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

Posted by
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. Ariel, you have a saltiness and groundedness that I only hope I’ll someday grow into. “I’m crying because the internet called my wedding stupid” is some real talk.

  2. I will never understand the need to threaten physical violence or death over something you don’t like. I feel sorry for people like that who live a life of hatred.

  3. Hi there. Just a quick, friendly note on the term “anti-miscegenation.” The word “miscegenation” actually, at its roots, implies a mixing of different types within a species and is considered a rather insensitive term. It’s used by scholars when speaking historically (e.g., “anti-miscegenation laws,” because that’s how the laws were actually titled) but is generally avoided today. Alternate terms that could be used are “anti-interracial marriage” or, if you just want to be direct, “racist.”

    The “Usage” section on the word’s Wikipedia entry offers some good insight into this offensive term’s history: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miscegenation

  4. “But if you’re being criticized for, say, cultural appropriation or privileged entitlement? There may be a real opportunity for some personal development.” For whom? The married couple or the troll? Cultural appropriation abounds on OBB (sugar skulls anyone?) and let’s face it, a huge percentage of the weddings here equate one years salary for some lucky upper middle class people. (That’s why it’s PORN for most of us). It’s perception and tolerance. Let’s just all skip the butthurt.

    • “But if you’re being criticized for, say, cultural appropriation or privileged entitlement? There may be a real opportunity for some personal development.” For whom? The married couple or the troll?

      The married couple.

      I’m totally with you on your core message here of perception and tolerance, but I feel like I need to say that Offbeat Bride’s editors work overtime to try to avoid overt cultural appropriation on the site. That’s not to say we don’t still make mistakes or bad calls, but it’s been topic of very active discussion on-staff for four years, and it’s tough to hear that you think it still “abounds” on the site.

      A few writings on the issue:
      http://offbeatbride.com/cultural-appropriation
      https://offbeatempire.com/tag/cultural-appropriation

  5. Totally agree! I was so proud of my “be my bridesmaid” invites that I posted a photo on Reddit – only to be told that they were tacky and looked like a five year old had done them. Stupid me, I kept up with the thread and ended up calling all my bridesmaids in tear apologizing for the cards I’d sent. Beware of trolls, white knights and asshats of all kinds!

  6. Great article!
    I’m actually a little scared to submit and share our wedding for this exact reason. For us, it was perfection. I think it was beautiful and magical and certainly everything I’ve ever dreamed for… I’m fairly certain I’d be heartbroken if someone ripped it to shreds…

  7. What a great article. This world really needs more love.

    I was feeling lost on an etiquette issue with my wedding invitations and wrote into a particular blog offering advice on these kinds of things. The advice that the website gave was well thought-out, called me out on being a little bit rude in the most diplomatic way, and offered me positive solutions moving forward.

    The comments section, however, ripped me to shreds. I felt physically sick for weeks just thinking about it. I can’t imagine submitting my wedding photos to a mainstream wedding site.

Read more comments

Comments are closed.