When it comes to wedding-guest etiquette, most are familiar with the basic dos and don'ts. As in, do bring a gift and don't wear white. But in a world where a moment not captured on Instagram ceases to exist, what do you do when the rules aren't so clear?
Social media use is a major gray area of wedding-guest etiquette: the tricky question of "to post or not to post?" On the one hand, you have the couples that are so plugged in you can practically track their entire wedding planning process on Pinterest, while others discourage the use of social media on their big day and prefer to keep their weddings "unplugged." That means no smart phones, no posting, no hashtags. They want to share their big day with the people they invited - not the entire social media world.
Photo credit: Rustic Wedding Chic
So how do you, as the guest, know if and when it's okay to use social media? In my experience, the best way to go about handling this question of wedding-guest etiquette is to follow these basic rules of thumb.
Check the Program
Chances are the couple will indicate their social media preferences in some form - they may even make signs or include a note in the program. I have seen signs directing guests to use specialized hashtags when they post. I have also seen signs asking guests to leave the photography to the professionals. So before you start snapping photos and posting away, take a look around. Even if the couple doesn't leave you a clue, you can always take your cue from the other guests. You don't want to be that one obnoxious person on their phone all night.
Photo credit: W&E Photographie
Respect the Couple's Wishes
In a world where we share every banal detail of our lives on social media - our Starbucks order on Instagram, our quasi-political views on Twitter, our adorable kids on Facebook - it is almost impossible to resist posting about an event as glitzy and glamorous as a wedding. The whole elegant affair - from the fancy attire to the eight-tier cake - begs to be captured and shared with all of our online "friends." But as much as we want to post, we have to respect the wishes of the happy couple. It is their day after all. So if they ask you to check your phone at the door, hand it over.
Photo credit: RecipeBox
Keep It to a Minimum
Even when the couple gives you the go ahead, don't go overboard! Let's be honest - no picture you take on your smartphone can match the quality of professional photography. So before you go and post a bunch of unedited photos online for the world to see, remember that the couple paid a pretty penny for a professional photographer to make them look good. Besides, if you're constantly on your phone, you'll miss the whole wedding! Everything is always much better when experienced firsthand rather than through a small screen.
Photo credit: Danny Weiss Photography
When all else fails, put yourself in the couple's shoes. If the first photo of your big day shared with the world was a blurry shot of the bride from the back of a church, it might not set the best tone. Consider leaving the essentials up to the photographers or the bride and groom to post themselves, while posting some fun photos of your own experience at the wedding dancing, eating and having a great time.