As with all other areas of life, social media is changing how couples and guests experience weddings.

“I think the biggest trend I’ve seen is people coming up with a custom hashtag,” says Anne Hanks, owner of AnnaBelle Events. “Guests, no matter what, are going to take pictures and put them on social media, but it’s hard for the couple to track all of those down. So they come up with a custom hashtag for everyone to use and then the next morning, when they’re on their way to their honeymoon or whatever they may be doing, it’s easy for them to search that hashtag and see all the pictures that people took.”

Although she says there are “unplugged weddings,” where couples place limits on guests’ use of phones and social media, Hanks says it’s not happening much in Columbia.

“You hear about that a lot online and in national blogs, but I haven’t had any of my couples limit [phone or social media use] at all,” she says.

There have, however, been times when she’s seen a lack of limits lead to some awkward moments — such as bridesmaids posting photos of the bride in her gown in the dressing room.

“I would tell wedding parties that when they’re getting ready with the bride and groom, put their phones away,” Hanks says. “Hopefully, they would have the good sense not to post something to social media, but even beyond that — that photo they’re trying to snap with their iPhone is a one-time thing that the photographer is also trying to get, and the last thing a bride wants is a photo of a bridesmaid with her iPhone in her hand.”

For similar reasons, Hanks advises guests not to have their phones out snapping photos during the ceremony.

“Everyone wants to get that shot of the bride coming down the aisle,” she says, but when guests take those shots, it’s often distracting to others, plus it can spoil the professional shots.

However, once at the reception, Hanks sees only benefits for couples who encourage guests to take and post photos.

“The biggest benefit is that the day is so fast, and the bride and groom get to see a lot of aspects they do not usually get to see,” she says. “It’s a fun way for them to be able to look back and see what everyone was wearing and doing and how much they were really enjoying themselves.”

In their wedding announcement this month, Christina Savel and Michael Link invite the world to follow their wedding on social media with #LinkedInPlaya.

“We created a hashtag to bring our guests together and create excitement leading up to, at and following the wedding,” Savel says. “Since our wedding is in Mexico, we thought this would be a great way for everyone to connect. Additionally, we both love pictures, and this is a way to capture them all in one place.”

To come up with their hashtag, Savel and Link played around with Michael’s last name and the fact that they are getting “linked” in Playa del Carmen.

“There were not any other posts that have been made under this hashtag, and a unique hashtag was also very important to us,” Savel says. “We have also created a few other successful wedding hashtags. Two of our favorites are #DestinationRizi — our friends, Kyle and Vanessa, had a destination wedding in the Dominican Republic; we thought destination was fitting since she was becoming a Rizi and the DR had a double meaning — and  #simeONElove — Michael’s sister, Lindsay, married Tommy Simeone in Boston last year.”

Savel and Link are using Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and have also created their own wedding website to keep family and friends up to date on the wedding.

Etiquette Tip
While she is all for couples using social media to capture and share their actual wedding, event planner Anne Hanks says she advises couples not to post too much on social media leading up to the big day.

“Because it’s such an easy way to hurt feelings,” she says. “You never know who’s going to comment: ‘That looks great. I can’t wait to see it,’ and the person didn’t really make the guest list. Then couples sometimes feel obligated to invite them.”