When more than half of the world-wide population uses social media, chances are high that you actively use at least one social media platform yourself. It may be where you document your travels or daily life, where you share political views, or how you stay in contact with old friends. Digital sharing is an increasing trend, and you may be tempted to snap a few pictures when you attend your next wedding. Of course, documenting a special occasion isn’t a bad thing—but there is social media etiquette that you should follow before posting any of those photos. (Or, in some cases, even taking out your phone!)
In response to the rise of cellphone and social media use, couples have started hosting unplugged weddings. That means that cellphone aren’t allowed during some or all of the wedding ceremony and/or reception. Exactly when cellphones can be used varies at each wedding, but the intent is to stay out of the photographer’s way and be present in the moment with the couple. Of course, you should always respect all of the couple’s wishes—no matter how badly you want to snap a quick photo. But there are a few other guidelines that apply to every wedding, whether pictures are allowed or not.
Respect the Couple’s Wishes
As we just mentioned, always respect the social media etiquette laid out by the happy couple. This is their big day, not yours. Plus, they want to celebrate their big day with you and their other guests—not you, their other guests, and everyone’s followers.
Bonus Tip: Check for guidelines on their wedding website, in the program, or posted throughout the venue.
Ignoring their guidelines might not ruin their whole day, but it might ruin a good photo, and it could also impact your relationship. Give the happy couple whatever amount of privacy they ask for, and use it as an opportunity to make lasting memories and maybe even new friends.
Use Appointed Hashtags
Many couples choose a clever hashtag for guests to use when posting online. The hashtag is usually a combination of their name, wedding date, or an inside joke. This allows them to easily browse guest photos, so they can reminisce after the wedding, before they get photos back from the photographer. Proper social media etiquette includes using any hashtags that the happy couple wants you to. You can certainly add other common weddings hashtags to your post—but be sure to include their special hashtag, too. Double check that you spelled it correctly before posting, too!
Stay Out of the Aisles
Maybe you’ve seen the ruined wedding photos where a guest blocks the photographer to get the perfect shot. Unfortunately for the couple, that perfect shot is now ruined because a guest was in the way. Couples hire professional photographers for that very reason—to take the perfect shot. You don’t have to worry about taking photos on their behalf or capturing special moments. They already have someone to do that! All you have to do is sit back and enjoy the ceremony!
Of course, if pictures are allowed, look around you before snapping a shot. Make sure a photographer isn’t nearby, and make sure you’re not in their camera’s way. If you’re concerned about being in the way, it’s best to stay seated or stay with the crowd. Better to just watch the action than get in the way of it!
Let the Couple Post First
Unless you have permission, don’t post anything on social media until the happy couple has. Their friends and followers probably already know that they’re engaged; they may even know when the wedding is.
Bonus Tip: A wedding hashtag is permission to post on social media—but if the signage only specifies Instagram, stick to Instagram until the couple posts elsewhere.
But you should let them make the official announcement with the first picture on any of their social media platforms. Once they’ve made the first post, you can go ahead and share select photos from the day. (Keep reading to see just what photos are acceptable!)
Don’t Live Stream
Unless the couple asked you to live stream the event—keep that live record button off! The couple most likely spent many hours agonizing over who gets an invitation; they carefully selected the friends and family that would celebrate this special day with them. And your online friends and followers didn’t make the cut! Yes, sometimes long-distance friends or elderly family members can’t make the trip to the wedding. In those instances, the couple might live stream the ceremony for those specific people. But if they didn’t ask you specifically to help out, respect their privacy.
Only Take Photos When Allowed
Some couples don’t go quite as far as an unplugged wedding. Instead, they simply set hours or activities when cellphone use isn’t allowed. For example, they may prohibit photos or videos during the ceremony, but the reception is fair game. Or, they may ask that no photos are taken of the bride or her dress, so that they can be the first to share on their own social media profiles. We can’t repeat it enough—the most important rule of social media etiquette is to respect the happy couple’s wishes!
Delete the Bloopers
Even if the wedding doesn’t have a single rule about photos, there is sill social media etiquette to follow: don’t post any embarrassing photos. If the angle is unflattering, or if someone is making a silly face—just delete the photo. Don’t post it online, and ask for a re-do if you’re able. No couple wants to scroll through Instagram the morning after their wedding and see a blooper reel. Instead, be considerate with the photos that you post. If it’s a bad photo, simply take the photo again. And if that isn’t possible, then delete the photo and wait for the next opportunity. Of course, if you planned to make a silly face or be goofy, that doesn’t count! You can certainly share those photos online. Just make sure that all of your posts flatter the happy couple.
Social media etiquette is important—it protects the happy couple’s memories and ensures that you don’t ruin a moment of their celebration. First, always be aware of your surroundings. Are you in the photographer’s way? Are you in another guest’s way? Make sure the answer is always No. Second, respect the couples wishes, always. Don’t post if they don’t want you to. Don’t even take a photo if they don’t want you to. This is their day, not yours.
Do you think unplugged weddings are a good idea? Or do you think having guests take photos is beneficial? Share your thoughts with us below!