I got married this month, and as most legally-bound couples can tell you, a wedding is a lot of work. Businesses need to be paid, family members have to be corralled, and members of the wedding party must be able to work together for the night to be successful. It’s a bit like throwing a house party with the added pressure of spending a few grand on a hopefully-once-in-a-lifetime moment.
That said, the last thing we wanted was to get upstaged by modern technology.
My wife and I, being the busybodies that we are, decided we needed to manage a few other things on top of all the other craziness: Making sure people kept their phones in their pockets during the ceremony, and (stereotypical millennials that we are) encouraging them to use a dedicated hashtag for pictures from the reception.
We decided to ban phones from the ceremony years before we even picked our venue. We had attended a family member’s wedding, and so many people were taking pictures as the bride walked down the aisle that trying to catch a glimpse of her was like trying to check out your reflection in the fragments of a shattered mirror.
That makes sense. Facebook, Instagram, and other social networks thrive because people use them to share images of things that make them happy. It’s almost a Pavlovian response: “Did I feel a squirt of dopamine? Better grab my phone!” Still, we decided to fight those instincts by adding a rule to our program and having the officiant repeat it before the ceremony started in earnest.
And it worked! I didn’t see a single phone out while I, my wife, nor anyone else in the wedding party walked down the aisle. A shirtless man on a bicycle screaming classic rock songs at the top of his lungs did make an appearance, but by some miracle, the audience managed to leave their phones alone for about 5 minutes.
We didn’t have as much luck with the hashtag. The only person who has used it, in fact, is my wife. (I tend not to share much to social media, so I haven’t posted any pictures myself.) Most of the people attending took pictures, but many of them either shared them without the hashtag or didn’t share them at all.
I suppose that shouldn’t come as much of a shock. Many of our family members qualify for senior citizen discounts at Denny’s, and at one point a thirty-something cousin had to ask my teenage brother how to use Snapchat. These people all know how to use Facebook — at least to play games or “poke” their grandkids — but I doubt most of them even know what purpose a “hashtag” serves.
Yet, I was surprised. Maybe it’s because I spend most of my time writing about tech, or maybe it’s because people my age were among the first to start using many different social networks, but I just kind of assumed that I’d see more pictures of the reception when I went searching through Facebook and Instagram.
Either way, it’s strange how some stereotypes (everyone taking pictures regardless of what’s happening around them) rang true while others (people knowing what a hashtag is and why they should use it) failed to manifest themselves in the real world.
And here I thought that if something happened and it wasn’t catalogued on Facebook that it might as well have been a dream.