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How to Avoid the Pitfalls of Social Media on Your Wedding Day

Weddings have always been a minefield of etiquette considerations, rife with potential faux pas. In the age of social media, that minefield is now live-streamable, and every explosive misstep has the potential to go viral.

But social media can also make your wedding experience better, digitizing your planning and extending its reach, deepening connections with family and friends who can’t attend, and deputizing every guest as an auxiliary wedding photographer.

Mixing social media with the biggest day of your life can be a tricky proposition. Here’s how to get it right.

The Engagement:

Tell Before You Tweet

There are certain people in your life who deserve to find out about your engagement from your own lips. Be sure to fill in close friends and family before you post a pic of the ring on Instagram.

Don’t Get Pre-empted

Threaten those friends and family members with death (a slow, agonizing one) if they announce anything on social media before you do.

To Bling or Not to Bling?

Think twice about posting ring pics. While everybody wants to see the rock, posting pics can seem boastful or cheesy (especially if that rock is big!).

It’s Not Complicated

Synchronize the change to your “relationship status” on Facebook. If one of you changes to “engaged” and the other forgets to, your shady friends will talk.

Have a Social Media Strategy:

Talk It Out

Sit down with your partner and discuss how much of the wedding process you want to share on social media. Don’t be afraid of the nuclear option: A complete ban might be difficult to enforce, but it’s not unthinkable. You do you.

Craft a Plan

If you haven’t opted for a total ban, run through the whole wedding process from engagement to honeymoon and develop a social media plan for each step. Let this article be your guide!

Share It

Let your guests know how you’ve decided to handle social media. And do it at the right time, possibly in stages. They can’t use a wedding hashtag until you share it with them.

Remember the Luddites

Don’t communicate wedding plans exclusively on social media. Not all your guests are plugged in!

Wedding Prep:

Embrace the Boards

Social media can be invaluable during the wedding planning process. Instagram feeds can help you find vendors, Pinterest is the perfect place to collect your own ideas, and Skype can make it easy to meet with a wedding planner, vendors, or distant family, especially if you’re having a destination wedding.

Hash It Out

If you plan to use a wedding hashtag, choose one now. You may want to use it to tag posts as you plan your wedding, or you could keep it to yourselves until the big day.

Don’t Over-Post

If you are sharing details of your planning, don’t go overboard. It’s natural to want to share your excitement, but you don’t want people to be totally over the wedding two months before it happens. Tease a few details (a corner of a venue, a blossom or two, a fabric sample), but keep people guessing. And remember: Not everyone on your feed is invited!

Limit the Cooks

Think twice before crowdsourcing your wedding planning. Asking people to recommend vendors is one thing. Seeking input on color schemes, music, or the menu is strongly discouraged. Keep your Pinterest boards private!

Accentuate the Positive

Any pre-wedding posts should be upbeat and fun — no negativity, no matter how many obstacles or annoyances you encounter! Never discuss, or even allude to, tensions with, say, members of the wedding party or future in-laws.

On the Big Day:

Stick to the Plan

Have a detailed plan for each part of the day. What, if anything, do you want shared? And by whom?

Lock Things Down

Let close family and your wedding party know exactly what is and isn’t OK. Think twice about allowing any posts from behind the scenes. No one should see pics of the bride or groom before they arrive at the ceremony.

Hand It All Over

Give up your phone. You want to be in the moment, every moment, all day long. Surrender your social media feeds to a trusted friend (a Tweeter of Honor) or the wedding planner, if you have one. (This approach also makes sense for preliminaries like the engagement party, bridal shower, and bachelor or bachelorette parties.) Some wedding planners — and wedding destinations — offer the services of a social media concierge.

At the Ceremony:

Lay Down the Law

If you’ve decided to ban photographs, make your wishes clear with a sign at the entrance or, better, a note in the program or, better yet, one on each seat. Right before the ceremony begins, have your officiant remind the crowd that pics are strictly verboten. (The officiant can also give an “all clear” after the ceremony, if guest are allowed to take photos then.)

Don’t Mix Signals

If you’ve banned photography during the ceremony, don’t have signs at that venue that feature the wedding hashtag.

Go Live

Whether or not you’ve decided to ban photography by guests, you may want to consider broadcasting the ceremony to distant relatives and friends via Skype or Facebook Live.

The Reception:

Brand It

If you’re allowing photography at the reception, encourage your guests to share by getting your hashtag in their faces: on signs by the bar, printed on napkins, on the menu, or place cards.

Keeping it Realtime

Consider using WedPics or a similar app to curate photos shared by guests. You can even have them flash on screens at the reception.

Photo Approval

With luck, there won’t be any drama about photos or other posts from your wedding. But if there is, don’t hesitate to ask guests to take posts down. (A wedding planner or Tweeter of Honor can come in handy here.)

The Rules for Guests:

  • Follow the couple’s wishes — and their lead — with regard to posting.
  • Let the couple and their close family and friends have the reveals. Post no pre-ceremony pics of brides or grooms and no photos of the venues for the ceremony or reception until after the couple has arrived. And don’t post pics of the brides or grooms until they (or their social media deputies) have posted pics themselves or given you permission to share your own.
  • Turn off your phone at the ceremony: No texts, no calls, no photos.
  • Spot the wedding photographer or videographer early on. Keep an eye out for him or her throughout the day — and stay out of the way!
  • If you take photos of the newlyweds, ask if it’s OK for you to share them.
  • Remember to use the hashtag!
  • Be gentle with your posts, especially at the reception. Think twice before posting a questionable pic or inside jokes that may not travel well.
  • Don’t be glued to your phone all day. Limit your posting and, certainly, your calls.

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