For those couples currently navigating the etiquette minefield that is planning a wedding, here’s one more decision for your list: what’s your social media policy?
You’ll know by now that not even the tiniest bit of the day can be left to chance in case something terrible happens and people think you have no creative vision – or worse, no money. So you’d better make up your mind: can guests tweet or not?
Last week, I received a wedding invitation requesting that attendees refrain from posting pictures on social media. I then saw that a bridal brand had surveyed customers on the subject, and that my friends are within the 14% who don’t want their big day tweeted or Instagrammed.
You can see the logic. You spend all that money on a dress, hair, makeup and venue, and then some berk shares a hamfisted picture taken at an inopportune moment. The bride looks like she’s gurning, the church is dingy, the food glistens unnaturally, and the dancefloor looks empty.
Your wedding day is the makeup on the public face of your relationship. That is why there is a professional photographer there: to make sure the snaps are every bit as rose tinted as your memories will be. The first reveal will be a picture you’ve posed for and pored over, rather than one cousin Dave took of the back of your head, the harsh light of the iPhone flash bouncing off the drip trays at the bar.
This may sound the height of self-indulgence, but it feels like a necessary discussion. The public and private are increasingly blurred in this age of sharing your every poached egg and pensée. The ownership of intimate moments doesn’t exist any more. One doesn’t hug an experience to one’s chest to enjoy it; one broadcasts it, preferably with a hashtag.
For some, social media is second nature now. It’s fair enough, then, to make the point that you’d rather guests desisted: the thought might not even have crossed their minds. But does it then follow that you’re being unreasonable by asking this of them, that you’re in some way encroaching on the way they choose to live their life?
The fact is, a lot to do with weddings involves, as a guest, just lumping it: the seating plan, the speeches, the dodgy B&B. You do it for your friends (and the free booze). So you can lay off sculpting your every thought into 140 characters, at least until the carriages arrive.
But apparently some people don’t. When I brought up the subject on Twitter, I was surprised that some couples’ anti-social media policies had simply been disregarded. It struck me as the height of rudeness. Like turning up in your tracksuit bottoms, say, or bringing your own food.
Weddings tend to bring out the control freak in even the most benign lovers. And there are couples who give out a strict dress code, to avoid encountering anyone else’s bad taste.
But the bridezilla, a uniquely misogynist vision of a woman more interested in the symmetry of the napkin pleats than in her intended, meets her match in the Instamaniac. Somewhere between the cretaceous period and twerking, we birthed these tropes of modern ego, and now they face each other, like Godzilla versus King Kong.
There are those who take it to extremes. Kim Kardashian and Kanye West have reportedly banned phones from their , although this is more likely to be down to exclusivity deals with publications rather than any more urgent wish to keep things entre nous. For all we know, the golfer Rory McIlroy and the tennis star Caroline Wozniacki may have split because they were unable to agree on their social media strategy.
Although couples who ban social media may be doing so simply to keep control of their own image, they are also commodifying their privacy. Could this be the backlash to digital oversharing? You’ll know if the vicar tells you: “You may now tweet the bride.”
Written by Harriet Walker, The Guardian.