Tacky weddings: How to not like things, and not be a dick about it

Updated Sep 13 2019
arielmstallings
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Way back in 2011, I wrote about the shock some folks can experience when their wedding goes viral and, well, the internet hates it. The sad truth is that this a perennial topic, because, well, the internet loves to snark about weddings. Even if your wedding doesn't go the full Buzzfeed viral, there's always the chance that members of, say, a board focused on wedding etiquette might be mortified, and link to it, and the comments might get flooded with negativity.

This happened a month or two ago to a wedding we featured. In it, the bride dared to break down her budget, and talk about the steps she took to cut corners. Now, here's the deal with talking about wedding budgets: THERE IS NO WINNING. Readers always ask to hear more about budget and money and crow "I want to know real costs!" and bla bla bla, but talking about the money you spent on your wedding is the quickest way to freak out the internet.

Money and tradition and family and regional and community and personal taste all play a huge role in which cost-cutting measures feel appropriate to any given person. We've featured dozens (if not hundreds) of weddings where couples cut corners in ways that I would not choose to given my personal tastes and values around money, but meh: whatever. It's not my wedding, and as long as the couple holds themselves accountable for their choices, then whatever.

Image from page 78 of "Twentieth century culture and deportment, or, The lady and gentleman at home and abroad : containing rules of etiquette for all occasions ..." (1899)

But for other folks on the web, it's REALLY HARD to read about what other people have done, and not be aghast by it. MORTIFIED! I've seen decrees of "worst wedding ever!" and "flagrant disregard!" and a million other things.

Now, as a publisher, I've written before about how hate readers are fine in my book — keep on linking those weddings you hate, haters. Don't you know how websites make money? FROM YOUR EYEBALLS. By all means, send more eyeballs!

The problem is when these hate-readers can't resist commenting. Our comment policy has been the same since 2007, and it boils down to "it's ok to not like things, but don't be a dick about it." When you say something shitty in our comments, we remove it, even if you're making a great point! Even if you're sharing a concern Offbeat Bride's editors' share! Even if we fully agree with you. We don't moderate comments that don't like things — we moderate commenters who are a dick about it.

Why we moderate rude comments

If I submit my wedding to you do I risk getting mocked onlineOur comment policy is a commitment we make to the people who submit their weddings to our website. If you're going to take a risk by inviting the internet to your wedding, we want to make you feel good about that decision. If we allow our community to be attacked on our own website, how can we expect anyone to feel ok submitting their weddings to us? Now, what the internet does elsewhere isn't our business… but here? We've got a comment policy.

In the wedding that got piled-on a couple weeks ago, a cluster of rude comments didn't get moderated for 16 hours — way longer than we like to let things like that go on. After we cleaned up the comments, we sent the bride an apology. Here was her response, which is inspiration for anyone who's dealt with the wedding snark that the internet can dish out:

At first, I went through the five stages of grief (is there such a thing?!?) in rapid succession. And then I thought about Taylor Swift and Gwyneth Paltrow and all the hard working, talented, beautiful celebrities that get hate tweets and mean things said about them…and I said "I'm being hated on…. I've hit the big time!" LOL.

My husband warned me not to take that stuff personal… So, I treated it with healthy perspective. No one can set my internal happiness level, and my friends and family definitely came to our defense.

However for anyone thinking the same thing, I provided more details in the comments. That ain't gonna keep the haters from hate-hate-hating, but I have a tremendous level of respect for your rapid response and high integrity. You are one of the good ones. I applaud you. Protectors of that which is sacred — being able to share freely with love.

We can't make people on the internet love everyone's wedding… but, I can try to share the most effective ways to register concerns!

Image from page 63 of "Our society" (1891)

How to not like things and not be a dick about it

Let's say someone had a wedding that you think was awful. It was so bad, that tacky weddings everywhere would be jealous of its horribleness. In fact, this wedding was so tacky that you need to make sure other people take pause before planning a similar wedding. Here's how to get heard:

  1. Ask respectful questions: "How did your guests respond to XYZ? It would give me pause, and I'm curious to hear how it went over." "Is XYZ common in your region? In my area, I'd worry about guests thinking ABC, but am curious if that's a regional difference."
  2. Own your reaction: "Speaking for myself, if I were invited to a wedding where someone XYZ, I might feel ABC. I hope other couples considering XYZ consider whether their guests might feel the same way."

Basically, your goal with any comment is to make it something someone can't argue with — I can argue with a statement like "THIS IS RUDE" (it's not rude in my area! it's not rude to me! what is rude?), but I can't argue with "If I was invited to a wedding where people did that, I would feel this." I'm not going to tell you that you wouldn't feel a certain way if something happened to you. There's nothing to argue about there.

For example, if someone says "If I was invited to a wedding where people served pie, I would feel my identity as a cake-lover was being disrespected…" even if I think it's a little ridiculous, it's still valid. I'm not going to tell you can't feel disrespected by pie.

Who wants to practice in the comments?

  1. In the world of the internet if you don't like something by all means go "IKK that's gross what a silly person" to the cat and pull a face. But people seem to have forgotten what they were taught as children "if you have nothing nice to say (type) don't say anything at all". Sit on those snarky typy fingers people!!

    Featured weddings on here aren't asking opinions! (Unlike the tribe who are very good at responding to requests for opinions in polite nice kind ways).

    Way to go to the featured bride for Taylor Swift quotes

    • "if you have nothing nice to say (type) don't say anything at all"

      I actually don't fully agree with that — I truly believe there's room for constructive dialog online. I really like it when commenters bring up their concerns, it's just that so few people either A) know how to do it respectfully or B) care about being respectful online.

      My goal with our comment policy is not "LOVE THIS OR SHUT UP"… it's just to encourage folks to treat each other with respect when they're on our site.

      Again, I fully support people snarking as much as they want elsewhere online. By all means, snark on Facebook or theknot — just be sure to include a link to the post so we can cash in on your pageviews!

      • My mother taught us to ask 3 questions. 1) Is it true? 2) Is it kind? 3) Is it necessary? The answer should be yes to at least 2 of those questions.

  2. Wow, I wonder what the post was that offended the delicate sensibilities of the interwebs? I've always liked the diversity of wedding configurations featured here, whether or not it's my jam. <3

    • I'm intentionally vague in this post because it's really not about this most recent wedding — this same thing happens every few months, and has for years. I wanted to avoid debating the specifics of whether this wedding deserved the ire of the internet, because there will ALWAYS be new weddings to hate on!

      • I appreciate the point of this post. I think it applies not just to weddings, but to posts in general and one's opinions about another's decisions in life: have your opinions but don't be crappy about it! Ultimately it is not your decision or under your control. I do have to admit I'm curious about which wedding it was though…

  3. What an awesome post! I love it when people talk reason!

    Oh, wait, sorry, supposed to practice non-support here. Uh…

    In my area, being cruel and making hyperbolic statements on the awfulness of things is part of our bonding ritual. Do you worry about the people in your area being unable to legitimately have reasons to bind and gag each other, or of losing the fun of duct taping the rude complainers to the ceiling? Or is this a tradition unique to our area?

  4. I think I know the kerfuffle to which you are referring, but out of respect I won't guess. I'm no stranger to criticism, but my problem with the way the Internet does criticism is that most of it isn't constructive. It's all Zoidberg-esque "THIS IS BAD AND YOU SHOULD FEEL BAD" rather than, "This is bad, and here's why . . ." I once asked a question asking for other people's opinions on a bridal forum (not the Tribe, they are lovely) and got a bunch of responses saying "this is tacky," "I rolled my eyes" and when I asked, "Yeah, but why?" they suddenly vanished. Fancy that.

    And here's the thing: modern etiquette rules don't just differ from region to region or culture to culture but also from etiquette maven to etiquette maven! For instance, Miss Manners believes that if you include a self-addressed and stamped RSVP card in your invitation suite you "don't trust your guests to be adults" but Emily Post says that including those things is a nice touch. It drives me bonkers! Just be as nice as you can to your guests, there's no pleasing the Internet.

    • Right! It's all very subjective, and if you can engage in a dialog about "Oh, why did you choose to do it that way? I might have done it this way, but I want to understand more about your decision…" you might actually (gasp) learn something. Or (double gasp!) because you're willing to have a conversation instead of make a decree, the other person might actually learn something from you.

      Ideally, teaching people would be the goal… but I get that sometimes snarking is the end goal into itself. I'm cool with that, just do it elsewhere. That's what I do. 😉

      • Snark is a delicious, low hanging fruit <3 — agree or disagree, nice or snarky, it's usually a question of whether or not I need to shut my judgmental pie-hole (because half of the time the answer is "yes" for me).

      • So much this! I fully admit that I am trying to have an etiquette approved event, but get so confused when the "experts" can't even agree and posters on other forums immediately attack you for just asking a question. I actually try to follow all of the advice in your post and comments when I have a differing opinion. No one is born an etiquette/wedding expert, and I don't think people asking honest questions should be ignored or attacked.

    • I like your "But why?" comment. It seems like the fastest way to shut down verbal spew in a discussion. It is the difference between, "I want to argue [x]" versus "I want to figure out [x]" — I can't count the number of facebook and forum topics that have abruptly died by taking that approach. Maybe the thrill of the chase is gone when you are talking instead of yelling?

      • In a recent political argument, my opponent asserted a bunch of horrible things about LGBT based on badly obtained statistics. My version of "But why?" was to turn his own logic into asserting the same thing about cis-males based on (more reliable) statistics. He had absolutely no response whatsoever, despite being a practiced and prolific (nigh-professional) internet troll.

        (I almost spelled out the argument less ambiguously, but I felt this forum wasn't the place and his argument was horrible enough that it doesn't need repeating.)

  5. Oh boy! I am already receiving comments here and there from our loving friends and family. They mean well, but they word it like, "You can't have a wedding with/without _____! What will people say? You are going to be judged. I mean, I am just looking out for you….." Or, "I've never been to a wedding with/without _____!" "Okay, well, that's what we're doing…" "Why? That's crazy/weird/not okay! You have to have/should never have that at a wedding!" Okay, then don't come! Ugh. I may steal the picture at the top of this post, print it out, and have it posted about my venue! 😉 But seriously, this is why I love OBB! Constructive Criticism for the win!

    • "I've never been to a wedding with/without _____!"

      Hey, that's actually a legit piece of feedback that can't be argued with!

    • You know what my mom says "I've never been to a wedding without…" about? Everyone's favorite "tacky" wedding tradition- the money/dollar dance! She was astounded to find out that A) It was a regional/cultural thing in the first place and not some ubiquitous wedding tradition and the B) people could ever find it offensive! For her, it's just one of those wedding traditions that is done because it's done, just like having cake. Just goes to show there's a defender/detractor out there for everything (so you should just do what you- the plural, you-as-a-couple-you want)

        • The Wikipedia article that Ariel shared is great and covers it all well. To supplement with my personal experiences: We're of an Eastern European background and from Pennsylvania and every time I've seen it happen it goes like this: Someone announces it's time for the money dance and everyone lines up, MoH collects for the bride and Best Man for the groom and the guests pay a dollar to dance with one (or both!) of them and it's not very long but you get about a minute of personal time with your hosts. If you don't want to/can't pay no one is going to say "nuh-uh, not on this dance!" I actually really like it because it does give you that dedicated time, especially if it's a friend or family member you don't get to see very often getting married.

  6. I have loved Offbeat Bride's amazingly supportive community during my wedding planning, and I was very fortunate to have read Marshall Rosenberg's book, Non-Violent Communication, before planning my wedding.

    I'm not exaggerating when I say that book transformed the way I communicate with most people on emotional topics. There was still some wedding drama and "tacky" comments, but I dealt with them so much better having the example of the other brides on the site and the techniques on conflict resolution from Rosenberg's book.

  7. I did not read all comments on this wedding, but I personally did feel that the presentation of the wedding was a bit… well not ideally arranged I would call it. Maybe that is why some of the comments appeared especially adressing the budget. I do not know who arranged the headers and the texts and so on and how the editing goes down in your team, but the header was something like "elegant and on a budget, here's how you do it" and the overall topic of the article was how greatly the couple saved on the money. Maybe it would have been better to just leave out the money- and budget-talk (and especially concrete numbers) and just focus on a beautiful couple on their happiest day. What is "on a budget" and "having to heavily compromise" for some is "absolutely unaffordable" for others (in this case I estimate many others).

  8. "I feel like your reluctance to let me be a giant douchebag in your comment section infringes on my freedom of speech, even though you're not the government and this site is privately held. Have you considered that other douchebags might come to this same ignorant conclusion, you Nazi-loving fascist?"

    How was that? Did I do good??

  9. I just wanted to say how much I appreciate the work you do to make this such a friendly, supportive community. When I first got engaged, I very much felt like I was the only one who wanted a low-key wedding that reflected us instead of wedding traditions that didn't mean anything to us. Reading wedding blogs on the internet and trying to talk about it with certain folks offline really messed with me. I'm a very socially anxious person who's triggered by worry that other people are going to judge me, so the whole process was very hard on me until I found Offbeat Bride — I finally, for the first time, felt like it was okay to have the wedding I wanted to have. I haven't looked at another blog in months.

    • Girlfriend, I am having a very low key wedding too and am running into the same problem! people cant imagine that GASP! I don't want a froofy wedding dress or to walk down an isle. I am so happy to see your comment it makes me feel like I'm not alone. I don't mind traditional weddings and would never talk crap on them but they just are not for me and it is so hard for some people to understand that. ARGH! Thanks for your comment!

  10. I do love the Empire's comment policy and moderating. I've stopped commenting on many Facebook posts — friends' posts! not even news ones! — because too many commenters are did not learn what argumentum ad hominem and reductio ad absurdum mean despite claiming great intelligence as proved by expensive degrees. (I will continue to advocate working retail and/or customer service to learn psychology and sociology.)

    The first time I went to a friend's wedding, she knew me well enough to tell me the rough outline of the wedding ahead of time. I'd only been to family Catholic weddings before, which only varied in which Mass was used, and always had the same kind of reception. The prospect of a secular wedding without the script I knew gave me bad anxiety, to the point where I wasn't sure if I could go, but I ended up having a great time (and her mom gave me her lei at the end of the night, which I know is a great honor). I'm still unconvinced on the whole garter thing, and I can't imagine a wedding without children, but I know that different is inherently neither good nor bad, just different.

  11. I absolutely love this. I wish more websites would moderate their comments section. Just yesterday I was told to "shut my trap". Clearly not the worst thing people hear on the Internet, but it sure hurt my feelings. People too often hide behind the anonymity of the Internet and think what they say doesn't matter. Trolling doesn't make you "quick", it makes you a dick.

  12. As a 44 year old bride, that is getting married in her back yard, with no attendants, a pagan officiant, no involvement of my children that don't want to be centered out, and none by his as he is going to hell for not being religious anymore, handmade nature inspired invitations, offering to have people camp in my yard, cooking all the food myself, making my own cake, sewing all the clothes, not having music nor flowers for that fact… I will not be offended if you find things here not to your liking. This is me, through and through. If you truly knew me, you should have expected no less. If all of my work and effort isn't enough for you, then I am truly sorry that the love I put into things isn't enough. I just hope that you find some happiness out there when somebody else goes out of their way to do something for you to enjoy. As for me, I'm really pretty cool with it all!

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