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Weddings unplugged

for The Brooklyn Paper
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Technology enhances our lives, but it can also be inappropriately disruptive. For instance, imagine a guest’s cell phone going off as you say your vows! And imagine if their ring tone was Queen’s “Another One Bites the Dust.”

Because of this, couples are choosing to ask their guests to disconnect on the day they connect by throwing an unplugged wedding.

The concept behind an unplugged wedding is temporarily taking away guests’ ability to “plug-in” by asking them to hand over their cell phones and other electronic gadgets, or simply requesting that all such gizmos and do-dads be shut off until after the wedding.

This means you’re restricting guests from texting, Tweeting, and posting on Facebook and Instagram during your ceremony, and — depending on how unplugged you choose to be — your reception.

Keep in mind that some guests may be very attached to their Apples and Androids and might balk at the suggestion. But if this is important to you, don’t be afraid to ask everyone to unplug for a few hours.

But do mind your manners.

How you choose to break the news to your guests is up to you. It’s your wedding and your rules. Some couples have chosen to do so directly on the wedding invitation or website, but it’s also a good idea to send out a mass e-mail or text a reminder a day or two before the wedding so that the phone-addicted will receive the message loud and clear.

But even if you have taken these first, and possibly glitchy, steps in banning electronic distractions from your wedding, how do you actually implement the rule?

Here are a few methods that will ensure your guests fork up their phones without getting all Bride-or-Groomzilla on them:

The honor code method

The least intrusive way of getting everyone to unplug is the honor code method. Notify your guests beforehand as mentioned above, but issue a friendly reminder on the day of – either by asking your best man or maid-of-honor to greet guests with a gentle reminder that they are attending an unplugged wedding or by asking your officiate to make an announcement before the official ceremony begins. Keep in mind, however, this method relies on everyone actually following your “no phone” rule, so if you have any teenagers or Instagram addicts on the guest list, you may want to utilize another tactic.

Doesn’t sound fishy at all

The recently aired Season 3 premiere of HBO’s “Veep” featured an unplugged wedding and, although the story arc was used primarily to highlight how attached politicos are to their phones, it did illustrate a casual, lighthearted way of unplugging your guests. Designate a member of your wedding party to walk up to guests and ask them to deposit their phones in a fish bowl. Of course, you can opt to go with a prettier (or sillier) container.

Valet their phones

Have a table set up, preferably at the venue’s entrance, with bags and raffle-style tickets. Have someone check guests in as they arrive at the ceremony, place each guests’ phone into one of the bags, and hand each guest one half of a ticket. The other half of the ticket goes in the bag with the cellphone and guests can claim their beloved cell afterwards – just make sure that all the baggies are kept in a safe place until then.

Added measures

You can have some “Wedding now. Phone later” or “We want to see your face, not Facebook” signs printed up and posted outside of the venue (with permission, of course). See if you can order the signs from the same vendor you used for the wedding invitations so that they match.

Say ‘please,’ but also say ‘cheese’

The biggest objection you will hear from your guests is “But I want to take pictures!” when throwing an unplugged wedding. And you want to make your guests just as happy as you and your beloved, so discuss options with your photographer and find out whether he can upload a few photos to Dropbox or another file sharing service so you can post them on Facebook or send them out via email to your guests. You can also ask if your photographer can make a few group shots available online for everyone to see, or download for free, before the actual photos are ready.

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