Social Media at Weddings
Social media at weddings
With weddings being the visually amazing events that they are, your guests are likely to want to share snaps from the day...
...so from 'unplugged weddings' to hashtag happiness, here's how to handle social media at your wedding
Leafing through my parents' wedding album recently, I was struck by the perfect simplicity of their photographs. Ten pictures, showing them standing, smiling, cutting their cake, and with their guests. They have one copy of each photo, which are in an album that only someone visiting the house could see. I compared it with photographs from my own wedding - hundreds of which are in an album on Facebook!
In the past few decades, the way we share pictures and memories from our weddings has changed dramatically. Today, we have the opportunity to capture thousands of images of special parts of the day. From a tender glance as you exchange rings to a rip-roaring mid-speech laugh, the rise of digital technology and smartphones means we don't miss a minute, while the growth of social media allows us to share these images instantly. It's something many planning a wedding never had to consider, but for today's nearly-weds, it pays to think about how you're going to handle social media on your big day...
YOU DO YOU
First of all, it's important to decide what you're comfortable with. There's no need to fully embrace social media at your wedding if you don't want to; and similarly, there's absolutely nothing wrong with encouraging your guests to take photos and share them - you'll end up with lots of different perspectives and get a well-rounded idea of just what a fantastic day your loved ones had. The main message is: it's up to you.
"Social media can be like Marmite - it is entirely a personal choice," says Tracy from Blue Fizz Events (bluefizzevents.co.uk). "If you wish to have your profile in the public domain then social media is the way forward, but if you are looking for more privacy, then couples are entitled to have a 'social media ban', particularly during the wedding ceremony, which is the most intimate and private part of the wedding."
It's also worth thinking about the impact it could have on your professional photographs. "Couples go to a lot of expense hiring photographers and videographers. I think asking guests not to take photographs or film the wedding itself is reasonable," says wedding planner, Lester Gethings (lestergethings.com), who raises the point: "It also doesn't look good if the professionals are taking pictures of guests taking pictures!" For guests too, it's much nicer to see the celebrations unfold with their own eyes, rather than through a phone.
This is an increasingly common approach - to 'ban' phones and photos during the ceremony, then let your guests have free rein during the reception. After all, once the bubbly starts flowing, it will be much harder to keep an eye on - and who wants to spend their wedding day policing rogue Facebookers instead of enjoying themselves?!
SPREAD THE GOOD NEWS
There's a lot to be said for embracing social media as part of your big day, and there's no reason to avoid it if you don't want to. There will be more memories captured, different styles and perspectives of photos, and less 'policing' to do or worrying about who's posting what.
"I'm all for social media in some ways - the ability for your guests to quickly and easily share images with you from your big day is immense, and means that you'll have lots of extra treasured memories recorded forever," says Elle of The Artful Event Company (theartfuleventco.com). If you do decide to go down the 'social media is welcome' route, take heed of some advice, to ensure you can actually take advantage of all the lovely snapshots and silliness captured by your friends.
"Using a wedding hashtag keeps all the wedding images in the social media domain and easily accessible," says Tracy - but don't forget to tell your guests what it is! "Use a wedding website or convey the hashtag and social media preference via 'pre-wedding info'," says Tracy. "Chalkboard signage on the day will help highlight this."
"Include your social media preferences on your invitations or other wedding stationery such as the order of service," adds Lester. "You can also enlist the help of the ushers to tell guests as they arrive for the ceremony."
As well as sharing the hashtag, give your guests a method for posting images to one place to be shared with everyone, be it Instagram, Facebook or an image-sharing app such as WedPic. "This way all of the images are stored in one place and easy for you and your guests to see," says Elle.
KEEP IT QUIET
An 'unplugged wedding' is one where your guests (and you!) unplug yourselves from the world of phones, social media and the internet. While mobiles, tablets and cameras aren't necessarily 'banned' per se, your guests will be asked not to take any photos, and definitely not upload any to social media. This could be for the ceremony, a certain part of the wedding, or for the entire day and evening, if you wish.
So, what's the reason for this? As well as helping your guests to experience the emotions of your wedding, it's also much nicer for you and your new spouse to look out at a host of smiling faces rather than a wall of iPhones.
"I have planned and styled some weddings where I just wanted to scream at the guests: 'Put your phones down!'" says Elle. "I have seen photographers struggling to get great professional shots as they fight for space amongst guests and their iPhones, and I've also seen exhausted brides and grooms having had a raft of professional photographs taken, having to have 'just one more' as their friends duplicate the photographs on their own phones."
Don't feel awkward about letting guests know you're having an unplugged wedding - they're increasingly common, and it will help your friends and family to be more present and enjoy each little moment your special day brings. "I think it's perfectly reasonable to ask guests to put their phones away for a few hours," says Lester.
However, if you don't want them on their phones at your wedding, you'll have to tell them. "If you decide to unhook for your wedding, make it clear to your guests - make a polite request in your invitation, and explain that you wish for them to see the day through their eyes rather than through the screen of the phone," says Elle.
"A sign at the entrance to the ceremony and a statement from the registrar will help," adds Tracy. "If you are feeling particularly brave, you could even ask guests to 'check in' their phones, similar to a cloakroom facility."
One of the many wonderful things about planning a wedding these days is the beauty of choice. You want thousands of pictures to remind you of each charming detail of such a mind-blowingly brilliant day? No problem. You'd prefer to switch off, and have one perfect image summing up your celebration? That's cool too. Whatever you choose, your guests will fully embrace it - and remember, times, trends and the way we share memories will change again. So perhaps, one day, your children will be clicking through your wedding album on Facebook, marvelling at how 'vintage' it seems, perfect in its simplicity!
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