When you’re all dressed up and ready to celebrate, it’s only natural to want to document the occasion. This is especially true when it comes to weddings, which are the perfect fodder for social media. (Many even come with their own hashtags!) But before you hold your phone aloft to record the vows, or throw up a bathroom selfie with the bride, it pays to pause before you post.
“Your behavior at a wedding is a reflection of your relationship with the wedding party,” says etiquette expert Taylor Perramond. “If you go to someone’s wedding and act tactlessly, what does that say about the respect you have for the couple and their family?”
Meet the Expert
Taylor Perramond is a certified etiquette and image advisor based in Dubai and the founder of The Elegance Advisor Consultancy.
To prove that you have their best interests top of mind online, here are eight social media etiquette mistakes every wedding guest should avoid at their next nuptials.
1. Announcing the Nuptials Ahead of the Couple
The first thing to note is that, unless you are the marrying couple, you should not be the one announcing online that a wedding is in the works.
“The reality is that this is not your information to share,” says Perramond. “Even if you are first on the list of people the engaged couple shared their news with, it’s best to exercise caution and not share your excitement of the news on a public forum.” This is especially true if the couple has yet to make the announcement themselves on social media—the last thing you want to do is steal their thunder.
You also should avoid posting a photo of the wedding invitation itself online. Not only does this run the risk of exposing information the couple may intentionally want to keep private, such as the wedding date and location, but it also may put the couple in the awkward position of explaining to someone who didn’t make the guest list why they haven’t received their own invitation yet.
2. Not Checking the Ground Rules
When the wedding day actually arrives, every couple will have different feelings about how present they want smartphones to be. While some will want every minute of the day documented—and may even hire a social content creator—others will prefer that guests stay more in the moment. To determine your couple’s preferences, Perramond advises to first check their wedding website—these details will likely be listed in an FAQ section. When you arrive at the ceremony, keep your eyes peeled for any signage indicating whether or not phones should be stashed away during this time. (These details might also be listed on the ceremony program.) Finally, listen for any announcements from the officiant—the couple may have enlisted them to remind guests about their phone preferences.
3. Posting Pictures of the Couple Before the Ceremony
If you’re a member of the wedding party or any other person who may see a bride or groom before the celebration officially starts, do not share anything about their look ahead of time. You never know who could be watching your feed—including their spouse-to-be!—and it would be unfair for you to reveal their look before they are ready.
When it comes to additional details of the day, such as table settings, décor moments, and other guests, use your best judgment. If the couple has posted wedding hashtag signs throughout the reception space, there’s a good chance they won’t mind as much if you share in real-time. That said, there’s still plenty of reason to wait. “You have the honor of being a guest at one of the biggest moments in someone else’s life,” says Perramond. “For the sake of being present and enjoying the event, wait to post until the next day.”
4. Capturing the Ceremony
“The ceremony is not the time and place to have your phone out,” says Perramond. “It is disruptive not only in action, but it could potentially ruin a moment that they most likely hired someone else to record.”
If the couple has not explicitly requested an unplugged ceremony, Perramond advises being mindful that you are never obstructing the line of sight of the photographer or videographer. (This is easier to do if you’re sitting further away from the aisle.) Still, though, it’s worth thinking about how this will detract from your experience of the day. “If you are recording on your phone, are you really enjoying the moment and appreciating the tiny details?” Perramond asks. “As this is one of those monumental lifetime moments, I suggest putting the phone away.”
5. Livestreaming Without Permission
“If there are family members or friends that cannot make the wedding, it may be acceptable to video call them provided you have asked the couple’s permission and the people on the call are quiet observers,” says Perramond. Just note: you’ll want to do this well in advance, and not surprise the couple with the request day of.
If you’ll be doing something a little more in depth than a Facetime, like a Zoom meeting, make sure the link is only shared with approved names and can only be accessed by those with permissions. Set the call so that each guest needs the host’s permission to enter the meeting, and never post the link on a social media platform like Facebook, where people not affiliated with the event can find it.
6. Posting Unflattering Images of the Couple
Even if your group of friends loves to party, refrain from posting pictures of the couple in anything but their wedding day best. (They likely spent months planning these looks—they deserve to show them off!) “What seems silly or funny now may not seem that way the next morning, in four weeks, or in four years,” says Perramond. “You will also not be able to predict who could end up seeing these images and how that can affect a reputation.”
7. Not Keeping Comments Positive
“The old adage is true: If you don’t have anything nice to say, say nothing at all,” says Perramond. And if you are going to spill the tea, make sure it’s within private conversations and never in a public forum like an Instagram or Facebook comment.
8. Making a Major Announcement on the Same Day
“That applies to pregnancy, engagement, significant purchases, etc.” says Perramond. “Remember: this is not your special day.” And why would you want to share your moment with someone else to begin with? Wait until a few days after the wedding before making your own announcement online.