Newport Manners & Etiquette:  Weddings + Social Media

Wednesday, October 09, 2013


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They're getting married, but how do they keep awkward photos from showing up on Facebook?

How do we control social media at our wedding? Is requesting "In Lieu of Flowers" proper etiquette? Family hierarchy at Christenings, family relationships when there's a new girlfriend. All topics into Didi Lorillard at this week.

Controlling social media at weddings

Dear Didi,

My fiancée's a lawyer and I'm being considered for a big promotion and we're planning our wedding. Without appearing like control freaks, how do we keep cheesy photos from our upcoming wedding appearing on social media? You know the kind where the funny gay guy cousin plants the kiss on the groom's lips and the buzzed bride has hiked up her dress on the dance floor.  P.H., Manhattan

Dear P.H.,

Give up the notion that you can completely control photos of your wedding on social media. Start by making it clear at every opportunity that you've hired photographers and are asking guests to leave their cellphones and cameras in their car, hotel room, or overcoat pocket when they check their coat. Begin with your wedding website, then on the information insert included with your wedding invitation. For those who didn't get it the first two times, have a notation on the ceremony program next to the icon for 'No Cellphones.' Some churches require the icon and display it at the church entrance.

To make sure that your guests don't suffer severe viral withdrawal, at the reception have a free photo booth where guests pose for takeaway photos, leaving one for your wedding album. Most importantly, when asked why the cellphone ban, say, "We want our photographer to get good shots of the wedding and not photos of everyone holding up their cellphones to post to Instagram and share on Facebook." After the wedding, pick photos to place in social media that won't cause you to lose that promotion or jeopardize your career.  ~Didi

The melding of step-grands at Christenings

Dear Didi,

Will my husband be expected to sit with his ex-wife at his granddaughter's christening? He has been divorced from her for 23 years and we've been married for 15 years. At his daughter's wedding he had to sit next to his ex in the church and at the head table while I was seated with total strangers. Whereas, his ex-wife's husband sat with my husband's son and wife. I don't want to go through that again.  G.W., Bristol

Dear G.W.,

No, your husband won't be expected to sit with his former wife in the church. Nevertheless, it would be a good idea if the four of you––you, your husband, the baby's grandmother and step-grandfather--started sitting together. This baby has a long life ahead of her. There will be many birthday parties, graduations, perhaps a communion and a wedding—let's not forget the holidays. Accept the fact that when you married a man who already had children you became part of an continually expanding family. For better or for worse. 

By arriving at the church early, you and your husband can subtly stake out your territory in one of the pews at the front of the church. Then your husband can ask his former wife if she and her husband would, please, sit with the two of you. Go with the flow and gently take your place with your husband. If you're singled out to sit elsewhere, simply say you would rather sit with your husband. When you're already seated, no one is likely to uproot you.  ~Didi

What does 'In Lieu of Flowers' mean?

Dear Didi,

A person I worked with for several years recently died and left two children around 14 & 16. The family is asking that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to an education fund for their children at a local bank, which seems odd to me. Is asking for something like this proper etiquette? I feel a bit uncomfortable just sending a check to their bank account. V.W., Providence

Dear V.W.,

No, it is not improper. Understandably, many families with children would rather have your twenty or thirty dollars allocated into a college fund, rather than have it spent on flowers that will be thrown away the following day. To personalize your gift, send a separate condolence card to the widow mentioning that you sent a check to the bank for her children's education fund.  ~Didi

There's a new girlfriend in the house

Hello Didi,

This is my dilemma. My ex-boyfriend's father just passed. We were together for almost 8 years. I developed close friendships with his 3 sisters and his mother. Additionally, I was always treated very nicely by the deceased. I love them as family and as such have offered my help to run errands and help cook, clean, etc... The widow has expressed her gratitude and sincere invitation to return. I know that they need the help and am glad I can help, because I feel that it is helping me to grieve.  

The problem is that my ex has a new girlfriend. She is new to the family and is very unpleasant. I know the family, his friends etc... So when they have seen me around they are warm to me and it drives the new girlfriend crazy. I have mixed emotions about this because I want to be there for his sisters who I consider my friends and I want to pay respect to a man I knew and loved. Should I be helping them at all?  S.S, location withheld   

Dear S.S.,

Go with your gut feelings. Your former boyfriend's new girlfriend must be feeling insecure. Perhaps even jealous of your history of closeness to his family. To her it may seem as though you're trying to show her up and outdo her, because you're spending too much time with her boyfriend's family. Take a break. She thinks it is her territory now. Encourage his sisters to call you if there's anything that they need you to do. If your being around "drives the new girlfriend crazy," hold back on your attentions and affection for the the family until emotions have settled down. Don't go around when she's in your former boyfriend's mother's home. If you see her car in front of the house, don't go in. ~Didi


Do you have a question to ask Didi? Email it to [email protected] or visit her at If we use your question, we can withhold your name and address. Didi researches etiquette and all matters of manners for her book,"Newport Etiquette." Prior weekly GoLocal columns are listed below. More topics can be accessed through a search. 


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