What Can I Do If Our Guests Ignore the “Unplugged Wedding” Request and Post on Social Media Anyway?

Here's how to keep your big day private in the age of social media

Updated 08/19/17

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There are all sorts of reasons to have an unplugged wedding, from wanting a little privacy or being Instagram averse to simply hoping your guests will really be present as you tie the knot—you know, instead of watching your vows through their iPhone or Android screen. And while most will respect your wishes and skip the social-media posts, there’s always a chance someone will ignore your request and get to hashtagging anyway. What’s a bride to do if her wedding isn’t so unplugged after all? Our etiquette experts have some advice.

First, a note to guests: Make sure you read the couple’s invitation, website, ceremony program, and signage before you take out your phone to snap some pictures. Those are the most common places where you’ll see a note about an unplugged wedding (or the hashtag if the couple really wants you to share your pictures!), and it’s a good idea to check first and Snapchat second.

If you asked guests to stay off their phones during your ceremony but spot a few when you get the professional photos back from your photographer, there isn’t much you can do guest-wise. Work with your photographer to either edit the images to remove the phones, identify alternative angles where they don’t show up, or artfully crop the images so the focus is on the two of you and not that iPad in the second row.

Did you request that guests not post or share any images online? If you spot them, send a polite text or email to the person in question. Let him or her know that, while you love how happy he or she was to be a part of your wedding day, you would really like to keep it private, and request that the post be removed. Are you okay with people using the selfie they took as their profile picture, as long as there isn’t a full gallery of the entire evening online? Say so. As your friends and family, they should appreciate your request for privacy.

Hoping to get your wedding pictures published? Don’t worry if your BFF puts up a ton of pictures, as long as they aren’t the professional images from your photographer. If the website or magazine in question requires exclusivity on the images, that doesn’t apply to personal photos taken by guests, so you’re in the clear!

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