May 10, 2013 at 9:22 AM ET
Weddings might be traditional, but the way they’re celebrated these days might be anything but.
Wedding Paper Divas conducted an online survey in April among adults who had attended at least one wedding in the past year and found that four in 10 said social media was encouraged and specific hashtags were provided to guests to add their contributions. In addition, seven in 10 Twitter users report tweeting about a wedding while in attendance, and half of Twitter users say they've used the service to post wedding-related photos.
On the other hand, one-third of wedding guests report being asked not to use a mobile or other electronic device during the ceremony, the survey found. And despite all of the sharing, 65 percent agreed that it is important to ask the couple’s permission before posting wedding photos online, and that the couple should be the first to share the photos.
That advice comes a little too late for Robyn Furman of New York, whose engagement news was broken on Facebook — just not by her. A friend posted a cryptic message about good news, which was quickly commented on by others who already knew.
Since Furman and her fiancé were still trying to connect with friends and family by phone to let them know, she asked her friend to take down the post. But a few days later, the friend tagged her with a message announcing the couple’s engagement and the cat was out of the bag to some people they hadn’t reached yet.
“I know it was out of excitement and I know that it was out of love,” Furman said, “but it wasn’t her news to share.”
On her wedding day, Furman doesn’t plan to outright ban electronic devices, but added: “I can’t imagine anyone would want to tweet my wedding. I hope that people are dancing and having a good time and not worrying about their phones.”
Kelly O’Hara of Exton, Pa., who will marry Jeff Friel later this month, said she is fine with friends sharing photos later in the day but not before the ceremony. “It’s changed so much,” O’Hara said. “Nobody ever had to worry about this stuff. I mean, technology is good, but in this sense we still want to keep some things traditional.”
And Nicole Bottone of West New York, N.J., said her June wedding will occur completely offline. “I’m a pretty private person,” she said. “I never really thought that the people that are affiliated with me would really do something like that.”
Bottone added that while there is “no malice whatsoever,” unsanctioned posts and photos can take away some of the day’s surprises and offend those not invited. “I think it’s in poor taste.”
Amber Harrison, etiquette expert at Wedding Paper Divas, has dealt with a few frustrated clients, including a groom who saw the bride’s dress before the ceremony, thanks to an overzealous bridesmaid who snapped a photo and posted it on Facebook. “Those moments are exactly what I feel it’s my job to try to be aware of before they happen so that they can be avoided,” Harrison said.
Harrison said it is important for couples and their guests to remember that “this hopefully is a once-in-a-lifetime occasion that we should all commemorate. But it’s a very big day, and it’s something we should just give the respect that it deserves and be present in the moment and be there for that couple in whatever they have chosen.
"There’s very little judgment here,” she said. “Let’s just start communicating the wishes.”