The Internet is taking over weddings. Analog Miss Manners probably never saw this technological phenomenon coming, so modern couples need new advice on how to use it properly and politely in coordination with your very classy and special day. Without understanding the speed at which information is shared means technology #fails can easily happen. Here’s some advice on how to navigate the complicated world of wedding social media.
1. Announcing Your Engagement – You just got engaged and you’re dying to share the news with EVERYONE in your Instagram/Twitter/Facebook/Pinterest/LinkedIn universe. I mean just this morning you probably tweeted about how someone didn’t reload the toilet paper and now you’re marooned on your porcelain thrown, so how could you not post about your own romantic engagement?! The quick answer is a big, fat DON’T.
There are most likely important people in your life that aren’t online and deserve the respect of being told in person or at least with a personal phone call first. The temptation of the Internet and its immediate gratification process should not win out over the courtesy of personally telling the next most important people in your life. And just because your mom is on Facebook, does not mean that’s the way she, with everyone else, should find out. It’s just the polite, respectful thing to do.
Premature online engagement announcements are the same as jumping the shark; both can ruin what should be a great plot twist. True story: a friend had announced their engagement online, I told a mutual friend, that mutual friend then congratulated his parent’s in person to which their reply was, “What engagement?” Yah, everyone in this instance felt like a big pile of poop. Patience is a virtue young grasshopper. Resist the urge to share news online first. The speedy world of fiber optic cables can get you into trouble faster than you can say, “We’re getting hitched!”
2. Posting Your Engagement Ring Online – I totally disagree with The Knot’s advice; posting your engagement ring online is tacky. Any true etiquette source is going to advise against showing off any type of luxury item as unbecoming and tasteless. I understand that you may not mean to rub it in the face of the ‘have-nots,’ but that’s what it’s doing. And just because everyone else is doing it, doesn’t make it kosher. Posting the ring also invites secret scrutiny over the carats, color, cost and clarity. Parading your diamond ring on social media is no exception to this long-lasting etiquette rule.
Doing so, also contributes to the wedding industrial complex, which pushes consumerism in order to fulfill an industry-created bridal identity. “I have an engagement ring, ergo I’m a bride.” Also consider that you’re announcing your engagement to the love of your life with a picture of jewelry and not a picture of you both as couple. Is that a respectful way to represent and celebrate a relationship? If we deconstruct the photo on the right, she’s not announcing her engagement to Riley, she’s announcing that the ring is from Tiffany’s. A ring represents a promise of commitment; rethink whether you should use it to represent the newly engaged couple.
3. Update Your Relationship Status – Most likely the easiest and simplest thing you can do so as not to confuse or upset anyone. Don’t delay, update today!
4. Close Down ALL Your Dating Accounts – So maybe you were a little lazy about closing down all your dating website/aps while you were dating the one. Now that you’re engaged, it’s a kind courtesy to your beau to officially remove your profiles from cyberspace. For example, casually playing with Tinder because you’re bored or want to know you still got it is not going to play out well in the long run. In this case, flirting with technology is equal to flirting on it.
5. Wedding Evites – It’s commendable that you’ve decided to go digital for your wedding invitations. How very environmentally conscious of you! However, evites are not appropriate for everyone, even if they have an AOL email address. While you might be reluctant to create a paper invite, it’s polite to do so for those who are not Internet savvy. At a card shop or craft store, you can probably pick up a few one-off wedding invitations. Your grandparents, who don’t know how to watch David After Dentist on YouTube or have never seen a touch screen before, will thank you.
And when asking people into your wedding party consider that personal touches are important. For example, asking through Facebook Messenger might seem odd and distant. With two of my bridesmaids living on the other side of the country, I decided to make two very personal, short videos for each girl, privately sent it to them and then immediately followed it up with a call. I didn’t share it with the world online because it was between us. It may have been an online invitation, but it clearly had been done with intense personal time and consideration.
6. Wedding Planning Complaining Posts – It can seem cathartic to post certain feelings online, especially when you’ve got a built-in online community to console you. The thing is about wedding planning is that bumps in the road are seldom ever so bad. There are wars and famines going on around the world, it sucks that your caterer bailed on you without warning but in the grand scheme of things you’re doing pretty awesome. Keep it all in perspective and try to keep the complaining online to a minimum. Can’t keep mum? Pick up a piece of paper and write till your heart is content.
7. Personal Wedding Websites – Keep personal wedding websites simple. It’s certainly nice to share information about the couple – how they met, how did someone propose, but it is possible to overdue the personal narrative. Consider the KISS method (Keep It Simple Stupid) over accidently giving TMI (Too Much Information). Too much can cloud the navigation of the site and make it difficult for guests to use. The couple may be comfortable sharing certain details but they may not be a cup of tea for others either, like sharing how they met at a frat toga party and Sam saw Taylor while upside down on a keg stand and spit it all out because it was love at first sight.
Also consider whether allowing guests (and anyone else with the Internet – i.e. trolls) to post comments on the site is a good idea. In one instance, an uninvited guest went so far as to condemn the interfaith marriage and went on a political diatribe online for all to read. The couple took it down immediately, but regretted creating the opportunity for someone to take advantage and ruin what should have been a place for positive wishes.
8. Online Registries – For the love of the World Wide Web, don’t post a link to your wedding registry on everyday social media – ex. Facebook. Asking for money or a Crockpot online is ONLY acceptable if you are raising money for a charity or asking for donations for a non-profit cause. If you can’t afford a wedding, (sorry) but you are still not an acceptable charity. If a tornado has destroyed your home and you need help rebuilding your life, that’s another story. I’ve actually only seen one-person post their wedding registry online and it just reeked of desperation and greed (and they kept reposting it for months…). Sharing a link to an online registry is only appropriate in the context of an actual wedding invite or a couple’s wedding website. If you’re not inviting all 783 of your Facebook friends to your wedding, don’t post the link.
9. Hashtag Sharing – Putting a hashtag on you invites, seating assignments, ceremony flyers or wedding signage can seem like a good way for people to share the informal photos of your big day and for people to share with the masses…who are not at your wedding. Some criticize the use of real-time hashtags because it’s basically announces to the world, “hey, everybody I’m not home!” If that seems paranoid to you, criminals have been known to use social media to commit crimes – i.e. The Bling Ring.
The other downside is that your wedding guests are not professional photographers and who knows if they share the same social media over sharing concerns as you do. A bride once asked to use my phone to take a picture of her on the toilet. Oh the power I had! While it was tempting to post it online cuz it was a funny photo and the bride did not say not to, I didn’t and just texted the photo to her. (Click here to read about the potential legal downsides of social media.) That professional photographer you hired is only going to share the best photos representing your wedding after diligently pouring over them, deleting the terrible ones and Photoshopping the rest. With hashtagging photos, there’s no guarantee you’re going to love what people post – and since you’ll be focused on your wedding and then honeymoon, there’s a chance you might not notice something until it’s been out there for a week… A friend once Facebook posted a bridal nip slip and it was up for a good few days before a few of us noticed too and called to bring it to her attention. Media is so easy to share these days that even without the hashtag, you’ll still eventually get a hold of those informal, fun photos – then you can be in control of deciding what gets shared and what doesn’t.
10. Webcasting the Wedding – This is a great idea for relatives or friends who can’t make the wedding for a number of reasons. First, make sure the video casting service you’re using – Facetime, Google Hangout or Skype is private. Secondly, assign someone to manage the broadcast and to make sure your friends connect. Don’t leave this up to some sassy friend who thinks Chat Roullete would be a hilarious service to use. Make sure the venue has good Wifi, the devices are charged and do a test run. And lastly, just as the newlyweds go around from table to table thanking their guests, think about reconnecting on the video chat with your MIA friends and family too, especially if you are super close to them.
11. The Officiant – At a recent wedding I saw an officiant using an i-Pad as their notepad. I thought this was awesome, but first, make sure the device is charged. Secondly, turn off the sound and have the officiant remind everyone before the wedding party enters to silence their phones. Third, make sure the officiant will be able to see the screen. On a really sunny day, glare on touch screens can be the worst. If that’s the case, while paper can fly away unexpectedly, sometimes old school ways are best.
12. The Day of the Wedding: Put your phone away newlyweds! Nothing online is more important than your wedding. If there’s some guest or vendor drama hand it off to someone else to deal with. There’s no need to tweet or post about it, and while it feeds your ego to share that you just got your hair did, doing so takes you out of the actual moment. And texting or calling your fiancé on the day of is kind of the modern day equivalent of seeing them before the wedding! Though, sending a short text of ‘I love you’ is understandable. Someone is probably already posting something about your wedding anyway. The only thing I used my phone for on my wedding day was to listen to music, which I needed to keep me calm! Keeping your phone with you is also a great way to loose your phone too. You’ll get pulled in so many directions that you won’t know which way is up. Besides, you’ll be using one hand to hold your spouse’s and the other to hold a champagne glass, there’s no room for a phone anyway. You’ll be better off banishing it from your day!
And think about whether asking friends to silence or not bring their phones is a good idea. HBO’s Veep had everyone put his or her phones into a communal fishbowl. It’s an important and expensive day; you don’t want people to be looking down at their phones more than at the couple or party. If banishing your friends’ phone is too much, think about designating a cell phone “parking lot” where people can go to use their phones and remain respectful towards the couple and the other guests. Just don’t put any food or booze near there otherwise your phone-fetish friends will never leave.
13. I-Pod DJs – I-Pod DJ’s can be a really great way to save money, though take the time to scour your playlist for unsavory wedding songs, like Kanye’s Gold Digger. Create a wedding specific playlist so you can be sure that your podcast diary is not broadcasted by accident. In fact, since it is unmonitored you might want to scrub it for anything disagreeable or uber-personal and log out of your email accounts. Research whether Spotify has a professional DJ-created wedding playlist and if you go with Pandora, just make sure to get a paid account so you skip the ads. Also, assign someone to supervise the I-Pod when it needs to be turned off or switched to a specific song.
14. The Honeymoon – Like #9, do your best to hide that phone. You and your spouse will love the undivided attention at the beach, bar and in the bedroom… Post photos after your return. A honeymoon is not for you, your spouse and 456 of your online friends (and again, that’s another “I’m not home signal”).