Why does the internet love snarking about weddings so much?

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Photo courtesy of Post Secret's Sunday Secrets
Photo courtesy of Post Secret‘s Sunday Secrets

Can we talk about this for a second: why does the internet love snarking about weddings? I mean yes: the internet loves snarking in general, but there seems to be something particularly digitally delectable about making fun of weddings online. Sometimes it feels like nontraditional weddings get snarked on the most (and certainly we've seen our share of Offbeat Brides get mocked on sites like Jezebel and Wedinator), but these days it seems just as likely to hear people bitching about how Pinterest has made all weddings look the same and all the wedding trends are played out, blah blah blah.

As someone who's been on the internet for 20 years, it's no surprise for me to hear that you're damned if you do, damned if you don't. If your wedding is weird, you get mocked. If your wedding is on-trend, you get mocked. Basically, the internet is for mocking. What I want to explore is WHY? Why does everyone love getting bitchy about weddings? I'm going to put on my sociologist/media studies hat and share a few theories…

Aesthetic differences = HO HO HO

Obvious statement is obvious: we all have different tastes when it comes to event design. Some of us think “This is your last chance to run” signs are hilarious, others of us get skeeved out by commitment comedy. Some of us think global meats sound delicious, others find the idea nauseating.

So, no shit: we all have different tastes. What's different about weddings is that they're a more visible expression of those tastes. (Especially if your wedding is on the internet.) More visibility means more opportunity for snark, and more opportunity for communal snark, where we all gather together and one-up each other's mocking.

Financial investment = HAR HAR

Anything more than a courthouse wedding is going to cost a bit of cash. So, when people see a wedding that's not to their liking, and then they imagine someone spending a chunk of money on that!? The money component raises the stakes from “Meh, that's not my jam, but whatever” to “Oooh shit, how much did they spend on this hot mess?!” Suddenly, everyone's fingers are tingling with the snark urge.

Hypothetical lifetime commitment = SNARF

The snark factor goes up even more when people see something they don't like, and imagine that this is the celebration of a lifetime (…or not) of commitment. The gallows humorists start snarfing to themselves, “Oh ho ho, I wonder how long THESE two will last?” This is one place where snark is equal opportunity — lavish luxury weddings are just as likely to be skewered as weirdo weddings.

A brief aside here: As someone who's been publishing a wedding blog for almost 7 years, I can tell you based on my extremely anecdotal evidence that wedding style has almost zero impact on marriage longevity. We get an email every month or two from a previously featured couple who's now separated, and they've run the gamut — older lesbians who'd been together for a decade before getting married, young hipster hets who had adorable quirky/cute outdoor weddings, academics who had thoughtful ceremonies full of literary quotes… from what I can see, there's no predictor for marriage longevity.

Bridal hubris = BWAHAHAHA

I can attest to this first-hand: when we edit our wedding profiles, one of the things we're diligent about is making sure the tone of the profiles doesn't feel too, well, for lack of a better word, braggy. It makes sense of course: couples have invested a huge amount time, money, and emotions into their weddings… but sometimes that pride can translate into a tone that comes off as boastful. We all know the internet loves nothing more than popping boastful balloons — it's like we see it as our collective responsibility to bring everyone and everything down to earth.

After editing literally hundreds of wedding profiles, I can say that there's definitely a difference between the usual excitement and pride (“I'm really proud of this thing I did! Let me share it with you!”) and a difficult boastful tone (“Everyone told me it was the BEST WEDDING EVER. There was literally not a dry eye in the house during our vows. It was all about us and what special snowflakes we are!”).

There are a some common red flags:

Again, this kind of stuff is pretty common and completely understandable. My editors just lovingly tone it down as they're editing the posts… Mostly just because it doesn't make for very good reading. Toning down boastful vibes is just one of a lot of different kinds of edits we make on bride profiles, including stuff like lifting out people bitching about family members (inevitably, the family member finds the post and we get an email asking us to remove the snarking), and rambles about minutia that feel hugely important at the time, but don't make for great reading. When it comes to protecting our couples from getting attacked online, however, it's the most important.

So WTF can you do about it?

Ok, so there are my three theories on why the internet loves mocking weddings, but this raises the question: as someone who's getting married, what can you do about the snark?

Also related: If I submit a guestpost to you, do I risk getting attacked by other bloggers?

So, what are YOUR theories on why the internet loves to hate weddings?

Comments on Why does the internet love snarking about weddings so much?

  1. Here’s the thing about the internet: it’s not just weddings that get snarked on. Anyone who shares ANYTHING publicly online opens themselves up to that risk, whether it’s about their wedding, their parenting choices, their workout routine or what they had for dinner. It seems like the Internet turns us all into over-opinionated jerks who can’t WAIT to share our sarcastic opinions about things that really shouldn’t matter to us all that much.

    What’s the solution? That’s a good question. For me, personally, I expect a certain amount of snark in response to my own personal choices on everything. I ignore it as much as I can, and above all else, I keep my own gossip and snark as quiet as I possibly can.

  2. My partner and i finalized our guest list this week. pared down to just close friends and immediate relatives, we still have 151 people to invite and a 30 person “b list”. i had a mix of feeling like, “wow! aren’t we lucky to have so many people who love us!” and “OH GOD OH GOD THAT’S A LOT OF PEOPLE!”. while attempting to calm down, i read that postcard on postsecret. it really bummed me out. i’m glad you guys addressed it, this was a really therapeutic read for me.

    • Amusingly, knowing what I know about weddings, 150 guests doesn’t even qualify as “huge.” 🙂

    • I sometimes wish Post secret didn’t put the really negatives ones up. Every time there is a really anti-gay one I just get so mad. That person didn’t need to get that attention, even if it’s anonymous….

  3. Most of the times people snark just for the sake of snarking! No matter what you do, people are always going to say mean stuff, either to your face or behind it. The important thing is that YOU & YOUR PARTNER had fun and loved your wedding. Besides, there will always be people, like me, who enjoy ‘weird’ weddings!! 😉

    • Yeah, I think this ties into the “Everything is tacky” philosophy… if you assume someone somewhere will hate *anything* you do, it makes it easier to make decisions that you can feel right about.

  4. I think a lot of the time snark is driven by fear and a lack of self esteem. People put others down to make themselves feel better. I can look at something and say ‘Well, that’s not my taste, but to each their own’. I, unfortunately, know other photographers who will come into private photography groups and rip on a wedding’s decor, or other things, as if they were not really worth their time. That always makes me so angry. Do I love pretty details? Sure. But, what I’m really there for is people in love. So at the end of the day, its you & yours time to be together and have fun and screw anybody who says otherwise. 🙂

  5. Another point for why weddings get a particularly high level of snark: they’re broadly considered very female-centered events, and bashing “girly” things is fun for the whole family! As much as I think (hope?) this is changing, much of the wedding industry is still directed at women, much of the media coverage of weddings focuses on the woman (remember all the “Kim’s Wedding” coverage? Who was that slob she married again?), and a depressingly large number of people think of a wedding as “her day to be a princess.” And maybe some other person shows up, I dunno.

  6. As other have said, I might not really care for what someone is doing but I’m not going to try to tear them down for wanting to do it. I’d like to think that all people getting married are just trying to have a nice time with the people they know and love to celebrate a marriage… and I honestly think people should do whatever they want as long as they aren’t harming anyone! If a huge, expensive, grandiose black tie affair is your thing- awesome. It’s probably going to look awesome in pictures. Me… I’m pretty stoked we’re going to have cotton candy, pop corn, and snow cone machines at our reception! Two totally different vibes/events that at the end of the day celebrate two people in love & that’s what matters.

    The internet can get so so so very negative and judgy because we’re all hiding behind our computer screens… either way, Ariel is right to say not to give a fuck about it!

  7. As someone who has been a pretty heavy internet user since the internet became a thing we could use, I’ve thought a lot about what it seems to be doing to social interaction. Specifically, how we relate to one another when our ideas conflict. Not to sound like someone’s Grandma screaming about how these kids today and their interwebs are destroying society, but I can’t help but notice that the internet is making us shitty to each other in ways we weren’t able to be before.

    I think it’s a fundamental part of human nature to be mean/have mean thoughts/judge one another. It’s not a part of human nature that we should be proud of, but deep down in all our brains no matter how much we try to evolve past it, it’s there. The difference was, before the internet, we kept a lid on it much better. In face to face interaction, if someone tells you something that you don’t like or disagree with, you moderate your reaction because the person is right there in front of you. You don’t want to get into a screaming argument with them. You don’t want to say something shitty to their face; and if you do, you see the tangible hurt in their expression and you feel guilt for causing pain to another human being. Yes, people always have and probably always will gossip about others behind closed doors and made nasty comments about things they don’t agree with or understand behind one another’s backs. The internet has changed the game, though. Now, if we have a mean thought, a difference of opinion, or don’t approve of someone’s choices, we just vomit it out all over the keyboard. We don’t have to see the hurt our words cause. We don’t have to back our snark up with potential escalation in person, possibly in front of a crowd of people who would be horrified to hear the argument we would cause. We use fake names and false identities and strike out at each other without guilt or fear of real conflict.

    On the extreme end of this spectrum we get trolls, people who derive actual pleasure from being assholes anonymously on the internet. But we also get regular people, who aren’t necessarily bad or getting off on being a bully, who have lost the polite filter that keeps social interaction running smoothly in person because they’re not able to witness firsthand the consequences of their nastiness. It applies to everything, from motherhood to fashion to politics…we’re becoming a society of people who have no problem using the internet to vent our Id all over our fellow humans because we feel safe doing so. Even if the person you’re trashing online does happen upon your comments and responds, it’s not the same as being confronted by a real person at the bar.

    Weddings carry a huge amount of emotional baggage for almost everyone, and many people have strong opinions about them. I don’t get sites that trash other people’s weddings; I’m a “not my jam but whatever” type of girl. I try not to be shitty on the internet as much as possible; but I can certainly see how there’s also a kind of mob mentality element to it. Someone (ahem, Jezebel) posts a nasty article about a seemingly pretentious Special Snowflake wedding; someone makes a nasty comment; someone else agrees; the snark starts to pile up, and suddenly it’s a free-for-all with everyone having a grand old time saying horrible hurtful anonymous shit that they face no consequences for.

    I love the no-drama comment policy on the Offbeat Empire for this reason; because it allows for sincere discussion of real things without descending into an intellectually dead troll-fest, unlike so many other comment sections on so many other sites. (I’ve often joked that all you have to do to lose your faith in humanity is to read the comments section on any article, just about anywhere.) It also allows people to disagree in a respectful way that leads to actual thoughtful discourse, instead of degenerating into “oh, yeah, well you’re a POOPY HEAD!”

    And that’s not so say that I (and I’m sure many others) don’t see stuff on OBB and OBH and the Tribe that push my judgy buttons…it just means that when you see something you don’t agree with, instead of firing off a random drive by shitty comment, you stop and take a deep breath and step away instead. Maybe you stop and think for a moment “what is going on inside my brain that topic X makes me so uncomfortable?”

    Or maybe you just have a second’s pause to make the conscious decision not to be an asshole, because making the conscious decision not to be an asshole is part of the Social Contract. Overall, the Social Contract breaks down on the internet in a way I find concerning, so it’s great to have a community to share ideas with where that’s not the case.

  8. I think a big part of it is how incredibly intentional every choice in a wedding either is or seems. No one just accidentally shows up to their wedding in a video game cosplay–they planned it that way. The more a person seems to think about their actions, the easier it is to ridicule. I think choice is at the root of a lot of internet snark. You chose to stray from the mainstream, so you deserve whatever comes to you (my eWrath.) Since almost every major detail of a wedding is planned and chosen, everything is fair game for ridicule. This goes hand-in-hand with Bridal Hubris–the more a person goes on about their bridal choices, the more it seems to open them up to snark. Oh, you really did choose to have pies, (and it’s not just something that your grandma showed up with, so you kind had to use ’em)? HA HA. A lot of wedding choices can come across as self-congratulatory or braggy when they’re explained at length, so that adds to the you deserve ridicule mentality. The internet hates anyone who likes themself.

    • “The internet hates anyone who likes themself.”

      Nailed it to the wall, backed up, straightened it, and took a picture.

  9. Sometimes I think Internet snark is pent up resentment at the people in our lives. We don’t want to openly hurt someone, or (to be more cynical) risk the consequences of saying what we really think. Once it’s on the web and in public, it’s easier to blast [decision] because you and the poster don’t know each other. You assume that the other person won’t care what Stranger #5893598 has to say*. I’m not saying this is right, just identifying what I’ve noticed in myself and people in my life.

    *Granted, this doesn’t apply to trolls.

  10. This, THIS phenomenon of digital snark is exactly why 1) I tell people I “broke up” with Facebook when, in fact, 2) I never actually joined Facebook. Ever. Even when my alma mater was one of the early adopters back in the ‘oughts. People struggle with boundaries in interpersonal situations, so when the digital filter is added to our “person-al” interactions, is it surprising that the “person” is diminished, therefore increasingly easy to diminish?

    My approach is a bit extreme, I know, and I’m not suggesting that others must join me, though I do think it warrants consideration. I see the value in social media, but of the many platforms that exist, I would argue that few are as ubiquitous as Facebook and its brand of personal warfare. More to the point, the discussion above would indicate we already KNOW that the likelihood of snark is greater online, be it wedding snark or other.

    I cannot think of a better way to implement Ariel’s advice than to make the personal choice not to participate, and for me, that includes not participating in Facebook and especially not in regards to weddings, mine or otherwise. I’d rather be reading OBB 🙂

    • Totally with you on this. I committed Facebook social suicide almost 2 years ago, and while it’s still hard on a certain level (pretty much all my real-life friends use it as their primary way to keep in touch, no one sees my photos on Flickr, bla bla bla) I still feel really good about the decision.

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