As a bride-to-be, I remember that navigating the to-dos, not-to-forgets, and inspiration overload from Pinterest, Instagram, and wedding blogs, did feel a little overwhelming at times. I remember see-sawing between feeling buzzed and excited, and then suddenly feeling a FOMO-style resignation to the fact that we’d never be able to incorporate ALL of the amazing things that can be done, or do it all right, or take it all in. I love the online sharing community, but I was finding that when it came to something as personal, momentous, and emotional like my wedding, I often felt a little lost, and unsure as to where I stood. Sadly, I don’t think it was just me, as I’ve seen some heart-breaking statistics about brides and grooms feeling weighed down by social media anxiety.
So here are some tips for all couples out there on how to effectively use, and survive, social media while wedding planning. I hope this helps – and if you’d like to get in touch for a chat or a brainstorm, please feel free to get in touch!
- Get to know your dream team. Many suppliers in the wedding industry keep their social media profiles more up to date than their websites, so make that work to your advantage. Instagram and Facebook can be a great way to see what suppliers have been up to, their personal projects, and their professional day-to-day. Try to get a sense of their personality, style, and ethos as well. Look for signs of engagement with their followers, reviews and testimonials, and evidence of creative collaborations too. A vendor with a well curated, positive, collaborative Instagram profile is one with a keen aesthetic sense and awesome teamwork ethic that will translate to every piece of work they put their name to – and that’s something that can benefit you enormously on your wedding day. Almost everyone that works in the wedding industry does so because they LOVE weddings, so don’t be afraid to use social media platforms to reach out to people directly, say hello, and ask questions.
- Follow the tags. Related to the above is the fact that one of the great benefits of social media is the ability to track down who did what. Vendors who work together, either on a real wedding or a photoshoot, will share images and tag everyone involved (or at least, they should…) – which gives you an incredibly valuable database of who’s who. When you see an image that you like, jot down some names and follow links to their websites. It also means that you can assemble a team where some vendors may have already worked together, which is always a bonus. If the bride and groom are tagged, don’t be afraid to reach out to them directly and say hello. You can ask about their experience working with particular suppliers, and even advice on how to achieve a certain look – you might find that the bride will be very happy to hear that you found her big day inspiring, and is delighted to help! Also, keep an eye on any hashtags that keep popping up, as you may find this can help you focus your search both in term of style and geographical location.
- Use Pinterest boards, in moderation. There are so many sources of incredible wedding ideas out there, to suit every budget, style, type, and location. And all of them, in one form or another, end up in the magical awesomeness that is Pinterest. Use it if you want to (I love it!), but use it wisely. Pinterest can be a really useful way of creating moodboards for the various aspects of your wedding, but they’re only helpful if they’re carefully curated and limited to those things you REALLY want. Be strict with yourself. Once you start pinning every other beautiful image, the board becomes so diluted and huge that it can no longer serve its purpose, for you or for the suppliers you’re looking to brief with them. Really ask yourself: do we both love this idea? How feasible is it given the circumstances? Does it actually represent us or are we just feeling the pressure of a trend? Is our budget likely to allow it? Every so often, as you progress through your wedding planning journey, go back to your boards and be ruthless: do we both STILL love this? Does this STILL fit into our vision in a genuine and thoughtful way? Keep the boards focused, useful, and perfectly tailored to you. Don’t ever forget that you’re allowed to do ANYTHING you want on your wedding day, and nobody expects (or wants) your wedding to just be a Pinterest mish-mash melting pot. Keep in mind your own limitations, and be the version of you that is positively inspired by others’ creativity, not burdened by it.
- Understand styled photoshoots. Are you coming across lots of gorgeous editorials with a bride, maybe a groom, a top table, and perfectly styled details but no guests in sight? That’s what’s called a “styled shoot”. So what is it exactly, and what use is it to you? In essence, it means a group of creatives with similar styles and aligned brands have come together to bring to life a wedding theme or concept – it could be inspired by a colour, a location, a book, a genre of art – anything really. The lifecycle of a styled shoot goes something this: the styled shoot leader(s) comes up with a concept and starts reaching out to suppliers they think would suit the theme; one by one these are confirmed and booked in; bespoke elements are made, commissioned, or purchased; everyone converges together in a near-empty venue, and they make magic together. It’s a really useful and productive exercise for wedding industry suppliers’ development: we get to know each other, we become one another’s contacts for future work (if we worked together well, that is!), and we learn from each other. It’s also great for visibility, because these types of shoots allow each supplier to show off their best, maybe get featured in a blog, and hopefully offer you some inspiration for your wedding. Suppliers usually give their time up for free (or, more specifically, in exchange for the fruits of the collaboration). Don’t be fooled into thinking these wedding mock-ups are “fake”, as actually a lot of work does go into the styling, coordination, and execution, and many of the elements of a real wedding day have to be at play for a shoot to be successful; but do keep in mind that these looks are accomplished on a smaller scale, with less time pressure, and fewer budget constraints than a real wedding. As a bride or groom, think of these as storyboards of a film – the concept art of a book – or catwalks for designer fashion. Keep in mind the elements you like, and apply them to your wedding day in your own unique way.
- Widen your sources. This may seem counterintuitive, because you might feel like you’ve got enough wedding day inspiration to last you several lifetimes. My suggestion is – set the wedding blogs aside for a few days, and think about other industries that inspire you. Fashion, architecture, interior design, and food styling, are all examples of awesome sources of visual inspo – so think about your hobbies and interests, and spend some time browsing what’s new. One of the tricky things about wedding planning is that sometimes you feel like it’s all you talk about, all you think about, and all you read about – so give yourself a break, and get your creative juices flowing in unexpected places and directions. This also has the benefit of leading you down thought processes that can make your wedding day even more like YOU, and less like a summary of Pinterest.
- Find what you don’t like. Another useful technique for putting social media to work for you is to save examples of things you don’t like. A Pinterest board or Dropbox folder of how-not-to-do-it’s will speak more than a thousand words when you’re looking to brief your suppliers or your wedding planner.
- Set limits. There are a number of mobile and PC apps available now to record and/or restrict the time you spend on particular social media websites or apps (some examples here), and you may find some peace of mind in giving yourself some time limits this way. This could be daily, weekly, or even via some thresholds (no wedding-related Instagram scrolling after 9pm, no Facebook wedding supplier searching on Sundays, etc…). Don’t feel bad about doing this – you’ll find that it clears your mind and gives you a chance to refresh your thoughts. You can also try shutting off notifications altogether, or during certain times of day. Focus your time on what really needs to get done.
- Remind yourself of what matters. As you progress through the stages of your wedding planning journey, make sure you take the time to use the internet and social media to remind yourself of what really matters. Spend time researching the ceremony-related parts of your wedding, which really embody what the day is all about. Also, use your wedding as an opportunity to reach out to friends and family that you wish you had more time to speak to, share your journey with them if appropriate, and let them be excited for you. There may be times when you feel like everyone is appropriately excited about your wedding except you (not because you don’t want to get married, but because you’re weighed down by the organisational pressures). So take a step back, spend some time journaling and chatting about what marriage really means to you, and make sure you let people in. Without even realising it, you may find that it helps you to stay focused on the joy and love that you feel when you’re not worrying.
I hope these have given you some food for thought, and helped you along the way!