Picture Perfect (1997) saw Jennifer Aniston as a career-driven leading lady pretending to be engaged to a man she had just met. They had a single photo taken together at a wedding and although the film pre-dated the heyday of social media by about a decade, an element of the film still rings true. If a picture is worth 1,000 words, what does an unflattering, harshly lit smartphone photo of an otherwise flawless wedding say about a couple?
In an ironic twist to the Kardashian saga, Kim famously banned social media from her wedding to Kanye West. After the proposal fiasco that saw YouTube co-founder Chad Hurley posting smartphone video footage of the event online, the couple was taking no chances with their wedding. According to reports, guests to the nuptials in Italy were contractually banned from uploading anything to their social media accounts, taking pictures or even discussing the wedding with those who were not invited.
But what of couples without legions of fans? According to a study by David’s Bridal in the United States, 14% of couples are planning on enforcing an unplugged wedding. The act involves politely requesting that guests refrain from sharing the event via social media. Although it seems like the height of egomania, it is actually a decision steeped in logic. Weddings are intimate and private affairs that a couple and their families go to great lengths to make absolutely perfect. So, when a distant cousin takes a series of unflattering photos of the couple, the venue or the food, the rose tint begins to wear off the memories of the occasion.
“Couples spend a long time planning their weddings down to the smallest details. A quick, ill-timed and unflattering picture can change the perception of the wedding that they were trying to create,” concurs Reshma Bhargava, certified wedding planner and host of YouTube’s The Wedd Lounge. “No bride wants an unflattering picture of her on her wedding day floating around the internet.”
A professional photographer is hired for a reason. It takes a well-trained eye to truly capture the essence of one’s big day and ultimately it is up to the couple to post the first shots of the night. What’s worse, camera phones can even throw off the aesthetic of the professional photos. “Sometimes, I’m trying to get a wide shot of the bride walking down the aisle, and guests get in the way trying to take their own pictures,” laments wedding photographer Jasmine Lee. “Or I’m trying to get the parents’ reaction, but one’s got a cell phone in front of their face.”
And let’s be honest, is there really anything more obnoxious than your guests tapping away at their screens when they should be mingling with one another and celebrating with you? According to Anna Post, co-author of Emily Post’s Etiquette, 18th Edition, a wedding ceremony is “ solemn, even if it’s not religious.” In the spirit of keeping one’s special day a personal one, here are the top five tips to politely keep you nuptials social media-free.
1. DEFINE UNPLUGGED
Do you plan on embracing the digital world by introducing a customized hashtag for your guests, family and friends or would you prefer to throwback to 1993 and request phones remain off? Deciding how much you would like your guests to share is key to ensuring your wishes are met. For many couples, it has become popular to enforce a no-photo policy during the ceremony and then encourage the snapping of photos at the reception.
2. COORDINATE WITH YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER
Weddings and cameras have always gone hand in hand, so why not make photos the party favour? Nicole Nelson, a newlywed bride, individually emailed pictures of her guests in the week that followed her nuptial.The photos were retouched to perfection and who wouldn’t want a professionally edited party photo of themselves celebrating with family and friends? What’s more, Nelson mailed out two hard copies with thank you cards. In the digital world we live in, there’s nothing like a glossy printed photo for framing. And it certainly will make up for whatever policy you decide to implement.
3. KEEP YOUR GUESTS INFORMED
You’ve made your decision about what is and isn’t acceptable, but how do you go about telling your guests? Whether your guest list is small and intimate or totaling the thousands, keeping guests informed is the best way to ensure your wishes are met. Begin by placing a notice on the wedding website that reads something to the tune of: ‘Let’s keep today personal; please refrain from posting photos online’. Follow it up with a beautifully crafted sign at the wedding itself. Some couples even go a step further and have the Emcee make mention of the policy prior to the event. “Even better, have the flower girl or ring bearer come in with a cute sign,” Bhargava suggests.
4. DELEGATE YOUR MISSION
Even with the non-invasive notices strategically placed all over, some guests simply will not notice your request. On the day of, delegate a few trusted allies to spread the word about your wishes for privacy. “It’s a fair reminder not to distract from the ceremony,” Post asserts.
5. ULTIMATELY, LET IT GO
Unless you’re Beyoncé, confiscating phones at the door is not recommended. “Trust your friends to respect your wishes,” says Post. Photos of your day will leak regardless of the lengths you go through to avoid it. But instead of reprimanding offenders on the spot or shaming them for it later, grin and bear the situation. They are, after all, your guests and a hostess must always be gracious. “On the day of the wedding, I always advise couples to go with the flow; it’s out of their control at that point, so they might as well embrace the moment,” Bhargava concludes. Finally, if you’re serious about your guests respecting your wishes, practice what you preach. Leave your smart phone at home. Anyone trying to get in touch with you on your wedding day should not expect you to be available. When one bride had the audacity to check her phone during her ceremony, the video went viral and now has over half a million hits. Do not be that bride.
56% of brides say it’s important to have digital rules at the wedding
61% say it’s faux pas for their brides maids to upload snaps of the bride pre-ceremony
52% say the bride and groom ought to be the first to post photos of their wedding
59% of brides update their Facebook status to married within a day of the wedding
49% would consider live-streaming their wedding 26% would encourage a customized hashtag for their big day
*Study conducted by David’s Bridal in the US, which surveyed 500 women who were ‘engaged to be married or married within the last two months’.
By Priya Kumar