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.
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
awesome post. and spot on.
The upside of this kind of occurrence — if there is an upside to such hurtful comments — is this kind of article. And the kind of nice comments the Empire readers usually have to offer.
These posts are why Offbeat Bride is the first recommendation I make for newly engaged friends.
I love that this advice can be applied to *any* wedding that is criticized by *anyone*.
Thanks for another well-written, thoughtful, and realistic article, Ariel!
The minute my friends get engaged I’m like ZOMGOBB GO NOWWWWWWWWWW. I’m glad I’m not the only one!
It’s just such a great way of saying, “hey! you’re not crazy or weird for wanting ____” and also, “have some great, non-overbearing advice!”
Any time I do read comments on non-Empire blogs, it always makes me wonder how much hateful horseshit the mods here have to get rid of before we see it. Thank you for that, because I’m sure it’s not an easy job.
Thank you for the acknowledgement because yes: it is difficult, but I feel like it’s very important work. Super interesting and important related post: IF YOUR WEBSITE’S FULL OF ASSHOLES, IT’S YOUR FAULT
Oh I wish you hadn’t done that. I’m overwhelmingly tempted to send that to the admins of some forums I’m on.
Or just post it on the forums because truthfully some of them are people doing their best for a community made up almost entirely of assholes of one kind or another.
Some of us try hard to patronize businesses that are green, or fair trade, or welcome the obb’s of the world. Wouldn’t it be lovely to also seek to spend more time on socially-responsible websites? (And spend money with the businesses that support them, or donate to them.)
I know from my job as a sub-editor that when it comes to weeding out the bad stuff, the only time you get recognition is when you miss something, but I want to reiterate that what you guys do here, the time and effort spent on keeping this a positive place, makes a HUGE difference.
Just like people who allow nastiness to be spread make the internet a worse place to be, people who won’t tolerate nastiness and actively encourage positivity make it a better place. Thank you 🙂
You are made of amazing.
Thats why I love this community so much. We’re all just a bunch of friendly, welcoming, awesome Hufflepuffs! 🙂
I can’t imagine how I would feel (or how I would react!) if my wedding went viral and the trolls attacked. As a plus, you linked back to two really awesomely sweet weddings that were really fun to re-visit. Awesome post. =)
Agreed. 10 000% agreed.
I wish every website was like the Offbeat Empire.
Agreed! Once I saw a really mean, petty debate on OBH before the mods saw and deleted it. It made me so sad because it violated my feeling of safety here. It’s rare to find such a positive online community and it’s one of the things that keeps me loving the Offbeat Empire. Thanks for your good work!
I know the debate of which you speak, and it was an important lesson for Cat on why comments must always be checked last thing before you go to bed, and first thing when you wake up. 🙂
One of the biggest things to remember is that not everyone is going to like your wedding… and they don’t have to! Unless, as Ariel said, there’s a valid criticism for you to consider, these are strangers saying things they’d probably never say in person. They weren’t invited, the wedding wasn’t for them. It is okay if they don’t like it. Just like you don’t have to like every wedding out there either. Just be the bigger person because you know you had an amazing wedding.
Sometimes, I really hate the shinternet.
It’s like a breeding ground for hatred, and bashing, and a lot of negative things that literally make me sick to my stomach. I think one of the saving graces to the bridal industry, and the sanity of brides everywhere is this site, and I am truly grateful for it.
Oh the problems of living in the 21st century. I think the computer screen really disconnects people, and then is used as a shield that others hide behind their hateful comments.
I believe that about 98.5% of those comments written bashing someone’s wedding never would’ve been said if they were face to face. Or at least, their comments would’ve been modified. I think we could do well to remember that when we post something on the internet that someone with feelings is going to read it, and should ask ourselves “am I representing my best self here?” before submitting a comment on a whim.
But death threats over a wedding invitation? Seriously? I may have hot button issues, but the stationary choices of others isn’t one of them.
Exactly to everything that you said. If I had to tell people that their wedding invitation made me want to kill them, to their faces, well, I would be be jail or the psych ward. Maybe that should be an internet “rule”, if what you are tying is enough to land you in jail or have people genuinely question your sanity, you should turn off the computer and walk away immediately.
Ugh, I’ve never understood the ridiculous amount of hate online. If you don’t like something, don’t bloody comment. As cynical as I am, I can appreciate when two people look super stoked that they’re getting married, whether I personally like their theme or not. It’s not my wedding. There’s such little love in the world, why can’t we all just enjoy it when we see it? *grumble grumble*
Enjoyable read and some good advice. Oh, and the Katamari Damarcy wedding is freaking adorable! Hating on that is just wrong.
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. 🙂
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!
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.
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!
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!
*this* is exactly why I never visited any other bridal sites while planning my wedding. Seriously. Love <3
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.
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.
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
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.
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?”.
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!)
> 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.
Such a great analogy!
great advice on a touchy subject! (I didn’t even know ppl could be so cruel!)
The issue/nessasary evil of the Internet is that users are anonymous. This allows people to write whatever they choose without as much social pressure to be aware of feelings.
That being said,this article is very well structured and written.
However, I hope that someday every blog will have OBB’s comment policy will be standard and render this article obsolete.
~Yeah I know I’m dreaming about that last paragraph but a girl can dream can’t she?
Good post but there’s one thing that can be added; you do not have to post everything on the web. I’m an oldie having seen hate wars for more than a decade on forums (sci fi in my case mostly) and the best thing if you want your special moments to stay shiny and not the cause of a shit storm from people who should have better things to do is to STAY AWAY FROM INTERNET. Don’t post under your own name. Don’t post pictures of family and special occasions. Don’t be personal.
Internet brings out the true face of people and some faces aren’t pretty at all. IRL there are social rules that most abide but on the net all bets are off. People can be incredibly ugly on the inside.
Good post. Some people are so rude and I really don’t understand why or how someone can get so riled up over another’s choices in life…whether it’s favourite bands or weddings. Is it really that hard to say, “Not my thing, but it’s OK if you’re into it.” ? Apparently so.
Wonderful article! I’ve always hated when people become rude and outraged simply because they don’t like other people’s harmless choices. I fully agree each wedding should be unique and as personal as the couple wants, *especially* when they have less-than-mainstream personalities or hobbies. To me, our diversities are what makes life interesting.
Love that you only approve comments that move conversations forward. The bashers only mire us in negativity (not saying all negative comments are bad–as you allude to in point #7, some people can constructively comment in a way that brings out flaws without screaming and threatening).
BTW, you are one of my favorite sites to pin from. ~Bobette
This goes even beyond just weddings. What do you do when any of your life photos or videos goes viral?
My awesome Star Wars themed maternity photo was featured on a bash site of awkward photos, and I read such comments as that my husband was orbiting the Death Star (He was kissing my big fat pregnant belly which was covered in Star Wars and music themed henna designs) to others that compared me to Jabba the Hut. At the time, I was devastated.
18 months later, I look back and I laugh my ass off. My photo must have been extremely awesomely geeky to have been featured on that website, and several of my new friends who I have told about this story have asked why I would have had them take the photo down, because the photo is so awesome, and they are jealous that they have never had anything worthy of going viral. But the first few days, I contemplated hurting myself… I had just given birth, was suffering from postpartum depression, and this was the moment that someone messaged me on a baby forum asking if that picture was me, because it looked similar to another I had shared on the forums.
I guess my best advise having been through this is to take a deep breath, seek support of the ones who love you and your photo/video/blog post, and then find something to laugh about. Realize how totally awesome you are that people are so jealous of you that they have to say mean things. They must be really insecure with their lives and themselves if they have to take time out of their days to belittle others.
And proudly display your photo within your home, not hidden away out of site… put it where everyone can see, and everyone can know how totally amazing your life is!
Thank you OffbeatEmpire for flashing up this post to me, under the ‘Recommended for you’ section. Something I posted on a closed Facebook group briefly went viral, thanks to a lurking journalist, and was printed in two national newspapers. At the time it was horrendous (and coincided with my health taking a nose dive the night before all this happened) and reading this post helped me gain a little perspective. Huzzah to the wise Offbeat gurus!
It’s a shame that people are so cruel. I deliberately avoided generic wedding sites like theknot.com and others like it and felt more comfortable here on offbeatbride…but unfortunately, there will always be asshole internet bullies. I *just* got married and considered submitting my stuff online because we did put a lot of work, money, and thought into it and we are so proud of what we pulled off and I couldn’t bare having some loser who doesn’t like our theme or something lame to comment on MY wedding. I love this site because it embraces everyone’s “weirdness” and non-traditionalness (Yes, I’m aware that’s not a real word!). I love every article that’s posted here even if it’s wayyyy off what I’m into. We’re all unique and that’s what makes us, and this site awesome. Keep up the good work, Offbeat and thank you for posting this article calling out nasty and unnecessary comments on other people’s big days!
There are some weddings/families/home ideas that I see on these sites that I’m not necessarily interested in/don’t understand. Sometimes I click on the link and read a few sentences and when I see it’s not something I care about I do this crazy thing – close the page and go read something I do care about. I’ve never been able to understand why people get upset about anything that isn’t specifically in their own wheelhouse. It’s totally cool that some people have Doctor Who themed weddings – I’m one of the 1% of “geeks” who do not give a shit about Doctor Who, but I would never so much as raise an eyebrow at someone who incorporates part of it into their wedding. Who the hell am I to judge any single choice that someone chooses to use in a ceremony that is specifically tailored to their own tastes? I can’t imagine spending energy caring about anything like that, let alone getting actually angry and causing a scene about it. I’m sure plenty of people would consider my house to be “tacky,” with tons of action figures and original pages of comic books lining the walls as artwork, but if it makes me happy, who even cares???
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.
Why, thank you. I’ve had a lot of practice with the internet calling me stupid. (To be fair, sometimes they’re right.)
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.
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
Thanks for this! I updated the post. 🙂
Wow, that was a quick response! Thanks. 🙂
“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:
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!
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…
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.
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