The Good And The Bad With Social Media At Weddings
Interviews with Wedding Planner Angela Profitt and Shawn Rabideau of Shawn Rabideau Events & Design
1. Can you share or tell about the right uses of guests using social media at a wedding?
Angela Proffitt: If the bride and groom promote the use of it; it’s a great way for the couple to capture thoughts and pictures that will last a lifetime. Some of my clients provide a hashtag to me, and provide cute signs that sit at the bar and various places to communicate to guests how they can interact and share their memories with the couple.
Shawn Rabideau: Social media in general is double edge sword. It has it’s good and it’s bad points. Our world almost revolves around Social Media so it’s no surprise that wedding guests will want to use social media to show the world your wedding. With that said guests need to think about the bigger picture (so to speak) when it comes to using social media at a wedding. Sharing a photo here or there is okay. Although there are some couples and wedding officiates that are now asking guests to put down the phone and pay attention to the ceremony. After all that’s the real reason you’re at a wedding. To witness the ceremony of the wedding. The right way is to take a few photos, but don’t go crazy. That’s why the couple paid big bucks for a professional photographer. Another would be to congratulate the couple, which is always very nice! And yet another might be to take a photo of a great centerpiece, favor or element of the wedding and share it on Instagram or Pinterest. But I caution, do that after the wedding and not during.
2. What is bad about social media at weddings?
Angela Proffitt: When the couple wants to remain private about certain elements of the wedding; letting the guests know about it is key. Usually, it’s completely harmless when someone is excited about something and wants to share it with the world for inspiration.
A few years ago, when social media first came out, I had a negative experience; but it was completely innocent. The baker set up the cake at the reception around 4pm and took a picture of the cake (which was positioned in the middle of the room of the reception, so you could see everything in the background) and put it on Facebook and tweeted the picture. The ceremony happened at 4:30pm. As the bride and groom were greeting their guests as they were leaving the church (yes, they were doing the traditional catholic receiving line), some of the guests were commenting on how beautiful the reception looked and the cake. The bride was wondering how in the heck did her guests know what it looked like; she had not even seen anything. Then one of the bridesmaids told her the baker had posed it on social media. The bride immediately came and got me and was very upset. The vendor felt horrible and was just excited about the new cake design. After that experience, I now request that all vendors ask before posting anything publicly.
One of my favorite things to do is to show the couple their reception, first, before their guests see it. It’s a special moment of their vision coming to life and I don’t want that feeling ruined by social media. So controlling it to some extent matters.
Shawn Rabideau: First and foremost people are all on their phones and no one is paying attention to the wedding ceremony, important dances or speeches. The attention is on the device and not on the couple. The second is when you have people posting photos to the world of your wedding there is no surprise. For example many of my clients follow me on social media, so I have to be careful not to show certain things on my social media sites before the wedding happens. You want the bride and guests to be surprised. Also there would be nothing worse that that one wedding guest that might say they had a horrible meal, or didn’t get enough drinks at the bar posting their rants to Facebook or Twitter. How awful for the bride and groom to read this after their wedding.
3. Do you talk to brides and couples about social media before the event?
Angela Proffitt: Absolutely; I need to know their likes and dislikes so I can manager that expectation and communicate it to the guests before something gets out of control. It can be really fun when the couple loves their stuff being public, but a wedding is a very intimate event, and the couple should have control over what is happening.
Shawn Rabideau: We do discuss social media in the sense of hash tagging their wedding. Many couples like to create a hashtag and display it so guests can use it during the wedding. But we also discuss if they want guests to put the phones away during the ceremony. I think that’s what’s important getting guests to pay attention to the ceremony.
4. What solutions do you offer the couple to combat the issue of social media?
Angela Proffitt: If I have a client that is not a fan; I offer communication suggestions, for example:
*If they have a website, they password protect it and there is verbiage on there to let the guests know that this is a private site for their eyes only and we say it in a sweet/cute way.
*The minister will announce it at the ceremony that they is a exclusive event and pictures are welcome but only to be shared with the couple.
*I have set up private Facebook pages or thru an app, where the pictures can be shared with the couple only and they have to approve them before they are posted publicly.
*I check their social media settings in their account to ensure that they are set up appropriately and if they want to review everything before it’s posted, then it’s set up that way.
*the extreme has been where I set up a “phone check” like a coat check. We have taken up phones before and have told guests to leave cameras and phone in their cars at the request of the couple and we share the professional pictures with the guests post party.
*It’s a part of my contract, asking couples if I can post pictures on my pictures page, with guests or without guests in there. Most say it’s fine, but I let them know that this is nothing more than to show future clients; you can view our gallery by venue here: http://angelaproffitt.smugmug.com/Weddings
Shawn Rabideau: It would be okay to do an insert in your invitation that states when it is acceptable to post to social media sites. Additionally, It would also be acceptable to ask guests when NOT to post to social media sites. The thing to remember is social media is here to stay, it’s how you manage it. And at the very least guests will comply with the couples requests.