Last week, HuffPo blogger Rachel Weight asked if weddings are getting too “pin-dictable”, making the same observation highlighted last year in this wonderful Onion piece: “lately I’ve realized that these Pinterest-y weddings are all starting the look exactly the same. There’s almost a formula for them,” she wrote, going on to list the must-have elements of contemporary Pin-based nuptials: mason jars, mustaches, hand-written chalkboard signs, sparklers, photo booths, comfort food buffets, whimsical games, and folk music.
“We’re all spending hours scouring the same source to see how we can be different and special, instead of seeking more inspiration from our own relationships and experiences,” she writes. And this is partially true. In trying to be unique, some couples do end up going overboard or just joining a new bandwagon when they think they’re bucking traditions or trends.
But on Wednesday, Today.com contributor Melissa Magsaysay doubled down on Weight’s question, asking, “have websites made all weddings look the same?”
OK, Melissa, I’m going to have to stop you there.
Your question is meant to lead, of course, and its hyperbole is partially the result of the click-driven state of online media we’ve all led ourselves into.
I concede that there are visible (and often annoying) trends in the wedding industry. And that people are taking advantage of these trends.
But no, all weddings do not look the same, and if they did, it certainly wouldn’t be the Internet’s fault.
First of all, independent wedding blogs and applications have diversified, not homogenized, a wedding landscape once dominated only by traditions and mass-market bridal magazines. The contemporary bride has far more options than she would have had fifty years ago. Believe me. They can be overwhelming. Today’s engaged couple has the choice of a traditional wedding among many other options, including Medieval, goth, steam-punk, and more. While the most popular websites do perpetuate several dominant aesthetics, others like Pinterest allow planners to use any image online as inspiration for a celebration.
Secondly, the weddings that get put online are most often the ones that are professionally photographed and styled. The most beautiful pictures end up going viral, and voracious Pinners fill their boards with them. But I doubt that most weddings actually include everything their planners have pinned, or each item on Weight’s list. My guess is that most couples planning a contemporary American wedding may pick out some of these trends, but few will go with them all.
But wait, say the professionals, re-pinning is killing innovation!
“It’s nice that everyone is so Pinterest-friendly these days, but we have to slow down, because people are just regurgitating the same ideas on there, which for the most part are not innovative or inspiring,” said L.A based event planner Yifat Oren, who works with celebrities such as Drew Barrymore, Reese Witherspoon and Anne Hathaway.
Excuse me, what? What or whom are we trying to inspire? No wedding is ever going to be innovative. No matter what the location, dress code, or activity planned, it’s still just two people committing their lives to each other. It’s a big deal, sure. But it’s not groundbreaking.
This brings me to my final point, which is that weddings represent an inherently trend-oriented and traditional ritual. And for better or worse, they cannot help reflect the historical period during which they take place – with or without Pinterest.
Like I’ve said before, even the most quirky and whimsical and creative wedding is, at its core, still conventional. Weddings are by their very nature social rituals that link us to those around us and to those that have wed before us. That’s why they’re beautiful.