Threshold Ceremonies

first kiss

A few weeks ago, I worked with a couple who wanted an “unplugged wedding”. They had heard of the trend, in which the couple ask guests to not only turn off cell phones, but to put away cameras and phones completely for the ceremony. The idea is a return to “sacred space”, an opportunity for guests to be participants rather than observers. This couple got the idea completely. They wanted their guests to be fully present for the ceremony they had designed and planned for months. They were looking forward to making eye contact with their friends and family as they walked up the aisle, not with the back of an IPhone or a camera lens.

This was a gorgeous couple who chose to be married outside, in one of the spectacularly beautiful locations in Canmore. A perfect photographic location on a clear sky day in mid-September. The trees just tinting yellow. The mountains with a fresh dusting of snow. The girls’ dresses a rich teal blue. It was not an easy thing to do, to put away those cameras.

But this couple made sure I announced that they had hired a photographer (the fabulous photographer Christina at Funky Town Photography and that they would share photographs with all the guests as soon as possible.

Which left everyone available to just be at the wedding. Hard as it might have been for some people, what a difference it made to us up at the front. Looking into the audience, making eye contact, sharing smiles, nodding back as a few of them teared up, caught by the poignancy of the vows or the image of a daughter or son looking about as fully awake as a person can look. Even though the backdrop was stunning, and the visual elements were grand, this wedding ceremony was all about feeling. And for this couple, being able to feel the connection with their dear friends and family heightened their own experience, and made the day perfect.

I like idea of an unplugged ceremony a lot, and I will recommend it to other couples, who want to highlight that sense of connectedness with their guests.

On the other hand.

The following weekend we celebrated an intimate wedding with about 20 guests in a small renovated historic house. Cameras, phones and video were out as the wedding party pranced up the aisle, and they stayed out throughout the service. I have no doubt some of the photos were live tweeted to Ireland before the champagne corks popped, which means there might have been some texting going on as soon as the couple kissed. And yet. There was a deep sense of connection and engagement, and there was no doubt in my mind at all that these guests were totally and joyfully in the moment for this wedding.

In fact, not only were the guest present riveted on the service, but thanks to the miracle of Skype, and a laptop placed on a piano bench, family on two continents watched as well. The bride’s father in Siberia, and the groom’s daughter in England had front row seats for the entire ceremony, and then were taken throughout the house (the laptop weaving room to room by whoever picked it up next) so friends and family could say hello and raise a glass during the champagne reception. It was a marvelous adaptation to a difficult situation – family unable to attend the wedding, and it pulled the family together for an important moment.

To plug in, or unplug – another opportunity to reflect on what suits you and your intentions for your own wedding day.

2 replies
  1. Peggy
    Peggy says:

    I am drawn to the idea of performing “unplugged” weddings, too. Yet clearly, when part of the family is in another country, modern technology has its beneficial place. I think, for me, the key is to encourage ceremony-centric weddings, where the ceremony is the centerpiece (and worth paying good money for, to have it be memorable and done well); not behind the cake or the dress…

    • barbara
      barbara says:

      Being intentional seems one way to help make the decision about which way to go – thinking about the feel of the ceremony and choosing what feels right, not just letting habit, tradition, convention or oversight dictate the results.

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