In more than 35 years of creating custom celebration cakes, I am sometimes asked to sign a confidentiality agreement. I agree to not comment about a celebrity client (unless they agree) or share a client’s cake photos online or with the press (unless the client agrees.) I think I get quite a bit of return business because I honor that agreement. But lately, things have gotten a little out of my control because everyone has a camera phone.
I recently designed an amazing cake, an iconic building that meant a lot to the host of a fabulous party. A great deal of preparation was spent on making sure the cake, among other details, was to be a big surprise…. until it wasn’t. Someone in the catering kitchen snapped a shot of the cake, posted it just before the party-- and months of planning was undone in an Instagram instant!
Many brides find themselves in the same dilemma of deciding how much is too much sharing, both before and during their wedding. I hear stories of the groom seeing The Dress, not walking toward him down the aisle – but in snapshot of a dressing room fitting, courtesy of an over-excited family member. Or how often a professional photographer hired by the bride and groom, misses a “money shot” because a guest decided to jump in front of them and capture the moment on their cell phone… it happens way more often than you think.
A wedding is not the time or place to scold your guests, so my advice is to take control of the situation as soon as you get engaged. You and your significant other need to agree on how, and how much, you feel comfortable sharing on social media. Once you have a plan it is up to you to tell your family and friends. (Hint: most parents do not want to read you’ve gotten engaged on Facebook!) Make special events “special”: messaging your best friend to be your maid of honor is not as “important” as toasting over a glass of champagne. And while Pinterest may be a great way to get six bridesmaids-to-be to settle on a dress color and style, that may be as far as the circle of sharing should go – it is up to you, Bride, to make the rules and stick to them. You are making memories, and not all of them need to be posted. Not every decision needs to be a poll of all your friends and family.
If you follow the latest trend of creating a wedding hashtag so all photos are collected in one central place, you can always ask for approval of what goes on the site. You can also ask, always politely, that something you don’t care for be taken down. It is your wedding, and you get to control the narrative, but don’t ambush your guests in doing so. If you want your ceremony to be “unplugged,” add something to your wedding website and program, so guests aren’t surprised when they are asked to check their phones, or turn them off. Tell them it is their lovely faces you want to see in real-time, and not a sea of cell phones and tablets.
However “social” you want your wedding to be, a good rule of thumb – whether you are a bride, a groom, or even a guest – is think before you hit “send”: is your posting for all your friends? The public? Do you care if your first dance will live online forever? The bright side of this hyper-posting? For me, it has taken the worry out of cake deliveries every weekend – I can bet you even before the ceremony takes place, someone will have already posted the cake, ready and waiting, #sylviaweinstockcakes… and I know all is right in my world!