Social Media Etiquette for Wedding Guests

Someone taking a photo of the bride and groom with their cellphone to post on social media.

When it comes to weddings, etiquette is always a major topic of discussion, especially if you’re a guest. Most people are familiar with the traditional rules, many of which are common sense. However, the modern age has brought up new issues, causing people to ask how to behave when it comes to social media.

Social media can be tricky to navigate, even without something serious like a wedding involved. And since no one wants to be that guest, it’s a good idea to become familiar with some of the newest additions to wedding-related etiquette.

Follow the Newlyweds’ Lead

Things may be simple. The newlyweds-to-be may give you all the direction you need when it comes to social media. So as a guest, make sure to follow any rules that you’re presented.

It may be that they don’t want any social media exposure at all. In which case, please respect their privacy. Alternatively, they may have a custom hashtag for their special day. If so, always use it when you post photos from their event—it’s there for a reason. It will help them (and others) find all the pictures afterward without having to hunt every person with a camera down.

And if in Doubt…

It’s never a bad idea to follow the “golden rule”—treat others the way you want to be treated. In addition, you can refer to these simple guidelines when it comes to public exposure of an otherwise private event.

Know When Not to Be a Shutterbug

A bride and groom getting married with their guests behind them.

There are several moments when the camera and your phone are best put away. The ceremony is the main one. Not only are you likely ruining the professional photographer’s scene, but it’s also just rude. Other times to stay off the phone include the first dance, cake cutting, and any instance that requires your full attention.

The only exception would be if the couple themselves asked you personally to snap a pic. Else, enjoy and share the moment with the soon-to-be newlyweds. After all, that’s why they invited you.

On a related note, don’t be glued to your phone all day, whether you’re taking photos or not. Unless you’re the couple’s personal PR agent, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be part of the party.

Patience Is a Virtue

It’s important not to post photos online too soon. In general, it’s best to wait for the couple to reveal the first photo of their wedding. This may mean you’ll have to hold off on all social media exposure until a day or two later. However, if the couple doesn’t mind, it’s still nice to wait until all or most of the guests have arrived. They’ll want to be surprised when they get there.

Toast, Don’t Roast

Weddings are meant to be happy events, so leave all negativity out of publicly posted photos and comments. This includes any feedback or critique, and unsolicited advice. If you feel inclined to tell your cousin her shoes don’t match, do so in private.

Likewise, avoid sharing any photos that include embarrassing or awkward moments. If they’re in good humor, you can always share them privately with the person later, and let them decide if they want it made public.

No Live Streaming

Even if you’re expected to be under the paparazzi’s watchful eye, a wedding is still a private event. While filming videos, which can be edited later, is usually acceptable, live streaming is not. Among other reasons, there is just too much risk of exposing a private or humiliating moment.

So You’ve Decided to Snap a Few Shots

A group of bridemaids taking a selfie with the bride.

If you weren’t given any rules right off the bat, don’t be shy to ask the couple how to they want to approach the social media angle. Or, at least make sure they want their photos on social media to begin with.

Should you end up taking photos at the event, turn off the sound and avoid using the flash if possible. The constant clicking of cameras and bright lights can be unnerving for any person.

Lastly, when posting on social media, be careful not to overdo it. It’s OK to share a handful from the event, but no one wants to scroll through a hundred photos on their feed. It’s not your wedding, so let the couple take care of their own publicity.

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