Photographer’s Post About Cell Phones at Weddings Fuels Unplugged Ceremony Debate

Bride textingAustralia wedding photographer Thomas Stewart begged on Facebook for brides and grooms to ban cell phones from their wedding. Credit: Noel Sutherland

Weddings spark debates more often than not—whether it’s related to adults-only ceremonies or that tricky concept of cash bars. The latest hot topic in the wedding space, however, is related to unplugged ceremonies and why some believe it’s basic etiquette to put the phone away, period, while others put that on the couple.

After capturing a recent outdoor ceremony, photographer Hannah Stanley of Hannah Way Photography discovered something uninviting in the frame. On Facebook, the wedding pro posted the offending image: a snapshot of a woman’s arm holding a cell phone, which obstructed her lens from capturing the bride’s walk down the aisle.

Stanley then wrote, “To the girl with the iPhone…”

“Not only did you ruin my shot, but you took this moment away from the groom, father of the bride, and the bride,” she expressed. “What exactly do you plan on doing with that photo? Honestly. Are you going to print it out? Save it? Look at it everyday? No. You’re not. But my bride would have printed this photo, looked at it often and reminisced over this moment as her dad walked her down the aisle on her wedding day. But instead, you wanted to take a photo with your phone, blocking my view, and taking a photo that you will not use.”

Naturally, the photographer’s post went viral, reaching nearly 170,000 shares for a powerful debate about unplugged weddings—period.

On one hand, Stanley’s thoughts resonated with many of her fellow professionals and couples who’ve experienced the same pain points. “I’ve shot hundreds of weddings and I’ve posted many, many times about this same thing!!” one person replied, while another added: “I’ve been in this situation MANY many times and it IS a problem. Sometimes I’m able to get to the guest in time to ask them to move, but most of the time there are only seconds left to get the shot and I have to re-position myself.”

There were others who opined the opposite point, however, in that it’s a photographer’s job to avoid any distractions in the frame. After all: they are the professionals. “People have agreed with my post, as well as disagreed,” Stanley tells The Knot in an exclusive interview.

Take, one commenter, who wrote: “As a wedding photographer myself, this is absolutely overkill. I get nearly 100 shots of this moment ALONE! If this wedding photographer failed at her duty to capture the correct image, that’s on her not the guest.”

Another added, “Taking two steps to the left would have resolved this. You had time to take a photo of the couple with the phone in front of them AND to focus on the phone and shoot that… two steps to the left. Or zoom in, or walk forward… you have a whole lot of options there. If a bride is worried about phones they’ll have an unplugged wedding.”

Indeed, Stanley ended her Facebook post with some practical advice overall: asking that everyone put the phones away. “Guests, please stop viewing weddings you attend through a screen but instead turn OFF your phone, and enjoy the ceremony,” she pleaded. “You are important to the bride and groom, you would not be attending the wedding otherwise. So please, let me do my job, and you just sit back, relax and enjoy this once in a lifetime moment.”

She adds to us: “Photographers, past and future brides have agreed and reached out to me. Some future brides have messaged me saying they now plan to have an unplugged wedding. I am glad this my post is helping people be more aware at weddings and how special that time is.”

Stanley concludes, “Honestly, it’s been overwhelming! When I posted, it didn’t even cross my mind that it would go viral or even get much attention at all. It has been a cool experience, but it’s a lot to take in.”

About the Author

Esther Lee
Esther Lee
Esther is the Senior News Editor at The Knot. A self-proclaimed pop culture enthusiast, she appreciates a good celebrity interview just as much as she adores Nancy Meyers movies. You can find her kicking off her mornings with barre and a green juice, traveling and exploring new cultures, and rapidly scrolling her feed for the latest and greatest news. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter at @theestherlee.