How would you feel if pictures of you in your bridal gown were "leaked" to the world via social media before your wedding by a well-meaning but perhaps thoughtless friend?
Conversely, how would you feel if a friend posts details of her upcoming wedding on Facebook, and, assuming you'll be invited, you wait and wait for your invitation — but it never comes?
Both scenarios are examples of the pitfalls that can occur when social media intersects with a wedding. Facebook and Twitter can be great tools for sharing details of the wedding and for wedding guests to share candid shots of the couple's special day. But using social media also can backfire.
One thing is certain, however. The betrothed couple should think about the role social media will play in their wedding planning and on their special day. Special requests should be communicated to guests, who should heed the couple's wishes.
Allison Washington, an event planner who owns Simply Elegant, was married in July. She says people who use social media generally announce their engagement on Facebook first. Many also use popular website TheKnot.com to set up their own personal wedding website with pertinent details about the wedding, such as time, date, place, nearby hotels, bridal registries and a short story about how the couple met.
It's all useful information, but does putting it out there give acquaintances the impression they're going to be invited to the wedding? If you have 600 Facebook friends but plan on capping your wedding at 200 people, not everybody will make the cut. If you Tweet your "save-the-date" message you've got to realize it implies to all your Facebook friends or Twitter followers that they will be invited.
Washington doesn't see this as a problem that happens very often, but she says if a bride or groom does get wind of a friend or acquaintance who is upset about not getting invited to the wedding "they should reach out to them."
And by reaching out, she's not talking about an email or Facebook message. "It's very hard to read the tone of an email," she said. It's better to make a phone call or have a face-to-face discussion to explain kindly why not everybody could be invited to the wedding.
Etiquette expert Karen Hickman warns of another pitfall to posting engagement news too quickly on social media. Your social-media savvy friends could possibly get and share the news before closer family members — such as grandparents — are told.
Mandy Leeuw Bohde, who was married in October, posted news of her engagement and wedding on Facebook, but didn't inundate her friends with details. She said most of her and husband Kyle's friends knew they would have a small wedding, so they all didn't expect to be invited.
Wedding day social media etiquette
This is the bride and groom's special day, so they get to dictate the rules — or have no rules at all.
Neither Bohde nor Washington had any rules or preferences regarding social media the day of their weddings.
"It honestly didn't even cross my mind (that people would put wedding pictures on social media)," Bohde said. "Not until we were on our way to our honeymoon did I see all the posts people made that day on Facebook."
It was a pleasant surprise. "I was actually really excited," she said. "Some of my favorite pictures from our wedding day were actually pictures friends and family took. It was pretty neat to see the moments they captured."
Not every bride is as laid-back as Bohde is. Both Washington and Hickman agree guests should not snap pictures and post them on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram during the ceremony. "I think it does steal some of the thunder from the bride and groom," Hickman said.
And the cardinal rule: Never post a picture of the bride in her gown before the wedding. She may say yes to the dress, but those privileged to be with the bride when she makes her choice should not feel entitled to post a picture for everyone to see. The same goes for bridal attendants in the dressing room just before the wedding starts. It might be OK to take a picture; just don't post it.
Hickman brings up another interesting point about Twittering or Facebooking your way through a wedding. "People are so busy taking pictures and posting them to social media that they're not in the moment of the day and wedding."
If a bride and groom definitely don't want pictures taken and posted during the ceremony Hickman suggests they put a note to that effect in their wedding program, and also inform the wedding party at the rehearsal dinner.
Washington says a sign could be posted at the entrance to the wedding or the minister could convey the bride and groom's wishes.
If wedding guests do snap photos at the wedding or reception that they'd like to post on social media, all they need to do is ask the couple first. Many, like Bohde, may be delighted to see them and share them.
Of course some social-media savvy couples may encourage guests to post pictures from their special day. Some may even incorporate social media into their ceremony — such as changing their Facebook status from engaged to married after they've said their vows and exchanged rings.
It's really up to the bride and groom: What ever they want goes, and friends and wedding guests should respect that.
There are a few instances, however, when social media is not the best choice. Hickman believes "save the date" cards should be sent to those who will be invited to the wedding via snail mail.
Washington believes wedding invitations should still be mailed, and not sent digitally.
And do we even need to mention thank you notes? A generic "thanks for the wedding gift" should never be tweeted, posted on Facebook or emailed. A handwritten, personal thank you note sent in a timely fashion is best.
But you knew that already, didn't you?