Among wedding guests, the Kodachromatic desire for instant gratification draws even older folks into the frenzy of paparazzi.
Flashes pop and video streams as the wedding photographer jockeys for position with bridesmaids, mothers, cousins and friends to capture the moment.
Soon, the entire experience is living online for the wider world to see, on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and into digital posterity. And although many couples encourage amateur social media use at their weddings, advisers to betrothed couples say guests should follow their lead.
Anna Post of the Emily Post Institute in Burlington says wedding guests should remember they’re your friend when posting media online.
At her own nuptials, she noticed guests taking lots of photos and emphasizes you should always pick a good one — these people love you, after all.
“I think the first thing any guest should do is take their cue from the couple,” Post says, noting that some brides and grooms choose to create private websites, while others go for the public hashtag.
But there’s a stark difference between the solemnity of the wedding ceremony — often a holy event — and the celebratory raucousness of the reception.
“I think it’s reasonable to ask people to put their phones away during the ceremony but I think it’s harder to control behavior during the reception,” Post says. “I also think it’s fair to ask people not to post to social media during the reception so the couple can see their wedding first.”
Even without specific instructions on social media from the couple, guests should exercise common sense when sharing photos of the party.
“I think it’s important for people to remember what their role is at the ceremony,” she says. “People hire photographers and videographers to record their weddings, so while I understand the impulse, I don’t think there’s a desperate need for that photo.”
In the event that common sense might be lacking, Post advises wedding guests to ask the bride and groom about their wishes — and to respect privacy.
As the average wedding cost rises in America toward $30,000, according to data from TheKnot, some affluent couples in New York City now even hire a social media concierge to handle the event’s online publicity.
Yet, at most weddings, the official social media campaign remains the purview of the wedding photographer. Orah Moore of Haymaker Photography in Morrisville says only once has she charged extra for social media — when her clients insisted on immediate turnaround.
“I’m taking photos and posting them and it is exhilarating but sometimes it’s exhausting,” Moore says, describing a few recent weddings in central Vermont.
On a recent occasion, the photographer helped to preserve an instant Vermont classic: a same-sex wedding. The once unthinkable has now been a mainstay of Vermont wedding tourism for nearly a generation, and continues to attract young couples with ties to the area.
Just after Christmas, Moore photographed the wedding of Julian and Michael Vaughn, a same-sex couple who’d traveled from Washington, D.C., to wed at the Village Victorian Bed & Breakfast in Morrisville. For Julian, the occasion — fed by Susanna’s Catering across town — was less about the leading men and more about the supporting cast. The newlyweds planned for a party, but gave no explicit instructions to guests on how to have a good time.
“This was a gift he was giving to his friends: the meal, the reception, the weekend,” Moore said. “He felt it was about providing a beautiful experience to their guests.”