Digital Etiquette at Weddings: How Technology Can Make -- or Break -- the Ceremony

You probably won't think twice about snapping a few photos at a concert or posting a Facebook status about that fabulous new restaurant downtown, but what about live tweeting during your BFF's wedding?

You probably have no idea -- and you're not alone. Digital etiquette during weddings is a murky subject: How do you know what's okay, and what's definitely not okay, to do with your gadgets while a couple recite their vows?

"While technology has the ability to enhance the wedding experience for the couple and their guests, it can also be a detriment," Amber Harrison, etiquette expert for Wedding Paper Divas, tells Yahoo! Shine.

It can even ruin a once-in-a-lifetime moment.

"Recently, an unassuming bridesmaid snapped a photo of the aisle-ready bride. Unbeknownst to the bride, that photo was posted to Facebook immediately and the groom saw the picture -- before the wedding!" Harrison recalls.

"The groom's first look at his lovely bride was not as she was walking down the aisle toward him, or in a carefully planned 'first look' photo shoot, but in the Facebook feed on his phone. It was devastating for all involved and a perfect example of how, when not used thoughtfully, technology can get in the way of some of life's most important moments," she explains.

Awkward. This doesn't have to happen to you: Harrison has a few tips for enjoying your loved ones' big day without committing serious digital sins.

RSVP the right way

You might think you're doing the newlyweds-to-be a favor by responding via email instead of snail mail, but it might end up causing more problems than it solves.

"It can be overwhelming and costly to keep track of those responses and meal choices if they aren't all in one place," Harrison says.

It definitely made planning more difficult for newlywed Noel Connors.

"Two of my fiancé's cousins sent their apologies via email, even though we asked them to send back the RSVP in the invitation," she recalled of her spring wedding.

"They didn't reply to my mom and dad - the people who sent out the invites - they just told my now-husband. It really upset me because my mom was trying to keep everything organized, and it was difficult when people didn't do what we'd asked."

That's not to say you can't send a printed reply and a follow-up email.

"Most guests are still sending the printed RSVP card but less than 20 percent reply using only the traditional method," Harrison adds. "The majority of guests report using at least one digital method to RSVP to a wedding -- a tweet, a text, an email -- supplementing, not replacing, the traditional response card."

Don't get snap happy during the ceremony

Smartphones have transformed people from bystanders into roving paparazzi just dying to get that first shot of the couple.

"If you can't pass on the opportunity to get that perfect shot, take a quick look around and make sure you aren't blocking the view of those around you, or worse yet, the photographer," Harrison advises. "Avoid movements that are intrusive or distracting, like leaning into the aisle or holding your camera high into the air."

Or, just chill with the photos and wait until the reception.

"The wedding ceremony is a special and intimate affair shared with cherished family and friends. If you are lucky enough to be a part of it, put down the phones and cameras and be in the moment," Harrison adds.

The same goes for social media

Eager to live tweet or Vine the vows? You aren't alone: A recent survey by Wedding Paper Divas found that seven in 10 wedding guests use Twitter during the ceremony.

It seems like a weird time to be posting 140-character updates, but Harrison says you should follow the couple's lead.

"Ideally the couple will have provided some guidance here," she says, adding that couples are increasingly creating special wedding day hashtags for their guests to use on Twitter and Instagram during the ceremony.

"A recent survey by Wedding Paper Divas found that four in 10 recent wedding guests were provided a wedding hashtag, encouraging social engagement and photo sharing," Harrison tells Shine.

"If no preferences have been specified, you can take a cue from their own online behavior. If leading up to the big day they are sharing lots of wedding details and photos, chances are it will be OK for you to join in the conversation."

When in doubt, just ask the couple ahead of the big day.

Share with care

The wedding is over -- and now you're dying to share all of the photos you took on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. But, should you? Maybe not right away.

When in doubt, hold off. It won't hurt to wait a few extra hours or days to post those poignant pics.

"We found that wedding guests are sharing an average of 22 wedding-related photos online," Harrison says. "Multiply that by the number of guests and you've instantly got hundreds or even thousands of photos to try and collect."

Ask the couple if they want you to post pictures on social media, or if they want to collect all of the shots on photo-sharing website like Capsule, Wedding Party and WedPics for easy sharing.

"Sixty-five percent of people we surveyed agree that it's important to ask the couple's permission before posting wedding photos online," Harrison says. "The couple should be the first to share the photos."

Tell us: How do you practice good digital etiquette at weddings?

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