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How to Be a Considerate Wedding Guest in the Social Media Age

Wedding guests taking photos of the bride and groom at an outdoor wedding

It’s not likely you’re going to leave your smartphone at home when you go to a wedding, but what are the rules when it comes to technology, social media, and social gatherings? From social media to photo sharing, here are some practical rules to follow.

Many of us refuse to leave our homes without our smartphones. We’re continuously connected on social media. We take selfies and share pictures of the things we do every day. While some people don’t, of course, many of us have woven stuff like Facebook and Instagram into the fabric of our lives.

In light of that, it might feel normal to keep on posting and sharing throughout your day and especially at a big and fun event like a wedding. But weddings are still traditional events, and there’s a lot of room for hurt feelings and emotionally charged moments.

Of course, every wedding (and every couple) is different so you should start with them as your frame of reference and see what they are comfortable with. Maybe the bride wants you to post and tag every moment from her wedding. But barring that kind of green light, here are some ways to play it cool in the digital age as a wedding guest.

Digital RSVPs Are Still RSVPs

In this day and age, it’s not uncommon for a couple to invite people to their wedding using digital tools. Just because the invitation isn’t’ as formal as a multi-layer envelope with physical RSVP card, however, doesn’t mean you skip the RSVP process. Even if you don’t plan to go or you’re sure the couple knows you’re coming, send in that RSVP by the date they’ve requested.

No matter how they set up the RSVP process, it’s important to follow it. If there’s an online system, use that (don’t text the bride instead). Many times the RSVP workflow is being managed by the mother of the bride, the maid of honor, or someone else involved in the wedding besides the bride or groom. RSVPing properly ensures you’re not adding stress to their wedding planning.

Taking Photos and Sharing Them

Before you even consider taking photos of the happy couple with your smartphone, ask if it’s OK. You can take all the selfies you want, but it’s their day, and they get to say whether they want everyone taking photos or not.

If the couple has OK’d phone photos, but they have someone doing professional photos, be sure to stay out of the way of the people being paid to take pictures. The couple is spending good money for a pro to be there and as excited as you are to have a personal snapshot with them you shouldn’t get in the way of the professional.

Besides staying out of the way when the actual wedding photographer is working, Before you even think about posting pictures of the bride, groom, or both of them on social media, ask. They have the right to be the first ones to post their wedding photos and to veto any photos they don’t like. If you share selfies, don’t tag them or the venue.

When in doubt, don’t post photos of the wedding at all, especially during the wedding itself.

“Checking In” and General Social Media Posts

Speaking of regulating what you share online, don’t check in to the wedding, even if they have a Facebook event for it. It’s likely their event was private and by invite only; sharing the event on social media can lead to a whole bunch of drama for the couple you didn’t intend.

The couple may not be trying to hide anything, naturally, but nobody wants wedding crashers showing up or a nasty voice mail from a relative that wasn’t invited.

Spending Time On Your Phone

Instead of taking selfies and updating the world about delicious cake or the bride’s beautiful dress, turn the ringer off on your phone and put the phone away. Unless you need your phone for emergencies (like a call from the baby sitter), it may be best to leave your phone in your car. If you have your phone on you, don’t answer it and don’t send texts (unless you’re trying to figure out why your date is running late).

We know weddings can be lengthy, and waiting around while the reception gets rolling can be tedious, but weddings are a great time to get to know people, show support for the bride and groom, and have new experiences. If you’re buried in your phone, you miss out on that. Unless you’re snapping informal table shots or cute pictures of the flower girl and ring bearer playing off to the side, it’s always good to err on the side of leaving your phone alone in favor of immersing yourself in the moment.

When in doubt, check with the happy couple and, if they’re already caught up in the whirlwind of the wedding day, it’s best to keep a low profile and save the photos to share with them after the bustle of the day has died down.

Yvonne Glasgow Yvonne Glasgow
Yvonne Glasgow is a professional writer with two decades of experience. She has written and edited for nutritionists, start-ups, dating companies, SEO firms, newspapers, board game companies, and more. Yvonne is a published poet and short story writer, and she is a life coach. Read Full Bio »
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