This is Why We Want to Keep Our Wedding Photos Private

floral centerpieces at a wedding

Depending on your standards, we had either a small, medium-sized or large wedding. Clocking in at about 125 guests, I’d say it was a Goldilocks-sized wedding (just right). Whatever the number, it was the people we carefully chose to celebrate our union, the beginning of our next chapter, the beginning of our family.

And I’m sorry Internet, but that just doesn’t include you.

I know. That makes me a hypocrite. Every day I dutifully read, smile, laugh, and cry with your weddings. And I love it. I like looking at the pretty pictures and reading the touching, sometimes crushing, stories. But for some reason I just can’t reciprocate. It’s not that I don’t like you, in fact I’d probably really relish in the validation the “Exactly!”s would give me. It’s just that it feels too private, too personal to let it all hang out.

My fella and I aren’t shy, quite the opposite. While there were no flashmobs or cartwheels down the aisle, we both enjoyed the attention and fell back on our extrovert tendencies to dance and sing and schmooze all night. But I still have a gut check when I think about putting my hundreds of photos on Facebook or submitting them to my favorite blogs.

Does this make me selfish? Or self-preserving? Do I owe it to the community (literal and Internet) the visual and emotional payoff you deserve for tolerating me through months of giddy excitement and leadup to the big day? Sorry, but I owe you nothing. The Internet was not a plus one at our wedding. I suppose this isn’t fair of me, when I turn around and ask to see your weddings. But this is how it has to be for now. I haven’t yet fully sorted out my feelings about how all weddings, mine included, are so intensely private but at the same time completely public displays. So I reserve the right to change my mind, and maybe down the road I’ll want to show off my wedding that I love so much. (And if you’re really curious, you’re welcome to come over to flip through the album with me over some gin.)

Let me be clear though, I’m not judging you, Internet, and in fact I’d be sad if I didn’t get to see your sweet, loving, baby families. You’re obviously not gauche wedding oversharers. You’re classy and sassy. Aren’t I? What gives? What’s my problem? I think that day, the wedding, it feels so perfect in my mind. It is perfect in my mind. The memories are exactly as I want them to look and feel forever. The hugeness and the intensity of the day is too delicate to be Internet fodder. I’m terrified that whatever I share, and whatever feedback I receive, good or bad, will alter my reality. Don’t get me wrong, I want to show you my photos, tell you my story, but even more than that, I want to protect the perfection and guard it from the world. Maybe keeping private is just a manifestation of wanting to protect my baby family that I love so fiercely. Dear Internet (even nice, safe, friendly APW corner of the Internet), you feel like wedding paparazzi, and I don’t want to let you in. Our wedding was ours and it was perfect. You’ll just have to trust me.

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  • “I think that day, the wedding, it feels so perfect in my mind. It is perfect in my mind. The memories are exactly as I want them to look and feel forever. The hugeness and the intensity of the day is too delicate to be Internet fodder.”

    This. So much this. Here I am a year and a half post wedding, and I’m only now thinking about sharing our stories and pictures.

    • That line really resonated with me too. While I talk about pieces of my wedding day I’m very reluctant to share too much detail about the whole of the day whether it’s online or even in person. I don’t even really like looking at the photos all that much myself. My memory of it is pretty perfect I’m so afraid that sharing too much will change that.

  • Tam

    I’ve long been a lurker here on APW, but this post deserves a hefty “Exactly!”

    I’m not an extrovert in any shape or form, and particularly not an internet extrovert. I don’t tweet, I don’t post on Facebook more that a few times a year – if that. So, while many of our guests have posted many pictures of our wedding to these sites (something that generates a bit of a quiet grumble from me to my husband when the world can see them!) I haven’t shared these things publicly. I have directed some of my far-flung friends who couldn’t make it on the day to the password-protected official photos, but in general ” if you’re really curious, you’re welcome to come over to flip through the album with me over some gin.” Exactly!

  • Kristen

    Bravo. I had a hard time even deciding to share our pictures with everyone on my very culled and curated Facebook friends list because I wasn’t sure I even wanted people I knew to see my wedding pictures.

    My husband is very anti-internet sharing and I’m much more relaxed about posting pictures of me pretending to make out with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. But as you said, this is one of the most intimate moments of my life. I’m not sure I’m brave enough to subject myself to the public at larges scrutiny. Granted my wedding memories run more the gamut of dissatisfaction to acceptance so I’m definitely feeling ouchy and protective of myself about this.

    Whether your reasons seem totally reasonable like yours or maybe a little touchy like mine, in an age where there is little we truly get to call private or keep to ourselves, it seems totes fine to hold some stuff back. For the gorgeous brides out there who share with enthusiastic abandon, good on you. God knows I love looking at you full of love and joy on your wedding days. Feel free to enjoy pictures of me in my bathrobe snuggling my tiny poodles. I don’t mind sharing that with the world at all.

    • “in an age where there is little we truly get to call private or keep to ourselves, it seems totes fine to hold some stuff back”

      That. So much that. That’s exactly what it is. That’s exactly why I am DEAD SET against putting certain things on public forums. At least for now any way. I need part of my life to be MINE.

  • Lauren

    As usual, this is coming for a good time for me.

    I am weaning myself off of Facebook for various reasons. Keeping Twitter, because it’s important in my field. Continuing to love Instagram, because that’s all I want Facebook for anyway. Realizing I’m not cut out to be a blogger, and that it’s OK; I don’t have to be a blogger!

    I am realizing today that the ultimatum my photographer gave me (permission for any photo I share on social media) is not the ball and chain I thought it would be. It’s actually quite freeing. I don’t want random people – or worse, Facebook creepers – rifling through my pictures. I don’t want pictures of my grandma up on a blog.

    I believe I’ll share a post with APW once the event is over, and may submit a photo with it. But I don’t think I’m cut out to be a Wordless Wedding (though I love them, bring ’em on!) and that. is. OK. Repeat. O. K.

  • Granola

    Funnily enough that sense of perfection is also why I don’t want to look at my wedding photos. I’m afraid they’ll ruin how I remember it.

    • I was really scared of this happening to me.

      I was lucky, though, and in my experience looking at my wedding photos have enhanced my memories, not diminished them. It gave my memories an added texture.

      I should note that my imagination and memory are both very vivid and secure. When I read books, for example, my imaginings of the characters stand–they’re never replaced with actors from movie versions of the same story. So it’s possible I was just less susceptible to that sort of thing.

    • These feelings can change with time. When I first saw our wedding pictures, I have to say all I saw was that my face was shiny (so much for wearing makeup, which I normally don’t). But it took a while.
      Now I look at the photos and the joyful memories, the feeling of the day comes back. I guess the “dust” had to settle, looking at them too early made me focus on things I am self conscious about (like my oily skin) and not on how the photos captured the moment.
      What really changed was watching video of the day. This was just my brother with a portable mini camera, but that video really help me put everything in place and realize that my memories were like what you could see. And it helped me make “peace” with the photos… see past my insecurities and look at what had happened.

      • Granola

        Thanks for this comment. I had an inkling that the letting the dust settle, as you say, would be helpful. Right now I do see the flaws, like you mentioned, and since I also wasn’t so happy with how the wedding photos turned out, looked at them was just depressing.

        Hopefully, like a marriage, they’ll get better with time.

      • Oooh, this I think, was another process for me altogether, and a tough one.

        My “oily skin” is my arms, and my lack of a strong jawline (can one mourn for a lack of a strong jawline, cause I’ve been doing it all my life). I expected to look at my wedding photos and see nothing but unattractive arms and jowls in a white dress. Mostly, though, that didn’t happen (ok, there are two pictures where, for real, I maybe look like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. Truth). But in general I think I look better in the pictures than I felt my reflection looked that day. In the pictures, I look the way I FELT, which was so far beyond a concept of external beauty. My photographer (Kate Sommers–KNG Sommers Photography, I found her here on APW!) is clearly a genius, and so all props to her for her incredible work (and beyond).

        But also, the photos changed the way I see myself. I know it won’t be this way for everyone. But I really think my wedding photos healed parts of my self-image. I’ve always believed that I just “don’t photograph well.” (There’s an Ani Difranco lyric: “I don’t take good pictures / cause I have the kind of beauty that / moves” that I latched on to for years).

        Anyway. I’m rambling because I haven’t finished my coffee yet. I think what I mean to say is: Yes. There’s a lot that goes on when looking at your wedding photos, and your wedding photos can represent different things, both good and bad.

    • I feel this way too. The photos I can look at a little bit and there are some that I absolutely love. The one that I honestly never want to see again is the video my mother in law took of our little city hall ceremony. It’s for sharing with people like my brother and my sister in law, who weren’t there but we want to share the experience with but I absolutely dread every time we pull it up.

  • Laura

    Right on!

    So the question then becomes… how do you (politely) proactively ask your friends/family members to abstain from posting pictures of your wedding on the interweb?

    Especially in the world of smart phones where photos can get posted as the event is happening?!

    Tagged or not, once your friend posts a photo, their friends can automatically see you, meaning your carefully, curated facebook friend list no longer matters – and strangers can now peek into the window of your private, personal day…

    Is this a reality we now have to live with and adapt to?

    • Another Meg

      Um, yeah. I would like to know this also. My partner and I have very little Internet presence (I have Twitter, Pinterest….and this? Does this count? And he has none.) and we’d kind of like to keep it that way. How do we who do not use the Facebooks ask our people to keep photos of our day off the Facebooks?

      Also, can we even ask that? Is there an ATP I missed about this? Once they’re out there, we no longer have control over who sees our day. And how. And…can I be uncomfortable with that? Because I am.

      • I think the easiest way would be to try to prevent the pictures existing for people to post. Maybe an unplugged wedding/ceremony is something to consider? If people never take any pictures (or are discouraged to do so), then they won’t have any (many) pictures to post either. However, if you want the instant satisfaction of guest pics, uh, I don’t know. Maybe a note in the ceremony programs if you are doing them, or an announcement from your officiant (“Another Meg and Her Partner are happy to have you all with them here today for this intimate/personal/private ceremony. In times like these where privacy can be hard to maintain, the couple asks that any photos that are taken not be posted to social media sites.”)

        Edit: If you still want all the pictures without all the public sharing, it would probably be smart to make a flickr or something for people to upload to

        • JESS

          I don’t think you have to go as far as as not having pictures, if (private) pictures is what you want. I don’t think there would be anything wrong with having people not post pictures. As Heather says below, the people you invite to your wedding are the people you love, and they’ll respect you. At the very least they probably won’t be surprised if they already know you are not involved in much social media. Look, if you’re allowed to implement a dress code and ask kids not to attend and demand so many other less important things of your wedding guests, respecting your privacy doesn’t seem unreasonable.

          That said, a middle ground could be setting up a private photo album on Flickr or somewhere where guests can “share” but only between those who actually attended, or allow guests only to post images of themselves, rather than you, your family, or other more “identifying” details.

          • I was figuring that no matter how politely or how many times you ask, a few pictures of your wedding are likely to make it to facebook. I was just emphasizing that by reducing the number of pictures out there, she would also be seriously reducing the number that might end up on a public forum (that she is not a member of, so it might take a while for her to be informed that pics are posted, and to ask the poster to take them down). I also think Flickr is a great idea for people who prefer to be private. I was just trying to be realistic in that as long as people have pictures, it’s possible that they will post them.

      • When I taught technology literacy to middle school students, one of the things that we stressed was that even though you took the photo, if the people in the photo ask that you not post it…or that you remove it after you have posted it…the right thing to do is to remove the photo. It’s them in the photo and if they don’t want to be shared, it’s their right to say that and have that respected.

        So include a note in your invitations. Ask your officiant to say something at the beginning of the ceremony. Put it in your programs. Whatever you need to do to be comfortable with where your photos wind up, you do.

      • Jashshea

        We had a photo sharing site that we used that sent us business cards to hand out to all the guests. All of my friends & cousins are big FB/Twitter/etc users and I knew I couldn’t stem the tide. We had over 1500 pics posted on that site and less than 50 on FB. I wasn’t totally thrilled that any were on FB, but it’s mostly pictures of Bride, Groom, & Guest. No one posted pics of us dancing or saying vows as it was happening (which gives me the icks).

        While I wanted to keep most pictures off the sites initially, I realized what I really wanted was editorial control – don’t post shitty blurry pix on FB because that’s just stupid and no one wants to see that.

        That said, I didn’t post my photog pix on FB. I posted them on my personal photo site and sent an email to a few friends/family members. I used a particularly good picture of me & husband for my FB background, but for my profile, I use a hilarious one of me from our honeymoon.

        • Caroline

          Can I ask what site you used?

          • Jashshea

            Wedding Snap. iPhone and Android apps (I sent an email telling the more tech-savvy folks to download the week prior). Everyone can upload once they’ve downloaded and they can all see what’s shared.

            Has some photo filters and editing tools, but what I really liked was that they have someone looking at the pictures as they’re uploaded (so no, um, creepy? pictures will make it onto the site).

    • I think you just have to be blunt with people if you don’t want pictures up. I’ve heard a lot more frequently about people putting up signs at their weddings asking people not to take pictures of the ceremony at the very least, but you could put up a sign asking people not to use social media as well, stating that you would like it to remain a private, intimate occasion. If your friends and family really care about you, they’ll respect your wishes.

    • I have a couple of friends (mostly her) who is very private. We kind of know this, so we did not post photos of her wedding on facebook.
      But she did send a polite email to everyone (or put it in the wedding website, I don’t remember) explaining that she did not want any of their wedding pics on facebook.
      People understood.
      I guess this is one of those things where you feel kind of shy of asking, but at the same time you can totally be assertive and say what your wishes are, because it is a very intimate moment.

      • She didn’t want pictures on facebook but she had a wedding website?

        • wedding websites are generally really easy to password protect.

          • Not trying to be one of those snarky people or press the issue just to be “right” but I have friends that study the hacker community so something like that makes my ears perk.
            I think other posters made this observation but if she’s in the super-private-person camp inconsistency like that can always come back to bite her.


            I guess in her case she might just be drawing the line at exactly how much of the wedding itself she wants out there, so to speak and it’s her choice if she wants to go forward with a website.

          • One More Sara

            I mean, all that article proves is that you shouldn’t overshare. If someone is worried about sharing their wedding photos on FB, they probably aren’t the type of person to overshare to the point of their password being that easy to guess. Heck, that’s a perfet reason not to overshare period. If you use a certain little known detail for a password, it’s probably smart to keep that little detail private.

        • Kira

          Also, you can pick what you put on a wedding website. My fiance’s and mine doesn’t have any intimate details about our relationship, our proposal story, or anything else I don’t want to share with the internet at large–just stuff like directions to our wedding venue and information about hotels for out-of-town guests.

      • ElisabethJoanne

        I don’t see that as an inconsistency. You can password-protect a wedding website, choosing something that friends-of-friends can’t guess. As the airport security debates have shown, often privacy concerns aren’t so much with anyone-in-the-world seeing something, but with someone you know or might meet seeing it. So if hackers crack a wedding website for fun (or to steal the gifts), that’s a different kind of privacy concern.

        Whereas with Facebook’s present security settings, friends-of-friends can see photos, and those friends-of-friends are likely to be the very individuals a couple particularly doesn’t want to see the photos. Also, I hope HR departments aren’t going to put any effort into hacking a wedding website, but they could get photos off of Facebook.

    • Jessie

      I think it’s totally fine to ask people to refrain from posting pictures of your wedding on Facebook. Before our wedding, we sent out an email to our guests asking them not to post anything on Facebook. We did ask them to take pictures if they had cameras, and we asked them to share those pictures with us, but we didn’t want them shared in a public forum. I really didn’t want to be tagged in a picture like that and then have lots of people who are really more acquaintances than real friends looking at it. I’ve done that to other Facebook acquaintances, and it would’ve been too weird for me. I’m pretty private and am careful about what I post on Facebook. For the most part, people listened to our request and were really nice about it. We even got some positive comments about the request. A few months after that, we did have one friend ask again to post a few pictures on Facebook, and we gave permission, as long as they were pictures of friends and not of us.

    • Granola

      I really didn’t want my wedding photos on Facebook and for the most part people knew me and how I felt and just didn’t do it. I ended up changing my mind and relaxing it a bit, but my friends listened when I’d talk about feeling uncomfortable with it. Otherwise I think talking to anyone you know specifically would be likely to post them would be the way to go, or emailing them directly.

      Nothing gets people in a huff like a mass email.

    • Jaya
    • I think a well-worded note in the program or on the tables at the reception is all you need. And maybe ask some good friends/family to help explain why you made the choice or defend it via word of mouth if people are getting cranky about it.

    • meg

      Funny thing that, when Maddie decided to run this post (I’m on maternity leave after all) I said I was going to write the exact post you’re requesting.

      I’m super sensitive to it right now, since we’ve made a decision to keep our kid basically offline (possibly worth discussing someday, donno) I feel like I’m constantly awkwardly asking people to “Please don’t take a picture of the baby,” because 9 times out of 10, that picture is going to land on FB or Instagram or whatever, without asking me about it first. Which, when you think about it, IS CRAZY.

      And it’s CRAZY that we have to deal with it with weddings, and every moment of our private lives. So stay tuned. We’ll discuss.

      • KC

        So glad more of this will get covered (it’s a hot button topic for me)(perhaps obviously)!

        And so sorry that it’s necessary to ask people not to take photos of your kid all the time; I can imagine that would get old pretty fast. I wish we lived in a ask-permission society (in terms of other peoples’ privacy and boundaries).

        Possibly little-known fact: in at least a lot of states (not sure if this is universal or not), foster parents are not supposed to let photos of their kids get onto the internet (how this works legally with strangers/acquaintances taking photos of the kids you’re fostering, I have no idea, but it makes sense from a keeping-the-kids-safe perspective). But if you get desperate, you could always claim that you’re in the adoption process, and if they post a photo online, you could lose your baby! ;-) (I do not actually think this is a good idea.)(but possibly better than some options.)(just not better than many options.)

      • YESSS. I’m much more relaxed about it than I used to be, but it got to the point where I felt like I had to confiscate camera phones for a while when people would be around my kid. For me, protecting her privacy was something I had to do for her, because she was too young to make that choice herself. (Now, a natural ham, she constantly says stuff like “by the way, I took a super cute photo of me while you were in the shower. You should put it on facebook; people will like it.”) And also, just from a worried parent perspective, the internet is full of creeps.

        I don’t think there’s anything wrong with deciding how much, if any, of your life you’re going to share on the internet. I would never walk into a crowded room and announce that I’d just had a satisfying bowel movement, and if someone else posted that info about me, I’d punch them in the throat. So likewise I don’t want a photo of me getting dressed, or crying, or having an intimate conversation with a wedding guest, to be on the internet either.

        • meg

          Exactly. That’s my main thing right now (other than, achem, having a not super low online profile at the moment). But he’s a tiny tiny person and he can’t voice his own choices yet. I don’t want to make decisions for him about how he wants to use his name, put himself out there in the world, tell his story. Because quite honestly, once I do that, I can’t undo it.

          Given the kid I’ve gotten, I suspect he’ll decide to put himself out there in the world somehow. But I’ll let him make that choice.

          Just. Exactly.

      • Laura


    • Class of 1980
      • meg

        I told David about this and he said, “Will someone please call up Alanis Morissette? Because that’s ACTUALLY ironic.”

    • For the current upcoming life event we are keeping of the internet, we’ve specifically told people they are not to put it on the internet without us leading out first. I’m sure there will be a few who don’t get the message, but so far it’s working okay.

      Sometimes the best defense is a good offense.

      • meg

        And I’ve found that if you’re clear, people will screw up now and then, but it won’t be a huge deal. Because you’re being proactive and feel more or less in control of things. Mistakes happen, whatever. It’s when you feel totally out of control of something that it feels really not ok.

  • Original Poster — You didn’t answer a question that I hoped you would which was:

    A) Did you ask your guests to not share the photos on social media and if you did, how did you do this?
    B) And if your guests did share your photos on Facebook, how did you react?

    I share quite a lot on Facebook and my blog. Not so much my day to day life or my relationship, because that’s sort of boring (no one needs to know what I had for lunch, unless it was lunch at say, a hot new restaurant/a particularly delicious out of the way find–but I don’t need to share photos of my turkey sandwich). But I post a lot about pop culture, entertainment, film. And I share photos. Lots of photos. Lots of travel photos…and a lot of those travel photos have occurred because I was traveling for a wedding and, yes, those photos are in there.

    Most bridges/grooms/family members have LOVED that I get the photos up–and typically pretty quickly after the event too. They love having images to look at and to share so soon after the event. I never even considered that sharing photos of their wedding would offend them and I assumed that if they wanted the photos down they’d ask me to take it down.

    I live by this rule: If I don’t want it on Facebook, I won’t say or do it. Nothing is private anymore and that is just the way things are. This is neither good nor bad, it just is.

    So as a Facebook photo oversharer who thinks that it is her right as a human being in the Internet age to take and post photos on Facebook, how would you handle me?

    • JESS

      I TOTALLY agree with the standard of “if you don’t want it to end up on the Internet, don’t do it/take pictures of it.”

      Except…in this case. So no one can get married unless they’re okay with everyone’s Friends of Friends seeing their big day? That’s not really fair. Weddings are all about expressing who people are as individuals, as a couple, as a new family. You would respect a friend’s wishes to have a dry wedding, for example, or maybe that everyone dress in some kind of cultural traditional attire. Why wouldn’t you respect their wishes for privacy as well?

      • I understand not taking pictures at the ceremony and I actually find people who take pictures of the ceremony odd–that’s what the wedding photographer is for!

        But no pictures at the reception…I mean, see my comment below: sometimes that is one of the few times you can see your friends and family from all over the country, so why wouldn’t you want to take photos?

        • kyley

          Taking photos and posting them to facebook/a blog are not the same thing, though.

          • Well unless you are a camera Nazi there is no way to guarantee that said photos will not get posted to Facebook or shared on a blog…there’s just no way to control it.

          • kyley

            I agree, but I don’t think we can conflate asking people not to post intimate pictures on facebook with a request not to take pictures, period.

            Personally, I’m planning on asking people not to take pictures during the ceremony, because the thought of walking down the aisle, not to smiling faces, but a bunch of iphones in my face, makes my heart hurt. I’ll be sharing some ceremony pics with my guests, so they don’t have to worry about it. When it comes to the reception, people can do whatever they want, and I hope they *do* take pictures and share them with me.

            Privacy is definitely complicated in our modern age, but I don’t think it’s all that helpful to throw up our hands and say, “Well, because of the internet, nothing is private anymore!” Different people have different comfort levels and relationships to the issue, all for very different reasons. For example, when you google my full name *I* am the only person that comes up. This makes me incredibly cautious about what is put on the internet to begin with. I am definitely uncomfortable about the idea of someone interviewing me for a job also being able to see my wedding pictures. While they may not be “embarrassing;” I don’t think that’s appropriate. I’m not even going to change my name or go by “Mrs.” because *that* is, to me, an invasion of privacy. As a result, I would go to great lengths to make sure that didn’t come up in a search.

            I think the best we can do is to be mindful of the fact that different people have different levels of comfort with the internet, privacy, etc. and we should check in with each other before sharing potentially private information online.

      • Granola

        While I wouldn’t go so far as to say that no one should have a wedding if they don’t want photos on Facebook, maybe there is room for recognizing that you are not actually in control of your own wedding. For me, that was the most important lesson that I took away from the whole thing.

        You can ask your guests not to take photos, which they will probably ignore, or post them online, which they probably will do anyway, and you can then ask them to remove them, which, hopefully they’ll comply with but maybe not. I agree that this is really upsetting and annoying for someone who doesn’t want those things, but at some point, you really can’t control other people.

        • Not wedding related but the best story I have about this topic:

          I went to graduate school at UNC and during my last semester UNC’s basketball team won the NCAA tournament. I watched the game in a bar near campus with my boyfriend and some of his friends, all of whom are big UNC fans. A number of the guys I was with (who were drunk yes) started bawling and, since it was a celebratory and historic moment, I was snapping away with my camera. Because I was taking pictures of the whole scene I got a number of these grown men crying their eyes out over the game. I posted these photos on Facebook as a set (I did not tag the crying men I should note, I have more sense and decency than that), and the two men who were doing the majority of the crying went BALLISTIC. They were super angry and asked me to take the photos down, and I took down most of the ones with them crying but still–if you don’t want it on Facebook don’t do it in public!

          Besides, I think the photos reflected on them favorably: real men aren’t afraid to shed tears over important things, like basketball games, haha.

          • Class of 1980

            The fact that you did not tag the crying men because you “have more sense and decency than that” is a clue that on some level, you knew it would be uncomfortable for them.

            I find it troubling that you think they were ridiculous for not wanting their emotional reaction to appear on Facebook in living color.

          • Dawn

            I would be incredibly upset if someone posted a picture of me crying on the internet. That feels like a horrible invasion of my privacy and personal boundaries no matter why I was crying or whether I was in public and whether I had been tagged or not.

            I don’t know if it’s an introvert/extrovert thing or what but I choose to live my life as far outside of the internet as possible (knowing that it’s not completely possible these days) and honestly I don’t even like it when family members take pictures of me when it’s clear I don’t want to be in the picture (maybe due to a lifetime of certain family members completely violating my boundaries in that area, thinking it was actually funny to shove a camera in my face no matter how uncomfortable it made me). So for me, taking my pictures without my consent feels like a violation (though obviously I do end up in the background sometimes and am not really concerned about that). I get that in the example you gave, it was a group photo but to me, someone who is very introverted, being caught crying in public and having that posted on the internet for everyone to see would be a violation of my personal boundaries. And obviously you don’t mean to step on people’s personal boundaries (from your perspective you’re sharing in an amazing emotional event) but there are a lot of reasons why someone might not want their picture taken, much less posted on the internet and I don’t really understand why that isn’t respected.

            And in terms of weddings, I would never ever consider my wedding to be a public event but rather a very private event that I invited my loved ones to share in. And I would hope (and assume actually) that my loved ones would respect that privacy. Though honestly this thread is kind of making me worry that I probably shouldn’t make that assumption.

        • No, Dawn, you shouldn’t make that assumption. Most people take photos at weddings nowadays–hopefully not at the ceremony, but certainly at the reception.

          Class of 1980, had they been crying over, say, a death in the family or something sad, I certainly would never have posted it or even taken a picture (I would hope that that would be obvious). But, they were smiling-crying, over a happy event, and the rest of the bar was crying too. It was a funny story at a happy time and now we laugh about it pretty regularly.

          While my friends were not in any of these photos, the next day the local newspaper and the campus paper had a series of photos of happy Carolina fans, crying, sometimes ugly crying. In print. For everyone to see. Should we indict the paper too, for capturing real-time emotions and reactions of a heated fan-base?

          What about news photographers who capture people weeping after a terrorist attack in the middle East? There are tons and tons of “private” moments that have made world headlines and changed public opinions. I realize I’m getting off topic here, but all I’m saying is that NOTHING IS PRIVATE. And that might not be right and it might not be fair, but the only way to handle it at a wedding or private event is to do as many restaurants are doing now (in response to the foodie photographer craze): ban ALL photography, camera phones, and photographic equipment that is not being taken or used by by the appointed wedding photographer.

          • Dawn

            Just to be clear, in the context of a wedding reception, while I would still feel very uncomfortable having my picture taken (because I just do not like being photographed) I would accept it. What I would have a huge problem with, is someone then posting that picture on the internet. Take all the pictures you like of your friends and family members who happen to all be gathered at the same time (because you’re obviously right that weddings are one of those few times when that occurs) and if they are fine with it, post those on the internet. But not a picture of me.

            I am just fundamentally not understanding why anyone would think it was OK to share my life, not their life, but my life, on the internet for other people to see. Sometimes I feel like I’m way too young to be this persnickity about modern technology but it bothers me that people might think that my life is up for public consumption.

          • Class of 1980

            Newspapers haven’t always been paragons of sensitivity. Just because there are newspapers, doesn’t mean you should look to them as an example of how to treat your personal friends.

            It might feel worse to know your entire inner circle is going to be staring at your crying face on Facebook … and possibly even commenting. That could feel worse than having it in a newspaper.

            I don’t think you wanted to hurt your friends. Consider it a lesson learned about how sensitive people are.

          • Hi again Dawn,

            “I am just fundamentally not understanding why anyone would think it was OK to share my life, not their life, but my life, on the internet for other people to see. Sometimes I feel like I’m way too young to be this persnickity about modern technology but it bothers me that people might think that my life is up for public consumption.”

            Here’s the thing–people aren’t thinking about it like that. They’re thinking “Oh I went to this GREAT wedding/basketball game/party that my friends were at and here are all these pictures of all of us together look at this great time I had in my life.” They aren’t thinking: “Gee, I want to show off my friend’s wedding to the world.” They are thinking: “I had such a great time at my friend’s wedding I want to show off the great time I had to the world.”

            Much like the basketball pictures, I wasn’t thinking “I want to show my friends crying to the world” I was thinking: “This was such a great and emotional experience that I had and I want to show how much fun it was to the world.”

            We are all, fundamentally, thinking about ourselves, and I can promise you that most people are not thinking about mining your life for public consumption when they are sharing photos of fun events, they are thinking about how they had such a great time and they want to share their personal experience. And sometimes that fun time and personal experience just happens to be at someone else’s wedding/party etc.

          • I think there’s a pretty huge difference between people’s reactions to a terrorist attack in the New York Times and photos of your bride friend on her wedding day on Facebook. Just because Facebook tells us everything is newsworthy, it’s not actually. And while newspapers definitely don’t always get it right, they do have a code of ethics for how they choose which photos to publish and we can expect that it’s a decision being made by someone who is somewhat trained/experienced in making that decision. Ultimately, though, they are reporting the news so the choice is about what needs to be shared for the greater good. But the average wedding snapshot on Facebook is not truly newsworthy and the average FB user is not an editor-in-chief; I think comparing the two is kind of a stretch.

          • Nicole

            The Dillettantista, we absolutely understand your point that when you post things you’re only thinking about yourself and what you want, rather than how the subject of those photographs might feel, and that’s what bothers us.

          • Ouch. Burn. Harsh, man.

            You seem to be confusing action with intent. There is no malice behind people sharing things (typically. Unless they are like Fugly Slut Muffin Mean Girls), people just like to document and share.

            One either has to draw the line and say “absolutely no photos or sharing at my ceremony/party/reception,” or just let it go. Because if one doesn’t make their intentions and concerns clear, people will be surprised and upset at negative response to what most people think is harmless: taking photographs, and sharing them.

            People who take and share photographs aren’t any better or worse, or more or less concerned with their fellow man, than people who don’t have an internet presence and don’t want to be photographed. As in all things, just make your intentions and desires clear, if people are decent, they’ll respect them.

            Every time I’ve posted photos of a wedding party on Facebook the bride and groom have thanked me for it–they’ve loved the photos, they’re thrilled to have something to look at and share while waiting for their professional photos, and frequently those photos have become the bride or groom’s profile picture and even once or twice the photo got used for a holiday greeting card.

            As I’ve said a million times, if someone specifically told me not to take photos or not to post photos I would respect their wishes. But unless someone tells me otherwise I’m going to act as I normally do, which is taking photos of fun events and gorgeous places and sharing them if I think they are worth sharing to the world. Unless someone tells the sharers of the world that their feelings will be hurt or their privacy invaded by the taking and sharing of photos, how are they supposed to know?

            As with many things, communication is key.

          • kyley

            One either has to draw the line and say “absolutely no photos or sharing at my ceremony/party/reception,” or just let it go.

            I think there is a middle ground: You can ask people not to share their photos or share a limited number of them, but welcome people to *take* as many pictures as they’d like. And as this thread highlights, people have a wide variety of opinions on the issue, so it’s always best to check with the subject of the photos.

            You’re right; communication is always key, but that goes for everyone.

          • Just because the news posts a photo doesn’t mean it’s ok. Photographers for major news outlets can and do still take photos that are invasive and inappropriate – the difference is that the people whose photos are taken can’t have those removed from public consciousness, but do often have access to legal recourse if their image is used without permission.

            To use a recent example, there were a number of Associated Press photos used at the time of a recent shooting that blew my mind and if I had been the person captured in those shots I would have flipped my lid. No one’s personal reaction to a tragedy needs to be put all over the internet and international news outlets. They were incredibly violating

            By the same token that I wouldn’t want those photos shared – or taken, really – without my consent I would not be comfortable with photos of certain very meaningful and happy moments in my life shared all over the internet. Those are my moments and I do take it as an active violation of my rights and privacy to share those without my consent.

      • ElisabethJoanne

        There’s actually a discussion of this exact question on Slate’s old tech etiquette column. The regular advice columnist said it was totally OK to request no photos during the ceremony, and no photos posted at all. The regular tech columnist said that taking and posting photos is how people enjoy social events in the 21st century, and it’s rude to take that enjoyment from them.

        I don’t have a synthesis.

    • KATE

      I wouldn’t invite you to the wedding! =P

      • If you specifically asked me not to post photos of the wedding on Facebook I would not but I would find it…odd. But yes, I would respect your wishes. And where do you draw the line? What if there’s a picture of me and my friends at the wedding and it is a great picture and I post just that picture? Would that be breaking the no photos of the wedding rule?

    • Nicole

      “I live by this rule: If I don’t want it on Facebook, I won’t say or do it. Nothing is private anymore and that is just the way things are.” Really? Your significant other is free to post photos of your intimate relations on facebook? Your doctor can relay the questions you asked and what she was thinking during your physical exam? You ask a friend for advice on a really hard issue, and they can let everyone know what’s going on? Someone can follow you into a public bathroom and take a video (with audio!) of you entering the stall and everything that follows?

      Maybe you’re at the truly extreme end of the spectrum, and those things wouldn’t bother you, but I’m guessing they would. We all have our line that separates what we feel comfortable sharing from what we don’t.

      I feel comfortable with some photos from my wedding going up on the internet, but I don’t feel comfortable with guests treating my wedding as a way to get a lot of attention on facebook. I’m not saying everyone who posts photos from a wedding on facebook falls in this category–I believe most don’t. But this past weekend, a friend of mine attended a wedding and spent all of the ‘big’ moments with her iphone in front of her face, immediately posting everything to facebook. To me, it was uncomfortable just watching it from the outside. If that had been my wedding, I would have felt pretty hurt and annoyed.

      Which leads me to your question–how do I deal with the guests who think it’s their human right to experience the wedding in any way they chose? My fiance and I are leaning strongly towards an unplugged reception, but it’s an option that makes me feel a bit sad, like I have to restrict the vast majority of my guests whom I trust to use their cameras and phones in a way that doesn’t make me uncomfortable to rein in the few who do. I’ve thought about approaching the few directly, but I imagine singling out the people who engage in the most sharing and telling them that they in particular need to scale back would feel pretty offensive to those people. Is there a better solution?

      • Wow, you REALLY misinterpreted that statement. I thought it was clear but I should have stated: If I do not want something on Facebook then I would not do it IN PUBLIC. Of course I don’t want my sexytime photos on Facebook and of course I do not want my doctor’s results on Facebook.

        (See comment above about how I don’t really post about my daily life on Facebook because, BORING. And no, I have never taken a naked picture of myself and no, if I ever decide to have a child I will never post a photograph of my ultrasound on Facebook because a) those photos could go viral pretty damn quick and b) BORING. My ultrasound would be BORING to anyone who wasn’t a close friend or family so why would I subject people to that?).

        However, if I am behaving like a fool in public and someone takes a picture of it and posts it on Facebook then that on me, I shouldn’t have behaved like a fool.

        Additionally I don’t take pictures at the wedding ceremony, because I think that that’s sort of tacky? And besides, that’s what the wedding photographer is there for. I made one exception this past year for a wedding where the couple’s dog was in the ceremony in a tuxedo and tails–it was too cute to resist.

        However, the reception and party are free game in my opinion–sometimes that is one of the few times you can see your friends and family from all over the country, so why wouldn’t you want to take photos?

        So I guess I’m not as extreme as you seem to think I am, heh.

        • Nicole

          I was fairly certain you would not actually want those things on facebook. I was using hyperbole to make a point. Getting to more realistic examples, let’s think about a night with your friends. You and your closest friend, in your own home, with no one else there. Probably private. You and a small handful of friends at one of their homes, with their significant other you don’t know so well in the next room over. Is that private? You’re at an invite-only event in a private room at a restaurant, say 30 people, all of whom you know or are the partners of people you know. Is that public enough to make anything that happens fair game?

          You say you don’t take photos during the reception because it’s tacky. Well, I agree, but there are a significant number of people out there who think it’s perfectly fine. I have my own idea of what’s perfectly fine, you have yours, they have theirs. A lot of us are struggling with how to deal with guests who have views that may be far different from our own in a way that doesn’t make them feel disrespected while maintaining our own boundaries.

          Reading your reply, I doubt I would have a problem with any of my guests taking pictures the way you described. (I’m a total sucker for dog photos.) But the tone of your initial post was *much* different. “Nothing is private..oversharer…human right.”

          • I kind of read the initial post as being a devil’s advocate. More like playing the part of an extremist that someone might have on their guest list. If you really want to keep things private, you would potentially have to deal with someone who thought like this (although, I hope not).

          • One More Sara–I can’t respond below you but you are correct, it was a devil’s advocate post, I don’t really think that extremely but I do think that people who believe that privacy still exists are kidding themselves. If someone truly felt strongly about no photos at their wedding I’d definitely follow their request, but unless someone specifically tells me not to odds are I’ll have my camera out at some point during the evening.

            Regarding Nicole: Different people would definitely respond differently to each of those situations. My general rule of thumb is that small intimate gatherings in someone’s home are private, large, kegger gatherings in someone’s home are public, anything with 15+ people is public, and an evening out with the girlfriends on the town is public (because we are in public). That doesn’t mean I’d document all the things I list as public, because unless something special is happening (ie: seeing friends or family that live far away or a birthday or whatnot), odds are the happenings going on are pretty not-that-interesting to anyone not present, so why put it on the internet?

            But yes, you are correct, most people don’t put any thought into how they social media, so I just live by the rule that if I am outside of my own home (or a doctor’s office etc.), I’m going to behave in a way that I wouldn’t mind being shown on Facebook.

        • KC

          So what *is* “Public”?

          a) a place where random strangers could see you (open restaurant, public park)
          b) a private gathering in a “closed” location (restaurant booked for the occasion, hotel ballroom, whatever, where random strangers are most likely not going to be wandering through and where the only people present are guests [ideally trusted friends and relatives] or staff [who ideally are not secret paparazzi])
          c) a one-on-one interaction in a closed location

          I’d expect the vast majority of weddings to be more or less “non-public” – yes, there are a lot of people there, but they’re all invited-people, not random-people. If you’ve got a literal “dancing in the streets” wedding, then the “dancing in the streets” part seems to have a lower expectation of privacy, yes (still, no upskirt photos or photos that misrepresent a situation; if two people do the “trying to pass each other on the sidewalk, then bolt to the same side and end up crashing into each other” thing, then don’t post a photo that looks like they’re embracing, yes? Even if it’s posted with an explanation of the context, that context can get snipped out *so fast* with the generous help of the internet…).

          (and then there’s the whole bonus question of what to do about abuse victims who have escaped their abuser but whose safety/life depends on their abuser not knowing their location – do they just not get to go to wedding receptions ever? Or do they have to hang a sign around their neck so that people who don’t know them personally know they’re abuse victims and not to post photos of them online, or wear a mask? This would, I would expect, be an excellent reason to ask people to not post photos of a wedding online; if you knew that one of your guests has problems of this sort.)

          • Literally, as soon as I have stepped out of my house, or once I have invited someone that isn’t my manfriend or a very very close friend or family member into my house, my brain switches gears from “This is private” to “This is public and you will act accordingly because the future and science fiction and everything is documented.” These might not be the rules everyone lives by and, as stated above, my post was more of a “devil’s advocate” thing than a ‘This is how I actually behave in my life” thing, but I still act as though everyone is going crazy with the internet and sharing all the time.

            Granted I should also note that it takes a lot to embarrass me–I happily post photos of myself in costume at nerd conventions on Facebook and on my blog. I don’t, however, post photos of myself sloppy drunk on Facebook…but I also don’t get sloppy drunk in public because, well, see above (and I wouldn’t post photos of my friends sloppy drunk either but you never know what you catch in the background of a photo, so I might accidentally get a photo of, say, a local politician sloppy drunk in the background of a photo. And on the reverse side, someone could catch a background shot of one of my friends sloppy drunk in public. When you go out in public don’t act a fool!).

            I can’t speak as to abuse victims, that’s an extreme case that I fortunately do not have to contend with in my daily life and, as far as I know, none of my friends have ever had to contend with that issue (thank goodness).

            However, the world is a public, viral, sharing place, and it isn’t going to change, unless we go the way of that horrible “Revolution” show on NBC.

          • KC

            I have literally never been sloppy drunk, but I am sufficiently unphotogenic that there are a lot (like, a *lot*) of photos where I look sloppy drunk (one eye half-closed, mouth open, arm flailing off to one side). And this is one of the things I object to about the “you’re allowing yourself to be seen by other people or in public, therefore all photos are fair game” thing – photos do not contain the full context, photos can be seen by people who will not be charitable and who you would not invite into any portion of your life (including bullies), photos can be found by future employers (again, without context), photos can “lie”, and you can’t stop the spread.

            Regarding which way the world is moving: There is a difference between unavoidable and desirable. I do agree that decreased privacy seems to be the direction that things are going in, but I personally consider the commoditization and decontextualization of our lives to be closer to the spread of a disease than to positive progress (admittedly, there are some positive effects, they’re just vastly outnumbered by more unpleasant symptoms). It’s one thing when people are putting just what they choose about themselves out there; it’s another thing when you have no choice about what parts of you and your life are dished up to the world, accurately or inaccurately, with or without context. Admittedly, some people have thicker skins and may not mind the criticism/jealousy/damaged friendships, etc., that information out of context can produce – but there’s still a difference between choosing to put stuff out there for a wider audience and having that choice made for you, yes?

            (sorry, haven’t seen or heard of Revolution on NBC; I assume it’s post-apocalyptic in some form, as that’s more or less what it would take, yes?)

          • @KC — PREACH.

          • Fortunately, I have never been sloppy drunk either (minus one night, in my household, after a horrific grad school experience, but that was just little ol’ me, by myself, not acting a fool in public). But I’m sure you have had some friends and family that have been sloppy drunk. And if they were doing so in public and someone got a photograph of them–a friend or a stranger–well, there’s not much one could do about it, unfortunately.

            There exist, on Facebook, RIDICULOUS photos of me at parties, dancing, making crazy faces, waving my arms around, having a great time and looking totally dumb doing it. All I had to do is untag them and unless someone is REALLY doing some stalking, they’ll be VERY hard to find. And I don’t care that they’re there because while I was doing it I thought to myself: “I’m not drunk, I’m not on drugs, I’m just dancing and having a great time and if someone gets a photo of me WHATEVER, I am aware of what I am doing and it is what it is.”

            Unfortunately that choice is becoming less and less one that we can make ourselves. It just is what it is. Science fiction is becoming reality and while I don’t think it is the best, the only way to handle it is to just behave like you are on camera whenever you are outside of your home.

            You must not have watched the Summer Olympics, all NBC did was promote Revolution, it is a show set about 15 years in the future in a world where all electricity has gone poof, and it is terrible (I quit after a number of episodes). You’re not missing anything, heh, but it is an interesting.

            I know I’m coming off as a bit of a bitch and a cynic and a lot of this is because I want to act as devil’s advocate here because I really do believe that we have zero control over this–except for controlling how we act in public.

          • KC

            I don’t think it’s technically inevitable. I do think it’s moving in that direction with a great deal of momentum and is very likely to happen, but options for helping to slow things down or reverse them include:

            1. not accepting this as normal (verbally objecting, requesting that other people not do it, or standing up for people who do object when they’re being labeled by those around them as luddites or oversensitive or too picky or whatever)
            2. not participating in it (not posting recognizable photos of other people without permission)

            Options that will move it along/speed it up include:

            1. accepting it as normal, inevitable, and/or good for everyone whether they like it or not, bullying people when they object to someone else doing it
            2. participating in it (posting photos without permission, reposting restricted-access photos to a more public corner of the internet)

            So, um, I think there are choices that can be made. We can’t personally change societal norms. But we can either help them die or help them live, sometimes at personal cost either large or small.

            (re: Summer Olympics, no US TV. So… good to hear I’m not missing much re: that series. :-) )

        • KC

          Also: an incomplete list of categories of people who might have real-world consequences beyond personal discomfort if things outside their actions at home became totally public knowledge:

          1. people who live with conservative religious parents and have converted to a different religion but will be kicked out of their house if their parents find out (in some countries, may also be killed) (personally know of one with an Islamic family in the US, although she’s no longer living with them now)
          2. people whose sexual orientation would get them fired/ostracized (I personally know of some in the US)
          3. abuse escapees (personally know some in the US) and their children who are depending on unknown location to avoid violent attack (which would include some foster kids)
          4. members of support groups of a variety of different kinds (consequences for relationships, insurance, work, etc.; some people can be open about this, some people are not in a good position to do so; again, personally know some)

          Other, more extremely “unsafe” behaviors, depend on cultural or country-based standards (places where “familial honor” means that you can be killed if your hair is visible to someone of the opposite gender outside your family, for instance, even if the hair exposure was accidental, or where conversion is legally punishable by death). Yay for not being in those countries!

          So, there’s me (I really don’t like it; it makes me deeply uncomfortable to not be able to opt out), but then there’s also those with truly tangible consequences. And many of these people or problems will not be obvious to those taking/posting photos at someone else’s wedding or party or whatever (and seriously, however much you know about your friends and acquaintances, there will always be surprises, especially with things like abuse or not-yet-out orientation or mental illness).

          I am unwilling to count the peace and safety of these people as necessary casualties for the “greater good” of more prolific online sharing, or to simply shrug and say that it’s inevitable and go along. It may happen, but it’s not inevitable, and I see it as worth deeply considering, at the very least.

          • A Single Sarah for certain values of single

            “And many of these people or problems will not be obvious to those taking/posting photos at someone else’s wedding or party or whatever”

            THIS! That’s what I’ve been trying to think through while reading today’s comments. Thanks, KC.

            Especially since wedding’s are great/awful on Facebook of seeing the one tagged photo of a friend and then being able to track down whole albums (plural!) of other people. (I mean, I can’t be the only one who does this when my college best friend is in a wedding.)

            Which is where it gets risky for people who could have consequences. Who should still live their lives. And celebrate their friends and family. Without having to worry about the actions of all the other guests at the wedding.

    • Carolyn (who doesn’t owe the Internet anything)

      Glad you asked! No, I made no specific request for people not to post or share photos, and in reality my goal was never for the wedding to have zero internet presence (though I totally respect and admire those who choose this) so unfortunately I can’t comment on strategy for keeping a low profile. There still are quite a few on Facebook, but really, my friends and family mostly know my privacy expectation and were very respectful without being asked.

      The worst offender was my husband, god love him, who was so crazy excited that he posted some pro-pictures prior to discussing it with me. I, in turn, had to respect his wishes to share All The Things. Compromises, people. We ended up sharing mostly candid dancing photos and photobooth pictures of guests. The truth of the matter is even the photos that did find their way to Facebook were old news within a few weeks, dispelling my self-delusions that I am supremely important to everyone forever.

      • Thank you for sharing and thank you for the point you made at the bottom: No matter how important we think we are, internet or otherwise, unless we are the POTUS or the FLOTUS or whatever our doings really don’t impact the majority of people’s lives all that carefully.

        My Manfriend, soon to be fiance, is like you–hates Facebook, is only on it to get events and updates from a few professional groups he’s in, rarely posts ANYTHING. He’s actually made me more conscious and aware of my Facebook activity, and presumably there will be some discussions as we near wedding time etc. Fortunately, my tendency to not post SCADS about my personal life will likely extend into this area…but we’ll see!

        • meg

          I guess the point is, it doesn’t matter if we’re important or unimportant—in the eyes of others—we all live important lives to ourselves and those that love us. And we all deserve to have our privacy respected if we want it respected, yeah?

    • meg

      “I live by this rule: If I don’t want it on Facebook, I won’t say or do it. Nothing is private anymore and that is just the way things are. This is neither good nor bad, it just is.”

      I don’t agree, lady. Private life is private. It may be that I’m 32, and Facebook didn’t even exist when I was in college, but I firmly believe (as someone who writes on the internet for a living even) that every human being deserves their privacy, and deserves to make choices about what they share. In weddings we do that with contracts, with conversations with vendors, with conversations with guests, and in shaping the stories we tell in public.

      How would I handle you? I wouldn’t invite you to any private event in my life ever. Sadly, you’d get cut from my housewarmings even. I’m not speaking figuratively here, that’s our actual policy. If you can’t be trusted to keep our private lives private, you’re not part of our private lives.

      • Hi Meg–you probably noticed that I clarified above (I thought it was clear in my original post but I guess it wasn’t) that anything that happens in public seems to be fair game nowadays. I’ve been the devil’s advocate in this conversation because I think that the idea that privacy exists nowadays is laughable. Everyone has access to a camera, everyone has access to the internet, and while you can request to your friends and family that they not take photos of your home, your child, your wedding, you can’t control what strangers will do. You can’t control the stranger who snaps a photo of your cute dog on the street, or who snaps a photo of your wedding in the park, or happens to get your baby in the background of their shot when they are taking a photo at brunch. You just can’t. And if we worried about this all the time we’d drive ourselves nuts.

        Look, unless you say to people you know–and it seems that you do have a policy that you lay down to your loved ones which is wise–that you don’t want your life on the internet, it is going to happen. Like I said I’m devil’s advocating this: I don’t take photos of people’s homes, or their babies, and I have absolutely gotten to the point where I think about what I put on Facebook (see: happy tears post-basketball story, but that happened nearly four years ago so I’m going to blame youthful immaturity on that one), but a lot of people don’t. And I think it is important to be aware of that.

        We live in world where we get ads specifically targeted to us, and where Target can tell if you’re pregnant even before you know for sure. I don’t want to sound mean, or offensive, I just strongly believe that this is the truth. I never said that people do not deserve their right to privacy–they absolutely do–but privacy outside of closed doors (and even sometimes inside) is dead. It just doesn’t exist anymore. And we need to be conscious of that.

        • meg

          A well worded answer.

          But what I’m saying is that I disagree. Privacy isn’t dead. We each can make choices. One of my driving philosophies is that we don’t have to just give in to ‘how things are done,’ but we can think things through and work to be the change. That’s obviously where APW came from. I hope many of us will work to be the change in terms of respecting privacy, and letting people choose what and how they share. (Mind you, I’m still noting that I think sharing, in a controlled way, is a very very powerful and important tool).

          And till then, I’ll have a sign up in front of every gathering we have: no photos on the internet.

          Sure, my kid might be in the background of a photo at the park. No problem. But that’s not a privacy violation. Tagging my kid in said photo, that would be a privacy violation. But if I don’t know you, you don’t know my kids name, and it’s not going to happen. Posting a photo of my kid in a background shot at your wedding when he’s a random kid? Totally cool. But if I do know you, or you want to post a photo of my kid at your wedding with his name all over it, I’ll ask you to respect my privacy. If you do, we’re good. If you don’t, then you won’t be in private moments anymore, because that means you can’t respect my boundaries.

          Be the change, people. And this is **so new** it can absolutely be changed.

          • Ash

            And it does work! I have a niece who is 18 months now and there have not yet been any pictures of her shared online. My sister (her Mom) spoke to me and my siblings about her no-photos-on-line policy before her daughter was born. We understood and and respect her wishes.
            For the most part, everyone has just followed our lead. I mean- I think she’s the cutest thing ever and she’s not in my facebook feed, or on twitter etc so she hasn’t been popping up on my facebook-happy cousins new feeds either.
            In fact- there have only been 1 or 2 situations where a photo of her was posted online. So her mother requested the removal of a photo with a quick phone call and it was removed without any drama or kerfuffel.

            I honestly hasn’t been that complicated.

        • kyley

          You’re right; we can’t control what a stranger might do, and privacy is certainly more difficult to achieve in our current age, but that doesn’t mean that privacy can’t be important to us or that we can’t seek it out in our lives.

          Look, we can’t stop the fact that manufacturing and cars and the jerk next door who leaves his lights on all the time are all steadily contributing to pollution . But that doesn’t mean we should throw up our hands, say “oh, well,” and throw trash out of the window of our hummers, on our way to cut down the rain forest.

          Instead, we recycle and reuse and hope that our small contribution can stem the tide. Privacy may not exist as we regarded it 50 years ago, but that doesn’t mean we can or should give up on the concept all together. Furthermore, and perhaps more importantly, I would hope that my friends and family would treat me differently than a stranger might.

          • Class of 1980

            Amen Meg and Kyley.

            I will never understand people who surrender and believe they are powerless.

            It’s only that attitude that reinforces powerlessness. Whenever consumers signal they want something different, the market responds.

  • Shiri

    This is such an important discussion. I think one of the impacts the wedding blogosphere has had is to make these traditionally private-yet-very-communally-public events in our lives feel more like performance, with a touch of additional “something to prove”. I know that my husband and I have very different internal privacy settings, and everything from posting pictures on Facebook to writing an APW post involves long, emotional, and sensitive discussions about what I put out there.

    For me, personally, I was ok with others (including my photog) posting pics of our wedding on Facebook, but beyond a profile pic and one full-of-joy shot with my grandmother, I didn’t do it myself. My issue wasn’t even so much the privacy of it as what I sometimes feel (only about myself!) is the “look at me!” nature of it. As the poster noted, I hardly ever feel this about others and LOVE to look at wedding pictures of people I know from childhood. Double standard, perhaps.

    • Carolyn (who doesn’t owe the Internet anything)

      Yes! I love this point about weddings needing to prove something. Folks, I didn’t get married to entertain you or the blogs.

    • Class of 1980

      Public sharing has two sides to it, as far as I can tell.

      The posts on APW feel like sharing some wonderful important slice of life. And then there are the people who document every tiny detail of what they are doing and thinking all day long … and I think they are narcissists.

      The comedian Lewis Black did a hilarious riff on this. It was about people tweeting stuff like … “I’m out buying shoes.”

      This is purely generational, I think. The older you are, the funnier it is.

      • Shiri

        I agree with you, that there are two kinds of sharing. And while I feel one way about APW, my husband can understand that and see how much it means to him, but it doesn’t mean that this is his community and that he is comfortable with it, too, you know?

        I think that documenting every detail of your life can also come from the reverse of narcissism, from the need for any validation at all. Or, incredibly immaturity. And while that frequently gets people blocked from my newsfeed, because I don’t want to see that, I do also sometimes feel for them.

        • meg

          Right. I’ll also point out there are different ways to share (on APW or elsewhere), and different ways work for different people at different times.

          I think about this LOADS AND LOADS in terms of what I put out there, and trying to guide submitters in what they put out there. For some people sharing pictures might feel ok, but sharing a emotional story might feel not ok. For some people it might be the opposite. For some people it might just be about editing those photos or words to make them feel safe. For some people it might be sharing nothing.

          So many shades of grey, lots of options, and god bless discussing everything with your partner.

  • Darcy

    Recently a cousin chided me for being coy with my pregnancy on Facebook. My response is that my uterus will not be on the internet.

    After our wedding I did spend the first few days after our honeymoon getting photos taken down. The photos I wanted removed were not the ones of us, I figured we were fair game for the day, but of my friends. Some of them are teachers or others who strive to keep their personal life off-line. My Dad was the worst offender for posting every single picture he came across, including the blinkers and the stinkers. We had a big talk about privacy and oversharing after that.

    • meg

      It’s so interesting, living in a world where people think you’re being rude (or self important) by choosing to keep things private, or mostly private.

      It’s just… interesting and odd. And obviously opposite of how things were until, oh, 10 years ago.

  • This a really interesting topic for me professionally because it brings to light a lot of contrast between connection and belonging in person vs. on the internet. As a community development professional, I can tell you there is certainly plenty of literature that looks at both. The openness of sharing personal things online is much like posting them to a bulletin board in a public space where *usually* only your friends go- but still, it’s out there for anyone to see if they wander past or really look for it.

    I completely understand not wanting your memories to be affected by other people’s reactions. Even for non-wedding major events, I can see how just looking at pictures or retelling the story can erode those once-crisp images. This is one reason I really like the Jewish tradition that requires bride and groom to take time to themselves following the ceremony. I hope to incorporate that in my own wedding someday, as well as extensive journaling before I look at any pictures or talk to anyone else about it, to preserve all the thoughts and feelings and images that may occur to me that day.

  • KATE

    I feel the same way about posting photos online, and I am struggling with whether or not to allow our photographer to post our photos on her blog. I feel terrible asking her not to, because she is fairly new to the business, and I understand that photographers rely on being able to show their work to get new clients. But at the same time….I am a fairly private person, and I hate the idea of having my wedding images online for the world to see.

    • Photogs are usually REALLY understanding about this. Unless you are getting a discount to help her build her portfolio, this definitely shouldn’t be a problem. If you still want to help her out with her portfolio, maybe stipulate that she could use the photos when she meets with prospective clients, but not posting them on her blog/website.

      • meg

        Exactly. It’s fine to want that (we actually re-wrote our contract so we had to grant permission for images shared). But if you do that, don’t expect a portfolio building price. Be kind and reasonable in your discussions, and understand if that means a getting started photographer needs to charge you a little more.

        Above all, just read your contract. When it gets tricky is when you agree to let a photographer use your images, and then they do, and you get angry at them. But really: read your contract is wise advice for all of life.

    • Shiri

      I agree with OneMoreSara. My photog said that he always worries before he blogs/posts someone’s wedding, so I think it is perfectly reasonable to ask them not to.

    • anon for this

      It depends on the photographer. Some will have no issue with not using your photos for online marketing. Newer photographers are more likely to have a problem with this — they want to build their public portfolios, which is part of why you are getting a discounted rate to begin with. If you really want to keep them offline, maybe offer to pay your photographer a little extra.

      We negotiated with ours that she could blog our photos, but only a handful of them that were pre-approved by us and only on her own blog/website. No submitting anything to other blogs.

      It’s not about “allowing” your photographer to post them — they are her images and she holds the copyright. You can ASK her not to post them, or build it into the contract so she can’t.

      • She didn’t say if she was getting a discount or not. But you bring up a valid point. The basic contract might include the photog publishing the pictures online, so if the client wants to change that, the photog might require some compensation. You’ll never know until you ask! And it’s a fairly common concern, so a pro shouldn’t be very surprised by the request.

        • KATE

          I am not getting a discount, actually. My photographer just stated that her default was to blog every wedding she shoots (because it is so helpful for business) unless the couple has a strong objection. Then, of course, she would respect our wishes and not put our pictures on the blog. My original comment was meant to be less about the logistics of keeping my photos off the internet (I’m sure I could put that in the contract) and more about personally trying to decide if having our photos on a blog is okay with me.

    • Megs

      I agree with everyone above who says talk to your photographer about it. But I would go one step further and suggest that you include whatever arrangement you reach in your contract. It seems like there are several different ways of resolving the situation, which is why I think it’s good to have in the contract so everyone is on the same page. E.g., our contract allowed for shared copyright in the photos (which is uncommon but something some photographers offer, and it was important to me to have), and if either of us wanted to share anything with a blog or media, the other party would have to approve it first. It worked for us, and it was great knowing from the get-go what the ground rules were.

      • KATE

        This is a really good idea, and I hadn’t heard of a “shared copyright” before. I don’t know if our photographer would be cool with it, but I’ll ask.

        I’m absolutely flattering myself with this concern, but while I *might* not mind having our photos on the photographer’s blog, I would definitely hate to see them popping up on bigger wedding blogs if the photographer were to submit them without asking first. Of course, my fiance and I are FAR from models, so I doubt the WIC is going to be begging to use our photos. =P

  • The timeliness of this post in uncanny and, as always, excellent.

    The boy and I are mired in this right now. Three weeks ago (good Lord, how has it been 3 weeks already?), we acted on our year-in-the-making plans and eloped to Hawai’i. Even as we were in the midst of making the announcement calls to our family and friends, we were bombarded with requests/demands for pictures in varying degrees of politeness. On the one hand, we sympathize to a degree. None of our loved ones were present for the ceremony and its pretty natural for them to want a peek at what they would have been present for, had we held a more conventional event. However, part of the whole motivation behind eloping was to preserve a high degree of privacy and it raises more than a few hackles to receive a few dozen “Why haven’t you posted pictures yet” on Facebook despite our pronouncement that we haven’t even received our professional shots yet.

    We do owe our families and friends a glimpse at our pictures when they do arrive, but we won’t be posting them to FB. Instead, we decided to create a album on a photo sharing site, then distribute the link to said album only to those we actually called/emailed/sent smoke signals to on our wedding day. We may change our stance on this, we may not. Right now, as the post author so eloquently put it, the indescribable perfection and joy associated with that day seems too precious, too fragile, to subject to a larger public stage.

  • js

    What about photos of times before Facebook, like say that time in high school you were very drunk and thought it would be a good idea to take many drunk pictures of yourself? What if a friend from high school, who you are no longer friends with but who is friends with your Mom, decides to post those pictures and tag you in them?! There is very little recourse when things like that happen and this is troublesome for many reasons, least of all my embarassment.

    • ElisabethJoanne

      You can untag yourself, but of course you have to catch it before your Facebook friends see it.

  • I appreciate and absolutely respect the idea that your wedding photos are private. However, I am completely the opposite. I am SO looking forward to seeing all the pics on FB (and picturing my exes crying in front of their computers bc I look so beautiful and happy and most importantly, unavailable. They immediately regret their stupidity of letting me go and need to form a support group to deal with their longing to be with me.)

    • Kira

      Exactly is not strong enough for this!

  • Lesley

    The day after my wedding, my husband posted that we got married on Facebook without discussing it with me. Neither of us has set our privacy settings to share with only certain groups so both of our entire friend lists saw this news and the internet reaction starting rolling in, which I was not ready for, AT ALL. I was still in the early stages of processing the wedding and when a woman who used to work at a place where I bought things for our animals said, “a ‘like’ on Facebook is the appropriate expression of my congratulations!” I get this is a cute, coy, oh look at the wacky modern world thing to say, but I felt rubbed raw by this comment. Obviously, a woman who used to work at a place where I would buy things for my animals did not need to know about my wedding, especially less than 24 hours after I had been married.

    But I did a total about face on wedding sharing, so I just want to tell you that might happen to you and it is okay. First, my photographer put our wedding up on his blog and the stuff he said about our wedding was so kind and complimentary. Other photographers commented on it, both on his images and how fun our wedding looked. We had a nontraditional wedding and I wanted it to be out there. I had one picture on one wedding blog and a whole big thing on another one. And I put some pictures on Facebook, and I still haven’t improved my privacy settings. So every one of my Facebook friends can see my wedding pictures.

    I feel like the internet can be a good, kind place full of positive sharing. This website is clearly evidence of that. I shared my wedding because I wanted to be part of that change. For me, an introvert, sharing mt wedding has been a positive experience. But I totally understand wanting to keep something so personal closer to yourself and not on display.

    • Jashshea

      Similar story..sort of. I didn’t block anyone from posting pics from our wedding (or tagging me in them) on Facebook and many guests did. I had a cursory look through them and I didn’t look especially fat, drunk, or stupid in any of them, so I let them stay as-is. But I still have my maiden name as my profile name, didn’t update my relationship status, and never posted the full photog set, so if a distant “Friend” missed the flurry of FB references to our wedding in the days before and after the wedding, they would have no idea that I’m married.

      It was mildly irritating that other people’s privacy settings are set so low that anyone can see whatever they comment on (MOM), but in the long run, it was really nice to read the notes of congratulations that random people left. One of those moments where I realized that it wasn’t just about me /sheepish.

    • meg

      Ohhh! Ok, in a follow up post we clearly need to discuss this as well: talking with your partner about what and how you want to share… before the wedding.

      Talk about a modern subject of conversation!

  • I really struggle with this, because I’m a person with an Internet Presence (such as it is) and my fiance is just . . . not. He has a Facebook (that he threatens to delete, constantly) and the only two photos of him on there are ones in which he’s fairly unrecognizable – covered in mud or underwater in full scuba gear. And that’s the way he likes it. Whereas I’m a “share everything, read my blog, just make sure the photos are flattering” kind of girl – and most of our friends are, as well. So how do I maintain a healthy medium between the two of us? I haven’t figured it out yet.

    This is also such a timely topic, because I could use some advice on the Internet and Weddings – what do y’all think about “broadcasting” (for lack of a better term) the ceremony over Skype or G-chat or some other type of web-based video sharing platform, for those important people who can’t attend the wedding? We have some people who’ll just not be able to travel to the wedding, mostly due to age, and we want them to still feel a part of it. But how? Skype them right after the ceremony? Send lots of pictures? Deal with the fact that not everyone we love will be there? Did anyone have this issue and come up with some sort of creative solution?

    • I’m in this boat as well. My partner still has all his grandparents, but for various reasons, none of them are able to attend our wedding. Our ceremony is going to be at 3pm. Late enough for a dinner reception, early enough that the grandparents (6 time zones ahead) would still be able to watch (somehow?!). A few of my good friends from college are pretty tech-y, so I think I am going to ask them for advice on the easiest way to do this (and also ask them to execute it). I wouldn’t rely on Skype if you want more than one party tuning in… it tends to lag and drop calls fairly regularly (could you imagine a Skype ring blaring through your ceremony? aaah!). Also, check with your ceremony site to see what type of internet connection they have available.

      If anyone has done this, could you submit a Lazy Girl How To?

      • The option I was considering was to set up a Google hangout in advance and send the link out to the people who couldn’t make it. Then have someone on the front row (who isn’t the family) to film it with an iPad.

        We’re getting married in the woods, so no internet connection, but luckily we’re both techy and won’t have a problem setting up an air card.

    • Cleo

      I love the idea of broadcasting the wedding to share with those people who can’t make it due to age/health reasons. What a great use of technology! \

      I did a quick Google search and found a 4 part series on Offbeat Bride about broadcasting your wedding over the internet:

    • meg

      Also! You can share pictures of your wedding (say here) without sharing any identifiable photos of him. Or write about it with just pictures (or a picture) of you. Not that you have to (obviously) though I PARTICULARLY hope you do share writing on the subject of your wedding. Just pointing out that we can share while still keeping other things (or people) private.

      • Oh, I will DEF be sharing a wedding graduate post if y’all will have me. For me, I have to write about something to fully process it; before it goes into words it feels too ephemeral to me. So I probably won’t even consider myself married until I write about how it happened.

        I’ll just have to photo shop Ryan Gosling’s head onto his body in the pictures. That should be fine and not cause ANY issues.

        • meg

          NO issues. Duh.

      • Caroline

        I’d like to have a few wedding photos on Facebook and he aims for maximum possible online privacy. I was thinking of asking the photographers to get a shot or two of us that does not include our faces, either as we’re walking away or from the neck down or something, specifically to post online.

        • meg

          Super smart to ask for! We actually take pictures of the baby like this all the time, just for this reason.

    • I wish we had live broadcast our ceremony to a few people at least…like to my MOH who was unable to come because of a death in her immediate family. But we recorded it and figured we would later share the video. Sadly, there was a freak accident with the recording and it accidentally got wiped and sent off to be repaired. A few bits are salvaged. But no sound. But even if that hadn’t of happened, I still wish we had had the energy in that last week to figure out the live broadcast thing. But we ran out of steam at the very end…. So maybe if you are thinking of doing it, maybe tackle the plans- or hand the task off to a tech-y friend- sooner than we did(n’t)?

      • One More Sara

        I actually just talked to my friend, and she had a few recommendations… Ustream and were the two that looked simplest to me. I’m going to have her man the laptop/ipad should internet monkeys or something invade. I also want to be able to embed the feed onto another site (my wedding website) so that the grandparents only have to remember one link, which they already have written down on the save the dates and will have again with the invites. What was also cool about these providers (and others similar) is that while you could do it free, you can pay just for a month to get ad-free broadcasting (to me, SO worth it). With the one-month membership, you also get video storage (and Ustream is supposed to be adding video editing soon), so I think it would be a good way to also get a bit of DIY videography.

  • Emilie Casey

    This is something I have no control over. And thus it’s one less thing for me to worry about. Which is nice! Of course I don’t want photos of my wedding all over the internet. But with my guest list it’s very likely that’ll happen.

    My solution is to just get over it.
    Enjoy the day.
    Check the internet in a week and see what damage was done.
    Request any photos of me drinking alcohol to be deleted.
    And move on.

    Really, what more can you do?

    • Carolyn (who doesn’t owe the Internet anything)

      Amen! Got to keep perspective, the Internet is generally small potatoes. I mean, the shelf life of Facebook stories is pretty short.

      But on top of that, I’m not going to go looking for trouble.

    • Thank you for posting this. This is very sane.

    • meg

      You can ask for people not to post pictures if you’re not comfortable with it.

      Lady, I’m a professional blogger with professional blogger friends, and most of my life is off the internet. If I can do it, you are BEYOND empowered to do the same.

      Or choose not to care. Which is also and excellent choice. But it’s good to have options.

  • Class of 1980

    We are a very different country in how we value privacy now. In the 1800s, no family would allow photos of a wedding to be published in a newspaper. It was too private. Then we went to formal announcements that families submitted to newspapers complete with a photo of the bride, and later photos of the couple.

    At least all that was under the family’s control.

    Now your friends can take photos of you having a really good time at parties, and once it hits Facebook, you may lose out on a job opportunity if your future employers doesn’t approve. It’s happening.

    Facebook and the lack of privacy has become so accepted, that some writers are speculating that eventually, it may arouse suspicion if a person ISN’T visible on the Internet! Maybe they have something to hide! There is already a hint in some of the comments on here that it is futile to expect privacy.


    We have not fallen into a river and we are not being swept along helplessly by the tide. It is up to US as a society to draw the line where we want it. If we think Facebook and Facebook users have the right to dictate our level of privacy, then we have abdicated the right to our own lives.

    People need to start standing up for what they are comfortable with. There is nothing written in stone that says you have to slide down the slippery slope if you don’t want to.

    • Other Katelyn

      Framing changing cultural standards about privacy as a “slippery slope” has the connotation to me that the changes are bad and we’re headed toward doom, and I don’t think that’s the case. Agreed though on each person needing to understand what they’re comfortable with and drawing clear boundaries!

      • Class of 1980

        Well, if (as some writers have speculated) we end up in a society where not being visible online is considered suspicious, that would be a terrible development.

        Even if we don’t get to that point, the fact that there are so many comments here that imply that the expectation of privacy is futile, tells me that something has fundamentally shifted. This attitude informs behavior and you end up with people exposing other people online without even thinking they should ask permission.

      • KC

        I’m not a fan of the changes. I like privacy. I like having the ability to have levels of trust rather than the levels being “No one” and “The Whole Internet”. I like being able to do things gleefully that some people would make fun of without that type of people having access to that information. I like being able to be goofy or serious or emotional or wear an unattractive outfit to the grocery store or totally fail at an attempted dance move with friends at a party without that being recorded out of context and posted online and judged by people who weren’t there. So, no, I don’t like the shift. I wouldn’t say “DOOM”, but I don’t like it, and I think there are many people for whom it is specifically unhealthy (I can’t imagine this sort of thing helping with either narcissism or with social anxiety, for instance!).

        My problem with the drawing-clear-boundaries idea is that it’s not something that each individual can easily decide and enforce. It’s more like “what level of deliberate touch is appropriate for a stranger at a bar or party without permission?” In some cultures, none. In some cultures… rather a lot. But if you’re comfortable with a tap on the shoulder/elbow at maximum and everyone around you thinks a grope or a random neck smooch from a stranger is totally fine and normal, there is not a huge amount of preemptive recourse (and any objections afterward tend to be seen as overreaction if the cultural group is sufficiently unanimous) other than just not going out in that society.

    • KC

      We individually don’t have to decide to post photos of everything and everyone without asking first, obviously, but the greater the general societal expectation that this is normal, the harder it is to request that others do not (esp. when they’re quick on the draw with their phones). (ditto with volunteering other peoples’ birthdays, workplaces, or other information to social networking sites; I know people who really don’t grasp that some of their friends don’t want alllll their information to be publicly available, for a variety of reasons including personal safety)

      On the plus side, it used to be normal and societally acceptable to throw the contents of chamber pots and dishwater out of windows into the streets, and that stopped being acceptable in many areas of large cities even before the advent of indoor plumbing. So there is hope for positive adjustment, perhaps? (sorry all ye “no one should mind anything about them ending up on the internet” folks, but I personally would rather be splashed in the skirts with raw sewage occasionally than to have a continual stream of photos and information about me be posted online. Although if laundry facilities were non-modern, I’d probably prefer the latter? I’m not sure.)

    • meg


      Obviously, I think choosing things you have chosen to share is a wonderful wonderful thing. But having no control over it is not. As with most things in life, things done TO you tend not to feel excellent.

  • Moe

    One note regarding FB, my account is set-up to require my approval before a tag is published. I can’t stop the photo itself from being posted by someone, but at least I can control what I’m tagged in.

    I eloped a few months ago and have not shared the photos via social media. I’m planning a formal wedding in a few months and I’ll share them at that event and MAYBE I will post some afterwards. It was a very private moment and this surprised me since I’m the type of oversharing girl who posts pics of new shoes, lunch and the dog all the time. (The dog has her own FB account now).

    I didn’t think it was a big deal or that anyone even noticed but a few people have told me in person that they wanted to see those Vegas photos and it feels intrusive! Not sure how I will feel about the ‘public wedding’ as I chave begun calling it or how I will share those photos.

  • Other Katelyn

    I have a pretty high tolerance for how much of my life is okay to share online. I don’t draw a hard line between “my life” and “online” in the first place, actually. The internet isn’t a “safe space” though– it’s a platform, and a medium.

    Online isn’t just where I share: it’s a big part of how I live (including professionally) and shapes the culture I’m a part of. That means I’ll draw boundaries both on websites and at parties in my living room alike.

    • Other Katelyn

      Also– I don’t think it’s necessarily a “sharing” vs “privacy” issue. I think it’s more of a “we’ve always shared. And now the circle we are easily able to share with has gotten vastly larger so how do we handle that.”

      • KC

        I think we maybe used to have circles of sharing (and still do – I bet everyone has that one friend who just can’t keep a secret and who you hence do not tell about X before you want everyone to know, even though you love her to bits otherwise), but now those walls, which always had rumor/gossip/oops/drunk perforations in them, are now just being knocked down willy-nilly. For each person I know or group I’m part of, there are different things I’m okay with them knowing about me; some of these are largely based on past experiences with them, either positive or negative (i.e. I’m not going to mention how much fun it was to play with a slinky again for the first time in over a decade to someone who thinks it’s ridiculous and a sign of A Deep Problem for an adult to own a stuffed animal), and some are just a “what is relevant in the context of this relationship” sort of thing (my boss does not really need to know about my great quest to find well-fitting shoes, or the current state of a skin rash on my torso, or whatever, whereas I might ask a friend with similar feet or who also has sensitive skin for advice/commiseration). I guess, my previous default setting was not “broadcast everything to all within reach” in most circumstances, so there’s the component of the flattening of the circles of trust as well as the broadening of the potential “audience” at play here.

        I agree that we haven’t yet figured out what to do now that we can share things with an absolutely enormous circle of people. It’ll be interesting to see what happens – I hope it’s good.

    • Really well stated. For example, think about staying in touch with far-flung friends and family: before the telephone, of course you wouldn’t be as close or feel obligated to connect. Now that connecting is so easy, we also have (in some cases) the social/familial pressure to be in contact all the time. Similarly, when before all we had to do was restrict the invite list and lock the doors to make an event private, there’s now an extra step to keep out unwanted attention.

  • this is something I have been struggling with, too. On one hand, I want pictures from our day to be shared, but on the other hand, I want to be the person who posts my pictures of me in my dress on Facebook. We plan to use the Weddingparty App for photos and for sharing, and I am currently planning to ask that folks please enjoy the ceremony and to be present with us by tucking their phones and cameras away during our ceremony but it’s not something I can really enforce, beyond asking our officiant to make an announcement before the ceremony begins. I may also be breaking my own rule by having a google hangout or a skype session so a friend who cannot be in attendance can make it to our wedding with the aid of the internet, so it’s all a bit up in the air.

    • Moe

      The last wedding where I was a bridesmaid the bride clearly requested that no photos of her be posted until AFTER the ceremony. There was no fuss and everyone complied.

    • We are planning the exact same thing — no phones/cameras out during the ceremony + the Wedding Party app for reception!

    • I think you CAN enforce it (short of actually going to each person and confiscating their phones). I was at a wedding last year in which the Bride and Groom have very visible, high-profile jobs and are, as I jokingly refer to them, “{Insert Town} Celebrities,” because they get recognized out and about a lot. And, besides that, our entire friendship group is endlessly tagging each other on FB, etc. Including the Bride!

      And at the beginning of the ceremony, their officiant asked that we not record it or take photos but just be present in the moment. And all 200+ people were totally fine with it (and I stress, again, we’re an Internet People). After all, they’re obstensibly at your wedding because they love you, right? They’ll listen.

  • So, I’m someone who puts a LOT of her life on the Internet, and I actually plan to have a mostly-unplugged wedding. Personally, I’ve watched too many mean-spirited people sit on Facebook and trash the weddings of people they don’t know at all, or people they sort of know (like someone from high school); it’s really, really gross. I’d also prefer not to have a bunch of strangers on the web following my friends’ Instagram feeds during our wedding so they can talk shit in a public forum about not just me, but also my fiance, and our wedding — which is a reflection of our families/community/values/etc. (That literally happened to a blogger friend of mine last month. It made me want to throw up.) I guess I’m used to knowing that a lot of shit-talking is going to happen to me based on my own choice to have a public blog (it hurts, and I hate it, but what can you do)…but I’m not OK with our wedding being viewed in that way because then it’s not just about me — it’s about my fiance and our families too. They didn’t sign up for that. I will definitely put some of our photographers’ pictures on the web after the wedding, but, frankly, I want to do in a way that lets me protect the people I care about.

    For the ceremony, no pics seems like a given, and not even from a social media standpoint — taking photos means you aren’t in the moment and no bride or groom should need to look out and see a bunch of phones pointing at them if they don’t want to. I’m all about unplugged weddings!

    As for the reception, I think our compromise is going to be to use a private photo-sharing app (Wedding Party) so guests can see/share photos with other guests without having to post them publicly or tag people. My hope is that this makes our guests feel more comfortable too — a lot of people have issues with social media/privacy, so protecting them seems like a good idea. I don’t really care if friends are posting pictures of themselves/their dates/other friends on FB if everyone involved is comfortable with it, but I’m also comfortable asking to not be included. I don’t really consider a wedding “public” — I mean, yes, it’s outside of your home, but the fact that one needs an invite to be there makes it kind of seem like one should need an invite (or, online, a password) to see ALL the details of it as well.

    • KC

      Yeah, I think if everyone everywhere were only nice, understanding, and polite about everything all the time, my response to this issue would be a lot milder. But they’re not (and, um, sometimes, we’re not). I’m so sorry to hear that your friend had that happen. :-(

      For me, the answer to “it hurts, and I hate it, but what can you do?” has been primarily “mostly hide under a rock online”, which has major disadvantages and is not possible for people with some careers, but also has advantages (less of my personal resources used up by bullies, great!). And that’s generally been the answer online that I’ve heard – you don’t like the heat, stay out of the kitchen – you don’t wanna be mocked, then don’t put stuff out there. I think this is societally problematic – you should be able to put stuff out there without being shredded by trolls – but it was the only way available (aside from commenting only on APW and staying anonymous, yay!). Now staying out of the internet without staying out of all the rest of life is becoming less possible, and that frustrates me immensely. There is no opt-out when other people are putting your stuff out there and not asking you.

      • Class of 1980

        My new pet peeve is online articles where the only way you can comment is to have a Facebook account.

        That’s dictating that people either get a Facebook account, or get excluded from the discussion.

        • You could just create an account for commenting and not include anything–no photos, no personal information, etc., and not add any friends, etc…I don’t think that that policy is going to change anytime soon.
          …but, as you’ve probably noticed from my above comments as resident Devil’s Advocate to this whole subject, I’m pretty much an evolve with the times person, so maybe you don’t like that idea much.

          I work at an arts organization and when we do applications for exhibits, grants, etc., it is all online. And I understand that, for a small subset of people, this is difficult. However, this percentage of people is tiny and, in my opinion, they can either make the career (or personal) choice to evolve with the times and learn technology as a way to further themselves, or they can remain in the analog age and get passed by.

          I know it is not the same as leaving an online comment (career vs. small high of commenting on the internet) but…the times, they are a’changin’, etc.

        • I work for an online startup and I have fought very hard against things like Facebook comments/login because I have a huge issue with it as well. I completely understand why people opt out of Facebook and I think requiring people to have an account is total BS.

    • This. This makes sense to me.

      I am squarely in the extrovert camp and feel compelled to actually defend social media because the larger issue really is that if a cable and a USB goes within 15 feet of the internet (metaphorically speaking) people can and will see your private information. I am amazed nobody has brought up hacking yet. Your information is out there and accessible whether you like it or not.

      Anyhow, more to the point. Your explanation is pointed and clear and you have a specific concern that you are going to address by using as much privacy as possible and that is much easier for me to understand than just “I don’t want people seeing my photo’s.” But I fear I have some misconceptions about privacy/private people so definitely not one to talk!

      • KC

        While hacking happens (like, hey, burglary happens), it doesn’t necessarily happen, so the discussion of what permissions are important for sharing other people’s photos/information on social media is still relevant (just like work colleagues probably need to discuss expectations for who buys the shared milk in the fridge or whatever, even though it’s possible for someone to just walk by and swipe the gallon and render that discussion temporarily moot). I agree that a lot of people are unfortunately oblivious to the fact that if something is in their email account or on their phone or on their [internet connected] computer, it can be accessed with enough effort, generally. (I do know of companies that keep sensitive data on a non-internet-connected, USB-blocked computer, although this is becoming more and more challenging to do.)

        I am a sample private-ish person (although obviously do not speak for all private people), so if you have any specific questions about aspects of this that baffle you, I’d be happy to answer them in this semi-anonymous format. :-)

  • Abby J.

    “The Internet was not a plus one at our wedding.”


  • Amy March

    No one else thinks it’s rude and controlling to tell guests a) no photos at reception or b) no posting reception photos? I’d comply if asked, but I think this is one of those details the couple doesn’t get to control. If I take a pic of me and my friends at your wedding, I’m going to post that.

    • Class of 1980

      A wedding is a sacred, private, and very personal occasion.

      At least, it used to be.

      • Amy March

        A ceremony maybe, but I don’t think a reception has ever been a sacred thing.

        • Emilie

          Exactly AMY MARCH. And CLASS OF 1980, even though the reception may be a personal occasion, it remains (unless you’re eloping) a COMMUNITY event.

          • If the kindly stated and reasonable requests of respected members within the community are ignored, or taken offense to, what kind of community is it, really? In communities, individuals need to come to an agreement on what the final goal is and the steps to get there. Also, in terms of leadership of communities, weddings are not democratic. The hosts generally don’t take a vote from all attendees on food served, but that certainly affects everyone directly. Though it certainly is a community celebration, at what point do you draw the line between the host’s decision and the community’s decision at large?

          • KC

            Although that community is limited and does not necessarily include the entire internet, perhaps?

          • Class of 1980

            Receptions are in fact private events. You can’t just go to one unless formally invited.

            Anytime a host is paying for an event and inviting the guests, they damn well better have a say in whether the event is exposed on Facebook.

          • meg

            It’s a community event *for the community invited.* Not, in fact, for the internet.

            You guys. It’s ok to not include people in your life who can’t respect your boundaries, whatever those boundaries are, Facebook related or not. That, in fact, is about the number one rule you learn in therapy. It’s PARTICULARLY ok to not include those people in deeply important moments of your life.

        • Class of 1980

          The couple and/or their family is hosting and paying for their own private event, which guests attend by invitation only.

          Privacy is sacred to many people.

    • Yep. I think it is controlling (maybe not rude, but controlling). I liked the comment someone posted above which was along the lines of: “I can’t control this so I’m not going to worry about it.”

    • I personally think there’s a big (and obvious) difference between a snapshot of you and your friends that happens to be at a wedding, and a snapshot of the couple’s first dance or the bride’s teary-eyed parents. I don’t know what exactly the original poster was objecting to, but I don’t think it’s rude or controlling to request that people not post the latter on social media.

      • The majority of random wedding shots I’ve seen on Facebook are of first dances so the populace doesn’t seem to agree with you on that one. Although I do. Not sure why people post those, since they’re all sort of blurry and out of focus and badly lit.

      • Carolyn (who doesn’t owe the Internet anything)

        FWIW, Rachel, my motivation for writing stemmed from asking myself why I feel so excited to write reclaiming wife posts, but soooooo anxious about writing a grad or ww. I realized that I felt that withholding information- photos most notably- is my mechanism for protecting my emotions (all of them, not just fear of hurt feelings from fb or blog meanies). My wedding just felt /feels Too Big for me to want to have a virtual townhall meeting about it.

        Though, I anticipated a discussion about appropriate sharing would ensue. I think I agree with your feelings that there is a gigantic difference between me dancing with my father and me in the photobooth with friends. I didn’t want to be bossy and all NO PHOTOS! Just pointing out that I feel no obligation to share anything I’m not ready to. And at least for now, I’m still not ready to.

    • KC

      I would draw a distinction between “photo of me and my friends, who all consent to this photo being posted online” and “photo of other people, who did not consent to this photo being posted online”. In the first case, it’s not much different from you and your friends stepping out of the reception and taking a photo in front of the nearest shrub. In the second, it’s taking photos of people in an environment that is a higher-trust environment (friends & family of bride and groom; obviously, if there’s someone at the wedding who you wouldn’t want to see you drinking [i.e. Mormon parents?] or doing the limbo [your kinda creepy leering co-worker?], then you see them there and you don’t do it, but if they’re not there, you should be safe?) and moving whatever they were doing in the high-trust environment to the no-barriers environment of the internet at large.

      But that’d be a harder distinction to draw than just “please don’t post photos online” or “please don’t take photos”.

      • Ooh, your commentary on the trust-environment is spot on! And I think that’s the missing element to this discussion. As stated in previous comments, there are other levels between “no one/my absolute most trusted” and “anyone with internet access,” and those levels are not solely represented by Facebook privacy settings. It’s not just that you behave one way in public and one way at home- it’s that you behave one way at home, another at your parents’ home, another at your best friend’s graduation party, another at work, another at client meetings, etc.

        Yes, yes, yes, it is all about trust-environment. If you are surrounded by people who all fall within a certain range of trustworthiness, you behave differently (think of dancing in that closed circle of your bffs and cousins vs. starting the party off by yourself on the dance floor).

    • Amy March

      I think what I’m really getting at is a broader thought- your wedding day is really important to you, be side obviously. But it may also be important in my life, for reasons that have nothing to do with you, and I may share photos in the context of how they fit into my life.

      Like I said, if you ask, I’ll comply. But I think needing this much control is an issue, and it’s not terribly gracious or hospitable to outsource dealing with that to your guests. And just because people should listen to your wishes doesnt make them any more reasonable- I’ll wear black tie to your 3pm
      Reception, but that doesn’t make your choice appropriate.

      • Dawn

        If you’re talking about sharing photos of yourself and others who are fine with you sharing them, that’s great. I don’t think too many people here are saying that there is anything wrong with that. But it is completely appropriate and reasonable for me to want to have some level of control over you sharing pictures of me. And I’m really not understanding why people (not necessarily you because if I’m reading you right I think you’re actually just talking about pictures of yourself taken at a reception) think that their desire to post pictures of private events in my life trumps my desire to not have pictures of me on the internet.

        • I’ve been seeing this issue recently with friend’s babies.

          I can totally see why the parents might want to keep their children’s images off Facebook. Particularly because the kids have no choice or understanding of it yet (being infants). How are they going to feel when they get to be 11 or 12 about pictures of them being all over the place? Probably fine, but maybe not.

          On the other hand, it is SO HARD not to post the cuteness all over the place. I have these sweet pictures of me holding my best friend’s newborn and I’d love to share them, but she said they are trying to keep their daughter off Facebook for now and I have to respect that.

          I’m a share everything all the time kind of person and she is not!

      • Class of 1980

        “Like I said, if you ask, I’ll comply. But I think needing this much control is an issue, and it’s not terribly gracious or hospitable to outsource dealing with that to your guests.”

        I don’t understand what you’re saying here.

        How is requesting no photos on the Internet “outsourcing” the issue to your guests?

        Is it a struggle for guests to not take photos? I would think not taking photos involved no effort at all.

        • Amy March

          It’s an effort for me not to take pictures of my friends and family all dressed up and happy looking.

          • KC

            Is this a “I want to have visual records to bring back this happy memory” thing or a “sheer force of habit” thing? (I could totally grasp both; the former might be able to be partly solved by getting copies of wedding photos from the couple?) And is it accompanied by a difficulty in not posting the photos online?

            I also totally think that if you have (non-grudging, non-pressured) permission from everyone in the photo to post them online, and it doesn’t recognizably include others, that’s fine.

            But so many people go to weddings and just photograph all sorts of people and wedding accessories and then shove it all online that if it’s important for that to *not* happen for some reason (i.e. a person who needs to not be “outed” online is attending the wedding, such as an abuse survivor who is running from her ex and needs her location to remain private or someone whose sexual orientation [potentially “visible” by actions at the wedding] would cause work problems, or even just that the couple doesn’t want their much-beloved but quirky DIT centerpieces to be mocked by strangers online), I’m not sure how couples can communicate that to their guests other than “please don’t take/post photos”.

  • Class of 1980

    Interesting commentary on Facebook:

    Guess it’s a question of whether the positives outweigh the negatives for each of us.

  • For what it’s worth, this is EXACTLY how I feel about our “engagement story,” though I haven’t been able to articulate why it’s been so important to not share anything more than a general, “It was perfect!” until now.

    Thank you.

    • See, that’s totally how I feel about the engagement, although not so much the wedding (which I long ago let go any idea of “owning”in any sense. I’m just a player in a big show, for that one.) But the engagement? Feeling ALL the feelings? Knowing that moment of exact certainty for perhaps the first time in my life? Yeah, there haven’t even been words invented for that, so People At Work*, stop asking me about it.

      *I was on a year-long assignment in another office and just came back a few weeks ago. So it’s been weird to be, like, 8 months engaged but realize that a large group of people I know had no idea.

      • meg

        And this, again, is the point I’ve made several times (again, I think about this for a living). Everyone has different things that feel ok to share. Listening to yourself and what those are, and keeping yourself safe by not sharing things that don’t feel ok: Very Important.

        • Carolyn (who doesn’t owe the Internet anything)

          I think it’s really interesting that most people here agree that we have a right to privacy, but that there is this sliding scale of what each person ranks high enough to be a private moment. There seems to be a consensus that the highly emotional moments (a wedding ceremony, delivery room photos, funerals) are always off-limits but it’s a crapshoot after that. So dangerous when we don’t agree!

          If we have any hope of being courteous and respectful wedding guests/friends/humans we need to be proactive in exercising restraint to honor whatever our friends and family personally value as private.

  • Hannah

    So cute. May your memories remain bright and clear forever.

  • I actually work for Wedding Party, and we’ve been thinking about this “weddings and internet privacy” question for a while. It’s definitely been interesting to see how some of our brides are totally gung-ho about sharing photos online, and how others are much more concerned about privacy.

    I guess from what we’ve seen, this is a classic case of to each their own. Some people are totally comfortable with having their photos splashed on wedding blogs, and have given their photographers permission to submit their wedding images (or even boudoir photos!) to third parties. Others aren’t. There is certainly no right or wrong answer here, and you should certainly communicate your preferences to your guests – they’re going to be at the wedding for YOU after all.

    I definitely want to thank all for sharing your thoughts – it helps me to understand our the “private” side of the argument better, and gives us great food for thought as we move forward building the app. Of course we value our users’ privacy and their ability to share moments with only those closest to them – we made the app so they could do just that, without the world watching! We’re also totally honored to have been mentioned in this thoughtful conversation, and we hope you guys will keep up this amazing discussion :)

    • Sam

      “…a classic case of to each their own”
      To be clear, this. First and foremost. You don’t wanna share? Don’t. You do? That’s cool too.

      But, for me – I don’t have a FB page, never have had, never missed it or wanted it. I figure there is a reason why I don’t keep in touch with certain people anymore! But, when it came to publishing our wedding online – (via our photog’s blog, then others’) weirdly, I was ok with it. I work as a creative, crafting stories and ideas for other people, so maybe it was easier for me to see our day as a creation with its own story, rather than something I owned. Maybe, it was just that I was really proud of the celebration we enjoyed, and the happiness it spread. I was choosy about where I shared. Places I trusted, like APW. But still, I was happy to go public with the pictures and the details and the cake.

      The thing is, and I get not everyone feels the same, for me, the amazing bits of our day – those private, intimate moments, saying vows, a squeezed hand, a look… All those memories. The feelings. They won’t ever be public, because they are mine, intimately and secretly and personally. Bits & bytes on the inter webs can never change that. I own those, wholly & solely. And no amount of tagging or reposting will change that.

      • I think this is incredibly well-said, Sam! Especially your thoughts about owning the private moments that matter from your wedding — I think that’s a great point in this conversation. Some things just aren’t able to be shared and are meant to be cherished privately, and that’s good thing! Ultimately those are the parts of your wedding that really matter, right?

    • Carolyn (who doesn’t owe the Internet anything)

      I should mention that while I wrote from a very Don’t Share Anything perspective, it’s not the whole story. For me it was all about control of the distribution. Facebook (even with stringent settings) was just too public. Having everyone come to my house to look at the album was maybe not public enough. I’m intrigued by semi-private options like Wedding Party or password protected flickr accounts and to be totally honest I was super into the How-To on crowdsourcing wedding photos ( and I’m really excited that there are more empowering options becoming available for people with every level of privacy expectation.

      • We thought that the crowdsourced instagram how-to was totally awesome too! That was super smart of the couple, and is definitely a great way to keep track of the photos your guests take. While I may be a little biased (okay, I’m totally biased), I definitely think that semi-private options are a great way to go! It’s all about making a space where you invite the people you want, and make it easy to share with them…while staying private from the eyes of others.

        I think it’s awesome that you were able to start a conversation about weddings + internet privacy, as it’s definitely something I’ve been wanting to ask brides about, but wasn’t sure how to start. So thanks again – and I hope you find the perfect happy medium with your wedding and internet privacy! :)

  • ElisabethJoanne

    Some of my experiences:

    We only had a few people who use Facebook with cameras at our wedding. They didn’t post any photos until they got permission, and we said nothing about photos beforehand.

    I posted a very select few photos on Facebook. I wanted to respect our professional photographer’s work, as well as the privacy of people in the photos. One friend untagged herself.

    The only time I’ve ever untagged myself is my mother’s photos. I’m sure she doesn’t understand that people who are now just very friendly professional acquaintances can see photos of me in my nightgown Christmas morning, when she does that. I may have a talk with her in the future. There are probably some of her Facebook friends I don’t want to see certain photos, too.

    Without lots of Facebook photos, or a photo sharing site, vel cetera, we’ve had a hard time getting photos to people we do want to have them – mostly relatives who couldn’t attend the wedding from overseas. We’d make prints but we can’t afford it. (We do have permission of the photographer to make copies.)

    • KC

      I changed out of pyjamas on Christmas morning because my dad was hauling his camera out, and for him, Photos Are For Sharing With Everyone.

      Mailing off CDs or DVDs of photos can be pretty cheap (albeit time-consuming depending on the number of relatives), since you have permission from the photographer, or you could use a service like DropBox (which also has privacy concerns, but not exactly the same set of privacy concerns as Facebook) or, if the relatives in question are tech-savvy, you could get some space on a server somewhere and set up an FTP account for them to pick up the photos. I’m not sure if there are any online photo-printing companies that do free/cheap international shipping, but if you have relatives in only one country (like England or something), it might be worth seeing if there’s a company *there* that can print things up and mail them to the relatives. Or, we’ve done send-all-the-presents-to-one-person-to-distribute before, to save on postage; if your relatives are all proximate and speaking with each other, you could send one full (numbered) set of photos and then have each of them pick a few of the prints to take home?

      Good luck with whatever you choose!

  • Carolyn (who doesn’t owe the Internet anything)
  • VillagePsych

    EXACTLY, EXACTLY, EXACTLY! Yes to all of this. Another problem I have is how awful friends whom we can’t invite (since we have a ton of family and parents’ friends) would feel seeing them. :( We’re right now trying to figure out how to get people not to post things. E-mail beforehand? State it in the ceremony program? Both?

  • VillagePsych

    Additionally, we are not having a wedding website. I am floored how many people’s wedding websites I’ve found via Google – by accident or not. We are including old-fashioned info on hotels, local activities and directions (see The Venue website) and registries within the invitations. And also sending a few info e-mails to people.

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