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:
- every paragraph beginning with “I”
- lots of talk about it being YOUR DAY, not much talk about community or family or even your partner
- lots of emphasis on how different/unique your wedding was
- focus on external validation (related post: Why I worry when people say they want a “unique” wedding: the pursuit of authenticity vs. the pursuit of attention)
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?
- Don't fucking worry about it. Remember, no matter what you do, someone will think your wedding is tacky.
- Don't be a wedding snarker. When planning your own wedding, it can feel useful to tear down other people's weddings. Resist the urge. Remember: construction is always harder than demolition.
- Don't consume wedding snark. Your eyeballs are your power. Don't give your clicks to hate reads.
- If you get targeted, know when to step away. We've got step by step tips over here: How to deal when your wedding goes viral and people hate it
So, what are YOUR theories on why the internet loves to hate weddings?