Social media is becoming a significant part of weddings these days. Long gone are the disposable cameras on tables, and here to stay (or until the next innovation takes over) are cell phone cameras!
There are several different ways to get your guests photos. You can set up an account with a photo-collecting app, often free, rarely used. This completely relies on your guests downloading an app for your wedding just for sharing pictures. With people’s phones constantly reminding them they’re out of storage, they’re probably not willing to download an app. Unless you’re going to show the photos at the reception to encourage posting, they probably won’t.
My wedding website was through Appy Couple, a company that lets you give guests a code to input on their app and essentially gives you a wedding app. In this app, they also have a place to upload photos and not a single guest used it. My website was chock full of details on every aspect of our wedding weekend, and I don’t think many people used the app, especially since it had a decent mobile site.
You can request that guests send you photos by email or another method. This can work, especially for the shutterbug friend of yours who doesn’t overshare on social media. I had a few friends take tons of photos and only post their 3 favorites. They set up a Google Pictures album to share the rest with me.
But the most common way people get photos from guests is through the wedding hashtag. With hashtags now used on virtually every social media site, and easy enough for any Facebook user to add, it is the easiest way to get guest photos from your friends and family.
There are several hashtag generators out there, and they are great for coming up with ideas. You can also ask your bridal party to help brainstorm them! Here are my 5 suggestions when it comes to hashtags:
- Run your hashtag through all social media platforms (especially Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram) to see if it’s already been used. Having a used hashtag is not the end of the world, mine was actually used about 5 months before our wedding. We decided to keep it since we had already had it printed on our save the dates. I had a friend whose hashtag was used for a different wedding the weekend before hers which was a little close for comfort.
- When you settle on a hashtag, use it regularly to “claim” it. Don’t wait until your wedding weekend to unveil your hashtag. Use it on all posts about your wedding on various social media platforms to try to avoid someone else hijacking your hashtag. This will also keep it in front of your guests as you plan so they are more familiar with it.
- Display your hashtag at your wedding. I had my hashtag on my save the date, wedding invitation, wedding program, and displayed on a giant 10 foot long banner (Shown at the top of the post). Many couples choose to do tent cards at each table or one chalkboard sign where everyone will see it. The more people see it, the more likely they’ll remember to use it.
- Don’t put the year at the end of your hashtag, instead use your wedding date. Adding numbers to the ends of usernames and hashtags has been around since we were allowed to register for email. I remember my old AIM name was EmperorPenguin98 because 99 was taken. But when you use the year in a hashtag, like we did, it could still be used (or stolen!) by couples getting married on 364 other days. If you use your wedding date, then you’re looking at couples only getting married on the same day as you — a more unique hashtag is going to be easier for you to search later. I’ll use our hashtag as an example. We chose #SamSquared2016 as our hashtag since we’re both named Sam and we got married in 2016. Well wouldn’t you know it, another couple of Sams got hitched in January of 2016 and used the same hashtag! Now when we search our hashtag, we have to sift through their wedding photos as well. If we had used #SamSquared61816 then we wouldn’t have had this issue unless another pair of Sams were getting married on the same day as us — and at that point what a story we’d have!
- If you see photos posted from your wedding without the hashtag, comment the hashtag. This will help you search for those photos later just by using the hashtag. It also reminds guests to use the hashtag, making your life easier.
It is possible to have your cake and eat it, too when it comes to social media at weddings. We wanted all the pictures we could get from the reception but NONE of the ceremony. We printed in our programs and had our officiant announce that we wanted an unplugged ceremony, and only one phone was used in the ceremony — and that was the bride’s! (But that’s another story for another day).