do things other than using today’s technology, electronics, and social media. This year it will be March 6-7 – sundown to sundown. #nationaldayofunplugging

Can you handle 24 hours without digital connections? Think of it as a detox. Who’s in?

But back to weddings….I’ve written before about the importance guests refraining from photography during the wedding ceremony. Unless you have been asked by the couple to take pictures – don’t! Let the pros do their job, and you do yours, which is to be their gracious guest. This has become a bigger issue by the minute.

Only a few short years ago I would see one or two people snapping pictures, but now it feels as if everyone is poised with their phone – at the ready – at the ceremony is about to begin. As they sit and wait for the ceremony to begin, they pass the time scrolling on their phones. Then, when the processional begins, they would rather try to take pictures of it, than take in what happening right in front of their eyes. I’ve even seen people holding up iPads. 

When I walk in to begin any ceremony, I do not want my first words to be an admonishment. Scolding the guests is not a great way to begin. However – I do it anyway. I must. I try to do it nicely, politely, and with a smile when I ask everyone to put aside their distracting thoughts along with their cell phones to be ‘truly present.’ 

Here are a few other ideas to encourage 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.  Or do this 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 some signs to place at the entrance of the ceremony site stating the same. Don’t forget to include this on your wedding website, if you have one.

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

– Have your ushers repeat the mantra as they escort people. In a friendly way of course!

– And have your officiant make the announcement. 

There are many ways to approach this and most people are well aware of this issue, they just need a little reminding. You may want to point out that the love, support and complete attention is a gift to the couple. You can make your statement funny, spiritual, emotional, spiritual, or just straight-forward – but please do it!

Thank you Lisa Rhinehart for the use of your beautiful photography!

find me on facebook – Lois Heckman, Celebrant, and Instagram – Lois Heckman

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