Wedding Shaming Is Real: What It Is and How to Handle It

A reminder that some things are out of your control.

wedding shaming

Design by Cristina Cianci

Wedding planning is one of those all-encompassing experiences where every detail of the process is heightened on an emotional level. As an engaged couple, you’re making big decisions about your special day that will not only impact you but also your wedding guests. While you, of course, want to make sure that your plans are true to your wants and desires, you also want to consider what your guests might enjoy, as they’ll be coming for the ride after all.

This is a conundrum that’s all-too-common—the one where you try to plan the wedding of your dreams without *offending* anyone. There’s a good reason why so many brides grapple with this situation, and it’s all because of wedding shamers. Yep—those people who, often without realizing it, pass very clear and concise judgment on a bride or groom for their wedding-day decisions.

“Weddings have the unfortunate tendency to bring out the best as well as the worst in people,” notes Danielle Pasternak, wedding planner and founder of DPNAK Events in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. “For some couples, wedding shaming comes from those in their innermost, trusted circle, which can be hard to hear, and for others, it comes from those who’ve recently gone through the planning process or simply think they know what’s best for that particular couple and their guests, when, in fact, they don’t.”

Shaming comes from a place of insecurity and almost never about the person who is being shamed, but rather the person shaming.

There’s also a whole other branch of wedding shaming that often comes from complete strangers who stalk a wedding via social media and freely talk trash about the wedding, assuming the couple will never know or see it. This type of shaming, especially, is akin to talking behind someone’s back in high school, notes Amanda Hudes, event planner, life coach, and author of Smiling Through the Chaos of Wedding Planning. “Shaming comes from a place of insecurity and almost never about the person who is being shamed, but rather the person shaming,” she says. 

Unfortunately, the pandemic has only allowed wedding shaming to fester, as quarantine has given people ample idle time to scroll through social media and form unsolicited opinions. “Judging others has increased with the rise of social media and people putting everything out there for others to see, which brings praise but also criticism,” says Jove Meyer, founder of Jove Meyer Events in Brooklyn, New York. 

What’s more: With so many bans and regulations on large gatherings, people are passing judgment over whether a wedding in the COVID-19 era should or should not happen in the first place. Now that certain states are requiring negative COVID tests before guests are allowed into the wedding, shaming has taken an entirely new form. “People are starting to wedding shame couples who refuse to pay for their guests to be tested, which can put everyone in an awkward position,” says Hudes. 

Even the most well-intentioned couple can fall victim to being wedding shamed, be it by a family member or friend or a stranger on social media. Like so many things in life, this one is out of your control. What is in your control, however, is how you handle it. Here are six expert tips for how to deal with the shamers—and how to put them in their place. 

Get on the Same Page as Your Partner

Manda Weaver, photographer and creative director of Manda Weaver Photography, suggests getting ahead of the wedding shamers by making sure that you and your fiancé are on the same page about what is most important to you both as you make decisions about your wedding plans. “It may even be helpful to create a priority list of details that you are most looking forward to, and the things that may not matter to you as much,” she says. “This will give you a strong mindset that will keep you from allowing the words of others to sway you from the joy of the season that you deserve as you journey through your wedding season.” 

Come Up With a Good Response

“If you need to come up with a new response every time someone approaches you with a big opinion, it can be exhausting and deflating, but if you can come up with a respectful and simple reply, it takes a lot of the pressure off of your shoulders,” says Pasternak. She suggests going with an open and honest reply like, “We really appreciate you sharing your concerns. This has certainly been a challenging process for us, but we’re doing our best to navigate it in a way that feels right to us. Just the same, we completely respect that you’ll do what feels best to you.”

Call the Person Who Shamed You

If you experience wedding shaming from someone you know, you should absolutely talk to them ASAP—especially if it is a close family member or friend. “Explain how you feel and what specifically is hurtful about their actions or words, and ask them what made them feel okay talking about you or your wedding like that,” suggests Hudes. “Tell them that you want them to know they can talk to you about something that is bothering them instead of going to others and then move on from the incident knowing it will only help you grow stronger.”

Post a Statement on Social Media

If you’re getting heat from people via social media, whether you know them or not, Hudes suggests writing a non-confrontational response stating that you, your family member, or your friend has been quite hurt by this public mockery and that you hope that they can take that into consideration when posting any other comments. “You could also find out what website or group posted it and figure out a way to get it removed for slander or harassment by that social media platform,” she adds.

Ignore the Negative Feedback

No matter who the shaming is coming from, or how valid or invalid this person’s concerns may be, one of the best things you can do for your sanity in this situation is to ignore the negative feedback, notes Kylie Carlson, owner of The Wedding Academy. “Shaming is something that comes with the territory of planning a wedding, whether you're in the midst of a pandemic or not,” says Carlson. “Everyone wants to share advice, turn their nose at something that isn't their style, or otherwise, but all you can do is focus on this amazing time with your partner and do what will make you happy!”

Consult Your Vendors

When in doubt, Kevin Dennis, owner of Fantasy Sound Event Services, suggests consulting the creative team that you hired to assist you on the big day. “COVID-19 has brought a wealth of obstacles upon engaged couples, and it's no surprise that everyone is on edge when it comes to weddings (whether you're a guest or knowing someone currently planning a wedding),” he says. “No matter where your vendors stand, however, it’s important to listen to your gut: If something doesn't feel 100 percent safe or it's bordering on imposing a health risk, talk openly with the professionals and gauge their opinions.”

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