Keeping Your Wedding Guests Off Social Media Is Basically Hopeless. Just Ask Princess Eugenie.

Britain’s Princess Eugenie of York and her husband Jack Brooksbank at their wedding ceremony in St. George’s Chapel in Windsor on Friday.
Not doing it for the ’gram. Steve Parsons/Getty Images

Poor Princess Eugenie. Not only did the news of Meghan Markle’s pregnancy totally steal the thunder of her wedding weekend, but guests also seem to have flouted her big day’s much-vaunted no-pictures-and-social-media rule.

Last week, Vanity Fair reported that Eugenie and her betrothed, Jack Brooksbank, asked guests not to post about the wedding online and advised them in advance that they would have to “surrender” phones and cameras upon arrival to her wedding reception. Alas, this proved not to be enough to stop stars like Cara Delevingne and Naomi Campbell from documenting the festivities.

A possible loophole: Some of the pictures, such as Delevingne’s, look like they were taken outside, possibly on the walk between the ceremony at St. George’s Chapel and the reception at Windsor Castle, sometimes by other outlets and reposted. This would seem to be against the spirit of the decree even if technically allowed, but who, without having reviewed the information packet that the couple reportedly sent out before the wedding, can really say? Also, were guests really asked to “surrender” their phones when Cressida Bonas (’member her?) is quite plainly visible taking a selfie in the background of one of the portraits of Eugenie and Jack?

Perhaps overly enthusiastic royal reporting got the details of the social media policy mixed up. It’s a little curious that Eugenie wanted to keep her big day off social media in the first place, considering she is the only royal who is allowed to have an Instagram account, a luxury not afforded to Markle, who was a prolific poster before becoming a royal. Perhaps the idea really came from Buckingham Palace and the couple didn’t actually care, hence the lax enforcement? But if the rules were in fact as reported, the question is: If a literal princess can’t get her wedding guests to follow her social media blackout on her wedding day, what hope is there for the rest of us?

The reasons why a royal couple might ban social media from their wedding seem fairly obvious: The royals are notoriously private and picky about controlling their images. Better to leave things mysterious than risk an image or post that sends the wrong message getting out. For the average couple walking down the aisle, though, this type of social media policy might come off as a tad draconian. Social media is part of how people enjoy events nowadays, and arguments that it’s shallow or takes people out of the moment feel less compelling with each passing year.

Either way, it seems clear that just asking your guests to refrain won’t do the trick, even when they have the best of intentions. This is where Eugenie and Jack would seem to have gone wrong—either by not actually confiscating smartphones, or by having a dragnet that scofflaw selfie-takers like Bonas could sneak through. You can try threatening to punish noncomplying guests after the fact, but that might interfere with the tone of celebration. No, if you want a social media–free wedding, you’ve got to physically take their phones away from them, no exceptions. It’s the only way. Come on, you can’t really ask Cara Delevingne to carry a phone in her clutch and not use it; pity the person who tries to get between those eyebrows and a camera flash. You will not benefit from trusting in your guests’ willpower to stay off social media. Be nice about it, and ply them with alcohol and hors d’oeuvres when you do it, but make no mistake: If you want to keep the wedding off social media, take away their phones.