Free Unplugged Wedding Sign From Everly Calligraphy

by Maddie Eisenhart

Earlier today Meg wrote a great post on privacy at weddings. It’s a topic close to my heart, as I photograph dozens of weddings each year and am constantly surprised at the ubiquity of cameras and phones present during precious moments like processionals and vows. (This photographer leaves her camera at home during weddings.  Except maybe instant. Because that thing is fun at parties.) And while a lot of what Meg had to say involves working with the people making your wedding happen and managing everyone’s expectations (including your own), sometimes it’s just easier in the wedding planning process to let your stuff do the talking for you instead.

So with that in mind, we asked Charmaine of Everly Calligraphy to help us come up with a pretty but to-the-point sign asking guests to respect your unplugged wedding. The resulting creation is a beautiful 8.5 x 11″ hand-written document that you can download, print and frame somewhere at your wedding, cluing folks into the game plan. And while you can’t change the text of these signs, since Charmaine is extra kind, we’ve got a bunch of different color variations for you to choose from (click after the jump to see more) and Charmaine even included the raw Photoshop files for the sign in case you want to get crazy and change the text or background color. I tried my hand at it and came up with this version, which I’m secretly kind of in love with:

To download your set of printable signs (which includes both the PDFs and the PSD files bundled together in a .zip file), just click here. My hope for this year is that I’ll start seeing a lot more of these, and a lot less of this:

And now, if you’d like to take a peek before you download, check out some of the color combinations Charmaine created for us after the jump:

Photo by APW Sponsor Hart & Sol West 

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  • I love this! I saw a similar article a few weeks ago about the impact of guests posting social media pictures of the wedding. As a photographer one of the BEST parts of the job is having the first look session with my couples after their date and showing them a few of my favorite shots–it’s totally not as fun when they’ve already seen hundreds of photos on social media by the time they get to me. Plus it’s so much more fun to just be a guest at a wedding, rather than trying to capture that perfect shot. That’s what they’re paying me for! You just sit back and relax–drink that champagne for me. :)

  • Laura

    Does anyone have advice on language to politely ask guests to put away their cameras/phones? Something along the lines of, “We hired a professional photographer – so please let them do the work and instead spend your energy interacting with humans.” …But tactful. ???

    • I saw this on another post on a photography blog about guest photos:

      Dan and Jennifer invite you to be truly present at this special time. Please, turn off your cell phones and put down your cameras. The photographer will capture how this moment looks — I encourage you all to capture how it feels with your hearts, without the distraction of technology. If Dan can do it, then so can you

      • Sarah

        Awesome suggestion. We are getting married in a traditional Quaker service in a 200-year old meeting house. We can ask a member of our oversight committee to read a statement at the start of worship–any ideas how we can let people know *not* to take pictures of my dad and me entering? I want to see everyone’s faces, not Androids or iPhones.

        • Catherine B

          My officiant (aunt) is making a statement before the processional to that affect. I don’t think you need to wait for you to be down the aisle for it to happen.

    • We are having our officiant say, before the ceremony starts:

      [bride] and [groom] have asked that, in the spirit of being present with them in this important moment, you do not take pictures of the processional and ceremony. They will share professional pictures with all guests after the wedding. Also, please remember to silence your cell phones. Thank you.

      • Sarah NCtoPA

        This sounds great, thanks.

  • Caroline

    Thank You!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • I worry about being rude when saying something like this, but frankly, I can’t read either font very well. I don’t have any vision problems aside from a light prescription for being near-sighted. I find all but the pink-on-white difficult to read, both from the fonts and the colors. I do like the text, however. I’ll keep the phrasing in mind for anyone I know who might do an unplugged ceremony.

  • Maria

    Totally agree with this sentiment!

    As an aside – Charmaine is amazing, and it was so nice to see her work featured at APW. She created our return address stamp and it makes me so happy whenever I use it.

  • You should call posts like these “Resources for a Sane Wedding!”

    • meg

      We’re going to develop a “Toolkit” part of the site. Sane is implied, I suppose :) And thank you.

  • Wow, what a nice and great idea! I always hear about how hard it is for photographers to do their job and take photos at the wedding when everyone and their brother is taking photos with their phones, etc.

    It might not hurt to add a line that states, please turn off your phones and really be present for the ceremony!!
    Sometimes it amazes me how rude people can be :D

  • Amber

    I guess I’m in the minority, but I don’t think it’s fair to shame your guests into not taking photos. They’re excited and want to document this time too. If you have older people at the wedding, they might not even know what Facebook and Twitter are, so they’re not going to “ruin” whatever you think photo-taking is ruining.

    Your professional photographer can’t capture every single moment, all the time, you might be missing out on some great photos. What if the photog forgets to take a picture of X, but someone else does? Golden! Otherwise, SOL.

    The layout of those signs need some more margins, unless people take that to a special printer, or print it smaller than letter-sized and then trim, they’re going to cut off part of the words because they’re close to the edge.

    • Jen

      I’m with you, Amber! When my husband and I were planning our wedding, I did seriously consider banning photos/phones, and even started thinking up how to ask people, be it through a polite sign, having the officiant make an announcement at the beginning, or asking our ushers to remind people. I read the articles here on APW and over at Offbeat Bride about unplugged weddings, growing increasingly convinced that everyone’s phones and cameras would detract from the sanctity of the ceremony and make things more difficult for our photographer. But in the end we decided to let it go. Yeah, I had uncles and family friends holding up their big ipad screens to record the ceremony, pictures captured by our photographer showing every single auntie and uncle with a camera out pointed at our cake cutting, etc. But it was sweet and endearing to see that, and not at all annoying to us whatsoever in the end. And your photographer is probably more than well prepared to deal with competing shutterbugs, including knowing how to politely ask people to step aside if they’re trying to compose a shot.

      Sure, I think it’s fair enough to for any couple to ask their guests to put their devices away and “be more present” or in the moment. But we were personally on the fence about whether the benefits outweighed the risk of coming off as patronizing or condescending or self-righteous. I think it really depends on the couple and their knowledge of the crowd. We finally ended up on the side of “no,” and everything worked out swimmingly still.

      And to Amber’s point, it’s totally true that you end up with a whole slew of crowd-sourced pictures to supplement those from your photographer (if you have one), some of which turned out to be truly priceless.

    • Personally, I don’t think asking someone to respect your wishes means that you are shaming them into submission. I’m going to repeat myself from the Private Wedding post, but it’s a sign of mutual respect for one another’s boundaries.

      Example: if I’m not a person who likes to be hugged, and I tell my friends that and request that they please refrain from hugging me because it makes me extremely uncomfortable, is that shaming them? Or is that asking them to respect my personal boundaries?

      I wish that I had thought to ask people to please respect my personal space and keep the photo taking to a minimum during certain times, because some of my older guests at my wedding *did* ruin some moments with their cameras. When you have 4-6 people shouting your name to try and get you to look at their specific camera so they can have the same picture that 10 or more people have now taken, and you’re just trying to take 30 seconds to speak to your planner, then yes, it ruins things. My mood, our timeline, the conversation I was trying to have.

      I understand the benefits of having cameras around that aren’t just the photographer’s, but I just don’t think that setting boundaries is something meant to “shame” someone into doing something for you. What I don’t understand is when making a request turned into shaming someone into submission. I’m not making my guests feel inferior or condemning the fact that they document via camera, I’m just asking that they respect my personal boundaries for that technology.

      Photography has become ubiquitous, and it fits very seamlessly into our lives, but that doesn’t mean that everyone’s going to be comfortable with it. And I believe people are most certainly allowed to set their own boundaries without feeling bad about it.

    • Brenda

      I think these posters are nicely worded, because not sharing someone else’s moments on your page does seem like a reasonable request. It’s the “please be fully in the moment” “please experience with your eyes, not with your camera” ones that feel a bit shaming to me, because when I’m taking pictures it helps me experience and remember the moment.

      That said, what some people have described in the other thread about constant snapping and sharing does sound excessive, and if you have people like that in your circle I would think a polite request like this would be in order. I might take a few candid photos for my own memories, but spending the whole time taking photos or making people pose would definitely be rude.

      • Laura S

        It’s funny, I feel almost the opposite way! I’m wording my signs using the “please be fully in the moment” or “please be present” sort of wording because I would love to see my family and friends faces in the ceremonies. Seeing a sea of cameras, phones and heaven forbid an ipad (they are the weirdest thing to see someone use to take a photo) would be off-putting and also make me feel like they aren’t really in the space sharing this emotional moment with me.

        I can see how that can seem like I’m scolding. I think of it as gently reminding people that I want them there with me and not worrying about their memory card or even more so, temporarily blinding me in the process.

        I chose some of my mother’s favorite verses and my father’s favorite music. My service was crafted with extreme care so that my guests would enjoy it. It would be a shame for it to go by and they miss it.

    • Laura S

      I honestly don’t think that it is shaming to ask your guests to let the photographer work and not to stream all of their wedding photos on facebook.
      There are a couple of great articles out there showing what an unplugged wedding can look and feel like:

      I will have two photographers and two videographers at my wedding. I honestly would like the trained professionals that I know and trust to have the space and lack of distractions so that they can run around like mad and capture they day.

      I think the Shang Chen really captures how a lovely emotional moment can be squandered by my loving relatives all staring at blurry photos on their camera phones. Maybe your family are all crack shots who are not disruptive, can turn off the flash and never would get in the way of a photographer.
      That’s awesome and I wish I could say the same.

      I do also have a substantial number of designer friends and photographer friends who are going to be there and it’s not a work day for them.

      I think that if you’re paying for photography of the event, giving the people that are supposed to do their job a chance sounds fair to me.
      I don’t think that people would argue with letting the waiters, chefs, bartenders and officiants do their jobs.

  • ErinC

    My wedding is in three days. Just enough time to print these bad boys out!

  • Kelly

    It’s entirely possible I’m being a dunce — but is the psd file actually editable??

    I haven’t used photoshop in a long while, so I could just be doing this totally wrong, but the whole file is only one layer as far as I can see, so I can’t independently edit the background color, text color, etc. (I’m using photoshop 6 if that makes a difference.)

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