Social media use at weddings is a tricky subject.
On one end of the spectrum, you have couples with specialised hashtags and Pinterest boards showing all of the up-to-the-minute details of the planning process.
One New York City hotel has gone so far as to offer the services of a “social media wedding concierge,” whose job it is to create a hashtag and streamline guests’ posts up to and during the big day.
On the other end there are couples who are opting for “unplugged” weddings, where guests are asked to refrain from using their smartphones during the ceremony. At some unplugged weddings, you’ll even find a special area designated for cell phone use, similar to a coat check. The practice was first started at celebrity weddings where privacy was of the utmost importance, but it’s become common at mainstream weddings as well.
As the guest, it’s your responsibility to navigate the complicated waters of social media use.
Maggie Lord, founder of wedding blog Rustic Wedding Chic and author of three books about wedding planning, has plenty of advice when it comes to social media and marriage.
“Everybody is aware of the role social media plays in weddings now, so it’s a part of the planning process,” Lord said to Business Insider. “Some are saying, ‘We only invited these people, so let’s keep this an exclusive event.’ Some people want to wait for professional photos to be released to see them. Either way, you have to tackle it.”
Lord shared some of her tips for properly using social media as a wedding guest.
1. Play it safe.
When you’re the guest, it’s best to avoid whipping out your phone until you know what the couple has planned.
“These are things couples think of ahead of time now, with planned hashtags and other things,” Lord said. “They will put a sign in a prominent place or put a notice in the program, and that gives you the green light to use your phone and post to social media.”
2. Once you know the plan, respect it.
If the couple has asked you to refrain from taking photos on your phone, follow their rules.
“First and foremost, you’re a guest at this wedding, so be respectful of the fact that they’re paying a big chunk of money for professional photographers to be there,” she said.
But if they have created a hashtag just for the big day, go ahead and tweet away.
3. Don’t go overboard.
If you’re at a wedding where social media use has been approved, you should still keep yourself in check.
“Less is more when it comes to being a guest,” Lord said. “Don’t upload 90 unedited photos.”
As with any big celebration, wedding guests tend to let loose as the night goes on. Lord suggests putting the phone away after dinner is served so as to avoid embarrassing anyone.
4. Enjoy the moment firsthand.
But most of all, Lord says, make sure you enjoy the event as it’s happening in front of you, instead of through a screen.
“Share those memories,” she said. “But be sure to put the phone away and enjoy this experience the couple has put so much time and money into planning.”
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