There's a disturbing trend at weddings in 2016, and it's got nothing to do with metallic bridesmaids dresses. (But apparently that, too, ?)
Something has risen in popularity in the wedding world, almost without us realizing. In the modern-day wedding, it's considered almost as important as the dress, the floral centerpieces, the quality and quantity of canapés.
It's the wedding hashtag.
#ToHaveAndToHolton (Their last name is Holton—get it, get it?)
#OneHaleOfAWedding (I want to go to this one.)
It would be easy, and superior and unhelpful to bang on here about how wedding hashtags are a prime example of the way social media rules our lives. #inescapable.
But, as I said, that would be unhelpful (and also boring).
Instead, let's have a look at the ways wedding hashtags are helpful and unhelpful for brides in 2016.
Here are the ways wedding hashtags are helpful.
They are helpful in that they collate all image of the special day in one place. All under one Instagram hashtag.
Guests of the wedding can take snapshots of themselves, you, the ceremony, the decor, killer dance-floor moves, mouths filled with cake. They tag these images with your wedding hashtag and you are granted with a page of behind-the-scenes, sometimes staged, often candid photographs that you didn't have to pay for.
(Thing is, this means everything—from your resting-b*tch-face to the way your food is plated—needs to be "insta-worthy". Tough standards in 2016.)
The hashtag is also a cute way to summarize your day in one, easy-to-say, attention-grabbing phrase. Think of it as the "click-bait" of weddings in 2016. Forget wedding invitations, just make sure your hashtag is worthy and guests will come. (More importantly, guests will Instagram).
But the true meaning of the wedding hashtag (in my mind, at least) is to ensure no one forgets who you are.
Sure, hashtags are a place people can revisit after the day, to look back on treasured
dance moves and cake moments. But they're also very helpful memory-triggers on the day itself.
They're often written on the program board, name cards, invitations, thank you letters. This helps guests remember who to thank at the end of the reception (dance-floor action isn't the only side effect of champagne). And it schools people in the changing-names-once-you-are-married confusion. People will fast become accustomed to your new surname, because they're typing it all night. Genius.
Here are the ways wedding hashtags are unhelpful.
First off, paid photography has been helping married couples remember their big day (even helping guests remember the big day in question) since at least 1990. But the rise of the wedding hashtag has given the amateur photographer a reason for existence.
Remember, the amateur photographer is the bane of the professional photographer's existence.
As the pro (the person you've paid to be there) is trying to get that shot down the aisle, they not only have to worry about tripping over the bridal train, they also have to avoid the countless hands and phones and hashtagging thumbs of every guest craning over the same aisle to get the same shot.
(The photo on your mantlepiece is going to look a little different with a thousand screens around the edges).
But the most worrying thing about the wedding hashtag is the pressure that comes with it.
"I'm getting married in October and I still don't have a hashtag. Help me."
What an awful amount of pressure to put on yourself.
There is pressure around the hashtag itself. It needs to be good, and clever, and funny, and original, and incorporate both your names, or something to do with you as a couple. #exhausting. There are even hashtag generators if you're not happy with the creativity (click-bait effectiveness) of the options you're coming up with.
There's also the pressure around the number of photos your hashtag attracts. What happens if you only find eight photographs under #BishopsBigDay at the end of the night?
Is this a sign that guests weren't enjoying themselves? Didn't find the decor "insta-worthy"? Weren't having a good enough time for outrageous dance moves?
Alternatively, what happens if your hashtag generates hundreds of hashtags?
Is this a sign of success? One more way to judge yourself in what is already a relatively stressful, expensive, emotional time?
More than anything, the wedding hashtag reflects one sentiment: If it's not photographed, hashtagged, shared, it didn't actually happen…right?
Isn't the true meaning of marriage, and a wedding, lost somewhere there?
Hashtagging for happiness is never going to work.