About a year ago, I un-friended a guy on facebook, and not because he posted pro-Sarah Palin comments or something mean about Madonna. He’d just gotten married to another man, and every aspect of their wedding, from the engagement cards to the Big Kiss to the honeymoon hot tub adventure, was posted for all of his 5,000 “friends” to see. This guy is more of an acquaintance than a real friend, and with that many followers I’m fairly certain he didn’t notice my absence. And just for the record, I was not invited to the wedding.
It wasn’t just his posts and pictures that drove me away. He and his spouse encouraged all of their friends to post pictures, so there was a seemingly endless stream of dumb party photos, dumb drunk photos, and dumb make-out photos, all with cutesy little captions, like “We love you guys!,” and “You two are just the hottest couple ever! Can’t wait to hear about the honeymoon night.”
I’m assuming my friend and his spouse wanted the attention and spotlight on their wedding, and that’s great. But in our social media age, it’s time to think about just how much of perhaps the biggest event of your life you want to share with friends and friends’ friends and perhaps the Obama Administration.
The advantages are obvious: It’s fun and exciting and the two of you get to be stars in a way that was impossible just a few short years ago. When gay men get married they tend to be like their straight counterparts and scream it out to the world. Facebook and Twitter, et al, allow you to do this in a way not seen back in the days when gays couldn’t marry, let alone kiss in public.
But, like asking your mailman to be a Groomsman ten minutes after the love of your life has popped the question, take some time together to go over this issue.
Some of the negatives to think about are thus: If you give free reign to guests to photograph all aspects of your nuptials, much of what follows will be out of your control. Almost all of your loved ones have their own social media outlets and will feel free to post “unapproved” photos of you, igniting discussions and sharing that can go on till your first anniversary.
Most of us gay men are vain, and it goes without saying that a lot of the content won’t be flattering, and will be the kind of pictures you’d fire your photographer for taking. Unlike your photographer, you can’t have them destroyed and ask for a refund.
This also includes videos posted on YouTube. Do you want your drunken go-go boy jock-strap-biting bachelor party shenanigans at Splash Bar New York to go viral? And have you thought about who, besides your fiancé, will see this?
Another downside to excess media attention is that you might be (unintentionally) hurting feelings of persons not invited to the wedding, but who are friends with people who were. Yep, they’re gonna see the photos and read the captions and hear about how the guests were all given Tiffany diamond cuff link favors, and they’re not going to be thrilled. Some might even retaliate with their own nasty comments.
On a more personal note, how much of your private affair do you want to share with the world? If you want anyone and everyone to know what you wore, where you married, where you honeymooned, what you ate, how many guests you invited, what kind of formality was involved, what kind of gifts you asked for, who got drunk, what did you say in your vows, and how hot was your kiss, then by all means, mum’s not the word. In other words, if you’re looking for a Reality TV wedding, ignore any censorship. If you’d like a bit of privacy, however, here are a few ways to control the media flow.
First off, announce in the invitation and on your website that you do not want people taking photos of wedding events without permission, and that, under no condition, are they allowed to post them on social media sites. Your best friends and loved ones will respect your choice and behave with caution. Bring your own camera to events and make sure plenty of photos are taken. This will not solve the problem completely, as some guests will forget and some won’t care—especially after they’ve had that third glass of Champagne.
If you do want a limited number of “amateur” photos and posts, direct guests to post on your website or facebook wedding page, and make sure this is a closed group of actual friends. You can also suggest that guests email you the pictures first. Do not feel as if you are intruding on guests’ privacy. It’s your wedding, and you are allowed to make the rules.
Another great idea is to have guests leave all smart phones and tablets at the door when they arrive. This sounds cruel, but it’s a fantastic way to make sure your wedding is truly a private affair. “The New York Times” posted an excellent piece about this very subject in their Styles section, geared for straight people, and it’s a must-read for gay couples too.
Should you go the no cell-phone route, you will need a trusted friend or relative to be in charge of the phones, and you can allow people to come to the “smart phone” area and check messages or make important phone calls. If a guest complains, he’s being rude, and should be reminded that this information was made clear on pre-wedding information sent out to everyone. If his Brazilian Wax business is so important that he can’t live without texting for more than five minutes, let him have his way—outside in the parking lot.
Follow these guidelines and your wedding should be filled with love, laughter, and lots of privacy. Remember, a kiss is still a kiss…
Photos by Melanie Wesslock