12 social media commandments for modern weddings
The rise of Facebook and Instagram means that some couples have had their big day spoiled by unthinking guests, writes Meadhbh McGrath, who has expert advice
Like most couples, singer Joe Jonas and Game of Thrones star Sophie Turner just wanted to get married in peace.
They shared their vows in Las Vegas in May, only to have the moment spoiled by DJ and producer Diplo, who documented the wedding live on Instagram Stories.
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The couple didn't take any chances at their second wedding in Paris last weekend - sharing a solo picture of himself, Diplo joked on Instagram: "They took my phone from me and put [it] in a holding cell during the ceremony."
Weddings present an etiquette minefield, but modern technology has thrown another spanner in the works. Here, we outline the guidelines for navigating nuptials in the age of social media. Or put more simply: how not to do a Diplo.
Don't overshare in advance of the big day
Couples may be tempted to share little tidbits with friends and followers, but beware the overshare. "A lot of couples are so excited about the cake tasting, the dress shopping, the venue, the band, that they tweet or put it on Instagram all through the wedding plans, so you have almost no surprises for the guests on the day," says award-winning wedding planner Sharon McMeel (sharonmcmeel.ie). "Keep the details of your wedding for your wedding day. It's taken you so much time to put it together, it's nice to have that 'wow' moment."
Have a conversation about social media before the wedding
Between guest lists, caterers, and myriad other concerns, developing a 'social media policy' can slide down your to-do list. "It's something couples often forget to do," says wedding expert Bláithín O'Reilly Murphy (theweddingexpert.ie). "Have a think about: what are we happy to have shared, and at what point?" Couples tend to have strong feelings either way, from the fully Instagrammable wedding to the "unplugged" ceremony.
Let guests know your policy
If you want to go phone-free, make it clear to your guests. "It generally pertains to the ceremony," says Celina Murphy, deputy editor of OneFabDay.com.
"I think Irish people were a bit slower to take up this trend than our Australian and American counterparts, because of the general mortification factor of asking your guests to do anything - we're very conscious of not looking like we're taking our wedding too seriously."
She recommends communicating through signage propped up in the ceremony space. "It means that you have time to think about the wording and it gives you a lot of control over how it's said.
"Another way we really like is to ask your celebrant to announce it - that just puts all of the work on them."
Hashtags aren't always the most effective
Celina notes that OneFabDay readers are consistently interested in reading about wedding hashtags, but that guests don't use them all that frequently. Sharon adds: "I've had couples before who've gone down that road, and to be honest, you end up getting very few (posts). What some people do to gather photos is set up a Google folder or a WhatsApp group and ask people to send photos there instead."
Don't let suppliers ruin the surprise
After creating your beautiful wedding cake or floral display, suppliers can be so pleased with their handiwork that they'll share a snap online, before the couple has even clapped eyes on their creations. Talk to them about it beforehand, says Sharon.
Beware the selfies
You've forked out on a professional snapper, but every aunt, uncle and second cousin is chasing you for a selfie. "It's more of an issue for the photographer," says Sharon. "If people are dragging the bride and groom away for selfies, it can cause a big delay. When you're getting your official photographs done, do it away from the main guests. And talk to your bridal party and say, 'if there are 20 aunts lining up to take a selfie with me, pull me away.'"
Don't post too soon
"Bridesmaids might be super excited getting ready, Champagne is flowing, you take a few photos and upload it to Instagram or Facebook. 'Oh my god, she's in her wedding dress and she hasn't even left the house yet!' That can happen in an instant and be completely innocent," says Bláithín. She advises waiting at least until after the reception, so you don't spoil it for guests arriving in the evening, and ideally wait a day or two before posting any photos of the couple.
Celina adds: "Don't post any pictures of the couple until you've either asked their permission or seen them do something similar on their social media. Most couples will prefer to have their professional photos than an awkward one taken by you at a terrible angle."
You don't get a pass because you're family
You might think your daughter or brother won't be bothered by a quick Facebook post, but Bláithín warns not to share without their permission. "Sometimes family are the worst when it comes to sharing, because they feel like, 'well, she's my sister, she won't mind'. If you're family, you have to be on top of yourself when it comes to sharing."
Don't get in the way of the professionals
"Allow the professional photographer to do their work first. A couple will often discuss specific photos, for example a photo way back in the church where you get the whole view, but if you're turning around taking photos, it ruins the effect," says Bláithín. Don't worry, though: the photographer knows you'll want to get your own shot. "Often they'll take the professional shot and then stand out of the way for other people to benefit from the arrangement they've set up," she adds.
Restrain yourself during the ceremony
"Obviously with religious ceremonies, don't take your phone out or take any photos," says Celina. "For secular ones, if you really want to, take one photo and then put your phone away and be present for the ceremony.
"The couples want to see your happy smiling face as opposed to the back of your phone." Even worse, she adds, are iPads, which block everyone's view. Her advice? Just leave them at home.
Be careful about filming
Irish people are unlikely to pull a Diplo, yet you might feel the urge to start recording during the speeches. Sharon suggests putting yourself in the speaker's shoes - if you're already nervous, a sea of devices trained on you won't make the moment any easier.
Post flattering photos
Only share photos the couple would want in a wedding album. "The professional photos where someone's doing a terrible dance move or ordering a round of shots for their table tend to be really popular, the couple love to see those unusual, unique memories from their day," says Celina. "But that's with a professional lens on it, making sure that everyone looks good. As a guest, keep in mind: would the couple be OK with it?"
And if you do get a call asking you to remove something, respect their wishes. "Just do it," says Bláithín, "because I've seen scenarios where that's caused difficulties in friendships. Don't get offended, just remove it."