DECATUR – The divide over whether to embrace or ban technology and social media at a wedding is deep.
Younger couples used to posting every life event on social media want to bring technology into traditional wedding ceremonies in what's becoming the clash of “I do” vs. “i-gadget.”
“Technology has forced couples to decide if they want a super charged wedding,” said Jamie Miles, editor of TheKnot.com. “Or if you want to do the other extreme and have an unplugged wedding”
Miles said technology has helped most in the wedding planning process. Wedding websites and, more recently, apps can instantly connect couples to vendors with their phone.
“You don't only have to plan your wedding in front of your computer,” Miles said.
Couples are also about to crowd source wedding details by asking questions in group chats, sharing links with friends and scouring message boards.
Every year The Knot takes a social wedding survey. In 2012, 20 percent of couples did a wedding hashtag, such as #TeamSmith or #JohnsonWedding, more than half had one for 2014.
By asking guests to use a hashtag when posting photos or statuses, the couple can see from their guest's experience.
“It's cool to look back the next day and see all the perspectives aggregated together,” Miles said.
But posting on social media also runs the risk of insulting those who weren't invited, or hearing complaints about the wedding.
Even if you're announcing the engagement on social media and sending out evites, the traditional phone call and formal paper invitation are not only appreciated, they're expected.
“It's an informal method of communicating,” Miles said. “Because it is so easy to post what you had for lunch.”
Things to think about:
- Do you need to post a WiFi code or have a charging station?
- Guests may post potentially unflattering photos or spoilers (do you want the groom to see the dress first on Twitter?) for all to see when using a wedding hashtags.
- The hashtag may need to be very specific to avoid mixing with other events.
- If you don't have a videographer, consider appointing a technologically prone guest your digital delegate for the night to Vine or Instagram video of speeches and dancing.
- If far-flung guests can't attend, consider live-streaming the wedding.
- Think outside the box, do you want a QR code on the invitation linking to your wedding website? How about a downloadable favor with an access code for a song, ringtone or book purchase?
Every couple has heard the horror story of an enthusiastic guest stepping in the way of the professional photographer to snap a picture with their phone or a loud ring tone going off during the wedding march.
Tales like these are enough to make a more introverted couple ban intrusive technology from the wedding they've been planning for months. Whether it's concerns of being interrupted, privacy or a desire to live in the moment instead of Instagram it, some couples are opting to downplay technology on their big day.
“Based on what we've seen … it causes couples to think about how much they want to share,” Miles said.
During ceremonies, couples may restrict photography either out of personal preference, church rules or in deference to their hired professional photographer.
Oakely-based wedding photographer Valerie Cook said most people avoid being in her way to get photos of their own.
“People know that (couples) have paid me to be there, so they're good about being conscious,” Cook said.
In nearly a decade of shooting weddings she's been lucky to never have someone interrupt the crucial photo of the first kiss. But inevitably she has to work around phones, iPads and the people holding them in the aisle during the ceremony.
“It's gotten better,” Cook said. “When the iPad first came out that was terrible.”
She's seen the shift in technology from film cameras, “it would take forever to take a picture,” to better quality phones “these iPhones they click and they're done.”
In the past few years, Cook said most guests are leaving their bulky cameras at home and relying on smaller phones instead, but there's always the risk of a surprise photo bomb.
At the very least, unplugged weddings don't have to worry about finding WiFi, explaining to grandma what hashtag is or a low battery.
Things to think about:
- What level of unplugged are you willing to go? Requesting guests to leave their phones at home may be going too far, but a phone check station may suffice for the ceremony. Asking those with phones to turning them on silent or vibrate is reasonable. A ban on taking photos is well within your rights, but may be ignored if guests get caught up in the moment.
- How to announce: In the invitation, the program, a board outside the venue or via the pastor.