By Amanda Causey Baity
Social media is embedded in our day-to-day life; for most of us, social media facilitates the majority of our daily interactions with others. We use social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to stay in touch, share updates and celebrate milestones; it’s only natural that social media has found its way into wedding celebrations. That said, before uploading a photo of the happy couple saying “I Do,” it is essential to remember your social media wedding etiquette.
HERE COMES THE HASHTAG
A particularly social couple may utilize social media to engage and communicate with their guests from the first RSVP to the last thank-you card. While the majority of couples still choose to mail out paper invitations, many opt for electronic RSVPs: a cheaper, more environmentally friendly option. It’s also a
more efficient option for guests. Wedding websites and blogs are also commonly used to share updates and information about the wedding day, the registry and anything that wasn’t covered on the invitations.
Social-savvy couples may also request and encourage their guests to upload photos taken at their wedding to a photo-sharing site such as WedPics or Wedding Party. Alternatively, a unique hashtag may be provided for guests to categorize pictures posted on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter. Digitally cataloged photos enable the couple to revisit the unique (and sometimes hilarious) moments the days after their wedding. Similarly, guests can swap stories and re-hash inside jokes long after the last dance-off.
WEDDING COUPLE TIP
If you would like your guests to share photos with an app or website, make sure this information is communicated clearly and in advance either through your wedding website or via signage at the reception. Otherwise, you may end up with several hashtags and many irretrievable photos. Something as simple as, “If you are sharing photos, make sure you use our hashtag: #PWLivingWeddings.” This will let guests know how to upload photos with the group.
While it may be tempting to capture every moment through your device, remember to look up and experience the wedding. You wouldn’t want to miss a big moment because you were applying the Valencia filter to your latest photo on Instagram. After all, it was you and not your social media followers who were invited to share in this special day. Your followers can wait.
While many arguments are endorsing a web-based wedding infused with social media, it isn’t uncommon for a couple to go one step further and request their guests be present and refrain from using smartphones and other electronic devices. Before you gasp in horror, we could all learn something from the unplugged wedding. If a couple has discouraged the use of smartphones, odds are they are more concerned with ensuring guests enjoy the evening than with ensuring guests have updated their social media. Simply put, the emphasis is placed on the guests experiencing the wedding through their eyes, not their phone. While your wedding day is a special occasion, “checking in,” tweeting and photo sharing may be daily (if not hourly) routines for many of your guests.
WEDDING COUPLE TIP
If you would prefer photos and details from your wedding not end up on social media sites, politely ask your guests to refrain from doing so. Just like weddings involving social media, signage can be particularly useful in delivering this message. For example, “We ask that you visit with your friends here today. Do us a favor and please put your phones away.”
Pay attention to the wedding correspondence you receive. Has the couple specifically requested guests refrain from using their phones during the wedding and/or reception? If so, be respectful — the couple has asked you to share in one of the most important days of their life. Be a guest first, photographer/blogger/tweeter second.
When we think of wedding etiquette, we may think of toasts, attire, glass clinking and perhaps even dance moves. Today, we must also think of social media. Photos, videos, tweets, and check-ins are fluid in our society. While we can control what we share about ourselves, we can’t always control what others share about us. When planning your wedding, it is important to determine how you feel about social media: what role, if any, will it play? Regardless, we must all be reminded to be social first, media second.
Amanda Causey Baity is Brides & Weddings‘s Director of Operations and Photo Editor. A wedding photographer in the metro Atlanta and east Alabama area, she now resides with her family in Manassas, Va. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.