Is social media a blessing or a curse at a wedding? The need to connect and share online is increasingly encroaching on intimate and private wedding days. Guest blogger, Kristi Charter, writes for marriedbyjosh.com:

As we become more inclined to connect online, our tendency to share and document details from our lives online has inevitably increased. So too we find ourselves too busy trying to capture the perfect shot that we lose touch with being present in the moment, or so is the fear of many brides.

While some brides are embracing social media encouraging their guests to snap their experiences of their big day, others are asking their guests politely to switch off. The new trend for holding ‘unplugged weddings’ is certainly rising and while you might think this is a ‘bridezilla’ over-controlling type request the arguments these brides and their photographers present are quite compelling.

Firstly let’s look at it this from the bride’s point of view. Instead of seeing smiling faces as she walks down the aisle and makes her grand entrance she might actually be greeted with faces hidden behind cameras and phones. Something she will not have envisioned when she put so much effort into picking her dress, bouquet and music.  The same goes for when the bridal couple look out to their guests in the pews.  Many brides want their guests to truly be in the moment; taking in what is being said and sharing in the joy of the occasion. This is not necessarily the case if guests are distracted by trying to capture the moment. Those trying to get the ultimate shot are likely to be merely observing the wedding rather than living it.

Another reason that brides are opting for unplugged weddings is that they prefer that the first photos that go online and are seen by those who were not in attendance be professional shots.

Guests can also have their own experience affected by other guests getting in their way, holding up cameras to capture the perfect shot and simply distracting them from the ceremony proceedings. Who hasn’t been to a wedding lately and had their view obstructed in some way by someone holding up their phone?

If you browse online you are sure to find some horror stories from photographers who have had their professional shots compromised by guest photographers. Some common issues that may arise are guests getting in the way of your professional photographers by either forcing your photographer to find an alternate angle or blocking their view altogether.

Another horror story you might read is when an eager bridesmaid uploads a ‘first look’ shot of the bride before the wedding and her soon to be husband stumbles upon the pic while killing time browsing online before the ceremony. To avoid this you can either have an ‘unplugged’ wedding or embrace the fact that social media can have a role in your wedding by setting some guidelines for your guests.

Just like you will add additional accessory cards to your wedding invite such as a reception, RSVP, wishing well or directions card why not add a social media card outlining the social media guidelines for your wedding.  If you have a wedding website or blog you could also notify your guests of your social media requests here instead of adding another enclosure card.

A great way to embrace social media at your wedding is to set up a personalised hashtag for your guests to use. By doing this you will be able to keep track of what all your guests upload, whether you are in the photo or not. You can encourage the use of your hashtag by having it written in your invite, on your wedding website, on your order of service card and on signs scattered around your ceremony and reception.

Embracing social media doesn’t necessarily mean that you cannot add limitations. There are a range of requests you can make for your guests and their social media activities at your wedding. You might ask that all photos receive approval from the bride or groom before they are posted in order to avoid any dreaded, unflattering photos. Or you can ask that all guests refrain from uploading their images until the next day so that they don’t get so distracted by selecting the best Instagram filter that they miss out on the fun!

If you want the first shots uploaded to social media of your wedding day to be professional photos but don’t want to seem too controlling why not inform your guests they are free to snap away as long as the images uploaded don’t feature the bridal couple.

If you’re happy with your guests taking their own images but don’t want your professional shots compromised in any way it is very reasonable to ask your guests to be mindful of the professional photographer and to stay out of the way of the photographer where possible. It might just be asking that guests stay in their pews to take photos and refrain from blocking the aisle.

As with most situations there are positives and negatives to whether you embrace social media at your wedding or request your guests to switch off. If you agree with both sides of the debate and are not sure on where you stand why not request your guests switch off at the ceremony and then welcome them to take photos at your reception. Or go with our suggestion and supply your guests with some guidelines for social media at your wedding.

Remember, in the end it is your special day so go with what you feel is right for your wedding.

image001This is a guest blog post by Kristi Charter. Kristi is an experienced freelance writer with a breadth of knowledge across an array of subjects. Captivated by the wedding industry Kristi regularly blogs for Invitations Sydney