Social-Media Wedding Etiquette
The days are long gone when newly married couples had to wait weeks to catch a glimpse of their special day. Now, with Facebook, Instagram and Twitter feeds beaming live to our phones and screens, wedding photos, videos and even opinions are posted in real-time, often without a moment's thought. We're all guilty of posting something in haste because we got caught up in the occasion, and we think everyone's going to love that post just because we do in that specific moment. But is that the image of the newlyweds that THEY want all their friends and family to remember for the weeks, months and years to come?
The fact is that many brides and grooms love sharing moments of their love story from their engagement through to their honeymoon, but they want to tell their story their way, rather than have someone else tell it for them - wouldn't you? Not all brides are created equal though, especially when it comes to sharing their private moments online, so here is a useful guide to help make certain that family, friends and guests get it right and don't offend the happy couple...
DO: Check if the bride and groom have an 'unplugged' policy for their wedding
The concept of an 'Unplugged Wedding' has become massively popular in the last few years due to the explosion of social media and how it has come to dominate every moment of every wedding. The happy couple want their guests to be there, with them, and enjoy the experience - instead the guests are often hidden behind their phones and tablets, trying to get a good shot that will boost activity on their own social media accounts.
DON'T: Break an 'Unplugged' rule - you will stand out and you won't be popular
If there is an 'Unplugged' policy for a wedding you're attending, you absolutely must stick to it! Believe me, when one person decides to get their phone out "just for this one shot" when they shouldn't is the most noticeable person in the room to everyone else who is honouring the couple's request, and no matter how good that sneaky-snap is, you will not be thanked for it.
DO: Ask if there is a custom wedding hashtag, then make sure you use it
On the other end of the scale are social media savvy newlyweds that want everyone to share as much as possible, which creates an intense short-term flurry of online coverage. Many of these couples will have a unique, personal and often witty hashtag that speaks to their personalities so people (including them) can track the event. In these situations, regardless of what you think of the hashtag itself, use it in every related post you make. Not using the established hashtag is the social media equivalent of talking behind their backs - it's just rude.
DON'T: Share unflattering or embarrassing photos
I always hope that guests have enough common sense not to post anything that may not be appropriate or something that might embarrass the happy couple - a photo where the bride or groom is squinting or blinking, an inebriated guest, a stain on the wedding-dress, etc. Unfortunately, the 'think before posting' rule is often ignored in the excitement of the event and I have personally seen friends fall-out and even someone lose their job because of a bad post during a big day.
HINT: Don't post this!
(photo courtesy of a bridesmaid who shared it on the day and doesn't get invited out for drinks any more)
If you're having doubts about posting something, check with the bride and groom, or simply don't post it. The next day life will go back to normal and everyone wants to keep their reputation intact. It may seem like a great idea in the moment to show off what a great party it is, but please use discretion.
RULE OF THUMB: Only post moments that the newlyweds would want in their wedding album!
DO: Share your photos the day after the wedding
There are 3 very important reasons for this...
- If the official photographer is worth their salt and has established that the couple are active on social media, they will likely make a prime professional shot available the evening of the wedding (I always do). It gives the couple a nice memory to wake up to the next morning, and the family members that couldn't be there get a wonderful picture of the wedding to remember. The impact of this gesture is pretty-much destroyed if the viewer has to scroll through hundreds of camera-phone photos and hastily typed opinions before they see it.
- If someone invites you to their wedding, chances are it's because they consider you as either close family or good friends and they want you to share in celebrating their special day! They want to see your happy smiling faces, witness your reactions to all the incredible moments as they happen, and talk with you person-to-person - rather than seeing the back of your phone blocking your smile, or being repeatedly asked to pose for selfies. They have likely spent a lot of money on a professional photographer that is exclusively there to create exceptional photographs without the hassle of having to spend a lot of time with them. Wherever possible, let the photographer do their thing, and just enjoy the celebration!
- If the bride and groom are active social media users, they will likely be eager to see what people have been saying about them after the party is over. Leave them alone until tomorrow - they probably have better things to do on their wedding night.
DON'T: Share a photo of the bride before the ceremony
This is a BIG no-no! The bride has gone to great lengths and sometimes spent years considering her dream dress, hair style, shoes, jewellery and overall appearance - all for that moment when she walks down the aisle and she hears that audible gasp from all the guests. It's her moment to shine and she's probably been dreaming about it since she was a child! Don't get excited and accidentally take away her special moment with a post or tweet that gives all her secrets away too soon, even in a private conversation (you may be discreet but a 3rd party could end up stealing her thunder).
DO: Be present, and celebrate!
The photographer was invited in a professional capacity to capture the very best moments of the day for everyone. You were invited so that you can be yourself, relax, have fun and celebrate with friends, family and two people who are embarking on a new life together. Better to enjoy the party and share the professional photos that you actually feature in, than miss key moments that the bride and groom wanted you to be there to enjoy.
Just have fun in the moment with the people you love,
you can catch up on Instagram in the morning.