As if wedding etiquette was not complicated enough to get a handle on, now there is a further level of complexity added with the rise of smartphones. Ninety percent of Irish adults own a smartphone, giving them the ability to photograph, live stream, comment on, and hashtag your wedding until their heart's content, whether you like it or not.
The ‘unplugged' wedding
But what if you don't want your wedding to appear on social media before you've even had the chance to say ‘I do'? Many couples are now asking their guests to ‘unplug' for the day. This means putting the phones, iPads and cameras away, whether it be just for the ceremony or the whole day, and enjoying the moment. You can still have a professional wedding photographer capturing all those special moments, but it means your guests will be concentrating on you and your day rather than how many likes their last selfie got. And, as an added bonus, they won't be getting in the way of the professional while he's trying to get the perfect a shot.
If you don't want your guests obsessing over their phones all day, all you need to do is politely ask and most will respect your wishes. You could ask your celebrant or priest to request this at the beginning of the ceremony, add a note to your order of service or mass booklets, or make signs to display on the way in.
Of course, not everyone wants an ‘unplugged' wedding and many couples are embracing social media and technology to help with the planning process and to capture their special day. Below we discuss wedding social media etiquette and highlight some of the tech we feel makes planning that little bit easier.
Announcing your engagement
You've bought the perfect ring, you've popped the question and she said yes, thank god! Now, you may be eager to share the big news and a selfie of you and your blushing new bride-to-be ASAP, but before you blast it all over social media, clue in your family and close friends first. Trust us, they'll appreciate a phone call or heads up much more than finding out on social media alongside your other 350 nearest and dearest old school friends, colleagues and acquaintances you once went clubbing with.
Looking for wedding inspiration
If you're looking for wedding inspiration, whether it be groomsmen suits, wedding favours or photo ideas, Pinterest is a great place to start. Seventy-one percent of Pinterest users are women, so you're excused if you're not really sure what it is, however it can be a very powerful tool when wedding planning for inspiration, collecting and collating ideas.
Pinterest is a free online pinboard where you can browse and save images and links on any subject to boards in your own account. It's essentially wedding porn for women but can be equally as useful for men. Not sure what style suits to go for? Browse Pinterest for Wedding Suits and save your favourites to your board. Found a groomsmen gift you love on Well Groomed? Share it to your board. Found a great article on writing your groom's speech? Add it. You get the gist. This way everything is saved in one place for you to refer back to.
Social media on your big day
You need to decide with your bride-to-be what role you want social media to play on your big day, and then don't be afraid to communicate this to your guests. As we've said above, if you don't want people taking pictures, let them know early on. If you don't mind them taking pictures but don't want them to post any until after the ceremony, again communicate this to them. If you decide you'd like your guests to share their images, make sure you choose a wedding hashtag and let them know about it, so they can tag their pictures and it's easy for you to find them all later on, e.g. #WindsorMarkleWedding
Unusual ways to capture your wedding
With the continuing advancement of technology, there are new, fun and unusual ways to capture your wedding popping up all the time. Instagram is always a favourite, it's an easy option as most guests will already have an account and can use your hashtag to post their pics. Snapchat offers bespoke wedding lenses and filters for you and your guests to use, these are geo-targeted to your wedding venue and can last from 30 mins to 30 days.
If you want your guests to help you capture your day but you don't want them to post to social media for all to see, you could consider an app like Eversnap or WedPics. With these services, you create a private album, provide the details to your guests who download the app and then upload their photos and videos throughout the day. Eversnap also offers a slideshow option so you can have the pics appear live on a screen or via projector at the reception, and WedPics includes the ability to share any important info with your guests prior to the wedding, has photo stickers and filters, a custom URL and the ability to order prints of the big day.
Just remember, although photos taken by your guests can complement your official wedding photos by capturing a more personal side of the day, this is not a replacement for a traditional wedding photographer. Although your uncle may fancy himself as a bit of a David Bailey, you want to make sure you have at least a few photos that are in focus and where the top of your head has not been cut off. It's best to always hire a professional.
If you want to take your wedding photography to the next level and are looking for something really different, there are some wedding photographers and videographers in Ireland that now offer drone footage as part of their package. This provides a unique viewpoint and is especially good if you want to capture crowd or aerial footage of your venue for the wedding video. Another idea is using GoPro cameras to capture shots of the day, hide them in table decorations or even the bride's bouquet to get some unexpected candid moments.
Digitising the invites
So, now that we live in a digital world, can we do away with the paper invites? Well no, apparently not. It's still considered good etiquette to send a proper postal invite, and who doesn't love receiving post, right? However, there are some things you can digitise. It's considered acceptable to send digital or email save the dates and invites to any pre or post wedding events such as engagement parties, rehearsal dinners and wedding day after parties. But if you do, try to add a touch of class. It's okay relying on Facebook events for the stag and hen, but if you're sending a save the date, why not try a service like Paperless Post?
Even if you have to send the all-important paper invites, there is no reason why you can't digitise the RSVP process. RSVPify is an elegant, customisable online RSVP tool that collects your guests' responses so you always know how many are coming and who hasn't replied yet. Better yet, you can select to invite just certain guests to your secondary events like the rehearsal dinner or day-after events, collect your guests' meal choices or dietary requirements and use it to create your seating chart!
Wedding communication tools
Communicating all the times, details and any changes to your guests and wedding party can be tricky, especially if you're holding multiple events over the weekend or have chosen a destination wedding. This is where technology really can help.
A great way of managing this is to create a wedding website and wedding app with Appy Couple. Choose from over 500 styles to complement your wedding theme. You'll be up and running in minutes, and the good thing is, there is no coding required! You can choose a template that suits your wedding style, add details about how you and your bride met and the wedding party, add details of all your events and even use it to collect RSVPs, along with a whole host of other handy features.
If you've got a small guest list or you just need a way of communication with your groom's party, a simple solution is a Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp group - it's a great way of wrangling your crew together.
Just remember, if you decide to go with a website, app or instant messaging platform, you may have some guests that haven't embraced technology or don't have regular access (especially elderly relatives). Make sure you don't forget them and keep them in the loop with any important details or changes.
Asking for money instead of gifts
Due to the large number of couples who now set up home with each other before they are married and the high cost of weddings, more and more couples are now asking for money instead of household items as wedding gifts. You may feel uncomfortable asking for money, but don't worry, like so many things in life now, there's an app for that too!
Honeyfund is like a crowdfunding site for weddings, honeymoons and house deposits. Instead of just asking for money, you set up a site showing the different items you want to spend your money on and guests choose one and pay for that. For example, if you wanted to ask for money towards your honeymoon, you could add listings for a dinner for two, sightseeing tours and a day jet-skiing, or if you were looking to buy a house you could ask for €100 towards a deposit or €75 towards a kitchen refurb. You can then choose to receive the money in cash, by cheque or via Paypal, and the good thing is your guests know what your planning on spending it on.
Take your wedding day to the next level
Still not enough photo opportunities for you above? Or having a phone-free wedding but still want to see some selfies? Try hiring a selfie mirror. It's the next generation of the photo booth and there are several for hire across Ireland. It looks like a mirror, but it takes your photo, it comes with props, various backgrounds and effects, plus your guests can sign their name on the mirror to appear on the photo. It's great fun and both you and your guests get a copy of the photo so it makes a great memento of the day.
Have family and friends who can't make the wedding? Live stream it! You can try the DIY approach with Periscope, Facebook or Instagram Live or hire professionals to manage this service for you, complete with different angles and microphones so they capture all the little details.
With all this photo taking and hash-tagging your guests' batteries are bound to be running low. Why not hire a phone charging station? Yes, apparently this is all the rage in the USA this year.
Remember to be present
With everything that is going on and all your friends and family around you, you may be tempted to whip out the phone to try and document it yourself. Stop! There are plenty of other people doing that for you. Our advice, leave your phone at home on the day. If you need to be contactable, make sure everyone has your best man's number, he can deal with any issues that arise. You just need to be present and enjoy the day.
If you're looking for wedding planning advice, check out our Gentleman's Guide to Wedding Planning.