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 from our phones and tablets, wedding photos, videos and even opinions are posted instantly, in real-time, without a second thought. We're all guilty of posting something in haste because we got caught up in the moment, and we think everyone's going to love that post just because we do right then and there. But is that really the lasting 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 usually want to tell their own story, rather than have someone else tell it for them - wouldn't you? Not all newlyweds 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 be inappropriate, or something that might personally 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 moment and I have personally seen friends fall-out and even someone lose their job because of a bad post during a big day.
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.
BASIC RULE OF THUMB: Only post moments that the newlyweds might 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 knows that the couple are active on social media, they will likely make a sneak-preview available later that night (I always do). It gives the newly married couple a chance to post somthing they really want to share, before everyone's social feeds become flooded with hundreds of random snapshots taken by well-meaning guests.
- 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 become man and wife, and then talk with you person-to-person. From experience, I can say that when the bride and groom look out toward the guests at their wedding, seeing the back-end of 100 phones instead of their friends' faces, or being repeatedly stopped to pose for selfies, rarely goes down well. What goes down really well is a genuine emotional connection with the people who have invited you to one of the most important events in their life!
The newlyweds have likely spent a lot of money on a professional photographer that is exclusively there to create the best photographs of this event and there's a very good chance you'll be in them! Just be present in the moment and 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 usually a BIG no-no! The bride has gone to great lengths and sometimes spent years considering her perfect 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 there's a fair chance she's 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 any secrets away too soon.
DO: Be present, and celebrate!
If a professional photographer is there to capture the best moments of the day, you can relax. You were invited so that you can be yourself, chill, have a few drinks and snacks and celebrate with friends, family and two people who are embarking on a new life together. It's undeniably better to share real interactive experiences with friends while you're with them, than scrolling through your camera roll the next day.