Q: I just returned home from my incredible wedding yesterday. It went as well as it possibly could and it was absolutely beautiful. Aside from my anxiety, it was pure magic. I was not prepared, however, for how I would feel the day after. We had an unplugged ceremony, requesting everyone put away their phones and just be present. Imagine my surprise when my now-wife is checking her Facebook and sees a photo of all of us (brides, rabbi, and party) still under the chuppah! The person who posted it even made a comment saying, “Technically I didn’t break the rules, the ceremony had already ended!” Accompanying this photo was the hashtag #loveisloveislove. Now, I’m not a huge fan of social media to begin with and have deactivated my once well-used Facebook account, so please check me if I’m being unreasonable here… but I feel really uncomfortable with this. I felt like we asked for people to be present during an intimate moment, and instead someone betrayed that request, displayed this moment for the world to see, and then took the opportunity to turn it into a political statement that reflected well on themself. Once this was done, it was re-posted and others started sharing.
Soon after we started seeing photos of us with the Rabbi, wrapped in the tallit. Then came videos and photos of first dances, father-daughter dances, etc. I wasn’t present for the pre-ceremony announcement that I was told the Rabbi made, but what is the social media etiquette for this? Considering my anxiety was already insanely high from being paraded around in front of eighty-five people I know and love, it would have been really nice to be asked before such intimate moments were put on display before the entire Internet. To be clear, it’s not that I want to control everything posted from our wedding or that I don’t want people to share their moments of celebration! I would love to see selfies and people posting pictures of themselves with friends, or with one of the brides, etc. But of the ceremony and first dances and parent dances without permission? Don’t people need to ask first? Isn’t there supposed to be a respect of privacy? Or was I explicitly supposed to talk about social media and list those things I didn’t want shared?
After this happened, my wife was kind enough to indulge me in my request for her to post a tactful and polite “Please be considerate of intimate moments when you post” status. But considering I was so blindsided by this social media frenzy as well as my feelings about it, I figured I would write in so other brides can think about it and be given advice before their big day.
—Hindsight is Not Always 20/20
A: Dear HINATT,
Oh man, I’d be furious with the “technically” friend. FURIOUS. No matter what your officiant said, this friend clearly understood the request and chose to find a loophole. I’d be really tempted to, “Well, technically…” any of her requests for the future. TECHNICALLY, she’s a jerk.
But, I’d just caution you to be careful not to let your irritation with her (or any of the other friends who shared sacred pieces of your ceremony) spread to all the photos, lumping them all in with the bad apples. I completely understand the vulnerability, the overexposure you describe. But asking folks to put away their phones during the ceremony isn’t really the same as asking them not to share any photos at all. Most guests don’t expect to need permission before sharing wedding stuff, especially reception stuff. At this point—for better or for worse—it’s taken for granted that they can share whatever, unless specifically asked not to.
You’re not okay with them sharing whatever, so it’s a different story, and I get that. It’s not too late for you to send some private messages asking for stuff to be taken down. Explain that these moments still feel very personal, and you would rather not share them online. These folks are your friends. They might not understand (everyone has different limits for social media exposure), but they should comply.
Before you do that, I’d suggest you do a quick introspective once-over on your feelings about it. Like I mentioned above, make sure your irritation with rule-breakers isn’t informing how you feel about all the rest of the photos (because those ceremony photos definitely should come down). But also consider the line you feel has been crossed. You’d hoped friends would share their enjoyment of your wedding, but wouldn’t share your own experiences. I understand that these feel like your personal moments, but notice how foggy that line can be. Your friends love you, so they feel they are sharing their own enjoyment when they post videos and photos of you.
If you read through all that and your skin still crawls when you think of those photos floating out there, go ahead and start messaging away. Meanwhile, future brides and grooms, take note: make sure you slap a, “Please don’t share wedding photos on social media,” on your program or wedding site if you don’t want them shared.
And don’t invite that “technically” person.
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