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. Love this post! Such good advice – and true not just for wedding-related issues, but any time the Interwebz is getting you down. Thank you. Bookmarking this for the next time I need some perspective. 🙂

  2. I don’t go on other people’s wedding websites and comment on how dull and boring their weddings look, so why would anyone comment on something just because it’s different. I LOVE seeing what everyone comes up with because it represents them. Peace and love us, fuck the rest of em!

  3. Ariel,

    Thanks for this post. Growing up, my grandmother would point out that it takes a lot of energy to be angry or to HATE something. And usually, if someone HATES something about you it’s because there’s an equal measure of envy (or even worse, they intimately identify with the “offense”). Few weddings have landed in such a way that i “hate” them. There may be things i feel uncomfortable about but i don’t think in expressing love, people’s intention is to ever cause suffering.

    Sometimes you may have an idea that seems beautiful and romantic in your private context and doesn’t translate well into a public format. It doesn’t make you a horrible person. It may just mean that you didn’t think outside your private world.

    In reality, it’s the intersection of the private meaning and the outside world that creates “the problem.” We (myself included) want to share the beauty and joy of our weddings and lives with the world. Sometimes that doesn’t land as expected….

    In light of that, thank-you for creating a little “how to navigate” should that happen to you/me.

  4. Thank you for this reality-check. We’re still in the planning stages for our wedding, but in some instances I have already seen an unreasonable amount of criticism on various forums for ideas I’ve had. As much as I didn’t want it to bother me, it did. But I love this site for reminding me that it’s ok to do what we see fit. Thanks for that!

  5. I love this. One of the reasons I come back to The Empire day after day (even though I’m neither bride nor mama) is because of the wonderful community Ariel and the editors have worked hard to foster here.

    I LOVE being exposed to communities, ideas, traditions and points of view I’ve never heard of or considered. Some I love, some I’m ambivalent about and some I dislike – although only ever aesthetically. But seeing them presented in a positive environment I can at least appreciate “So I don’t like it, but THEY really do and that’s what matters”.

    I truly believe the Offbeat Empire has made me a more tolerant and open minded person. And that can never be a bad thing!

  6.   *this* is exactly why I never visited any other bridal sites while planning my wedding. Seriously. Love <3

  7. Awesome post, Ariel!

    I am, however, frothing with outrage that people would say such disgusting things about someone else’s wedding. I mean, if it’s not your thing to feature an iPad in your wedding, or have a Katamari thing, then fine. But making racial slurs?! Threatening to kick someone to death?! Using such horrific language as “I would shoot them in the face and leave them in a ditch”?! WTF?!!

    I mean, I shouldn’t be surprised. The internet offers anonyminity, which people think gives them license to be absolute monsters for a day or two. I mean, for several days, some of our top local news sites were swarming with people saying that Amy Winehouse deserved to die and making horrible, innappropriate comments about the massacre in Norway. Seriously, it breaks my heart. And it really hurts that these people have said such abhorrent things about these couples’ weddings. 🙁

    Anyway. Fabulous post. Once again, I’m so thrilled to have found OBB in the lead-up to my wedding. 🙂

    • I agree. Fabulous post, but it just hurts my heart that people said any of these things in the first place. I don’t know what has happened in the world today that people seem to think threats of violence over matters of taste are in any way appropriate.
      Also – I second the comment up a ways that said reading the Offbeat Empire has made me a better person. It really has opened my mind and made me look at my own personal prejudices. And since I have actually run websites and moderated comments before – it’s helped me look at that in a whole new way too. OBE is a beautiful example of what the Internet can be – and I wish more people took steps to make their websites a safe place for diversity and originality as y’all do.

      • This!

        I was a very judgey person before I hit up the Offbeat Empire. And I didn’t realize it. But after being here, I am now the one correcting people when they say, “OMG what a tacky [blahblahblah]” or “I can’t believe they would teach their children [blahblahblah]”. Now I always say, “Hey now. To them, doing [blah]/choosing [blah]/whatever, is their choice, and what they feel is best for them. We shouldn’t say anything because people probably say the same about us, and it’s not fun.” I also catch myself if I slip up and start judging…or even better, my husband will ever since I started my new mantra.

  8. This is such a great post. I’m worried that snootier members of my family and friends will think aspects of my wedding are tacky, and it would really hurt my feelings if they said so. We’ve done most of our wedding as DIY and I’ve put alot of blood, sweat, and tears into it. I’m proud and excited for what Saturday will hold. But I think I’d be crushed if someone online (or in person) bashed my wedding.

    Thanks for this great discussion. Its easy to forget that when you don’t know someone you can still hurt them online.

    • As one Amanda to another—if they think it’s tacky, flaunt it! Fly the freaky, tacky flag and to hell with their opinions. They’ll eat, maybe dance, snag a favor, and leave, and then you’ll know that you can really let loose with the people who embrace EVERY part of who you are and what you wanted your event to be

  9. I just can’t believe that people have so much free time to look up and criticize a wedding. So? It may not be the way that you may want to do it, but it’s not your wedding now is it? Grrrr… >:(

    • Exactly! But it’s totally fed by the David Tuteras and Stacy and Clinton teams where individuality is stripped away for the sake of predictability.

      • Good point. And while I will admit to secretly liking What not to wear, because Stacy and Clinton seem to want these people to have better lives and never pick on people for their size, David Tutera can get under my skin. He seems to care about the bride, but he will totally axe something just because he doesn’t think it is “wedding” enough.

        • “Seems” to care indeed. I saw one Tutera episode where the bride really wanted a mini-truck theme, which Tutera found tacky. He lets her ‘pick’ a limo for the wedding and her eyes light up as she sees the pimped-out stretch-limo-mini-truck with disco-insides and a mini-bar, but no! That is not for the bride, but for the groomsmen (!?!?). The bride gets a Rolls-Royce because that is more feminine! It made me so angry, even though I personally find stretch limos awful, but who cares, if she loves mini-trucks let her have one.

  10. thanks for the advice – i will keep it in mind when there is some internet crisis :).

    also, i wanted to add myself to the crowd that hangs around here because of the tone and thoughtfulness of the conversation. It was really really useful when planning the wedding to keep the drama to a minimum and manage to keep my sanity. Whenever we would hit a bump I would ask myself “what would an offbeat bride do?”.

    • WWOBBD? YES!!!!!

      I love the empire. I discovered OBB a few months before I even got engaged and then OBM came out right before I got pregnant! The empire has made a safe positive internet pad for me!

      Thanks Ariel & co for keeping out all the negativity! (Although I like to pretend that everyone here is actually negative free and my soul sisters!)

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