Weddings & Social Media: What's OK & What's Not

Photographed by Mark Iantosca.
Dear Alimay,

I just Instagrammed my new engagement ring with #ISaidYesDuh, and it got me thinking about how I should handle social media as I start planning my wedding. 

Is it tacky to include an event hashtag with my invite? Of course, I want my guests to have a blast and to share their amazing times on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, but would it be okay for me to put some boundaries on when and what they post? 

I don’t want to be a digital diva or anything, I’m just looking for a little social security, if you will. 

Hashing Out Hashtags 
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Dear Hashing Out Hashtags,

The way a bride handles social media at her wedding depends on the bride. Some brides want every moment captured on the Internet, and others want to keep their party as offline as possible. Both viewpoints are totally valid!

There are definitely guidelines, no matter where you fall on the spectrum, and not just for hosts; guests should mind their social-media manners too. If you want partygoers to post their good wedding times online, you should definitely create a hashtag. But, what’s the best way to do that? Mary McLeod, the editorial manager at Once Wed, suggests “sitting down with your partner and thinking through what you’d want your ideal hashtag to be, and then going through Instagram to see what is available. You can be as cutesy as you want, or you can opt for a classic touch by simply joining your names together with the day of the wedding.” 

But, don’t put it on your invite. Share it with guests on your wedding website, or include it in your welcome pack for out-of-towners. Jen Campbell, the blogger behind Green Wedding Shoes, thinks Instagram and the like are awesome ways of experiencing a side of your wedding you might not see firsthand (and with 55,000 Twitter followers and more than twice that on Instagram, she knows a thing or two about social media). “It’s a chance for you as a couple to check out all the photos your guests captured the day after your wedding — and for the next few weeks while you wait for your professional photos to arrive.” 

You can even go beyond the standard social media outlets and have your guests use an app that’s just for your wedding, like Eversnap or Capsule. These put all your guests' pics in one central location, and they make it easy for you and your friends and family to order keepsakes and prints.

If you opt to make your own hashtag and want to encourage people to post on social media, it’s still totally acceptable to set some boundaries.

“I do think it's reasonable to ask guests to refrain from using their cell phones during the ceremony and to live in the moment,” McLeod says. “That part of the wedding is supposed to be intimate and private, between you and your friends and families.” You can use cute signage to relay the request and have the officiant mention it before the ceremony gets started. As for guests, even if it’s not explicitly suggested by the bride and groom, it’s still a good rule of thumb to keep your phones out of sight during the ceremony.
And, most importantly: Don’t get in the photographer’s way! Campbell agrees: “I’m always bummed when I look at a photo of the ceremony and there is that one guest who jumped in the aisle with their phone, preventing the photographer the couple hired from getting that perfect shot. Don’t be that guest!” she says. “I think most couples are hoping their guests capture those moments the photographer won’t capture — friends being friends, a behind-the-scenes moment, and other details your guests just love.”

A few things are off-limits, too — don’t even think about posting a pic of the bride in her dress before the wedding starts, no matter how gorgeous she looks. Of course, if you want to keep your nuptials offline, you can do that, too. Just give everyone a heads up. “If you are planning to have an unplugged wedding, just make sure your guests know in advance,” Campbell says. “It’s your day, so don’t be pressured by anyone else. Do what feels right to you.” We second that.