As social media becomes more and more a part of our lives, etiquette failures can occur when there are so few precedents.
A wedding day is the perfect example of this. You want to share your special day with your social circle, especially those who can’t attend, but where do you draw the line?
We’ve talked to experts in the wedding industry and a recent bride to try and establish the ground rules for tastefully using social media at your wedding.
Check out their advice and let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.
1. Pre-Wedding Preparations
Introducing wedding attendees online before the big day can help you avoid any day-of awkwardness. This will give people the chance to break the ice and virtually get to know a little about everyone else.
“Help your wedding guests mix, mingle and stay in the loop with a private social network created just for engaged couples, like OneWed’s Wedding Pre-Party,” suggests Azure Nelson, the marketing manager and editorial director of OneWed.
“Wedding Pre-Party allows wedding guests to see who’s invited to the wedding (and lets the singles scope potential hotties before they meet face-to-face), interact and post comments on a wall, upload photos from pre-wedding parties and post-wedding, and much more.”
If you’d like to skip the specialized sites route, you could also create a pre-party on Facebook using its “Groups” functionality. This can be a clever way to avoid cluttering the news feeds of folks not invited to the wedding, both before and after the event.
2. Stay Offline During the Ceremony
“We’ve all seen these goofballs that bring social media right to the forefront of their ‘I dos,’ and in my opinion, there’s nothing tasteful about this,” says Nelson. “Tastefully using social media at your wedding means incorporating it before and after the actual wedding. The wedding ceremony should be off limits.”
There’s plenty of time during a wedding day to connect with the online world. Doing so during the ceremony is definitely not the right time for the principle players or even the guests. Mindy Howard of @TweetMyWedding has some advice for attendees:
“Be polite. Don’t tweet when you should be participating and listening, specifically during the liturgy or the ceremony.”
3. Appoint a Chief Tweeter
If you want your wedding to be recorded for posterity in 140-character posts, then let people know and even encourage them to get involved by creating a hashtag.
“Tell your bridal party it’s OK to tweet!” says Howard. “Create a hashtag for sharing your event. This will make all tweets from your day easy to find later on and helps to create a feeling of celebration for your guests.
“Print up some tented cards on your menu or program with the hashtag for your event and encourage your guests to send you their well wishes, touching moments and snap shots. These are moments that otherwise would have been missed.”
You can take this even further by appointing a “Chief Tweeter” — or several — to document the day.
“Have an Official Tweeter and Well Wishing Station — have one or more ‘Tweets of Honor.’ Have some technologically obsessed friends? This is a great job for them! These folks can quietly tweet from a corner as not to be obtrusive or can come out of the shadows and provide you with a full on social media guest book station,” says Howard.
And you can even incorporate social media into the more traditional parts of the day. In addition to reading cards and messages out loud from family and friends that couldn’t make it, why not read messages from Facebook and Twitter too?
“Have your Tweet of Honor compile some well wishes that have been tweeted out and share them during the toasts. This can be a very fun twist on the traditional toasting time,” suggests Howard.
4. Set Up a Social Media Station
There’s a way to keep a traditional look and feel to a wedding celebration and still make room for social media. A “social media station” is a place where those who want to connect or comment online can do so, without forcing the issue onto the uninterested.
“For the especially geeky — set up a station,” advises Howard. “Have a laptop, a projector and screen. Encourage guests to come by, tweet their well wishes and watch others’ tweets scroll over the screen.”
This can also work for photos, as well as text-based communications. A live stream of photos from the event can be a fun way to engage people and encouraging sharing.
“Ditch the tacky disposable cameras and set up a shared Flickr account so that guests can upload any photos they may take,” says Liene Stevens, former wedding planner and CEO of Splendid Communications.
“This doesn’t replace hiring a professional photographer, of course, but it does allow you and your guests to share in their view of your wedding,” Stevens says.
Jodie Welton, a founding partner of Connected PR who got married this summer, went down this route and had a huge projector showing images of the day for her evening reception, as well as a separate area for filming.
“We thought it was important that the guests are absorbed in the wedding and that social media enhanced the experience, rather than distract from it. So, to keep it ‘away from the party’ we had a designated area for guests to be filmed,” explains Welton.
“The DJ also took pictures and uploaded to Flickr there and then. As a nice touch, he then projected the Flickr stream across the walls so guests saw images of themselves. The DJ gave everyone the Flickr URL so all of the guests could view and add to it later.”
5. Live Stream for Those Who Can’t Make It
Thanks to the wonders of modern tech, nowadays you can share your special moments with people who can’t make it in person. Ustream is one such site that can help you share your ceremony with those well-wishing from afar.
“Live weddings give our users an opportunity to experience Ustream in a completely new way. It’s very exciting to see our broadcasters offer unfiltered access to the best moments of their lives. That’s one of the many reasons we’re here,” says Ustream’s Tony Riggins.
Howard notes it’s a particularly useful option for anyone getting married abroad or far from home.
“The use of Ustream to share (publicly or privately) your day live online for friends and family that cannot make it to your ceremony is especially useful for those having destination weddings. If Great Grandmother cannot make it, she can still virtually attend and share in your joy,” Howard says.
And don’t think this means you’re spilling private moments all over the web; there are ways to make this a private process, Stevens points out:
“If you have loved ones who are unable to attend the wedding, collaborate with your videographer on showing a live feed of the ceremony via Ustream or another online video streaming service. You can make these password protected if you’d like, so that you can share your joy only with people you know and not random Internet strangers.”
Welton streamed some of her special day to far-flung elderly relatives, and even got them involved in the speeches:
“Some of my family in Italy couldn’t make it to our wedding and we wanted them to get a sense of our big day. Being able to stream live video and pictures meant they could get a more authentic sense of the atmosphere. Amazingly, they even broadcast a live message (they are in their 80s!) after the speeches.”
6. Don’t Forget to Enjoy the Moment
“Changing a Facebook status from engaged to married just after the vows is a growing trend, but don’t miss taking in those moments with the people actually there with you. Put down the phone and enjoy the company of those who came to celebrate with you,” says Stevens.
You only get one wedding day — if things go as planned, anyway — so don’t waste any precious moments you could be interacting with real-life people. Rest assured anyone who is following your day online will certainly understand your priorities.
“When you’re one of the major participants, you need to unplug for the day and focus on the people who are actually there with you. Weddings go by in a flash anyway, and you don’t want to sacrifice seeing your crazy Uncle Wally doing The Worm because you’re crafting some clever tweet. Leave that to your guests,” says Sally Kilbridge, BRIDES deputy editor. “In fact, part of the fun of weddings nowadays is seeing how fast they can make that video of Uncle Wally go viral.”
That, of course, is a whole other story…
November 09, 2010 by 39