Here comes the bride: Social media etiquette at weddings
Wednesday , July 02, 2014 - 11:39 AM
Cue the wedding music for the bride to start her walk down the aisle. Cue the admiring family members and friends to rise to their feet in her honor.
And cue the cellphone cameras, raised en masse by the throng of guests to capture the memorable moment.
Why, somebody in that crowd may even be snapping a selfie, some instant post-able proof that they are right-now-this-very-minute witnessing this wedding.
Welcome to today’s nuptials, where modern social media trends intertwine with traditions as old as the vintage lace on Grandmother’s wedding gown. From tweeting at the wedding breakfast to Facebooking the wedding reception, the etiquette of tying the knot seems to be a-changing.
The guests at Andalyn Daich Hissong’s wedding in February, for example, were encouraged to upload the photos they snapped at the event to an app called WedPics.
Once the big day was over, Andalyn and her husband John, were able to re-live the occasion through the eyes of their friends and family’s posting of pictures.
“The photographers don’t always catch everything and everyone, so I thought it would be a good idea to use this app so I could catch more than what the photographer could catch,” says Hissong, a former Layton resident who now lives in Duarte, California, but held her wedding in Sandy.
Twist on tradition
Social media is to be expected at weddings nowadays, as it is everywhere else, because it’s such a big part of people’s lives, says Jocelyn Boden, assistant manager of David’s Bridal in Layton.
Some folks have always brought their own cameras to weddings but years ago, the practice wasn’t as prevalent, adds Sharida Packard of Simply Stunning Weddings in Syracuse, and there was no Facebook.
Now, the wedding planner says, “Everybody has a phone with a camera and everybody’s pulling them out.”
The craze of mixing social media and matrimony is so big that The Cottage Reception Center in Brigham City will start taking and posting its own photos on Facebook during events — with participants’ consent — in July, says owner Kevin Guymon.
“It’s kind of a win-win situation,” Guymon says, by letting couples see what’s happening right away and by giving the reception center a little publicity.
Special hashtags or apps for wedding photos on social media are just a new twist on a once-popular tradition, adds one West Point wedding decorator.
“Remember when they used to put (disposable) cameras on the table? This basically is the same thing without the expense of having to buy the cameras,” says Starla Rees of A Dream Wedding by Starla.
Good times roll
Some brides embrace inviting social media to the nuptials, like Whitney Nalder of Layton, who said guests were free to take any photos they wanted at her wedding last Saturday. Her only rule was that cell phones be silenced during the ceremony.
“It’s totally welcomed at my party,” Nalder explained a few days before her wedding to Riley Fosmark of Layton at Snowbasin. She added, “What my friends see and how they feel and what they were doing the whole night, I think that’s kind of cool to see afterward.”
Angie Fiorello says she enjoyed seeing pictures on Facebook following her August 2012 wedding to Michael Fiorello and thought all the snapshots were in good taste.
“I don’t know if I know of anybody who posted anything that I went, ‘Oh, why did you go with that?’” the Syracuse resident says.
One benefit of social media, she says, is, “People who weren’t able to come to the wedding got to see pictures that weren’t just, ‘Everyone stand and pose.’ They saw people in action, having a good time.”
Pulling the plug
Some couples, however, opt for “unplugged” or “electronic-free” weddings, an emerging trend in the world of wedded bliss. While letting folks click away with their cellphones during a reception may be fine, Packard says the wedding itself may be a different story.
“Ceremonies are generally very sacred, they’re very personal, they’re more intimate,” the Syracuse wedding planner says. Yet that mood can be changed if “you’ve got 50 percent of your audience sitting in the ceremony with their phones out, snapping pictures.”
Ushers at the wedding could inform guests of the no-photos policy, Boden, at David’s Bridal says, or the information might be included in the invitations, says wedding photographer Terra Cooper of Layton.
Another approach is to put out a basket where folks deposit their cellphones before going in to the wedding, although Guymon quipped that such a practice seems “not very American.”
Cooper says she’s also seen signs posted at the event asking guests to put away their phones, enjoy the wedding and “be present.”
“People aren’t present when they’re hooked to their phones, as well all know,” says Cooper, who estimated about 10 percent of the weddings she photographs are unplugged.
During the event, folks should be cautious when posting pictures or tweeting, especially if they are spilling the beans about any surprises or special moments, Packard says.
“You don’t want to take away from the bride and groom,” she says.
Dilemmas of posting
Utah is somewhat unique when it comes to social media at weddings due to its large number of unions performed in temples of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, where cameras are not allowed.
“You don’t run into a lot of the ceremony issues because a lot of people respect the sacredness of the temple grounds,” Packard says.
Social media decisions aren’t limited to the wedding day itself. Couples who have bridal portraits taken before the actual wedding, for instance, must decide whether or not to put those online.
“I ask them if they want me to post before the wedding,” Cooper says. “Eighty percent of them do, but I have a few who wait until after the wedding.”
Once upon a time, brides visited wedding shops with photos of dresses they wanted to try on ripped out of magazines. Now, Boden says the norm is a Pinterest account on the bride’s cell phone, filled with images of everything from wedding gowns to veils to shoes.
“We just dress her head to toe with what she found on Pinterest,” Boden quips, adding, “I think it makes it easier all around.”
Even so, some brides have found there may be a danger in sharing too much about what they’re planning for their wedding, says Janis Peterson, owner of The Bridal Corner in North Ogden.
“They want to have a unique idea or a unique reception and when you’re Facebooking it, people steal their ideas,” she says.
Still a secret
As popular as social media may be, one aspect of the wedding remains pretty much off-limits — the dress.
Once a woman selects her gown, it’s often her mother who takes photos of it with her cellphone to use in the wedding planning, Peterson says, but those pictures won’t be posted on any social media.
“The bride doesn’t even want the photo to be on her phone because she doesn’t want the groom to see what her dress looks like,” she explains.
Although Fiorello says she loved having Facebook photos from her wedding, there is “a line of respect” that guests should not cross and that includes not revealing the dress.
“That would have absolutely upset me,” she says, “had my husband been on Facebook and seen a picture of me in my dress before the wedding.”
Contact reporter Becky Cairns at 801-625-4276 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @bccairns or like her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/SEbeckycairns.