I asked my girlfriend to marry me on a boat on the wide expanse of Lake George. There was no iPhone to capture the moment, no Twitter to tweet or Facebook to share, and, back at our campsite, no AT&T service to call home with the news. There were only s’mores. And champagne.
For the two of us, it was nice. But I’ll tell ya, future marrieds: the lull couldn’t last. Within minutes, we were in my Jeep, driving 10 miles out of the woods, where we sat on the shoulder of a road trying, to no avail, to make the engagement “Facebook official.” (Turns out you can’t update your relationship status from the iPhone app. A Facebook spokesperson says the company plans on adding this feature in the future.) Lacking the digital evidence, we wondered, had it even happened?
With five weeks behind us and still a year out from the date, the engagement is as real as the ring. Our wedding now has a hashtag, a website in the works, and a growing list of potential vendors we’ve found online. Yelp is our beacon. Facebook our guide. (No surprise: in my day job I’m head of social media at Newsweek and The Daily Beast, managing accounts and watching for news.) My fiancée has grown particularly fond of Pinterest, the photo-sharing network used by a whopping 19 percent of women on the Internet, per one recent Pew study. To my eyes, weddings are the central reason it exists. “Pinterest is a tool people use to find inspiration for the important things they want to do in their life,” a spokesperson explained to me. “Planning a wedding is a great example.” This past July, Pinterest doubled down, creating a separate category for weddings. The same month Facebook—its users aging into love and marriage—introduced a feature displaying special events, starting with engagements and weddings, alongside friends’ birthdays when you log in. (Babies are there, too.)
The use of social media in wedding planning has risen fourfold in the past four years, according to a recent survey conducted by the wedding-planning sites The Knot and WeddingChannel.com. In it, nearly 50 percent of brides said they used social media to communicate information about their wedding, up from 23 percent in 2008. And Anja Winikka, The Knot’s site director, points out the slew of questions that now face the netiquette-aware bride. After the engagement, do you Instagram the ring or call your mother? On the big day, do you update your status before or after the first dance?
As of press time, we’re still searching for a wedding minister down in Nashville. There are two finalists. Only one has a Facebook page. You can guess which one’s getting the job.
Social media editor Brian Ries and fiancee Angela Cranford discuss how they're using social media for their wedding.