7 Risks Of Hashtagging Your Wedding

Leah Miller Photography / The Knot blog Leigh Miller Photography

First of all, we love wedding hashtags and are 100% behind the idea. They enable guests to share photos from their perspective and they make it easy for you to print instagram photos following your wedding. That said, there are some unintended consequences that come with having one. In some respects, hashtagging a wedding is like live-tweeting your hike down the Grand Canyon; yes, it preserves the memory, but at what cost? Before you commit to the hashtag, consider the following risks and potential downsides ( #wetoldyouso!).

Unflattering Photos Get Shared
Brace yourself. Yes, your friends will probably Instagram the cake-cutting and your first dance, but they might also snap some photos of your drunken Cousin Eddie, who’s tonguing his date on the dance floor. If these friends tweet it with the hashtag #OhHappyDay2014JimSarah, it will show up in your timeline. Plus, a photographer’s finest asset might be deciding what photos to publish—and which to leave on the cutting room floor. With Instagram? All are fair game. Including the shots where your eyes are closed or you’re awkwardly wobbling on the dance floor.

You Might Confuse Your Less-Than-Techy Guests
A good chunk of your guest list will have no idea what a hashtag means, but they’re pretty sure that it involves graffiti, stuff they tried once during the Summer of Love, or both. Or maybe they’ll just think it’s lame. Wedding guest @johnjf125 tweeted, “My cousin’s wedding invitation includes a hashtag, which I think is a valid reason to not go and watch football all day instead.”

Your Wedding Photos Could Get Spread to Strangers
People searching your hashtag or that follow your Instagram feed could see photos of your special night before you even get the chance. If you don’t love the idea of personal images ping-ponging across Twitter, take note.

Sometimes Only A Few People Participate
If your friends and family aren’t that tech-savvy and, ultimately, don’t end up using the hashtag, the next morning when you scroll through Instagram and Twitter, you might be disappointed to see only a few posts. The silver lining? That’s actually good news. This means that people were having so much fun that they didn’t bother fussing with their phones.

Having A Hashtag Might Guests Get Preoccupied with Being “Social”
When we whip out our phones to upload a picture to Instagram and hashtag #GroomToast #SamAndDiane4Ever, we’ve tugged attention away from the reception. Suddenly we’re more focused on clever Internet comments than we are on the present. We might even sneak glances at our phones to check for retweets and likes. And this, fundamentally, is the problem with social media: It’s not that social. You simply cannot be living your life and writing about it at the same time, even if you’re a master multitasker.

You Offend Your Instagram Or Twitter Followers
You most likely couldn’t invite everyone you wanted. And you probably have hundreds (or even thousands) of friends on Facebook. Those people who weren’t lucky enough to get the invite might not appreciate a virtual play-by-play of all the awesome fun that they aren’t getting the chance to experience in real life.

Your Hashtag Stream Isn’t Uniquely Yours
Hashtags aren’t like URLs or phone numbers; there’s no guarantee that yours is unique. One bride tweeted, “The hashtag for the wedding will be #TeamCompton and the cake shall indeed read that.” #TeamCompton is also the hashtag for a British cricket team, so her wedding timeline could be jumbled with updates like this (actual) tweet: “1 good innings out of 8 from @joeroot05 is just not good enough for test cricket, or any cricket in fact. #newopenerplease #TeamCompton.” Awkward, right?

(Article first published in the 2013 national Knot magazine; Written by: Jeff Wilser)

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  • 11/20/13 at 07:30

    Hi Jamie!
    Great article! There are awesome points for brides and guests alike! I actually helped with coordination for the wedding at which this article’s photo was taken and the photographer’s name is Leigh Miller of Leigh Miller Photography.

  • 11/20/13 at 07:48

    Good reasons to avoid it altogether.

  • 11/20/13 at 08:27

    interesting. our hashtag was definitely shared with a cheerleader team, a pageant and a married couple starting a new family business. We found the connection fascinating! Our “online guest” were still able to enjoy the memorable moments online so it was well worth it! #teamrichmond!!

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  • Kendra
    11/21/13 at 04:37

    I used a hashtag and it worked out GREAT! Ours was #DavisLovebirds (check it out on Instagram) We were able to see so many more pics from the wedding using the hashtag! And I think it encouraged picture taking. I don’t think our guests were preoccupied being social. It worked perfectly!

    We also incorporated the hashtag in our save the dates, invites and ceremony programs!

  • 12/02/13 at 03:13

    I dont want my wedding pictures on facebook nor twitter nor instagram. Im already trying to find a way to tell guests NOT to post anything wedding related on the web. I want our wedding to be intimate and special and share with those we invited, not the entire world of social media. or, at the very least not post until at least my groom & i have had the chance to share.

  • 02/04/14 at 12:09

    HI Tonya! You should check out KeepBooth (www.keepbooth.com), which collects your guests’ photos via email and allows you to control which photos to make private vs. public. As a founder of the company (and a bride myself), I designed it to ensure that brides & grooms could capture all their guests photos without having them run wild on social media.

  • 12/02/13 at 05:47

    Anybody have suggestions for an alternative to the hashtag? I don’t want to do disposable cameras, but would still have to have guests be able to capture and share memories. I kind of agree with Tonya Marie – I have read articles about requesting an “unplugged” wedding and asking your guests to turn on cell phones. Thanks for the article and any suggestions! :)

  • 02/04/14 at 12:12

    Hi Cami NW, as I mentioned to Tonya Marie, KeepBooth (www.keepbooth.com) lets you collect all your guests’ photos (even ones taken with digital cameras) without seeing them on any social media sites. And our basic package is free. Hope this helps!

  • 12/03/13 at 12:28

    This is why I just share photos on Facebook and don’t worry about hashtags on Twitter or tumblr… too much of a hassle. :P

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  • Paula
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    Hi Cami,

    I’m using WedPics. It’s a great alternative.

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  • 07/22/14 at 09:12

    When done properly, it can generate a great pictorial story board of your wedding and reception. Photogs are busy doing doing the formal photos so your candids are often from guests. The key is a truly unique hashtag, and having a “hashtagging etiquette” card at the guest seating to instruct them on what to do, and what not to do – based on the couple’s wishes. ex – please do not tag anyone that has enjoyed too much booze ;-) There are many elegant ways to accomplish this… we specialize in hashtag stations as part of our photo booth business – Shining Star Photo Booth (http:www.shiningstarphotobooth.com)

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Escort cards are extremely easy to personalize and an excellent way to bring in your wedding day colors -- from calligraphed seating cards set atop a textured linen to apples tagged with each guest's name or small personalized bundles of lavender tied off with string. Other ways to display escort cards: Pin them to a clothesline, post them on a board covered in color-coordinated ribbon, or incorporate them into your cocktail hour using personalized stirrers tagged with guests' names.
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