In years gone by, wedding etiquette would centre around traditions, the way things should be done and the roles undertaken by the wedding party. But in 2022, like in many areas of our lives, the biggest etiquette discussion is around social media. So how do modern couples and their guests navigate this relatively-new etiquette grey area? Whether you’re getting married or are attending a wedding, it is possible to avoid causing upset by following a few simple rules. Read on to ensure you don’t commit a photographic faux pas.
Don’t Get Over-Excited
You’ve just got engaged. You’re floating on a cloud. You’re the heroes at the epicentre of your own fairy tale. You can’t wait to let the world know you’re getting married. You immediately change your Facebook status to ‘engaged’ and post a snap of your sparkler to Instagram. But wait. Have you forgotten to actually tell your parents and siblings? Or what about your best friends who have been rooting for you, listening patiently to all your relationship dramas over the years? Your granny, who is your biggest fan? So, the girl you used to work with three jobs ago, and who you have not seen since, knows the happy news at the same time as, if not before, your family? This is a delicate situation; it could cause upset to those closest to you. Why not savour the enjoyment of seeing their faces light up in person or their screams of joy on the phone before getting a few likes on your social media? We guarantee you’ll feel absolutely amazing, as will your loved ones. Once everyone important has had the chance to say congratulations, then feel free to share with your extended online network.
Don't Vent In Public
Once you’re into the planning process, you may find that specific arrangements fall through, or particular members of your bridal party let you down. Perhaps a supplier is messing you around, or a bridesmaid is flaky and unreliable. Either way, it won’t help matters to vent your frustration on social media. No matter how veiled your Twitter tirade is, they’ll know you’re talking about them, and you’ll only cause more bad feelings. Instead, have a good old moan to your mum or maid of honour, take a deep breath, and move on.
Don't Spoil The Surprise
As you’re confirming your venue, decorations, flowers and all the fun details which will make your wedding day unique, it might be tempting to let the world know what you’ve got up your sleeve. But do you really want to spoil the surprise for your guests? Let it all be an excellent mystery until they arrive at your marriage ceremony, when you can enjoy their reactions in person.
Be Clear About Your Rules
As diva-esque, as it may seem (“no photos, no photos”), deciding what your policy is regarding social media at your wedding is now as integral a part of the planning process as working out the guest list. We know...What a time to be alive. But think it over. How would you feel if someone posted a picture of you walking down the aisle before you had even made your vows? Or maybe you intend to be on Instagram from the second you wake up? Whatever your feelings, you need to be clear about your stance, and we suggest briefing your ushers and bridesmaids, too, so they can reinforce the rules. Gently. “A lot of couples are sharing their social media policy in advance,” says high-end wedding planner Katrina Otter. “If they don’t want phones at their ceremonies, they are putting out signs or stating it in their invitations.” “If you would like an unplugged wedding, it is best to let couples know on your invitation information sheet,” she says. “The officiant can also announce it at the start of the ceremony. Orchid-filled arches look great; metal detector arches less so.” If you believe, however, that if it doesn’t appear on social media, then it didn’t happen, or you’d be happy for guests to share pictures after a certain point in the day, then find a space to let them know and spread the word.
One of the biggest wedding trends right now is for a personalised hashtag, which guests can use when posting images from your big day. Assuming you’ve allowed them to, of course. You can provide the hashtag on your invitation, menus, wedding website, seating plan and around the venue on cute signage so everyone gets it right. The benefit is you’ll be able to collate all sorts of pictures from your wedding, rather than just posed professional shots, by doing a simple search in Instagram. But to make this work well you’ll need a unique hashtag. It’s no good just using #smithwedding, for example, because, well it’s obvious isn’t it? You’ll end up trawling through pictures of every other wedding of someone named Smith instead of just poring over photos of your own. Struggling to come up with something cool?Then pay someone to create a customised hashtag for you instead. Yes really. And you can take it one step further if you’re so inclined.There are wedding apps that will enable you to design your own personalised social networks dedicated to your big day as well as those where guests can share their pictures directly with you and each other.
Social Media Guide For Guests
You’ve been invited to share a loved one’s special day. That doesn’t necessarily mean sharing it to Facebook. So, as well as following the other rules of etiquette for wedding guests, like arriving on time and adhering to the dress code, make sure you don’t cause offence in the virtual world as well as the real one.
Don’t Steal Engagement Thunder
If your friend or family member tells you they’re engaged, don’t immediately start gushing online about how happy you are for them.You’ll be in danger of stealing their thunder. Don’t you think they’d like the pleasure of watching people’s faces spread into a wide grin when they spill the beans? And imagine if you tweeted it to the world before the happy couple had had a chance to tell their other loved ones.This is a major no-no. Let them do the telling and then join in publicly once you can see that it’s all out in the open.
Avoid Any Online Complaining
It’s possible you won’t just be a guest at your friend’s wedding, but have been asked to be a bridesmaid, usher, maid of honour or best man. This will require a lot more from you than you might think and such close proximity to wedding planning will be sure to grate at times. Let’s say the bride is forcing you to wear a truly hideous dress or has demanded you dye your hair to match that of the other bridesmaids; yes these things are extremely annoying and borderline psychotic, but going on a public rant will make things a lot worse and could see you removed from the bridal party. Don’t sabotage a friendship by getting it all off your chest online.
Follow The Rules
No, rules are not there to be broken. Especially at someone’s wedding. Emotions are charged enough. So if you’ve been told not to film or take pictures at the ceremony, respect the couple’s wishes. If they haven’t been totally clear then find out from somebody who’ll know, like a bridesmaid or usher. Racing out of the church to upload your pictures to get the ‘likes’ is not what every bride dreams off during their confetti-filled departure. It’s better to be safe than be sorry you tweeted a shot of the bride in her dress before the groom even had the chance to see her in all her glory. “Everybody has a different policy,” says Otter. “But as a guest, work out what it is, or if you’re told then stick to it.”
Don’t Get In The Way Of The Professionals
The happy couple will have spent a lot of money on their wedding and that includes paying a professional photographer, and potentially a videographer, to capture it beautifully. So stay aware of when the pros are trying to do their jobs and make sure the back of your head, and the screen of your smart phone, aren’t ruining every shot. “Any photographer you talk to will say their bug bear is the fact guests aren’t actually watching the wedding,” agrees Otter. “They’re watching their phones and then if you look back on photos of ceremonies all you can see is a sea of phones and not the bride walking down the aisle.” We know it’s a novel idea, but why not live in the moment and engage with the lovely event taking place in front of you, rather than obsessively taking pictures and thinking up hilarious captions to go with them?
Keep The Secret
You are one of the lucky ones to have made it onto the ‘all day’ guest list but there could be others who have only been invited to the party. Help the couple to keep the surprises of their wedding “Any photographer you talk to will say their bug bear is the fact guests aren’t actually watching the wedding.They’re watching their phones, and then if you look back on photos of ceremonies all you can see is a sea of phones.” until the ‘evening only’ gang have arrived and taken it all in. Let the bride enjoy her big reveal a few more times before the night is over. In fact, it’s best to wait for the full go ahead before posting any shots to your own social media.The bride and groom may not have a magazine deal with Hello! to protect but they do have their right to privacy until they decide otherwise.
Elegant Not Embarrassing
Once you’ve been given the all-clear to share your images, be picky when posting. Only choose the photographs that make the bride and groom look gorgeous and that capture happy and heartwarming moments.We’re sure there’ll be some hilarious dancing or drunken guests doing something slightly humiliating with a chair leg, but those will not necessarily be the things the newlymarried couple would like to be out in the world. It’s worth checking the backgrounds of each shot too to make sure you haven’t inadvertently caught someone in a compromising situation. Just take some time to edit your photos and be a bit more discerning than you would be on a regular big night out. And, of course, any captions you write should be filled with nothing but Love.
Don’t Be Too Up Close And Personal
A wedding day will be filled with intimate moments that should probably be kept private.The bride in her lingerie for example; the very special instant when the father of the bride sees his daughter for the first time; a tearful moment during the speeches when passed family members are remembered. If you happen to capture any of the above, show your images to the bride and groom at a later date and don’t post them unless they have given you explicit permission.
Don’t Film The Speeches
Wedding speeches are much anticipated. As guests, we look forward to laughing, crying and swooning as the best man, father of the bride and groom take to the microphone. A lot of time, thought and stress will have gone into the writing of each speech so pay them respect and give them your full attention rather than trying to film it all. Plus, take pity on the poor speakers who will more than likely be extremely nervous. Don’t add to their terror of messing up by presenting them with a sea of smart phones ready to capture the moment a joke falls flat.
Live Streaming? Forget It
This isn’t a reality television show. And while it does seem incredible, not everybody wants to have the most important day of their life broadcast to your band of Insta followers as it happens. Just leave it, yeah?
Finally something you can do as much as you like. If the couple in question has bothered to set up their own wedding day hashtag then feel free to use it every time you post a picture or Boomerang of the occasion.That’s the point after all, and it means they actively want to see your snaps on social. So get posting.