A New Kind of Wedding Etiquette
#SocialMediaRules for the big day
By Victoria Mier

Carla Guarini wanted to know everything that happened on her wedding day – which is why she loved using a custom hashtag for her October wedding.

“I really liked seeing all the pictures people posted,” Guarini says of her big day at The Mansion on Main Street. “My husband and I and our bridal party spent a lot of time taking professional photos with the photographer and talking with guests, so it was nice to see how everyone was having fun during the ceremony and reception.”

Layout 1The bride and her groom Thomas chose the hashtag #GoingGuarini to create a time capsule of their big day, and guests were asked to use the social media tag when they posted photos and comments on Instagram and Facebook. Guarini says she and her husband still scroll through now and again to see the moments their guests captured.

“I would definitely recommend that couples use social media as part of their wedding,” Guarini says. “It’s such a fun way to include friends and family, and using a hashtag lets you relive the night all over again since you can go back and scroll through all the posts.”

Katlyn Mogavero, director of catering sales at The Grand Hotel of Cape May, says that a growing number of couples are making social media part of their big day.

“The day is a blur, so it’s special to look back on moments that the bride and groom might not have been able to experience themselves and say, ‘Oh my gosh, it was so fun,’” says Mogavero.

But the fact that social media captures photos and comments for posterity can be exactly what makes it tricky for wedding guests, says Samantha Serenkin, a wedding and event specialist at The Mansion on Main Street.

“It’s important that guests know how to navigate social media before they post anything,” says Serenkin. “Guests should only be posting photos of themselves and the venue throughout the day – or at the very least, they should check with the bride and groom before posting any photos of them. You don’t want to post a special moment before the bride and groom do or put up a photo they might not have wanted out there.”

“Leaking” the bride’s look is another social media no-no, adds Mogavero. “Any photos of the bride taken prior to the ceremony or reception should never be shared on social media until the bride walks down the aisle. That’s a big deal.”

It’s also important, Serenkin adds, to remember most couples hire a professional photographer – and they do for a reason.

“Don’t defeat the purpose of having a professional photographer,” she says. “Everyone wants to take a picture of the bride and most photographers understand that, but their job is to make sure every photo the bride will want to see is taken care of.”

“Another huge thing is to not get in the way of the photographer,” Mogavero adds. “Don’t stand in the middle of the aisle and try to get a picture of the first kiss. Take your pictures and have fun, but remember there are people hired to get those shots.”

In fact, both experts suggest putting down the smartphone or the camera for most of the day, but particularly during the ceremony.

Photography By Diana P. Lang Photography

Photography By Diana P. Lang Photography

“Just be in the moment,” Serenkin says. “There’s a fine line between taking some special photos and not being part of what’s happening right in front of you. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and you should be involved.”

Though the rules of using social media at weddings are still new and constantly evolving, some other, more traditional rules of etiquette remain, says Mogavero.

That old cardinal rule of never, ever wearing white to a wedding? Nothing has changed, she says. “I’ve had some guests wear white, lacey dresses. The bride is the star of the show, and that’s what she’s supposed to wear, not you.”

Mogavero also suggests that guests stay away from wearing ivory, cream and even light pink – anything that might distract from the bride isn’t welcome. “And if the dress code is confusing, just remember that you can never be too dressy,” she says.

Guests are also likely to stress about the proper gift, says Serenkin. “These days, lots of couples have been forgoing the traditional gift table for a smaller set-up or just a card box. If you’re planning on bringing your gift to the wedding, it should probably be just a card or small gift.”

“It’s worth asking if the couple would prefer things mailed to their home,” Mogavero adds. “It’s hard to leave a wedding with extra things, particularly if the ceremony isn’t close to home.”

If you’re opting for a larger gift, Mogavero suggests that unless you know the couple very well or are a family member, stick to their registry.

“That prevents mess-ups like four different knife sets and ensures happiness on both sides,” she says. “And if you can’t go to the ceremony, you should still at least send a card. But it’s best to mail the gift you would’ve gotten if you could attend.”

If you are attending and celebrating with the lucky couple, enjoy yourself – but don’t get out of hand, Serenkin warns.

“Don’t let an extra cocktail convince you that an impromptu speech is a good idea,” she says. “Just from a logistical standpoint, there’s a pretty fine-tuned timeline everyone’s trying to stick to. Throw in another five-minute speech, and you’d be surprised how much that can throw everything else off.”

“It’s all about remembering the day isn’t about you,” says Mogavero. “The couple wants you there to help them make the day the best it can be – and as a guest, you’re obligated to doing that.”

January 2017
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