This is it. The most important part of the day. These are the moments your children will ask about – the time you said your vows and promised yourselves for the rest of your life. With so much importance, what can you do to help make this part of the day a success?
We’ll talk about ‘Unplugged Ceremonies’, what you can do prior to the wedding day with your officiant, and other parts of the ceremony that sometimes can be tricky.
AND WHY WE RECOMMEND THEM
For those who don’t know what an “unplugged” wedding or ceremony is, it’s where you request guests not take their own photos or video at major moments throughout the day (or in most cases, the ceremony).
Put yourself in the mindset for a second. You have waited MONTHS, sometimes YEARS for this moment. You are taking your first steps down the aisle, about to see your husband or wife for the first time. Only instead of looking straight down the aisle and having that moment, you get this:
What a nightmare! And what’s even worse is you may never see those photos or if you do, they are never good! You’ve hired professionals – leave it up to us.
If you needed anymore convincing, look no further than Michael Justin’s own wedding. Here he is recounting what happened:
I unfortunately had my own wedding before I knew what an unplugged wedding was. While my guests were on the whole pretty good about keeping in their seats and not getting in the way of the photographers or cinematographers, I did have my brother-in-law (and groomsman) decide that he wanted to film the whole ceremony on his $300 Canon point and shoot camera. He clearly never asked me as I would have told him to forget it. Now, whenever I look at photos or watch my film, all I see is him. And perhaps the worst part is that the footage was absolutely terrible so it wasn’t even worth ruining all the photos!
So let’s do what we can to avoid this!
Here are a few ways to spread the word about your unplugged wedding/ceremony.
Include a note
Include a note in your Wedding Invitation so that guests know what to expect. Reinforce this on the wedding day with any of the other options.
Post a sign
Post a sign outside your ceremony for guests to read as they enter. This is probably the most common way of letting your guests know.
Have your officiant make an opening statement that you’ve asked all guests to be present and enjoy the service and leave all photos and video to the professionals! We recommend your officiant saying this even if you plan on using any other method!
IMPORTANCE OF AUDIO
One of the biggest factors when determining the quality of a production is how good the audio is. How did everything sound? We rely heavily on audio for the narrative in our films so getting great sound is of utmost importance. When it comes to your ceremony, we typically have 3-4 different audio sources running at any given time, each with their own purpose.
The first is the lapel mic we’ll put on the groom. It’s hidden right behind the boutonniere. We will not mic the bride so it’s important that both bride and groom speak clearly and loudly so that the mic can pick up both people.
Like to the Groom’s lapel mic, we’ll place a mic on the officiant in a similar location. If it’s a priest, we’ll place it on his collar next to his other mic.
If there are individuals giving readings during your ceremony, we capture great audio by wrapping a lapel mic on the podium where they will be standing. If your ceremony is outdoors or in a location other than a church where there are no podiums, make sure there’s a microphone for your readers to speak into and we can record off of that.
SOUND BOARD MIXER
If you’ve hired someone to provide amplified sound for your ceremony, we’ll gladly work with them to ‘tap’ into their system and record straight off their board. What this option does is provide a level of redundancy just incase any of the other mic’s fail.
OFFICIANTS WHO REFUSE A MIC
AND HOW IT AFFECTS US
We sometimes get pushback from officiants (Priests in particular) when we ask to place a mic on them. We’ve heard every excuse under the sun from “I don’t need it, I speak loudly enough,” to “it will interfere with our current audio” to blatantly just a “I won’t wear that.” We can not stress this enough – if they refuse to wear a mic, our finished product will suffer. There is no reason anyone could give you that would make it OK for them not to wear one of our mic’s. Period.
To really make this point hit home, watch this 8 second video. The first part is audio from the microphone we provided and is sitting right under his chin on his collar. The second part is how the video would have sounded if this priest refused to wear our microphone.
Did you hear the difference? How could you not, right?
SO HOW DO WE STOP THIS FROM HAPPENING?
There’s no way to guarantee your officiant won’t refuse, but we can do our best to increase our chances that they will agree to wear one. And it all starts with you.
LET THEM KNOW WE’RE PROS
At your last meeting/call with your officiant before the big day, mention to them that you’ve hired a very reputable company to film your wedding. A lot of these officiants have issues because of past experiences with amateur videographers. People not knowing boundaries or not being cognizant of themselves, their footprint, or the fact that they are filming a sacred event unfortunately gives us all a bad rap. Getting it out there that we’re professional will hopefully get their minds pointed in the right direction.
MAKE IT ABOUT THEM
Then it’s time to stroke some ego. Putting the importance on them and what they say goes a long way. When they feel like the star of the show, we’ve found a higher percentage of officiants agreeing to wear the mic.
Here’s the script we tell our couples to use:
Hi Father, I can’t believe we’re only a few weeks away from the big day! We’re so excited! I wanted to let you know that we hired a really great cinematography company to film our wedding – they’ve been shooting weddings for over 8 years and do phenomenal work. They asked us what part of the day is most special to us, and of course we said the ceremony! Being able to rewatch the moments when we said our vows and exchange rings is so special. We’re letting you know this because they mentioned they would need to place a small microphone on you and said it’s really important if we want to be able to hear what you say during your sermon and other parts of the ceremony. And of course that’s one of the things we’re looking forward to most! They said it’s small and won’t interfere with any other audio or anything like that. Just wanted to give you the heads up!
It’s important you don’t ask for permission. Simply tell them it’s going to happen and then read their reaction. You’ll be able to tell very quickly if they will have a problem with it.
WE NEED TO HEAR THEM!
One quick note about your vows – it’s a pretty intimidating moment for some and sometimes causes people to talk softer then they normally would. This poses a big problem for us because if you whisper, we’ll be forced to raise the volume of the sound when we’re editing. When that happens we introduce noise – aka static – and it can really ruin the quality of the sound. So, if you can remember to just speak normally (or a little louder than normal if you can), we should be good.
Here’s one of our past brides who got super nervous and whispered during her vows. The first part is the actual level she spoke at and then what we had to do to hear her better in the edit. You’ll notice some distortion and static in the file, even after we applied some noise reduction.
The processional is when your bridal party, parents, and eventually the bride walk down the aisle before the ceremony begins. Most of the time this is part of the ceremony is a non-issue but it seems we get 1 or 2 weddings a year where we run into a similar problem.
During the rehearsal of your ceremony, it would be great if it was communicated to everyone that when walking down the aisle, please walk slowly and make sure there’s enough room between you and the pairing/person in front of you. If not, we may not be able to get a good photograph or recording of you.
Here are two examples of what we mean:
In this photo, the second paring walked too quickly and caught up to the first pairing. Because of where we have to stand, there was no way to get a shot of the second pairing and that shot was missed.
You can see in this frame grab that the second pairing has already started to break apart and go into their seats before the first pairing cleared Michael Justin’s vantage. Michael attempts to signal to the pairing to slow down or stop but unfortunately they did not and the shot was missed.
For those individuals who have their ceremony at a church or another location other than the reception, there’s a nice photo/video opportunity after you are pronounced husband and wife. We call this the “special exit.”
So how does it work?
After you’re pronounced husband and wife, you’ll walk down the aisle and quickly hide in a side vestibule or room. Your guests will exit the building and remain outside. Once everyone is set, you’ll exit to everyone cheering you on. Some even opt to hand out sparklers, bubbles, or streamers to their guests so there’s an added visual!
Marisa & John used bubbles for their special exit.
Jaclyn & Ryan used leaves for their special exit.
Jaclyn & Pete used streamers for their special exit.
WHAT ABOUT A RECEIVING LINE?
Because a receiving line can take anywhere from 25-45 minutes to complete, we recommend NOT doing one. Our couples typically don’t have that kind of time baked into the timeline and would rather use that time to start family photos or head to the next location.
If you want to determine how long a receiving line will actually take, calculate how many guests will be at the ceremony and how long you will say hello to each one for. If you have 100 guests and speak to each person for 20 seconds, that will be roughly 33 minutes. As you can see, this can add up pretty quickly.