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Social media has us glued to our phones constantly, even through the most important times of our lives—say, at your best friend's baby shower or your sister's wedding.
There's a fine line between wanting to capture the moment and completely ruining the moment. It can be hard to know on which side you fall, especially when every gadget we own can snap a photo and share it with the world in seconds. So Racked sought the advice of three etiquette and social media experts, who have very clear rules as to what is and isn't appropriate during a wedding. Whether you're dying to snap photos of the bride during the ceremony or send that cute groomsmen a friend request moments after he winked at you, allow this list to guide your social media manners at every wedding this summer.
1. Ask the bride and groom what social media rules they prefer. Before you go off snapping photos and uploading them to Facebook and Instagram, make sure you ask the bride and groom about their preferences, national etiquette expert Diane Gottesman said.
"Some brides and grooms encourage the live feeds, the hashtags and the photos, but you can't assume that. The number one priority should be to find out what they want," she said.
Gottesman noted that some couples might want to be the first ones to post their photos to social media, and you don't want to one-up them. And worse, your posted photo of the bride on Facebook might make its way to the eyes of the groom before the first look, she noted, in which case you've basically ruined everything.
2. Shut off your phone during the ceremony. There's a time and a place for photos, especially at weddings, but those photos should not be taken during the ceremony, etiquette experts agree. The ceremony is a sacred time, and that space should be respected, Gottesman said.
"When you're in a sanctuary, or if there are important words being exchanged, put that phone away," Mindy Howard, the blogger behind TweetMyWedding, said. "It's really rude, and you don't need to be sharing. You want to be in the moment with the couple, that's why they invited you there. You can take photos later."
Plus, keep in mind that if you're snapping photos during the ceremony, you are likely ruining the moment and the view of those sitting behind you.
3. Cooperate if the couple wants a no-phone policy. Howard says it's common for couples today to ask guests leave their phones at home. Celebrity couples have been known to do this, and Howard said the idea is to maintain the intimacy. If you're a guest at their wedding, abide by their wishes.
"Couples have the right to ask people to refrain from using their phones, or to request guests turn them in at the beginning of the night. That's become perfectly acceptable," she said.
4. Post flattering photos. If you are going to post photos of the happy couple, make sure they look good. As in, don't post a photo of yourself with the couple if the bride's blinking or the groom went slightly cross-eyed but you look hot. And if you've captured a sweet moment, stop and ask yourself if the bride would appreciate that photo of her face all scrunched up from crying circulating Facebook.
"If you're going to post, the photo should not be bad, where the couple are in compromising positions or are unflattering," Gottesman said. "Post politely so that everyone looks good."
This bride's makeup is running. Probably shouldn't post this. Image via
5. Ask parents before posting photos of kids. Were the flower girls painfully adorable? Do you have a burning desire to Instagram that little baby in a fluffy tulle pink gown? Some parents are touchy when it comes to their kids' photos being posted on the Internet and so the proper move is to consult the adults before publishing lots of shots of their kids.
"You need to ask before any photos of kids are posted on social media, you need to remember they are minors," Gottesman said. "It's impolite to post anything without asking the parents."
1. Don't follow the couple around to get that perfect shot. While your Instagram followers might be dying to know just how beautiful the bride looks, leave that couple alone! Tagging along with the bride and groom will piss off the professional photographer—who is hired to do exactly what you're doing—and will probably result in some terrible photobombs...like the image below, of this article's author, ruining a photo at her sister's wedding.
The author, photobombing her sister's wedding. Photo by Snap! Photography.
"I would back off within 10 feet of seeing the photographer. Stay out of their way, because they have a job they were hired to do," Howard said. "You can't image what it's like to be a hired photographer when there are so many people in the way with their own cameras. You don't want to be Uncle Jo with eight cameras. If you can't get a decent picture from where you are, don't go up to the couple!"
2. Don't take selfies, even if you're in the bridal party. The big day is about the couple, not about you, so quit it with the selfies.
"Selfies show disrespect towards the bridal family," said etiquette expert Jacqueline Whitmore. "The bridal party should be present, that's what they are there for. Technology might change the way people behave in social settings but that does not give us an excuse to misbehave."
Don't let this be you. Image via.
3. Don't network. Someone at your table might work at that PR firm you've applied to one hundred times, but weddings are not the place to start networking, handing out business cards or checking LinkedIn.
"You shouldn't be looking to close deals or hand out cards, that's inappropriate," Gottesman said. "You can discretely introduce yourself, and follow up a few days later. There's nothing wrong with building relationships, but marketing at weddings is tacky. You want to wait a weekend or a few business days."
"You can network, but use your judgement to do it in a way that doesn't come across as being pushy," Howard added. "And you can always track them down later. You shouldn't be pulling out your iPhone and asking them to swipe their cards just yet."
4. Don't post nasty remarks online. Did the food suck? Did her bustle break in middle of dancing? It's best to keep those comments to yourself.
"The same rules that your grandmother has been saying still apply with social media: 'if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say it at all!'" Howard noted. "You don't ever want to put up something snarky about someone's event."
As for brides, venting online, especially about your bridal party, is never a good idea.
Don't let this happen. Photo via.
5. Don't friend request the night of. So that groomsmen was flirty, or the bride's cousin seems like she could be your new best buddy. Etiquette experts recommend waiting 'til the party's over before you friend request.
"Just remember you're at the wedding to celebrate so you want to be focused on them," Gottesman said.