The electronic sound of a slowly retracting zoom lens buzzed like a chainsaw in a quiet forest.
As I flinched at the sound, the bride and groom said, “I do.” The friend sitting next to me in the second pew of the church walks to the pulpit to do a reading. A loud swooshing crack from an artificial camera shutter booms from the pew in front of me. I have to sit on my hands to keep from yanking the bright red point-and-shoot digital camera out of the sixty-something woman’s iron grip. Before the wedding started, when we saw the unknown assailant unsheathe her weapon, I leaned forward and whispered, “oh, ma’am there’s a sign at the door to the sanctuary that says this is an ‘unplugged’ ceremony and they’re asking that we refrain from using our phones or taking pictures.” She replied that she had indeed seen the sign but was a Very Special Guest and knew the Groom’s Mom’s Sister Very Well so she’d continue to take pictures.
For those of you who don’t think it could happen to you, please remember the guest list full of people’s names you barely recognize. Remember that you’re basically required by law to allow those people to bring a guest, who you’ll likely know even less. You never know when someone will spring up, unannounced, with their iPad held up to get that great shot in the middle of your wedding aisle. All hope isn’t lost, though. There are ways to help quell the overwhelming urge of guests to do their darnedest to disrupt your extremely expensive professional photos – and only real lasting memento of this enormously important emotional day! – while simultaneously ruining the moment for everyone around them.
Explain why you’re picking on them. Baby Boomers are extremely sensitive and entitled creatures. Explain gently about what the word “unplugged” means. Have your calm third-party aunt spell out that if they see a sign that says “this is an unplugged wedding, we want you to enjoy yourself, be present in the moment, and we will share our professional photographs in a matter of mere weeks,” that this sign absolutely applies to them.
Have a sign, and an announcement. If you do intend on having an unplugged ceremony, make a sign or two or ten. Place them strategically around the room, at the entrance to the room, on the guests seats, and in the program, if you have one. Use a legible, preferably 50 point, font. I know you love hand lettering and fancy calligraphy but Nancy can’t read that at twenty paces away and isn’t going to try. She’s used to having the world catered specifically to her every whim. Pro-tip: have your officiant make an announcement at the beginning, just in case someone forgot their glasses.
Engage a secret operative to eliminate enemy targets. Do any of your Millennial guests work in the service industry? They’re great choices if you’d like to formally engage someone to help you make sure your special day isn’t marred and you aren’t distracted at the Moment We’re All Here For Anyway. Ask your friend to work on a polite but firm speech like, “hello sir, [big smile!] thank you so much for being here, that suit looks very dashing. Did you see the sign about the unplugged wedding? We have a special section of seating over here cordoned off for people who are still insisting on taking their own photos!”
Assume positive intent. I guess. Anyone who cares enough to take their own pictures at your wedding is probably really excited for you and stuff and they probably traveled to be there and they probably bought you a nice gift anyway so, okay. I suppose it’s also somewhat melodramatic to say that the photos will be ruined but, still. Research suggests that 9 times out of 10 this person will be a Baby Boomer who has complained about Youths or Millennials always being on their phones and ruining society and etc. so….