The weirdly entertaining history behind wedding hashtags (and why I want one!)

April 10 | Guest post by Rachael Dickson
The weirdly entertaining history behind wedding hashtags (and why I want one!)
Wedding Hashtag Card from SpadeStationery

I really, truly love puns to the bottom of my being. They're one of my favorite things. Because of this, I love the heck out of wedding hashtags and would love to have one for my wedding. In fact, the idea of getting to come up with a wedding hashtag about taking my partner's last name is so entertaining to me, that it's actually a point in favor of taking his name. But… my partner John? Not so much. The following conversation has actually happened:

Me: "If anyone ever calls me 'Mrs. John LastName' I will divorce you on the spot."
John: "If anyone uses a hashtag for our wedding, I will divorce you on the spot." 

We were both kidding, but also were pretty serious about our strong objections to both things. So. There you go. I suppose we're not having a wedding hashtag. But as a classic overthinker, I wanted to learn everything about them anyway.

The origins of hashtags

The symbol itself, formally known as the Octothorpe, but also called a number sign or pound sign, dates back to ancient Roman times. A New Yorker article called, "The Ancient Roots of Punctuation" states that the story of the hashtag begins sometime around the fourteenth century with the introduction of the Latin abbreviation "lb," which eventually became mutated into the abstract #.

The specific use of the symbol in a recognizable "hashtag" way is a lot older than you might think. A Lifewire article on the topic noted, "The metadata tags have been actually been around for quite some time, first being used in 1988 on a platform known as Internet Relay Chat or IRC. They were used much then as they are today, for grouping messages, images, content, and video into categories. The purpose of course, is so users can simply search hashtags and get all the relevant content associated with them."

According to Lifewire, a resident of San Diego started using the hashtag #sandiegofire on Twitter (which launched July 15, 2006) to inform people about the ongoing wildfires in August 2007; other articles indicate that the first suggestion of # as a tracking tool to Twitter came from Chris Messina. This blog post by Stowe Boyd is believed to be the first one to actually coin the term "hashtag."

I'll admit that I mostly use them sarcastically.

You can now use hashtags to track or group posts on a common theme on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest. I'll admit that I mostly use them sarcastically (as in my commonly used #blessed), but I do actually use them on my personal Instagram to track my ongoing photo chronicling of my nail polish collection via #naileditproject.

The weirdly entertaining history behind wedding hashtags (and why I want one!)
Hashtag cookie cutter from Bakerlogy

Here comes the wedding hashtag

Buzzfeed attempted to track down the first people to use a wedding hashtag, and concluded from researching old twitter posts from June 2008 that it was a man named Jon Bohlinger. A few more mentions were made of the trend in 2008, then it started taking off more in 2009. A Pinterest spokesperson told them that there was a more than 800% increase in pins featuring "wedding hashtag" on their site between July 2014 and July 2015.

I used this blog as an excuse to reach out to Ariel, the publisher of Offbeat Bride. She said she first started really seeing wedding hashtags back in 2013, first with Twitter, and then with Instagram.

If you can't come up with your own brilliant hashtag, there are a million wedding hashtag generators out there now (according to weddinghashtagwall I could use #RachaelLovesJohn, #AdventuresofRJ, or my fave, #DicksonandLorenzenMerger, or ooo since we're both lawyers we could be #DicksonLorenzenLLP (BUT I WON'T BECAUSE JOHN IS A GRUMP). Someone even started a business creating custom wedding hashtags for people. Offbeat Bride has a fantastic article talking about ways to come up with more unique hashtags that incorporate those awesome puns I was talking about earlier.

Several websites exist now to track hashtags.

They really are a pretty powerful tool at this point for keeping track of photos and social media memories and for bringing a theme together. Several websites exist now to track hashtags and provide you with various analytics on them. I just used keyhole.co to search #weddinghashtag and got the following results for the past two weeks: 69 posts with 55 users using it, reaching 160 unique users.

If you're keen on conglomerating your posts leading up to your wedding and all your guests' posts and pictures in one place, using a hashtag and a service like this would help you pull from all the various websites your guests might post on.

Happy hashtagging, all of you marrying non-grumps!

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  1. My daughter is marrying a man with the last name of Stoner. Her hashtag on the invites said #LetsBeStoners. Needless to say, some of the older generation was not impressed! 🙂

    2 agree
    • This delights me SO MUCH. I actually used to contract as an attorney for a medical cannabis company, so I've really heard every stoner or weed related joke out there- multiple times!

      1 agrees
  2. Ah, I remember IRC! Back before hashtags were 'socialized'. Who knew it would lead to this? I tried for weeks to come up with something punny for our hashtag (what wasn't already used) before I gave up and capitalized on the fact that our initials and B and S. 🙂
    Thanks for posting this- I'll be curious to see if wedding hashtags morph into something else in the coming years.

  3. One other word history missing: the symbol is also known as a hash! Hence the name hashtag (i.e. a tag beside a hash mark). Maybe it was just too obvious to write?

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