What to expect from your wedding vendors on social media
So you've planned the perfect wedding and can't wait to share it with your family and friends on all your social media profiles. Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, and Pinterest are just waiting for the inspirational wedding bomb that is about to be dropped into their laps! Guess what! We are just as excited! We've spent hours of hard work, stress, laughter, stress, tears, and more stress pulling together your vision because it became our vision. We're fully invested and we can't wait for our followers, clientele, and future brides to see what we're capable of.
Many brides, however, don't know what to expect or aren't prepared to see the biggest day of their lives splashed across social media. Some are thrilled and secretly hoping it goes viral! Others may be less-enthused because they don't like that particular image or it brings back the stress of planning a wedding. Here are a few rules of thumb to keep in mind when you see your vendors posting images from your big day.
Let's use a Utah wedding florist as our example shall we? :)
Guideline #1: Permission to share images belongs to your photographer
A Utah bride should keep in mind that in most cases (you'll want to check your contract with your photographer) a bride has print rights only and cannot grant permission to share images, so vendors should be reaching out to the photographers for images from the events to use on their social media, websites, and blogs. If one of your vendors contacts you for images, in most cases you should refer them to your photographer. If you have any questions about who owns the rights to the images at the end of the day, you need to ask your wedding photographer and clarify that in your contract.
Guideline #2: Compensation and/or discount for use of images
Because it is the photographer's legal right to give permission to use the photo and not the brides, a bride should not expect compensation for use of images. Most vendors will state this in their contracts. So, as a Utah florist, I'm getting permission from the wedding photographer to share images, not the bride which means I will work out any compensation details with the photographer.
Many brides today consider themselves "influencers" and are hoping to receive a discount from wedding vendors for posting images on their social media profiles in exchange for "exposure". I don't know how else to say this, but in general, your following is not big enough to create enough exposure to be worth a discount. Before you scoff, let me ask you this question. Do you know and follow the florist from Pippa Middleton's wedding? How about Serena Williams? These people are A-list celebrities and faux-royalty and have had their weddings featured on every big name wedding account, blog, magazine, news channel, and celebrity magazine. They were watched via live stream by millions of people all over the globe. They shared their wedding images to their profiles that have millions of followers and gave credit to all their vendors.
I'm sure this resulted in an uptick in followers and several new inquiries, but it's a game of numbers. How many thousands of followers generate an inquiry? And how many inquiries does it take to land a wedding? This is a long-winded way of saying that your following of 3,000 doesn't have the number base needed to generate a final sale. The best exposure has been and always will be a referral. Pay for your wedding and get all the amazing work and talent possible from your vendors. And then as your friends get married and ask who they should use for this or that, pass our info along.
Guideline #3: Vendors select which images will be shared
A bride should be aware that images may be shared on multiple platforms. When I design wedding flowers, I usually post 2-3 times about the wedding on Instagram, update my portfolio on my website, blog about it, and share it to Facebook. I also upload the photos to Pinterest. I will use, on average, 30-40 images (possibly more) from each wedding, editorial, shoot, or event. With very few exceptions, vendors (not brides) select the images that will best portray their work and abilities and designate which images will be posted. We understand that you may not love every single image from your wedding, but don't expect vendors to remove an image or take down a post simply based off of your personal feelings surrounding the image. Again, it's the photographer's right to give permission to share images (see Guideline #1).
If you have special circumstances where certain types of images absolutely should not be posted for legal reasons, like images of foster children for example, this should be clarified with each vendor in each contract in advance. Above all, just keep in mind that your vendors are never trying to purposefully degrade, defame, or harm your reputation when posting images from your wedding. They're simply trying to market and keep up their portfolio and have received permission from photographers to do so.
Guideline #4: It's not my job to make your wedding go viral
In a world of social media influencers, where YouTube, Instagram, or blogging can be a full-time, paying career for some brides, they naturally want to see their wedding go viral. To put it plainly, it is neither the job of your wedding vendors to publicize your photos, nor do they have very much control over what goes viral. Anyone deep in the rabbit hole of social media should know that the algorithms pretty much make posting, getting likes, and building a following a crap-shoot (pardon my French :). You hired your wedding florist to create a gorgeous bridal bouquet, not send your brand viral. If you are determined to have a viral wedding, I would suggest hiring a PR/Social Media Manager manager for your event and trying to pre-book a publication with a Top 100 wedding magazine or online wedding blog. Your wedding vendors should never be held liable or responsible for the number of likes and comments an image or post receives.
Guideline #5: Handle sensitive matters privately
It's the sad truth that no matter how magical and talented your wedding florist or any other vendor may be, they're still human and may have an off day. Or maybe you had an off day, or your mom, or your future mother-in-law. With social media encouraging us to share anything and everything we ever think of with our entire following, our knee-jerk reaction is to jump online and start "venting" about that person. Let me caution you to avoid any degradation or defamation of reputation in a public forum. This could be seen as libel or slander and could result in serious consequences. If you have a concern, disagreement, or miscommunication with your wedding vendor, respectfully contact them in private. Showing respect, tact, and professionalism in your communications will go much farther than slandering a person online.
The same goes for wedding vendors. I can't tell you how many posts I see not naming names, but ranting about "bridezillas" or crazy mothers of the bride. If I were your client, this would make me feel incredibly insecure in our vendor/client relationship. I would always wonder if it was me and feel like I have to walk on eggshells to avoid a similar post about myself. We all get that there are some whack-job crazy emotional brides out there that are losing it over the style of their bangs, but don't publicize it. Keep it professional and keep it private.
Does this mean you have to pretend to be happy with services rendered online when it's quite possible your vendor did a horrible job? Absolutely not. But the difference between a bad review and slander is that a review is based on concrete facts instead of attacks on personal character. A review would cover concrete things like:
Guideline #6: Give credit for Intellectual Property
The internet is a black hole of plagiarism and IP theft. Work is stolen and posted and portrayed as one's own. Even Top 100 wedding journals, magazines, and blogs with supposed "journalists" will post a photo on Instagram with no credit to work seen in the image. Giving credit is a two-way street between vendors and clientele. Let's start with vendors...
Vendors: Unless brides have a wedding planner coordinating the event and keeping everyone in the loop, most vendors only know what is happening with their own business. We don't know where you bought your dress, who designed your ring, or who did your hair and make-up for the big day, so giving credit when posting can be very difficult. We're starting to ask brides for lists of websites and Instagram handles from all booked vendors in order to better credit our fellow industry members. Try to have this information on hand! Keep it on a note in your phone, in a printed list, or jotted down in a notebook. Or e-mail a complete list to all your vendors! Be sure and include you and your fiancee's social media profiles if you want to be tagged. This will allow us to give credit and help build our fellow industry professionals. Or if you'll just get me a list of the names of the businesses, I'll take the two minutes and Google their info myself. I just gotta have the basic info first.
Brides: When you share the images from your wedding, recognize that you are sharing someone's intellectual property. Give credit and tag vendors related to each image every time you post. If you post an image of your reception, tag the venue, the dress shop, the florist, the caterer, or anyone else whose work is visible in the photo. If you had a great experience with one of them, give a shout-out and recommend them to all your friends, family, and followers! Word of mouth is still our #1 source for new business!
Guideline #7: Critiques of the wedding in captions or blog posts
When designing a wedding, there's often a gray area between what the bride wants done and what the vendor would personally do. As a wedding florist, I see this a lot when brides put together color palettes or flower combinations that make me raise my eyebrows a notch or two :) It isn't how I would do it. It isn't what I would recommend, but that's not what matters. What matters is finding the sweet balance between steering my brides in the right direction and helping them acheive their dreams for their wedding. As an artist, however, I'm constantly critiquing my own work and you may see a caption about things I would change or do differently. Hindsight is always 20/20 right?! A bride may read on my blog or in a caption that I would have recommended a slightly different color palette, or that an upgrade to this flower would have been awesome. We strive to keep things positive online, but also want our feeds to be an honest and true reflection of ourselves, and let's face it... I'm never gonna like burlap as a wedding style. I'll do it, but that doesn't mean I think it's pretty! lol :) So if a vendor shares an opinion about your wedding, recognize it as just that...an opinion. And if you don't know it by know, let me be the first to tell you that posting an image or comment to a public forum is inviting the public to respond. If you don't want people to share their opinions don't share yours. But remember that you don't have to agree with vendors on every aspect of the wedding to have a great relationhip and get their best work! Just scroll on by and remind yourself that you loved your wedding and that's all that matters.
We're all still fairly new to social media etiquette and no hard and fast rules have been written like they used to about soup spoons in the olden days :) So I hope these guidelines help you know what to expect and how to navigate these waters! Be sure and share this with your friends who are getting married so that they know what to expect as well!
This cozy, wintry bridal session was created by the following vendors:
The Pear Blossom
Salt and Pepper Make-up
K Foster Hair