Why does the internet love snarking about weddings so much?

Posted by
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. I think you and the other commenters covered all the “why” I can think of. But I’d like to add one more “what to do about it”:
    –Keep the positive comments flowing! Sure, sometimes it may sound like one more “mee too” in the wilderness, but people need the support to counteract the negativity. A friend of mine recently had a blog post go viral (totally unrelated to weddings so I won’t share, it’s off-topic) and he was really stressing some of the negative comments, even though he estimated they were only 5-10% of the total comments. But he did take heart from all the positive ones. It takes a lot of positive energy to counter the negatively, but it DOES have an impact.

  2. I know for me I snark on weddings because they are larger than life over the top pins on pinterest and I do find parts of them horrendously ugly or frivolous. They are removed from real life to me, I wouldn’t tell my friend her decor was hideous, but I would send a pin from a random wedding to one of my friends with a “can you believe this shit” caption. Plus snarking with my friends is fun and entertaining. We don’t do it where other people can see it, it is private to me and my friend. Granted we are also mean people and for some reason snark is hilarious to us, even when one of us rips into something that the other enjoys.

      • We put ours to a private/secret board so I hope they aren’t visible. I would feel bad if they were

      • You’re right: you definitely can see those comments when a pin is sent or copied onto another board. I have had quite of few of my own ‘creations’ copied onto “WTF” and “UGLY shit” boards, as well as sent to other pinners.

  3. Tying in to the financial reasons you listed, I think that it’s also really hard for a large group of internet-using people to swallow the idea of someone spending five or six figures on a wedding in the current economy. I don’t think it’s jealousy of the wedding, but more of a burning resentment of an elaborate/traditional/”huge” wedding being a very visible line between “have” and “have-not.”

    • Interesting, but I see lower-budget wedding snarked on all the time. (Don’t get the internet started potluck weddings, for instance.) It’s not just higher budget weddings that get slammed — it’s economical weddings, too.

      The only way to “win” with snarkers is to do a courthouse wedding.

      • True – the comment could probably be more broadly construed to be people snark about class issues, and weddings are one of the most visible displays of classism in America.

        (Snarkers snark on courthouse weddings, too. And eloping.)

    • I think that is part of what’s behind most of the ‘bridezilla-type’ reality TV shows. There’s a mocking voyeurism of how specifically women (definitely centered on hating the bride) with more money than us behave, and part of the setup is that they have lots of money but little taste, so viewers can pat themselves on the back for supposedly having better ideas. Also maybe we’re supposed to take away that women with any tiny bit of power (or pressure) just can’t handle it.

      I think a lot of people have seen these shows and let it color how they view any weddings in the public spotlight, no matter what the context, because they feel they’ve been given some larger cultural permission to see weddings like this from now on – the doomed attempt to control others by an uppity, overly emotional female with too much money or too much authority. I can’t think of a single time I’ve seen all this snark directed towards a groom. Or the parents paying for the wedding, even if they have a lot of say in it. It’s always the bride who’s at fault somehow – probably not a coincidence.

      But yes, if she’s spending ‘too much’ money, it’s viewed as terribly selfish and wasteful. But if she doesn’t spend enough money, or doesn’t bend over backwards enough for her guests (“What?! Heavy hors d’oeuvres but no steak dinner?!”), again, she’s seen as terribly selfish, and cheap. I think this game is rigged. The only way to win is to ignore the jerks! There may not even be a real ‘perfect’ wedding to some of these critics – they just want to pick apart all weddings (brides in particular), and can always find some way. In real life, if they truly hate weddings so much, they can always just not come.

      • I just wanted to take a moment to say I really think this comment helps put some cultural perspective on this talk. The Internet (and TV and movies and people in real life) seem to think: Women= emotional, money grubbers who spend their waking hours wrapped up in girly wedding planning; men=normal.
        I agree that a lot of the wedding hate is directed at women and derives from social perspectives that weddings are for women, especially when the wedding industry and many people echo and affirm that idea.
        Men are interested in getting married and that’s normal, but since men aren’t generally seen as participating in the wedding planning, they don’t get snarked on as hard. I can’t imagine what the snark factor must be like for same-sex weddings, especially two women or any transgender brides. (Love and support to you all!)
        In reality, my fiance is very excited to take part in the wedding planning and shares a lot of the burden of making tough decisions.

        I actually haven’t seen too much snarking on weddings, but maybe that’s because I hang out with predominantly women in their younger years who look forward to marriage and women in their later years who are either married or over it. Honestly, in my younger years (i.e. high school) I laughed at my peers who assumed they’d get married and live happily ever after, but not at weddings. I always wanted to go to one. Lol.

  4. People in general love snarking about weddings. I know a couple who are having a themed wedding in a few months, and most people we know are snarking about it. Other friends are having a very fancy and expensive wedding, and people are snarking about it

  5. I just said to someone yesterday that weddings seem capable of bringing out the worst in everyone. There’s so much guff about Bridezillas (yawn)… but what about a name for all the people who think it’s their duty to impose their personal opinion of the ‘right’ way to have a wedding?

  6. Simple! The internet is anonymous, you don’t know the person whom you’re snarking. Something like throwing stones at the person standing against the wall. And you’re an anonymous thrower of stones.

  7. I, personally, think one reason wedding’s/brides/couples catch so much extra flack (IRL and online) is the hurt that it has the potential to inflict. Don’t like my hair cut I got last week? Whatever. Say my wedding dress is tacky and ugly? That cuts right to the core.

    Some people are just rotten and will go for the lowest blow.

  8. I think part of the “snarking” is how many “rule” weddings have, and general tone it sets. Let’s just ignore this blog. There are lots of creative things, and lets admit- not the mass of weddings. I feel like snarks for this wedding can be part snarks for counterculture versus mainstream.

    Now, I think if I didn’t get married and jumped into wedding planning, I would get snarky fast. Heck, I get snarky and vomit induced when I pick a mainstream magazine. Why? It is very superficial. It’s all fluff. Mind you, I like looking at pretty dresses as much as the next person, but inserting some constructive content would be helpful. (hence why offbeat is awesome! Porn & Context) A wedding should be more than pretty shoes and if lace trimmed napkins match my vintage plates.

    So the core- of it all? A wedding is an expensive and pivotal point in our culture. I think when people (wrongly) assume couple won’t “last,” I feel like sometimes it is because their wedding doesn’t match up their values, and therefore, their values don’t equal a working marriage. Which is why probably wedding bashing hurts more than other types of negative comments. (like what nicolettenoree said)

    A great way to put it is comparing wedding to a funeral. The other big event that you will be spending money on. (sucks you don’t get to enjoy it) My future father in law one day, said how he didn’t want to have ANY fuss. No newspaper announcements, no viewings, no speeches, just buried in the ground. His wife was really upset, and was saying that was insensitive to family and friends. Similar thing with me and my husband. I said I wanted to be buried in an eco-friendly way, which means not being pumped with chemicals, which means, no viewings. He was pretty torn. To him a viewing was a must, but to me, creepy and uncomfortable.

    Point is that everyone has their own views. And it is a big life event.

  9. I agree with your points in the main article.

    I am just bummed that you guys chose to take an image from PostSecret to direct the retaliatory griping at. I’m not saying that I agree with the secret itself, but that’s the entire purpose behind the PostSecret project: for people to have a safe place to vent their secrets anonymously. This site is usually very respectful. Just wanted to let you know at least one regular reader is a little disappointed with the choice in photo

    • So Ariel wrote this post last week, and the night before it was scheduled to go up, I saw that image on PostSecret and added it to the post. This post truly had nothing to do with that secret other than that my editor brain was thrilled with the timing. 😉

      For me, it doesn’t feel disrespectful to share a publicly posted image that the creator made with the express purpose of being published. We didn’t say anything rude about the person who shared the secret, nor did we violate their anonymity. Can you explain more why it upsets you?

      • I’m a devoted Post Secret reader and this really doesn’t bother me, basically for the reasons you said.

      • I’m not so much upset as just uncomfortable with it. Obviously, they’re posted publicly and they do spark conversations (as intended!). I guess my discomfort really just stems from the fact that instead of individuals discussing the secrets in their original context, the image has been re contextualized and appropriated to illustrate something in a completely different sphere. It’s not an *unjust* pairing, it’s just… urgh. I’ll be honest: I’m on some heavy duty overtime right now, didn’t sleep last night and was halfway through a cocktail before I checked my interwebz. At this point in my sleep-dep all my higher brain functions (like critical thinking) have preceded me to bed and I’m just getting a big ol’ Wall Of Feelings. It feels icky. 🙂 Sorry for the incoherent response.

  10. I was thinking about this the other day when I saw the (adorable) meme proposal on Reddit, or somewhere like that, and all the comments were “OH GOD HOW TACKY SHE SHOULD HAVE SAID NO BECAUSE THIS PROPOSAL IS GODAWFUL TACKY”, and I thought, Man I wish this were on OBB, it would get all the props it deserves for being cute, unique to the couple, and heartfelt. I was also a little dumbfounded that people honestly believe that someone ought to refuse to marry a person they love because the proposal wasn’t done in a style approved of by the masses.

Read more comments

Comments are closed.