The New Rules of Wedding Etiquette

In the world of wedding hashtags and up-to-the-minute status updates, these are the most common social-media-related wedding faux pas—here’s what to do. (You’re welcome.)
Instagram wedding sign
Photo by Shannon Michele Photography

Planning Your Wedding

Call your parents before posting your engagement announcement on social media.

Your close friends and family will want to hear it straight from you first.

A Facebook, Instagram or Twitter post might be the most efficient way to announce your engagement, but it's not the most personal. You know which friends and family members would appreciate to hear the news directly from you. Plus, it's likely that older family members (like your grandparents) don't have Facebook or Snapchat accounts and could miss the message altogether.

Change your relationship status in minutes or months—it's up to you.

There's no wrong or right time.

Once you get engaged or tie the knot, it's up to you and your new spouse to decide when to change your relationship status or last name on your social media sites. For some couples, this can be a very important moment; for others, it's no big deal. So if and when you're ready to make the change, go for it.

Post engagement ring pics (everyone can't wait to see!), but keep the nitty-gritty details to yourself.

No one needs to know about cost and carat.

After you post your "engaged" status, your friends and family will be dying to find out what the ring looks like, so indulge them with a photo (you may want to prep with a manicure first). It's not bragging to share a pic with the exciting news. Leave out the other details, because how much it cost isn't anyone else's business—the point is that it symbolizes the commitment you're making. Everyone's going to be checking out your hand for the first few months anyway, so make it easy for friends and family to admire from afar.

Designate a "tweeter of honor."

Enjoy your day and stay off your phone while still keeping everyone updated.

Your wedding day will fly by, and if you're on your phone the whole time, you'll miss out on what's important. Focus on the guests who have come to celebrate with you, instead of everyone in your social media circles. You can always designate a "tweeter of honor"—it could be another bridesmaid who isn't your maid of honor (she'll have plenty of responsibilities already) or you can even hire someone to keep your social networks updated throughout the day so you won't have to. Another option is to schedule tweets beforehand, so they're ready to go without the hassle.

Send out traditional paper invites for the main event.

But email invites are totally okay for pre- and postwedding parties.

Paper invites are the way to go for the actual wedding day. In today's technology-based world, where your guests receive hundreds of emails a day, a physical invite has become so much more special. That doesn't mean you have to go over-the-top with an invite that sings and shoots confetti. Simple card stock and laser printing will do the trick. A paperless invite for the rehearsal dinner or morning-after brunch is a great option (especially if you want to cut down on stationery costs). Just because the invites are electronic doesn't mean they can’t have style or personality. There are plenty of sites that let you customize e-invites so they look beautiful and unique.

Keep your public posts positive.

Confront issues directly and privately via phone, email or in person.

We know wedding planning can be stressful at times. But before you post that status venting about all the guests who RSVP'd for too many people or complaining about your future mother-in-law-zilla, pause for a second and think. Posting something negative about your wedding (even if you don't call out a person specifically) will only lead to hurt feelings and tension. Instead, politely address each situation directly as it comes your way. That means picking up the phone and explaining to your guest that you don't have enough room for all the extras, and asking your fiancé to have a conversation with their mom. Trust us, the other route will only create animosity around your wedding.

Spread the word about your wedding hashtag or Snapchat filter.

You’re only a hashtag away from a successful feed of photos—inspire your guests to use it.

We've gotten to the point where almost everyone (except maybe some older relatives) are familiar with hashtags and know how to use them, so you shouldn't feel weird about putting it out there. Think of ways you can tie it into your paper elements in a pretty or witty way—on your wedding website or even on your wedding invitations. Don’t hesitate to ask guests to share photos of themselves as they prep for your wedding—and make sure to set up materials like table tents or cards that encourage guests to use that fancy Geofilter you designed.

Attending a Wedding

Say congrats.

If the couple hasn't made the announcement, then you shouldn't spill the big news for them.

Instead, wait to publicly post your congratulations. It's exciting when you're the first to find out your best friend or sibling is getting married, but hold off on the public congrats until they're ready to share the news themselves. They might be waiting for an important reason (like they haven't even told their parents yet), and there could be hard feelings involved if others find out they weren't in the know first.

Ask questions—privately.

If you want to discuss wedding plans with the bride or groom, it's polite to do it in private.

It can be awkward for the couple if you ask questions about their wedding around others who might not be invited, especially on social media platforms like Facebook. Whether it’s a direct Facebook message or a personal phone call, they’ll appreciate a friendly ear to listen how it's going. And remember, this is a busy time for the couple too, so don't be offended if they don't keep you up to date on every single detail.

Share pics of the newlyweds.

But respect their request if they ask you not to post photos before they do.

It's great that you want to show what an amazing wedding the couple threw and Instagram the cake and flowers. But some may want to wait to share photographic details of the wedding until they have photos from their professional photographer. If they opt for an unplugged wedding, you should respect their choice. If you’re not sure whether you're in the clear to post photos, then wait until a close friend or family member of the couple does so first (or just ask them)—then it's okay to post away.

Leave the phone in your purse or pocket.

Unplugged wedding or not, the couple invited you to celebrate their day, not sit there on your phone.

The couple spent a lot of time planning an event for you to enjoy, so don't spend the entire time on your phone documenting the wedding on Periscope—go have some fun! It's okay to share the love a few times, but you shouldn't opt out of hitting the dance floor in favor of tweeting a play-by-play. Plus, having a phone or tablet out all the time can get in the way of photos, and no one wants to look back on their wedding day to see a guest more engaged with a device than their reception.

Follow directions for the paper RSVP.

The couple's inboxes are already full of wedding-related details; a text, email or private message is likely to get lost in the mix.

Most paper invitations will include an RSVP card with an addressed envelope to send it back in, and couples will look for and expect responses by mail (before the deadline). If you lose the card, then it's okay to call and find out how the couple would prefer you to RSVP once you know whether you'll be attending.

Stay clear of the professional wedding photographer.

Take as many photos as you please, but don't get in the photographer's way.

Be mindful of the photographer and videographer the couple has hired to capture their wedding—especially during the ceremony. A good rule of thumb is to stay seated during the ceremony, and definitely don’t lean into the aisle or raise your phone over your head (this isn’t a concert). Standing up or moving around can be distracting to the officiant, get in the way of the pros and ruin the view for other guests. Our advice? If you must have that amazing shot of the bride's entrance, get to the ceremony early and sit in an aisle seat to get great photos without having to pull acrobatic stunts.

Actually use that wedding hashtag.

The couple created a wedding hashtag for good reason.

If the couple has a hashtag, use it as much as possible on every photo and tweet. They're excited to have all of their photos in one place. Make as much effort as possible to use it and encourage others to as well.

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