The Plugged or Unplugged Bride – Wedding Photos Sharing

Wedding Photos Sharing Etiquette


What is the etiquette of sharing cellphone wedding photos on social media? Maureen Woodman explains.

John Maher: Hi. I’m John Maher. I’m here with Maureen Woodman, a wedding planner for on and off-site catered events at The Essex Room in Essex, Massachusetts. Today, we’re talking about “The Plugged or Unplugged Bride.” Welcome, Maureen.

Maureen Woodman: Hi, John. Thanks for having me.

John Maher: Sure. So Maureen, these days, when everyone has a camera phone and our mobile devices are connected to the internet wherever we go – guests at weddings are posting pictures on Facebook and Instagram even before the ceremony is even over. Are some brides and grooms embracing that idea of social media?

Maureen Woodman: Yes. I think there’s a huge explosion of just Twitter and YouTube video, Facebook. Everything that you see on the internet, you’re now seeing at every wedding that we go to.

John Maher: Yes. There could be some brides and grooms who maybe don’t want to do that, or maybe think of that as a distraction, or perhaps, they want to be the first ones to put out some pictures online after the wedding is over. And they don’t want to have pictures out there on Facebook and Instagram before they even get a chance to maybe put out their nice professional pictures, that maybe look a little bit nicer. Is it okay to ask guests not to use their camera phones, or at least, not to post them to social media during the wedding?

Maureen Woodman: I think so. I’ve seen where people make little place cards that they’re actually putting on the table that would say, “Please don’t post anything on Facebook.” I think that that has happened over the last two years because two years ago, it was happening but nobody knew that it was happening.

Where now, you are actually saying, “I do.” And before you even turn around to kiss your groom, everyone already saw what you haven’t even seen or realized yourself. That’s such a special moment when you get married. You are in the moment. You’re actually living the moment. And there it is, out in cyberspace, before you actually kiss the groom. So, it is definitely a fine line. Never mind, “How do I look in the photo?” “What is it saying about me?” “What’s the caption?” “Is this what I want in my professional life?”

Once it’s on the internet, it’s there forever. So, it is kind of a weird privacy violation. But I don’t know how you’re going to stop it. Unless you just said, “Everyone, leave their cell phones at the table,” when they walk in. Because people just can’t even go a minute without their cell phone. So, it’s definitely an — As well as video, all the iPhones now have the video, which is so simple to take. So, you can actually see the video as well. And you really never know what’s going on in the back of that video because it’s not edited.

So, there could be other things even going on that you may not want — even if you’re the posting person, you just put it up so quickly, you never really look at it hard enough to make sure that it was correct.

John Maher: Right. You’re not a professional editor, or a videographer, or something like that. So, you might not be paying attention to what’s happening in the background, or maybe there are guests that don’t even really want to be videoed or something like that, and they’re on there.

So, do you think that it’s okay that maybe have a little sign or a little place card on the table that just says, “We respectfully ask you not to –” You probably can’t tell people not to take pictures, but you could at least say, “Please refrain from posting to social media.”

Maureen Woodman: Yes. And you might say, “Could you send those to me on my cell phone or on my email address?” or something. “And then, I’ll choose which ones that I want to put up.” The other thing too is you might have a favorite photo that you loved with your groom. And you’re so excited to blast that and get it up there. And then, it’s already there. Because somebody took a very similar shot that you had, that you liked. And you don’t even — I don’t know. They kind of steal your thunder.

John Maher: Right. Right [chuckles]. What are some of the ways for those couples that want to encourage the use of technology and social media at their weddings? What are some of those couples doing to encourage that?

Maureen Woodman: So, there’s definitely a hash tag frenzy going on there where everyone has, usually, the bride and groom’s name, or the date may be in the hash tag, or the location. And then, when you walk into the venue, where you’re going to go, you’re going to see a sign that says, “Okay. Follow us here.”

So, this would be Twitter account. So, this would be the tweets. This would be the next step after Facebook. And then, of course, if anyone sees anything that’s just fantastic, they may take the photo and pin it on their Pinterest right away.

So, that’s really probably how Pinterest is growing. And then, of course, if it’s just a great video moment, you may see it going right up on YouTube where it’s just everywhere. So again, all the things that are available for you are also available at the wedding. They’re doing them all.

John Maher: Right. I’ve seen some pictures online of brides and grooms that actually put a little sign right out in front where the ceremony is, or where the reception is, that says, “Tweet about us at #jackandjillswedding or something like that.

That’s sort of a way like you were talking about before, Maureen, where you said encourage people maybe to send you the photos first — in a way, that’s a way to do that, where you’re saying, “If you’re going to take pictures and you’re going to post them, at least, put this hash tag on it, so that we can all join in this collectively together, and we can all see your photos and have it all grouped together in one place. So, we don’t have to go to a hundred different places to see the photos that people took.”

Maureen Woodman: Sure. You also will see the girls if they’re very active on Facebook. When they start to get their hair done, if they’re with a group of their bridesmaids, where they start the morning, and they release the hash tag usually on their Facebook account as the girls start to get dolled up and do their makeup and everything. So, that it starts to continue. So, that’s another way that people know about it before they even get to the wedding because it went out on social media in the morning.

John Maher: What about cell phones and people – battery life on these cell phones is sometimes a minimum. People need to recharge their cell phones. I’ve been at weddings where I’ve seen people plugging in their cell phones all along the walls of the side of the reception. I don’t know if that gets in the way. But are there things that brides and grooms are doing to help with that situation?

Maureen Woodman: Well, that’s something I can remember probably a year and a half ago. I can remember running through the venue. I was getting everything done, and I saw wires everywhere. I said, “What is this? What am I doing?”

Waitresses were tripping over the wires. And then I was like, “Oh! It’s somebody’s telephone.” And then, the next thing I knew, there was another telephone, and another telephone. I saw this thing. It’s kind of like when you go to the airport sometimes, you see everybody sitting on the floor cross-legged. All their phones were plugged into the wall. It’s like you knew what it was, but you weren’t really thinking that somebody was going to do this.

Well of course now, with all this video and photo taking, your battery is going down like crazy. And then, of course, if you’re storing all those photos, your battery is going down even quicker. So, I noticed this thing. And now, I guess, it’s like the cake table. You got a table for the cakes. Now, we’re going to make a phone charge station with the strip plug on it. And here, we’re going to say, “Okay. The cake is to the left. The phone charging is to the right. So, please, use this and don’t put it on the floor, so the waitresses can go across and not trip over a cord.”

John Maher: Right. What are some other ways that technology can interfere with the wedding and how can the couple control that? I’m thinking of situations where maybe you have a professional photographer who’s trying to take some pictures of the bride and groom or the wedding party. And now, all of a sudden, you’ve got every single person in the room with their camera phone out, taking pictures as well. Maybe they’re getting in the way. Is there something that can be done about that?

Maureen Woodman: Well, I think that one of the biggest things that I see is right with that photographer. The photographer is definitely, in the first half of the wedding, trying to get staged photos. She specifically is trying to get the first kiss, the ceremony, the dancing, the toast, whatever. And she is setting them up for a photo that she knows in her head is on her checklist.

And then, you can have someone kind of jump in right in front of her with their iPhone to take a photo and kind of miss it. The other thing is I’ve seen people, where they think they are the actual professional photographer. And they’re running around, chasing the bride and groom. So, not only do they have the professional photographer. They have their friends trying to stage and set them for a shot.

It’s hard enough to get through the day with one photographer. Never mind, now there are 30 in the room. And they’re trying to get the best picture to have it on the internet or whatever. So it’s definitely a change.

John Maher: Isn’t there a situation too where professional photographers use these flashes that are off of their cameras and those flashes are triggered remotely by the camera flash? And so, when other people are taking pictures, they can actually trigger these other professional photographer’s flashes to go off. And then, that can kind of mess them up.

Maureen Woodman: Absolutely. The flash can cause trouble whether it — Again, ruining the moment or the flash of the iPhone goes into the flash of the camera for the photographer. And then, they lost their picture by accident too, when they won’t know until afterwards.

John Maher: So, is it okay to ask your guests, “Hey! Could we hold off on the pictures for a little while, while the professional photographer takes these shots?” How do you handle the situation?

Maureen Woodman: I think it’s something where your event coordinator really or your event manager comes in play. It’s something that you should try to remember when you do your detail meeting before your wedding and say to the manager or the event coordinator who’s running your party, “Could you please politely deal with guests that seem to be interfering with my photography?”

Because it’s probably going to be a lot easier for that manager to do it than the bride and groom to — they can’t do anything like that that day. They don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. But at the same time, I think the coordinator or the manager of the room is well-aware that this is definitely a new issue with all the iPhones.

John Maher: Right. Okay. That’s great advice, Maureen. Thanks very much for speaking with me today.

Maureen Woodman: Thank you, John. Thanks for having me today.

John Maher: For more information, you can visit The Essex Room website at or call 978-768-7335.

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