Should I Just Ban Phones at My Wedding?

Unplugged weddings are gaining steam, but it's certainly not for everyone. Here are some good reasons to ban phones at your wedding—plus, how to tell guests the news.

By Jane Chertoff

couple bans phones at their wedding
Photo by Eichar Photography

While some couples choose to create the perfect wedding hashtag, live stream an aerial view of their ceremony via drone, or even have a robot serve drinks at the reception, others are going a different direction entirely.

Embracing technology can be a fun touch, but it can also be distracting and take away from the real sentiment of the day. That’s why many couples are choosing to go anti-tech at their weddings and ban phones and cameras entirely.

Whether you choose to ban phones is entirely up to you, it’s your day, after all. Here’s a look at the pros and cons of having an unplugged wedding.

INLINE Jake&KatiePhotography 1080x720 Jack&Nicole Photo Credit // Jake & Katie Photography

Why would I ban phones at my wedding?

There are few reasons beyond "just because I want to."

  • Your guests will be more engaged. The main reason (and a primary benefit) you may want to ban phones is you're your guests will be fully engaged and in the moment. When you walk down the aisle, you’ll be able to look everyone in the eye and see their reaction, versus having their screens staring back at you.
  • Your photographer will have clear shots. He or she won’t have to compete with people’s arms in the way of their shots, which will give them a more clear view. Many beautiful professional shots have been ruined by an iPhone in the way, which is a true shame.
  • You'll keep your photos and moments private—for now. For whatever reason, you may not want family and friends to leak photos of you before you’re ready to share. You’ll also protect everyone’s privacy. You wouldn’t want your partner to see a shot of you while scrolling through his or her feed before the actual face-to-face reveal, right?
  • You'll win back a bit of free time. Finally, banning phones may mean less stress for the entire affair. You won’t have to stop and pose for everyone’s selfies and shots every few minutes and can instead just focus on greeting guests, dancing, and having fun.

Making The Decision

There are two of you getting married, so the decision to ban phones at your wedding should, of course, be decided by both of you.

If you are in favor of an unplugged ceremony but your partner isn’t, try to remind them of some of the benefits and see if you can reach a compromise. You can let guests use their phones as much as they want at the reception, for example. (That wedding hashtag isn’t going to fill itself!)

If you want to unplug the entire wedding, you can talk about getting a photo booth instead. That’s a better way for everyone to have a memento versus a pic they’ll probably end up deleting at some point.

Communicating To Your Guests

Once you’ve decided to host an unplugged wedding, you’ll need to communicate the plan to your guests from the get-go. You don’t have to print this on the invitation itself, but include an enclosure card in the envelope and post it on your wedding website, too.

You can word the addendum like this: “We invite you to be fully present with us at our ceremony. We will kindly ask that you turn off your phone and keep it in your bag or pocket. We look forward to sharing professional photographs when they are ready.”

At the ceremony itself, you can have a sign (make sure it’s large enough that everyone can see it) reminding guests to unplug. If you want to make it more fun, you could also put out baskets or have a “phone valet” where everyone checks in their phone before the ceremony.

You can also ask your officiant to remind everyone to please keep their phones off before the ceremony begins. (If nothing else, phones should be put on silent mode so there are no distractions!)

INLINE CortiellaPhotography 1080x720 Choumate&Berthony Photo Credit // Cortiella Photography

Handling The Response

Some may call you a Luddite but stick to your guns. Up until about 10 years ago, no one had smartphones or social media at their weddings, and everyone survived.

If your family or friends protest, remember that it’s your day and your decision. They can all survive for a few hours without their phone (we promise!) and may even end up loving it.

One caveat to this: Some wedding guests may need access to their phones. These guests may have small children and need communication with their babysitters, for example. Be sure to field requests for phones with understanding and hear everyone out. Some people may welcome a break from their phone. Others will not—listen to them and make exceptions as necessary.

If you are hosting an unplugged wedding and disappointed you won’t have any photos right away, you can ask your photographer to send you some preview shots within a few days, too. They are guaranteed to be better than anything your uncle takes on his iPad, anyway.