How to deal when your wedding goes viral and people hate it

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Haters Gonna Hate Cat Art Print

It happened again last week: another wedding made the rounds on the internet, and a bunch of people snarked on it.

I hate it when this happens, because while I think there's a valuable discussion to be had about what makes certain wedding themes problematic, all too often these discussions instead devolve into the Tastefulness Police decreeing this theme as tacky, that invitation as tasteless, etc.

Even when I agree with the opinions, it makes me sad to see people's weddings get trashed online.

We've featured several weddings that have gone viral and caused internet shit-storms, and we always feel terrible when it happens.

  • There was the iPad wedding, which made one commenter rant, “If I was the father of the bride who had to PAY for all that nonsense I would have just shot them both in the face and left them united in a ditch.”
  • There was the Katamari Damacy wedding, which was first lambasted as too dorky and then caught the attention off a group of racist bloggers who said shit like, “They made a joke out of their nuptials, but then again, interracial nuptials are a joke.” Those comments made me shiver.
  • Then there were the pop culture-laden comic book invites, which made the Tastefulness Police turn on their sirens and decree that it was dated and regrettable within about 15 minutes. One commenter went so far as to say, “That is the most cringeworthy heap of shite I've seen in my entire life. I'm actually going to find out where they're holding it and go and kick them to death.” Oh, the interwebs: where a wedding invitation can incite someone to so much moral outrage that it garners a death threat.

Honestly, I don't care whether you agree or disagree with any these opinions. We all have opinions, and Internet Rage is everyone's favorite hobby. But, putting aside all our Very Important Opinions about the audacity of people having weddings we don't like (…CAN YOU IMAGINE!? I am FROTHING with OUTRAGE), I want to address the other side of this issue: how to deal when your wedding (yes, your incredibly tasteful, personalized, awesome wedding that you worked on for months or even years) goes viral, and then gets shit on by dozens or hundreds or even thousands of strangers.

1. Don't read comments
(and if you do read them, DON'T RESPOND)

Offbeat Bride's comment policy is pretty unusual in our commitment to “don't be a dick” commenting. The rest of the internet is not so kind. Many times, we've linked to nontraditional weddings featured on other sites, with a note cautioning Don't read the comments! In fact, that's how I first found Pushba: I found her wedding on a snark site, in a post featuring 200+ comments about what a freak she was. (And oh yes, SHE IS! In the very best way.)

If you skip reading web comments about your wedding, you'll skip 90% of the most cruel, poorly thought-out rants. There's still that 10% of people who, if they REALLY hate your wedding, will write about it on their own blogs — but when folks take the time to do this, they generally take the time to frame things a bit more coherently than your random drive-by troll who types BITCHEZ MAKE ME A SAMMICH!! on your gorgeous lesbian wedding. (True story: that was a comment we received after this wedding went viral on several video game blogs. Oh 12 year old boys. You're so witty!)

Also, resist the urge to dive into the fray and start defending yourself in the comments, via Twitter, on your own blog, etc. In the first few days after your wedding goes viral, you're going to be understandably VERY emotional — any responses will be fueled by defensiveness and outrage. Even if you're completely in the right and totally lucid, chances are about 99% that you're going to come off as a little crazy. Seriously: other than saying “Wow, this attention has been really overwhelming,” DO NOT RESPOND AT ALL FOR 48 HOURS. Just shut the fuck up. Honestly. For your own good, please PLEASE just don't type anything. You will only fan the flames and make it much, much worse.

2. Step away from the computer

When a friend hurts your feelings, you don't sit and stare at them for six hours afterwards. When the internet hurts your feelings, you need to STEP AWAY. Turn it down. Go for a walk. Exercise does wonders for an internet-bruised ego — I think it's really important to get out of your head, and back in your body. Get grounded in the real world. Go talk to some real people. Even if you're like “Oh hi, mailman — I'm crying because the internet called my wedding stupid,” you're still getting out into the real world and reconnecting with tangible reality, where people don't walk up to your face and tell you they're going to kick you to death because of your wedding invitations.

3. Surround yourself with friends

Related to step 2 is gathering with the people who care about you. Spend time with some real life friends or family. Have them over. Go out for drinks. Get some hugs. Confess your insecurities. (Are those people on the internet right!?) Get some perspective. Share some laughs. Touch some skin. Drink some wine, if that's your thing.

This wedding invitation incited death threats. No, seriously.
This wedding invitation incited death threats. No, seriously.

4. Go into digital hermitude

If it's really bad (people making threats, harassing you via email, etc), go into digital hiding for a week. Take the wedding photos off Flickr. Take down your Twitter. Password protect your wedding website. Put your blog on hiatus, or at least close comments. Filter your emails to send hateful shit to the trash. Protect yourself digitally in whatever ways help you feel safe.

5. Wait it out

Internet news cycles are ridiculously short. In a week, most hobbyist haters will have moved on to a new outrage. Within 10 days, your stupid wedding will be such old news that people will be like, “Oh man, I hated that wedding before it it was cool.” If the wedding hating goes on for more than 10 days, then it may be time for Step 6…

6. Consider an apology

In some special cases, there may be validity to people's concerns about your wedding. In the case of the now-infamous Colonial wedding, the photographers who'd posted about the wedding wrote a very sincere apology, recognizing the ways that their wording had contributed to problematic framing of a sensitive cultural/racial issue.

Another example of a great response to viral criticism is the “Wedding Dance” folks. When their dancing wedding entrance video went viral, they were criticized for using a Chris Brown song, a legitimate concern given Chris Brown's issues with domestic violence. The couple responded by collecting donations for a domestic violence non-profit — $34,000, all told. They heard the feedback and responded not by defending their choice, but by essentially saying “That's kinda fucked up and wasn't our intention — here, maybe this will help.” A $34,000 donation absolutely helps.

If people are saying your gamer wedding is tacky, obviously there's no need to apologize — what would you say? “Sorry you think I'm silly; we clearly have different taste.” But if you're being criticized for, say, cultural appropriation or privileged entitlement? There may be a real opportunity for some personal development.

Take some time to cool down, collect your thoughts, and consider the feedback. Once you're feeling solid about what it might all mean (give it at least a week), there can be real value in saying, “Thanks for taking the time to share your perspectives with me. I've taken some time to really think about this, and I think I understand what you're saying. I'm sorry. I can see where I didn't think this all the way through. This experience has been enlightening and I've learned a lot.”

Because while I think we can all agree that the Tastefulness Police should be ignored… every once in a while, the internet isn't just being shitty. Every once in a while, it's trying to teach you something. And every once in a while, you should listen.

Comments on How to deal when your wedding goes viral and people hate it

  1. Le sigh.

    The upside of this kind of occurrence — if there is an upside to such hurtful comments — is this kind of article. And the kind of nice comments the Empire readers usually have to offer.

  2. These posts are why Offbeat Bride is the first recommendation I make for newly engaged friends.

    I love that this advice can be applied to *any* wedding that is criticized by *anyone*.

    Thanks for another well-written, thoughtful, and realistic article, Ariel!

  3. Any time I do read comments on non-Empire blogs, it always makes me wonder how much hateful horseshit the mods here have to get rid of before we see it. Thank you for that, because I’m sure it’s not an easy job.

      • Oh I wish you hadn’t done that. I’m overwhelmingly tempted to send that to the admins of some forums I’m on.

        Or just post it on the forums because truthfully some of them are people doing their best for a community made up almost entirely of assholes of one kind or another.

      • Some of us try hard to patronize businesses that are green, or fair trade, or welcome the obb’s of the world. Wouldn’t it be lovely to also seek to spend more time on socially-responsible websites? (And spend money with the businesses that support them, or donate to them.)

      • I know from my job as a sub-editor that when it comes to weeding out the bad stuff, the only time you get recognition is when you miss something, but I want to reiterate that what you guys do here, the time and effort spent on keeping this a positive place, makes a HUGE difference.

        Just like people who allow nastiness to be spread make the internet a worse place to be, people who won’t tolerate nastiness and actively encourage positivity make it a better place. Thank you 🙂

    • Thats why I love this community so much. We’re all just a bunch of friendly, welcoming, awesome Hufflepuffs! 🙂

  4. I can’t imagine how I would feel (or how I would react!) if my wedding went viral and the trolls attacked. As a plus, you linked back to two really awesomely sweet weddings that were really fun to re-visit. Awesome post. =)

    • Agreed! Once I saw a really mean, petty debate on OBH before the mods saw and deleted it. It made me so sad because it violated my feeling of safety here. It’s rare to find such a positive online community and it’s one of the things that keeps me loving the Offbeat Empire. Thanks for your good work!

      • I know the debate of which you speak, and it was an important lesson for Cat on why comments must always be checked last thing before you go to bed, and first thing when you wake up. 🙂

  5. Brilliant article!

    One of the biggest things to remember is that not everyone is going to like your wedding… and they don’t have to! Unless, as Ariel said, there’s a valid criticism for you to consider, these are strangers saying things they’d probably never say in person. They weren’t invited, the wedding wasn’t for them. It is okay if they don’t like it. Just like you don’t have to like every wedding out there either. Just be the bigger person because you know you had an amazing wedding.

  6. Sometimes, I really hate the shinternet.
    It’s like a breeding ground for hatred, and bashing, and a lot of negative things that literally make me sick to my stomach. I think one of the saving graces to the bridal industry, and the sanity of brides everywhere is this site, and I am truly grateful for it.

  7. Oh the problems of living in the 21st century. I think the computer screen really disconnects people, and then is used as a shield that others hide behind their hateful comments.

    I believe that about 98.5% of those comments written bashing someone’s wedding never would’ve been said if they were face to face. Or at least, their comments would’ve been modified. I think we could do well to remember that when we post something on the internet that someone with feelings is going to read it, and should ask ourselves “am I representing my best self here?” before submitting a comment on a whim.

    But death threats over a wedding invitation? Seriously? I may have hot button issues, but the stationary choices of others isn’t one of them.

    • Exactly to everything that you said. If I had to tell people that their wedding invitation made me want to kill them, to their faces, well, I would be be jail or the psych ward. Maybe that should be an internet “rule”, if what you are tying is enough to land you in jail or have people genuinely question your sanity, you should turn off the computer and walk away immediately.

  8. Ugh, I’ve never understood the ridiculous amount of hate online. If you don’t like something, don’t bloody comment. As cynical as I am, I can appreciate when two people look super stoked that they’re getting married, whether I personally like their theme or not. It’s not my wedding. There’s such little love in the world, why can’t we all just enjoy it when we see it? *grumble grumble*

    Enjoyable read and some good advice. Oh, and the Katamari Damarcy wedding is freaking adorable! Hating on that is just wrong.

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