Why Privacy Is Important When Planning Your Wedding
Privacy and security are related. In the excited flurry of wedding planning, it's easy to overlook how your personal information—and that of your family and friends—is used in ways that make you and your wedding vulnerable. In Europe, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) prohibits retention of marketing data for EU citizens and provides other privacy protections, but no similar law exists in the United States. Here are some ways to protect your privacy, and how we help you by keeping the information you send us secure.
If you use wedding apps and websites, it's a given that you'll end up on dozens on marketing lists. Sadly, your personal data can also easily be accessed for more nefarious purposes. It's not uncommon for couples to have their personal information stolen: identity theft, browser hacking, and wedding phishing schemes are rife. There are even criminals who specialize in culling wedding info from wedding websites and social media accounts so they can show up at the wedding (nicely dressed) to steal wedding gifts, wallets, and vendor equipment. They may also ransack your house while you're on that honeymoon you excitedly posted so much about (which is why it's always a good idea to post travel plans and photos only after you've returned home).
There's no way to guarantee 100% protection from determined marketers and thieves, but there are a few simple ways to defend your privacy.
First, be circumspect about how you inform others of your plans, particularly if you believe someone might want to disrupt your wedding. As fun as it is to post your wedding details on Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram, social media sharing can make you and your wedding a target. It also makes the work of marketers, hackers, and burglars much, much easier..
Encrypt and password-protect your wedding website. If you're building a free wedding website, tell your provider you need to be able to choose your own passwords (your name and wedding date are commonly used as passwords, which means almost anybody who knows you can easily get access). The same goes for third-party invitation and RSVP sites.
Be wary of wedding apps, registries, and social media sites that aren't encrypted and have no privacy controls--particularly if you're using them on public networks, like those at hotels, wedding venues, and cafes. Public networks are easily hacked for passwords and credit card info.
Apps are shiny and convenient, but they are designed to collect and share your information. It's also difficult to know if they are built on secure platforms or where your data goes. Like wedding websites, they are mostly monetized by selling your information to marketers, who will then serve you ads for wedding swag, baby gear, home furnishings, and insurance products until death-do-you-part. Your own computer—or even pen and paper—can be just as efficient for wedding planning, though admittedly they're not as cool and modern. You will, however, get a lot less junk mail for the rest of your life, and you reduce the risk of having sensitive information end up in the wrong hands.
Digital technology isn't a requirement for your wedding, but a marriage license is. A marriage licenses includes your full legal name, address, birthdate, and mother's maiden name, so don't hand it to just anybody. Officiants and marriage license-issuing notaries have access to all this information, so it's important to choose someone trustworthy for these duties.
Because I am a public official authorized to issue marriage licenses, I am exempt from most GDPR provisions. However, we have always taken privacy and security seriously in order to keep you and your loved ones safe. Here are some of the ways we protect your information:
- This website uses industry-standard SSL (Secure Socket Layer) encryption. We don't use web-based intakes, third-party contact forms, or ad servers, since they are subject to "man-in-the-middle" attacks that steal user passwords and financial information.
- We use HIPAA-compliant secure email hosting for sending and receiving your marriage license and wedding data. State law requires that notary transactions be kept confidential, and we abide by the record-keeping requirements of both the State of California and the County of Los Angeles.
- Your marriage license information and emails are stored with encryption, including encrypted backups. We don't share your wedding info or photos without your permission.
- We don't use wedding apps or photo/messaging apps that require location or address book information, in order to keep your event private.
- We don't use mobile payment apps or services. We accept digital payment only through established online providers, so we never have access to your credit card numbers or bank information.
We're happy to answer questions about our privacy and security policy, and we wish you a safe and happy wedding day.