Did you Tweet about your engagement? Or maybe you couldn’t wait to switch your Facebook status to “Engaged” minutes after you said “Yes!” Today’s happy couples are breaking with tradition in all sorts of tech-savvy ways, leading to a new set of etiquette for wedding social media. For example, a recent Mashable.com survey found that 61 percent of brides will download wedding-planning apps, and 62 percent are fine with their guests posting wedding photos straight to social media.
When it comes to the hard work of wedding planning, it’s like the digital world waved a magic wand. Remember those cumbersome binders brides used to lug around everywhere? Today, many keep their planning bits—design ideas, to-do lists and Aunt Mildred’s new address in Florida—on their handheld devices instead. Why fight it? As Gabriela Salamanca, CEO of No Limit Events in Ridgefield, says laughing, “Some of these binders I’ve seen brides come into my office with, they’re half of my weight.”
Shopping has been likewise revolutionized, and technology has even brought us new ways to connect with far-off loved ones. Last year, Salamanca worked on a wedding where several of the couple’s family members lived in Africa and couldn’t attend the event. “So we actually did a ‘livestreaming’ for their wedding,” she says. “And it was fantastic.”
Finally, digital seems to equal eco-friendly. “Two years ago we said we’re going to eliminate the use of paper by at least 90 percent,” Salamanca says, “and I can’t honestly tell you how long it’s been since I actually printed something.”
But, let’s face it. During this dramatic transition phase there’s also some awkwardness. Perhaps your cousin spills the news online before you announce your engagement to your future mother-in-law. Not good. Or, after you post a picture of your ring on Facebook, friends who aren’t on your guest list message you: “Hey, where’s my invite?”
Given the dearth of etiquette guidelines, we asked some experts for their advice. How can today’s couples reap the advantages of technology but avoid social gaffes? Here’s what we learned:
1. Announcing The Big News: Etiquette expert Anna Post, the great-great-granddaughter of etiquette maven Emily Post, had this to say about engagements: “First off, don’t announce [your engagement] broadly, especially on social media, until you’ve told the people to whom you’re the closest—your parents, your grandparents, your siblings.”
Next, Post says to think if there’s anybody else on the list who might be hurt if they found out second-hand. Contact these people, be it your favorite aunt or best friend from college, either in person or on the phone. “It’s too much fun to share the news,” she says. “You need to have a conversation.” Only then, she adds, should you broadcast to the rest of the world.
This is when announcing the engagement on social media is fine. “I personally love it when couples share the pictures of their engagement on Facebook,” Salamanca says. But Post warns to watch your wording. Don’t give your Facebook friends the impression they’re all invited: “That is a problem I have seen, which is a bad problem to have,” she adds.
2. Avoid Over-Sharing: Once you’ve shared your new status, experts advise you to limit your wedding talk on social media. Where’s the harm, you might ask, in uploading pictures of dresses, cakes or hairstyles? Basically, Post says, there’s a guest-list issue here. “It’s sort of like bringing gum to class and not having enough to share with everyone. Talking about your wedding on Facebook, when there are people who aren’t invited, I think, is a little bit inconsiderate.”
Added to that, experts now see a lot of wedding fatigue. Alex Karas, executive director of Enchanted Celebrations in Manahawkin, says that with all the over-sharing going on, many guests today are missing that wow factor or “pop” when they arrive at the wedding venue. “I think you’re losing a lot of that,” she adds. “Because, you know, your guests are ‘following’ you as you’re planning.”
3. Set Up Smaller Groups: To avoid the pitfalls of over-sharing, you could use “a secret Facebook group for your bridal party,” Salamanca says. It’s discreet, but you can still chat and have fun, plus let friends and family get better acquainted before the big day. Group emails also work, says Post, and Karas suggests a Google Plus circle.
Finally, an online profile or wedding website can help keep friends and family in the know. For her August 2013 wedding in Woodland Park, Jennifer Ginsberg “tried to keep the wedding planning off of Facebook—because I’m not inviting everybody on Facebook.” A wedding website, she says, has helped her avoid “all the kind of drama that comes with weddings.”
4. Wedding Photos: Whether you crave privacy or want guests to upload photos to their hearts’ content, “the key here,” says Post, “is to know what you want in advance, and to communicate it clearly that it’s really important to you.” You can state your wishes to guests in the wedding program and an announcement at the ceremony, and use signs and place cards at the reception.
For example, Karas says “a lot of couples are making their own hashtag and they’re putting up signs at the ceremony” and putting the hashtag on place cards at the reception. That way, the majority of the photos uploaded to social media can be captured in one place—for you to enjoy immediately that night or while relaxing on your honeymoon a few days later.
5. Use Paper Invitations: If our runaway love of technology should slow down anywhere, most experts agree it’s here. Paper invitations are non-negotiable. “People still want that physical piece of paper,” Karas says. And Salamanca is firmer still: “Although both Facebook and Evite are widely used for just about every other social event, I still think it’s very inappropriate for a special occasion such as a wedding.”
Offering an email RSVP option is fine though, adds Post. “It’s not as though sending in an emailed RSVP is somehow déclassé.” But, to accommodate all your guests, “I think it is still important to include that little [RSVP] card” with your invitations, she says.
6. Enjoy Apps and Shopping Sites: The newest tech innovations are great and may just eliminate sore feet. “Now brides don’t necessarily have to get in the car right away [after getting engaged],” Salamanca says. “A lot of retailers have enhanced websites. Brides and grooms, equally, can get on there and price shop. They can quality shop. They can ask questions and not feel intimidated.”
And once you’ve settled on gift registry details, share them appropriately. The only place you should list registry details, says Post, is on your wedding website “and by word of mouth. That’s it.” It is okay, however, she adds, to list your wedding website on an invitation enclosure. “Yes, that is a hop, skip and a jump, and that is on purpose. That is to make sure the emphasis is only on inviting someone to share your big day, not on the presents.”