The Pros and Cons of Posting and Hashtagging Your Big Day
To tweet, or not to tweet, that is the question many brides and grooms are asking themselves leading up to their big day. Forty percent of wedding guests said social media posts were encouraged at weddings they attended in the last year, according to a recent survey from Wedding Paper Divas. But will you say, "I do" to Facebooking on your wedding day? When it comes to getting hitched in the digital age, the question of how to handle social media is right up there with selecting invitations and choosing a dessert.
Let's face it, nearly everyone has gone digital. Right now, your seven-year-old nephew is probably tweeting about the Little League World Series, your aunt is commenting on your Facebook status, heck, your grandma is probably even calling you from FaceTime! So, there's no surprise many couples are now asking their guests to use specific hashtags when they post a picture or status update during the wedding. This new trend makes it easy for couples to search for their hashtag on various social media outlets and then find all of the different pictures guests snapped from their smartphones.
Recently married PR pro Jenna Amato says she used an Instagram hashtag at her wedding by creating signs that read, "If you use Twitter or Instagram, use #AmatoPartyof2 to help us capture our special day!"
"Guests uploaded close to 150 photos," gushed Amato. "I got to see some amazing ceremony photos that I wouldn't have necessarily seen until I receive the proofs back from my professional photographer."
Amato is one of many brides who jumped on the tweeting trend for their big day. Some bridesmaids are even doing the same for bachelorette parties, dubbing the big bashes with names like, "#SaraPalooza" or "#FeliciaFest" when posting their photos. However, not every bride is interested in tweeting, posting and Instagramming their way to the alter.
Amber Harrison, the wedding-etiquette expert at Wedding Paper Divas, says she has heard about far too many social-media mishaps. "Recently, an overzealous bridesmaid snapped a photo of the bride just after she donned her dress," explains Harrison. "Unfortunately, she posted that picture to Facebook before the wedding ceremony and the groom saw his bride for the first time as a miniature on his phone screen, as opposed to walking down the aisle toward him."
Wedding expert Tami Smallwood says there can also be downsides from "live tweeting" from the wedding itself. Smallwood says there may be some hard feelings when friends who weren't invited to the wedding see other guests having fun at the reception. Plus, there's a chance a "self-proclaimed" Instagram photographer could get in the way of the professional photographer who was hired to actually shoot the wedding! "Then neither of them gets that special shot the couple is hoping for and paid quite a bit to see," says Smallwood.
And for brides who worked hard (and paid a lot of money) to ensure they look perfect on their big day, it's disappointing to see any of those awkward photos taken from bad angles or when you're all sweaty from getting your groove on at the reception. "It's a nightmare," says recent bride Katrina Herringlake. "I had a ton of pics posted to Facebook that I really didn't want anyone to see. Argh... technology!"
Depending on your privacy preferences, the downsides of allowing guests to post pictures and status updates from your wedding may outweigh the positives -- unless, of course, you're a social media junky and would go so far as to take a selfie while standing at the alter! Either way, here are a three cordial ways to lay down a few social media ground rules for your guests:
1. Set an Example
If you don't want to see any unauthorized Facebook pictures posted by your wedding guests, then make sure you're not posting daily status updates about wedding planning leading up to the event.
"By withholding pictures of cake tastings and potential floral arrangements, you will be setting the tone in which you'd like your guests to follow," explains Harrison.
2. Rally the Troops
Clearly explain your expectations to your bridal party when it comes to posting on various social media outlets on your wedding day.
"The bridal party can be the biggest offenders when it comes to social media missteps since they are closest to the couple and have access during those precious pre-first-look moments," shares Harrison. "Make sure everyone is clear on what they should and shouldn't share."
3. Say it Twice
Repeating yourself isn't always a bad thing, especially when it comes to ensuring your big day goes off without a hitch!
"It's best to share your wishes more than once and use as many methods as possible," advises Harrison. "For example, a printed enclosure card mailed with the invitation can be used to share your wedding hashtag and any tips for sharing. Alternatively you can use the card to kindly request that cameras and phones stay out of sight during the ceremony."
If you're planning a wedding and navigating the complexities of using social media on your big day, it's worth taking a little time to sit down with your fiancé in order to discuss a "social strategy." Even if you're one of the shrinking number of people who doesn't "do" social media, that doesn't mean an unflattering picture of you won't wind up on Facebook. Like it or not, posting social media updates about all major life events -- not just weddings -- is here to stay. The question is, will you "like" how you're portrayed.
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