Singaporebrides | Photography

September 2013

The Beauty of Unplugged Weddings and Why You Should Consider One

In this tech-savvy age, trigger-happy wedding guests are posting photos on social networks, in real time. But through sharing your joy, these guest photographers may end up compromising the efforts you have put into planning your beautiful wedding. So, perhaps it’s time you ask your guests to put down their smartphones (and start enjoying the event!). SingaporeBrides explores the feasibility of an unplugged wedding.

Just a few decades ago, the only camera you would see at a wedding celebration most likely belonged to the professional photographer hired to capture key moments of the happy occasion. But these days, camera-toting guests are littered all over the wedding venue.

It would not be difficult to spot Aunt Janice – with her pink digital camera – lingering near the candy bar, trying to take photos of cute toddlers reaching out for sweets. Or, you might spot Uncle Lim suddenly jumping out of his seat and snapping away with his dSLR as the bride is walking down the church aisle. Don’t forget the remaining guests – they may take random snapshots with their phones or iPads as the festivities continue through the day.

Tansey and Phil's Elegant Chic Wedding in Malaysia 49Tansey and Phil’s Elegant-Chic Wedding in Malaysia by Samimage Photography

At first glance, it may seem like a great idea to have such guest photographers milling around at your wedding. After all, the professional photographer you hired cannot possibly capture every significant moment at your wedding. These enthusiastic guest photographers will be able to capture a series of alternative snapshots of your big day. For instance, when your hired pro is zooming in on the bridal couple during the exchanging of vows, your Uncle Tan might just be able to snap that precious photo of the bride’s 90-year-old grandma dabbing a tear away. The best bit: Uncle Tan won’t be sending you an invoice after the wedding.

Couples who are on a very tight budget may sometimes skip professional photography, so guest photographers make perfect sense. If you’re a part of the digerati who announced your engagement via all the available social networks, have wedding e-invites and will live-stream your ceremony, then of course, there’s no reason have an unplugged wedding.

Rustic Woodland Church Wedding 65Elsa and Zachary’s Rustic Woodland Church Wedding by The Beautiful Moment Photography

But the fact that everyone is a photographer is not always good news for the bridal couple. Guest photographers are not only documenting every moment, but also posting them up on social networks like Facebook and Instagram in real time. This means that there might be one too many unflattering candid shots of the bride, shown too quickly to the world. What’s worse – it gains 21 “likes” and probably a few snarky comments. That aside, the amateur shots may not justify the effort and energy that the bridal couple has ploughed months and months of intense wedding planning into.

Also, many professional photographers find such guest photographers to be a hindrance to their work. Dave Koh, founder and chief photographer of wedding photography outfit DS Image, explains: “Many people own cameras nowadays, and it can be extremely nerve-wracking to have these guest photographers suddenly popping out and blocking our line of sight when we are trying to capture a picture-perfect moment, like when the groom is about to kiss the bride.” Other times, the endless series of camera flashes may result in washed out photos.

Botanical Wedding at Hotel Fort Canning 62Lynn and Yan Da’s Botanical Wedding at Hotel Fort Canning by Bam Visuals

Then, there are guests who may interfere with the professional photographer on duty. Besides telling him who, when and where to shoot, they may even insist on the professional photographer taking photos from a certain angle. Dave adds: “As professionals, we have to train ourselves to anticipate and deal with such unpredictable situations on the Actual Day. But sometimes, things can go beyond our control and ultimately spoil the best images of the wedding.”

That’s why more and more professional photographers are suggesting the idea of having an “unplugged wedding”, where the bridal couple ask guests to switch off their phones, iPads and cameras and fully focus on the happy occasion. The real purpose of this is to allow the professional photographer to do his job well and capture the wedding as perfectly as possible. So if you want to clear the court for your hired photographer, read this detailed step-by-step guide to going unplugged on your big day.


Captivating Intimate Soiree at Alkaff Mansion 7Elisha and Tony’s Captivating Intimate Soiree at Alkaff Mansion by AndroidsinBoots

You have heard the pros about asking guests to stick to a no-camera rule. But not everyone feels that an unplugged wedding is the best way to achieve a picture-perfect wedding. For some, having guests take an endless stream of photos – blurry, poorly lit or otherwise – is part and parcel of throwing an enjoyable party. In fact, many couples love the idea of having trigger-happy guests so much that they even start Instagram hashtags to collate all the snapshots of the Actual Day moments. So, decide which you prefer – it’s your day after all!


Once you have decided to plan an unplugged wedding, don’t wait till the Actual Day to inform your guests. So, include a line in the wedding invitation that explains the concept. Then, prepare nicely-worded signs to display at the wedding venue to remind guests to refrain from taking photos and posting them up on Facebook or Instagram. When the day arrives, your ushers can also go up to guests who are using a camera phone and politely mention the unplugged rule. The most important thing is to be gracious about it so you don’t end up offending guests.


Marathon wedding in Paya Lebar Methodist Church 55Romona and Lincoln’s Marathon Wedding in Paya Lebar Methodist Church by Douglas Fun from Avenue 8

Chances are that the professional photographer you hired will be more than happy to know that you are planning an unplugged wedding. Have an in-depth discussion about your Actual Day plans. For instance, list the important moments that you wish for him to capture. “During the solemnisation, these moments include the walk down the aisle, the exchanging of vows and rings, as well as the first kiss,” says Dave. “At the dinner banquet, these are moments like the first and second march-ins, as well as the champagne toast or ‘yum seng’.” Once he knows the venue, the photographer will be able to roughly identify where he intends to position himself before the major moments. So, you can get your emcees to gently remind guests to tuck their cameras away or stay out of shot when the time comes.


Stylish White Wedding at The St Regis Singapore 77Chelsea and Jason’s Stylish White Wedding at The St. Regis Singapore Alwin Lim from Trouvé

Group shots are mandatory at any Chinese wedding banquet. With the sheer number of tables (and guests!), just gathering everyone to stand around the round table is a challenge. When you throw guest photographers into the mix, it can easily turn into a recipe for disaster. Joseph Tan and Marianne Low, who married late last year, explain: “Many of our relatives and friends followed us with their camera phones as we made our rounds during the photo-taking session. When we received the professionally shot pictures of our wedding, we were dismayed to find that guests didn’t know where to look – their eyes were darting all over the place.” Solve this by having the emcees gently reminding guests to leave the photo taking to the professional photographer. Also, reassure them that banquet shots will be shared with them after the wedding.


Nikoi_SGB_184Joy and Ben’s Steampunk Wedding on Nikoi Island by Daniel Beh Photography

If you think your wedding guests are going to suffer from severe photo-taking withdrawal, appease them by putting disposable cameras on every table. They will get to snap away as much as they like and you might get lucky with memorable candid shots as a keepsake of your big bash. First, be sure to get disposable cameras with flash if you are holding your wedding in an indoor venue with low lighting. Next, label them to prevent guests from bringing the cameras home – too often, bridal couple end up with missing disposable cameras and no photos to show for their efforts! Also leave a friendly note to encourage your guests to use them – and remind them to return the camera to the table after they are done.


Joyden Hall Wedding with a Thousand Paper Cranes - Jophia and Larry featureJophia and Larry’s Mystical Origami Crane Wedding at The Joyden Hall by Caline Ng Photography

Guest photographers take photo after photo because they are genuinely happy for the bridal couple, and want to be able to relive the joyous moments of the day. So if you are going to stop them from taking photos, do make the extra effort to share your professionally taken shots with them as soon as possible. One way to do this is to discuss with your photographer to quickly release a small selection of snapshots a few days after your wedding. So if your wedding falls on a Saturday, sharing them via email or Facebook on the following Monday or Tuesday is ideal. When the prints come in, consider ordering extras to mail to your wedding guests.

Credits: Feature Image from André and Bibi’s Romantic Rooftop Wedding in Taiwan by 520 Library.

All content from this article, including images, cannot be reproduced without credits or written permission from SingaporeBrides.

Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Telegram for the latest article and promotion updates!

The Beauty of Unplugged Weddings and Why You Should Consider One