In order to have your guests be as prepared as possible for your elopement day and to avoid any awkward situations that could arise from miscommunications, you should consider sending your guests a pre-wedding email that preps them on the following:
—What to bring, including what sort of attire they might need to be comfortable in the climate, season, and time of day at your chosen location
—What not to bring, such as pets (if your location is not pet-friendly) or distracting electronics
—Timeline information of your day and when they need to be ready and when they need to arrive at certain locations
—Directions and location information including any maps, GPS coordinates they might need, and a description of the accessibility and terrain of the spot that you’ve chosen
—Whether or not the area you picked has cell phone reception (and if they will need to download any maps onto their phone ahead of time because of it)
—Parking instructions, especially if there is not a designated lot
—Safety information, including any wildlife that might be nearby, difficult travel conditions, or potentially unfavorable weather
—What restroom facilities are around—especially let them know if there aren’t any nearby
—Leave No Trace considerations, such as what materials you absolutely cannot have at your location (i.e. rice or confetti), any place that you might not be able to go because it would violate Leave No Trace ethics, and what you need to make sure that you pack out
By being upfront about these topics beforehand, you set expectations with your guests and help them also enjoy your wedding day as much as possible!
For many reasons, I highly recommend asking guests to “unplug” and be fully present for your wedding day, especially when it comes to your ceremony.
When your guests are distracted by taking photos or recording videos, it’s difficult for them to also be focused on what is going on around them—you know, you getting married! Cell phones, iPads, and other electronic devices will stand out and be a distraction in your photos. It also makes it very difficult for me to get candid photos of your guests’ reactions and emotions.
I’ve found it’s most effective to give your guests a heads up that this will be an unplugged experience in the days or weeks leading up to your wedding day. There are numerous gentle and kind ways to tell them this. Consider also reminding them just before your ceremony begins. Let them know that you would like them to be fully present with you and that your photographer will do all the work to capture beautiful photos which they will be able to access through an online photo gallery. Remind them that they will have a sneak peek of beautiful and professional photos to enjoy very soon.