OPINION | A walk down the aisle… with social media
Will you consider a walk down the aisle… with social media?
I recently got married. Yay! Hurrah! And all those other things!
Before our big day, I attended a wedding where a guest was Facebook Live-ing a couple doing their vows and walking down the aisle. I was in shock, but this guest must have thought it was absolutely fine. Over the months leading up to my wedding, I scrutinised what people were posting from other people’s weddings even more, and personally analysing whether or not I would be happy if this or that was posted during mine.
Sometimes it was a terrible photo of the couple, eyes closed, a strange facial expression, sometimes it was media revealing parts of the wedding you may not want to share with the world, such as all the background mess from the chaos caused by eight bridesmaids getting dressed in the same place.
Sometimes, it was their really intimate moments where I thought, “Would I want this on Facebook or Instagram with hundreds of random people being able to view this moment?”
Other times I thought, surely that’s something for the couple to decide on sharing? Similar to news of a new baby, or a bereavement, or some other big private life event? We wouldn’t share these moments without consent would we? Or maybe some people would?
We share everything…
According to current social media norms, we share everything… chastising our children, eating out, announcements, holidays, going for a bike ride, going to the gym, taking a train journey, random thoughts… but is this something we need to change across the board, or something that people need to consider changing for certain occasions? Or do we not need to change it at all?
Another thing to add to the ‘to do’ list…
In addition to all the things people have always had to consider with weddings, couples are now having to consider whether to not to go unplugged (which is to not allow any phones during their ceremony, or even whole wedding) or have a social media policy for their big day. I have personally witnessed a guest post video of a couple walking down the aisle before they had even left the church or said their vows (the bride asked for it to be removed when she found out).
I’ve seen another guest broadcasting on Facebook Live at someone’s wedding, another guest posting two whole Facebook albums (about 500 pics) of the wedding of a very private couple who hardly even post at Facebook at all!
In each of these cases, I winced, and thought ‘That’s a bit too much, I wonder if the couple know and how they feel about this?’
Personally, I always ask a couple if it’s okay to post before I share anything from their big aisle day, but I know not everyone approaches it like I do, and not everyone is even as concerned about it as we were.
So, what do couples do? Do they go ‘unplugged’?
Going unplugged is where guests are specifically told there is a no-phone policy, sometimes phones are even collected before the ceremony to ensure no-one is tempted.
This happens at some celebrity weddings, such as Dwayne Wade and Gabrielle Unions Wedding – my favourite celebrity wedding of all time. You can really see the guests engaged at what is happening, because they are not watching it through a phone screen, also their video is perfect because no one got in the way of any of the photographers, it literally looks like a film!
Going unplugged also has its pros and cons, it is something we considered as we (my husband and I) did not want everyone peering from behind their phones on the day. It has lead to filmmakers and photographers highlighting this issue in all kinds of ways.
But then again, we did want lots of footage and photos from the different angles that the guests viewed the wedding from, so we opted to allow guests to take photos, but asked that nothing is posted until we have posted the professional photos first, also to pass what they wanted to post by us first.
Should you be able to choose what is shared?
I was not comfortable with having every aspect of my day out there, I also did not want terrible phone photos posted, before the professional ones, or even at all!
That’s not saying there are not some great phone photos, but there are also some terrible ones that people think are fine! We also had full control over our engagement announcement, so were super conscious about not being able to decide what parts of our day were made public due to others’ impatience.
We actually received 1600 photos and videos sent to us from guests (phone nearly died as a result!) with every moment, from the guests getting on their transport for the day, to us walking down the aisle to every moment of the reception, which we really appreciated, but had to balance this against people getting in the way of the official photographers to “get their shot”, or nearly everyone’s face being hidden behind a phone.
We have so far shared some of these images and video, and really appreciated our family and friends capturing all of these moments, but there are videos where I have thought, “Oh, I’m glad that wasn’t put online!”, “Oh, that’s too personal!”, “My face/teeth/shape/expression looks terrible there!” or “I’m glad they didn’t post that!”
We have also had some guests complain, unhappy that they had not listened to/understood our wishes and thus posted content, received likes, then were requested to take the posts down.
We had made our wishes known by posting on our WhatsApp group, Facebook Wedding Group, noting it on our wedding stationary and also getting the Master of Ceremonies to mention it on the day; but some people had missed this. It is almost now expected, with people asking our guests “If they went to our wedding, WHY HAVE THEY NOT POSTED ANYTHING?”
So, with our experiences and feelings, we reached out to other couples that we knew had recently been married; some of whose wedding images we have seen posted online, some we have not, but did not know about their requests for guests and whether they had spoken about it to guests previously. We also reached out to a local Wedding Co-ordinator for their views and advice to couples about this. How about you? What are your views?
Who do you agree with?
Thassha and Leon Nembhard got married in Birmingham on 15th July 2015, their policy was to ask guests not to post any pictures of them, which they made known verbally and in writing. Thassha said:
“We wanted our wedding to be private and our guests respected our wishes, but we were happy for them to share pictures and videos after the wedding in moderation.”
When asked if she felt anything would have been a step too far for her day of walking down the aisle, she said:
“I would not like if any of my guests had gone Facebook Live or on any social media, as I feel it is meant to be a private and intimate celebration with friends and family. The whole world does not need to see me get wed!
“The whole point of having it intimate is because you want special people around you who you care about.”
Another couple, Damien and Russeama, got married in Birmingham in 2017. They didn’t have any social media requests:
“We didn’t mind photos or videos of the day taken. In fact we couldn’t keep up with what was going on! But we didn’t think to put policies in place incase of over the top stuff. Although family and friends took pics and videos, they didn’t, however, post any videos of the most intimate parts of our ceremony. That’s a no-no.”
What other brides think…
I also asked views of brides in bridal groups, some were dead-against private photos of them walking down the aisle being on social media.
Recent bride Emma Louise explained, “A lot of people seem to be happy for their guests to share their photos after the day or on the same evening but I don’t want the photos on Facebook at all.
“They can take as many photos of themselves as they want along with good luck and congratulatory statuses, but I don’t want the photos all over social media. I’m happy for people to put out selfies of themselves at the wedding, but none of me and my new husband – they’re our special photos to share when we are ready.”
Soon-to-be married Alyce Janickyj said: “I’m going say no phones during the ceremony. There may be a point where we allow it when we kiss and that’s it. The rest of the day I’m fine with. Like, people have said previously it ruins the professional shots and makes people not soak it in fully. We will be having our own Snapchat filter though (laughs).”
Whereas others did not mind at all.
Leah Kay said: “We didn’t mind. We didn’t feel the need to pay out for a photographer, as we had friends who do photography as a hobby. So if it hadn’t been for our friends, we wouldn’t have had some amazing pictures. Plus, social media was a great way for those who couldn’t attend to still feel like they hadn’t missed out on being part of an amazing day for us!”
Claire Edmunds told me: “I had a different scenario. My ceremony, first dance and speeches were live on Facebook. The reason for this was that family and friends in another country, that I wished could be there, couldn’t. I then knew they were also part of my day as it happened. Everyone said it was a lovely gesture and I had all family that wasn’t there glued to their screens joining in on the big day. They got to see the hype of groom being nervous, guests arriving and the build-up before the bride makes her entrance, all through to the end of the wedding. We shared it all. I think it’s a personal choice depending on circumstances”.
A professional point of view
Wedding Photographers at Lensi Photography explained:
“It is something I speak to my brides about when they’re deciding to walk down the aisle. Many have not even thought about it, so I ensure they have.
“I advise them to let their guests know whether they are okay with people sharing photos and videos, or not, which saves any awkward conversations after. Many people will assume that is is just something everyone “will know”, but with such varied views on what should or should not be shared, you can’t guarantee your guests share your view.”
Whether you see it as a problem or not, whether it is something you are happy to allow or not, one thing for sure is it’s now something couples have to consider informing their guests about when deciding to take that trip down the aisle. What are your views?
You can read Lensi Photography’s blog about this issue here.