Lauren Muise, manager and wedding planner at The Essex Room in Essex, Massachusetts, talks about social media ideas for weddings, social media’s impact on the industry, and wedding etiquette for couples and their guests.
John Maher: Hi, I’m John Maher. I’m here today with Lauren Muise, manager and wedding planner at The Essex Room in Essex, Massachusetts. Today, we’re talking about wedding social media ideas. Welcome, Lauren.
Lauren Muise: Thanks for having me.
Social Media and the Wedding Industry
John: Sure. So Lauren, how has social media changed weddings in recent years?
Lauren: People nowadays are really totally emerged in the social media world. People that are getting married now were born into it. They’ve always used social media, so it definitely is becoming increasingly important when they are planning their weddings.
Obviously, it’s a great way to share your lives and your journey throughout your wedding planning process, but it’s also becoming increasingly important for wedding vendors to share their information, because couples are choosing to actually shop for their vendors through social media. I’ve seen people actually order things through online then use that, as well as get information about vendors that they might actually hire for their wedding.
John: So they’re actually looking for information. Where are they typically getting that information from? Is it Facebook? Is it Instagram? What are the social media sites that they’re looking at?
Lauren: Yeah, I think Facebook and Instagram definitely are the biggest two in my opinion. Obviously, Instagram you can really get a grasp on what a vendor is offering through pictures, which I think pricing and reviews and pictures are what couples are looking at when trying to find their wedding vendors, especially a venue and photographers.
So I think in my opinion, Instagram is the biggest, but obviously Facebook, there’s ways to provide more information. Instagram is primarily pictures. Facebook you can write a little bit more text and actually provide the pricing and reviews and all that kind of stuff.
Facebook vs. Instagram for Wedding Information
John: So, from the vendor’s perspective, as a venue, you can give a lot more information to a potential couple that are looking for you on Facebook than you can on Instagram?
Lauren: Yeah, I think you can write things in the captions obviously, but I think those who go to Instagram are more looking at the pictures versus the actual captions.
John: Okay. So what are some of the things that a wedding couple is looking for with social media in 2020?
Lauren: Well, they’re definitely trying to connect more. Obviously, you’re friends with people and you follow specific things on social media, but when you’re trying to incorporate your wedding, I think, especially if they are doing shopping for wedding vendors, they want to feel like they can connect with the people that they’re searching and feel included.
So specifically, to venues when they’re shopping on Instagram, or Facebook, or whatever. They want to feel like they can picture themselves there and that they would really connect with the teams.
So you go online and you see photographers and vendors all over the place picturing the perfect wedding couple and all that kind of stuff. But obviously, that’s not the real world. We have people of all shapes and sizes, and all different types of ethnicities that are getting incorporated into their ceremonies, that kind of stuff. So I think when people are shopping online, it’s important for them to see that kind of stuff.
So I think we at The Essex Room are really striving for 2020 to make sure that we are putting our vibe out into social media. So meaning who we are as a company, who we are as a team, so people can see who we really are and feel like they are connecting to us and can see them actually enjoying working with us on a personal level, obviously.
John: Right. That’s what you’d want is for a couple to be able to look at you guys and say, “I could really work with them. They seem really nice. They seem like they’re the same vibe that I have,” or, “They understand what I’m looking for from my wedding.” And “Hey, those pictures that I saw on Instagram of that last wedding that they did, those people look just like me,” or my-
Lauren: Exactly. They don’t want to see the cookie-cutter things. They want to see… Even I was reading an article people want to have their dogs at their ceremonies nowadays. I’m a huge dog lover. I think that’s one thing that I can connect with my couples. I’m a planner planning a wedding, so I think occasionally updating our clientele about that is exciting for them to see, just so they can see I’m in the process as well. So I’m understanding all the stresses and anxieties that come along with it. I think it’s just important to put all that information out there so people who are shopping on social media can see that we’re in the same boat as them, I guess.
Ways Couples Use Social Media to Plan Their Weddings
John: Right. What other ways do couples use social media in their wedding? So obviously shopping for their venue, shopping for their photographer, that kind of thing. But how else is social media involved?
Lauren: So obviously it’s a way for them to connect with their family and friends throughout their planning process. But it’s also a great way for them to collect pictures and maybe video clips from their guests during their actual wedding. Obviously hiring video and photographers is expensive and people tend to do that, but there’s always packages that don’t include certain things and whatever it might be for their budget. So I think using social media, hashtags and stories and all that kind of stuff, you can even get custom filters for people to use when they’re taking pictures at your event.
I think obviously that’s very interesting and attractive for couples planning weddings because they want to be able to collect all those pictures afterwards and be able to look back and really see how people enjoyed their wedding that they spent all these months planning.
John: Right. So years ago you might just have your pictures from your photographer and that’s it, and then there was a time there when maybe you’d go to a wedding and they would have one of those disposable cameras on the table or whatever. And everybody at the table would take some pictures. Now just everybody has their phones with them. Everybody’s taking pictures. And the couples want to share in that and see those pictures and see all of the things that maybe they missed while they were having their reception.
Lauren: Exactly, Yeah.
Using Social Media in the Wedding Industry
John: What do you recommend when it comes time to pick a hashtag to use and let people know to use that? What are some of the things that people are doing?
Lauren: That’s one of the things my fiance and I are trying to come up with something that’s creative for us. His last name is Sweet. So I think there’s a lot of things that I can use because-
John: Yeah, that opens up some possibilities there.
Lauren: Yeah, definitely. I think people have the same problem really trying to find something creative. Whatever you do come up with, I think a lot of people stress out about it. What it actually is, it’s hashtag isn’t what’s important. I think that the purpose of it is what is important. So I think the main thing is picking something and then posting it and sharing it with your family and friends so it actually gets utilized. And ways to do that, I think people send out save the dates. So whether you’re doing it electronically or through an actual printed invite that you’re sending out months before the wedding, those are less formal, so if you wanted to share something like a hashtag on there, that gets the word out months before your wedding.
And usually on your save the day you also put, if you’re doing a wedding website, wedding websites are a good way to post that as well. So if people are just going online to get a little bit more information about your wedding, maybe seeing your engagement pictures that you posted on your website, they’ll see the hashtag there and see that, okay, so if we are part of any of these events and want to share our pictures with the couple, that’s the tag we would put on those.
So I think posting it in as many places as you can beforehand definitely gets the word out there. And then also we have a lot of couples here that do little signs that they might put in the entryway or at the bar, that kind of stuff. So that when people are around the room, they get reminded to use the hashtag when they’re taking pictures.
John: Right. But get, like you said, getting the word out ahead of time so that people come to the wedding already expecting, all right, I’m going to be posting stuff on social media and I’m going to be using this hashtag and then, like you said, a little sign to remind them of what it is if they need to remember.
Lauren: Yeah. And there’s even apps out there now that you can connect with Instagram and Facebook, they work together, where it’s for the purpose of collecting pictures from a larger group. So I did a little research, there’s some, like Eversnap and DropEvent where you can again share that information ahead of time with your group of guests, and they basically just sign in and upload all their pictures from the event and then you as the couple afterwards can log in and download all the pictures from all your guests from one easy app.
John: That’s handy.
Lauren: It’s definitely becoming more and more prominent to do things like that. And my wedding is in September, so I’m a little ways away, but I definitely am starting to do that research because I definitely want to take advantage of those resources as well.
Social Media Wedding Etiquette
John: Sure. Are there some social media etiquette do’s and don’ts when it comes to a wedding that you think of?
Lauren: I think when it comes to being a wedding vendor, I think you don’t want to come off as super salesy. Like I said, people want to feel like humans to you. They want to connect on a personal level, not just feel like money to you. They want to feel like real people that you’re actually there for them on a personal connection.
So I think on our end we always want to again, just share who we are as people, what our goals are as a company, and connect with our couples. So we don’t want to come off too pushy. And of course another don’t would be to not be inclusive of everybody. We want to make sure everyone feels comfortable here.
From a bride’s point of view, I guess there’s not like, in my opinion, too many do’s and don’ts. Obviously the element of surprise is nice, so while people are super, super into social media these days and they’re posting everything about their lives, I think it is nice to share little snippets about your wedding planning, but obviously I wouldn’t overshare because people are coming to your wedding and they want to be surprised when they walk in. And I think as a bride or a groom, you would also appreciate that element of it as well.
John: Right. So maybe not announcing, okay, this is the theme we’re going with. This is what our decorations are going to look like and we’re going to have these special stations at our wedding, so that everybody knows what to expect when they come. That might not be the best idea.
Lauren: Yeah. I think an element of surprise is always nice.
John: Any other tips that you want to give to couples while they’re planning their wedding in terms of social media?
Lauren: Sure. I think really balance is what’s super important. Obviously you want to capture your journey and incorporate the hashtag is always nice. But I think it is super important to live in the moment. So while it is definitely a nice resource to collect pictures and all that, we do get a lot of couples that actually do what we call unplugged ceremonies. So where phones at all are not utilized by the guests during the ceremony. But then when they come in for the reception and dancing part, the phones are back out taking pictures.
So I think balance, you want people to be there to celebrate your marriage and not just be looking through a screen the whole time. So I think again, balance. Pick the moments where you do want to incorporate social media, but don’t overthink it. And remember you’re supposed to be enjoying that moment, not worrying about what people are posting online.
John: Probably something to remember as a guest as well. Take some pictures, but maybe don’t overdo it and don’t be just on your phone and enjoy the moment.
Lauren: Yeah, I was at several weddings as guests last year and that was one of the things I noticed, I guess since I’m a wedding planner things stand out a little bit for me when I’m at weddings as guests now. And I remember the bride was walking down the aisle and there was just 15 phones in the middle of the aisle taking videos of her walking. And those stood out to me so much.
So now I think I respect that aspect a little bit more. In planning my own wedding, I definitely think that that’s something I’ll consider is doing an unplugged ceremony, but then also incorporating social media and pictures later in the evening once the formal aspect of the event is past.
John: Right. What do you think the best way is to ask people not to use their phones during the ceremony? Do you include a little basket before they come in that says, hey, drop your phone here, or do you just say like, hey, would you please put away your phones during the ceremony, but we’d be happy to have you take pictures during the reception? What’s the best way to do that?
Lauren: I think it could be a little pushy to try to collect phones beforehand, but I think honestly we get a lot of couples to do just a very respectful sign at the beginning of the aisle. So when they’re going to take their seats, they walk by it. We do get some people that have their officiant or Justice of the Peace make a small announcement at the beginning of the ceremony, which again, if it’s subtle and not overbearing, it’s fine. Again, I wouldn’t be yelling at people to put your phones away.
John: We’re going to throw you out if you use a phone, or something like that.
Lauren: I think doing it in a respectful manner is nice. Obviously you don’t want people to walk away from the ceremony and feel like that was the thing that they took from it. So something very subtle as a reminder is fine. And also signage, I think. That’s a cute way to add a little bit more decor to the ceremony. If you do like a nice rustic sign or whatever, galvanized signs, whatever, mirror, whatever it might be that your theme is. I think it’s another element that you can incorporate too.
John: And maybe just something along the lines of like, in order to truly enjoy this beautiful moment, we’d request that you don’t use your cell phones during the ceremony, or something along those lines would be nice.
Lauren: We ask you to live in the moment with us and enjoy this, and then take pictures later.
John: All right, well that’s really all great information, Lauren. Thanks again for speaking with me today.
Lauren: No problem.
John: And for more information, you can visit the Essex Room website at essexroom.com or call (978) 768-7335.