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Wedding hastags: the wave of the future

Last modified: 7/11/2015 11:33:02 PM
If there’s a wedding on your summer social calendar, you’ve probably already booked a hotel room, picked the perfect outfit and scoped out the gift registry. But do you know what hashtag to use on the big day?

You should, because these short, personalized phrases – #jonespartyof2, #jane&jon4eva, #smith2015 – are becoming standard wedding fare as couples seek to share their joy in both the physical and digital worlds. Hashtags, once the purview of politics, social movements and assorted fandoms, are now nearly as common in reception halls as signature cocktails and DIY decorations.

They’re also a sign of the evolution of wedding-day activities. No longer do guests just watch a couple exchange vows, eat dinner and do a bit of dancing. Modern weddings often feature lawn games, trivia contests and photo booths. Asking guests to tag a few smartphone pictures and share them on social media is another way to make them feel like part of the day.

“The trends in wedding are towards inclusivity and connectivity,” said Emma Van Ness, wedding and group sales coordinator at Ragged Mountain in Danbury. “We’re moving away from those times when guests were just supposed to bear witness.”

Van Ness first noticed wedding hashtags about a year ago while she was a guest at a friend’s wedding, and she expects to see them at some of the ceremonies and receptions Ragged will host this summer and fall.

“Hashtags are just one way we see couples going beyond the traditional means of communication,” she said.

Hashtags themselves are nothing new, at least not in terms of digital trends. They first appeared in the early days of Twitter as a means of addressing a group of users interested in a certain topic. They’re common during political campaigns (#RomneyRyan2012 or #ReadyForHillary), as rallying cries for social uprisings (#arabspring) and in corporate marketing (Coke’s #MakeItHappy).

Their ubiquity has grown in recent years as they’ve migrated to other social networks, where they stand as symbols of a shared interest or experience.

Hashtags are especially common on Instagram, where users can search for pictures of exotic meals (#foodstagram), trendy clothes (#fashion) or even livestock (#goatsofinstagram.)

A few years ago, corporations and professional associations began using hashtags at conferences to aggregate the information participants shared on social media. From there, including them at private social functions was a logical evolution – at least for A.J. Veleta, executive director, North America for Crowd Reactive Inc.

Three summers ago, Veleta decided to create an unconventional wedding gift for an Instagram-obsessed friend by building a live slideshow that displayed guests hashtagged Instagram photos during the reception.

“Instead of giving the guy a toaster or a blender, we built him the first live Instagram slideshow,” said Veleta. “He was really into Instagram and we decided he was going to have a hashtag at the wedding.”

The idea was a hit and quickly grew into an international business that’s served 50,000 events worldwide – roughly 20 percent of those have been weddings. The demand for wedding-related services is so great that the company recently spun off a dedicated service for brides and grooms called ii.do.

So just how do couples pick the perfect hashtag? Online wedding chatrooms are full of conversations about the best techniques. Couples can also plug their names and ceremony details into one of several online wedding hashtag generators for help brainstorming ideas.

Typical tags include puns on the couple’s new last name or references to the date or location of their nuptials. Also common: Nicknames, hints at how they met and mild double entendres.

Kaitlyn Audet and Adam Orcutt of Concord wanted a simple, easy-to-remember hashtag for their September wedding so they chose #orcutt2015. And Audet already has a plan to encourage their guests to use the tag during the reception.

“We’re actually making signs for all of the tables,” she said.

Audet started noticing hashtags at friends’ weddings about 18 months ago and has enjoyed how they show different perspectives of the day’s festivities, including some moments guests wouldn’t typically get to see.

“It’s neat,” she said. “A lot of the bridesmaids post pictures of the girls getting ready. You can see behind the scenes.”


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