Earlier this week, Australian wedding photographer Thomas Stewart took it upon himself to answer the question on every millennial wedding guest's mind: Should you use your phone at a wedding? Considering we use our phones to document every other aspect of our lives, it's no surprise that the urge to Snapchat the ceremony or tweet a romantic picture of the bride can prove difficult to quell. This is all well and good for the amounts of likes on your Facebook page, but all the amateur photographers competing for the most Instagram-worthy shot of the couple can make a professional's life absolute hell — and Stewart has had enough.
The photographer took to his Facebook page earlier this week to post a truly epic rant about the use of phones at weddings, a sentiment he illustrated with what was intended to be a photo of the groom's face as the bride walked down the aisle. Instead, the wedding party is totally obscured by several guests standing in the middle of the aisle, recording the bride on their personal phones. "Right, I've had enough... Look at this photo. This groom had to lean out past the aisle just to see his bride approaching," Stewart wrote. "Why? Because guests with their phones were in the aisle and in his way."
He goes on to plead with couples to have an "unplugged" wedding ceremony, and not just because guests with phones can ruin professional wedding shots — all for the sake of a grainy photo of the groom's profile. "These same guests will get in YOUR way. You will miss moments of your own wedding day because there'll be an iPad in the way. You will miss seeing your partner's face in the aisle," he wrote. Finally, he turns his attention to guests themselves, entreating them to remember why they were invited to the ceremony in the first place.
"You are witnesses to their marriage, so for goodness sake, watch them with your eyes and your minds, not your phones... Please, for my sake, and for sake of the two people getting married, leave your cameras at home and put your phones/iPads away," he finishes.
Full disclosure here: When I first heard that a wedding photographer had gone on a rant about technology, my initial reaction was to roll my eyes. Whether it's Socrates' admonishments that writing things down causes "forgetfulness" or fear that video games are turning children into sociopaths, technology always faces a backlash until it becomes so mundane we forget how to live without it. Generally, I find that rants about the evils of mobile phones fall into this category. People love to claim phones distract us from forming relationships with other people, but this view neglects the fact that we're usually using phones to talk to people on the other end. On the outside it looks like I'm just texting in a coffee line, but chances are I'm asking my dad about his day, or making plans for dinner with my roommate. Of course, there's also a chance I'm just doing this...
But there's nothing wrong with that either.
On the other hand, Stewart absolutely has a point — in fact, he makes several. Phones and iPads are hardly the isolating, sociopathy-inducing machines that people make them out to be, but they are distracting. Of course, this hardly means you should chuck your phone across the room if you find yourself distracted during the ceremony. How are you supposed to stay occupied in line for the bathroom, or text your roommate ridiculous observations about the best man's hair, or take a selfie with the bride? Phones are part of our lives, and there's nothing wrong with using them.
That being said, which is more important: Framing the perfect Instagram of the bride, or actually congratulating her on planning her nuptials without going crazy? Ideally, you'd get to do both, but maybe put more effort into the latter. After all, one poorly framed wedding Instagram isn't going to ruin your carefully cultivated social media image — and you can always laugh about it with the bride later.
Images: Hoang Duy Khang/Flickr; Giphy (2)