Yanna Elfes was shocked when her wedding pictures went viral on the internet - and the cruelty they inspired. As she says, "Why would someone want to trash someone else's wedding day?" And yet, we do it every day.
By her own admission, Elfes' wedding was something out of the ordinary. As she told the Sydney Morning Herald, "at the end of the day all of my family and friends know that's Yanna, I don't want to change it because people will think different of me." Here's how the article describes it:
The theme was black and hot pink, with Yanna, 25, wearing a pink crystal-encrusted white dress complete with mini-skirt front and tulle train. It was inspired by the Guns N' Roses video clip for "November Rain." The groomsmen wore tight black tops with pink braces, which matched the bridesmaids' gowns, spotted wedding cake, Playboy-tagged champagne flutes and satin table decorations.To top it off, some of the 220 guests were ferried to and from the wedding in three stretch Hummers with fur interiors, and the bride and groom were introduced for their bridal waltz with WWE wrestling-style fireworks.
But, however theatrical the wedding, it was still a private event, held by regular non-celebs, and whose photographs were not meant to be shared with the world. Elfes says she doesn't know who leaked the pictures from her Facebook page, but within a week of the wedding, she was a global phenomenon. Her pictures started popping up on blogs, usually with the word "tacky" appended somewhere. And by the time she looked, her Facebook albums were covered in insulting commentary by strangers. She was so upset that she and her family contacted the police in an attempt to track down the culprit, but it was lost in the mists of cyberspace. And, legally, there's nothing to do in such cases: Facebook is technically public domain.
Legality aside, what is it that makes us feel comfortable mocking what, at the end of the day, is a highly personal experience rife with personal decisions. Websites like "Tackyweddings.com" (on which Elfes featured prominently) are composed of the weddings of non-celebs. And while you can find as many kinds of willful nastiness as there are are internet users, this is only the most visible manifestation of an attitude we take quite for granted. Even the most sensitive person isn't above snarking at a cheesy first dance song, a goofy ceremony component. It's an easy target: weddings are by definition earnest. And we always have the buffers of the "commercialization" of weddings, the "bridezilla" phenomenon, the move away from "meaning." This is an attitude encouraged by movies like Bride Wars and 27 Dresses, and one can certainly take it with a clear feminist conscience, burdened as the wedding industry is by patriarchal associations. But at the end of the day, it's a form of girl-on-girl. It's always about criticizing a woman's very personal choices, and often, in one fell swoop, dismissing someone's cultural and familial expectations or the context of her life, in addition to her taste. While Elfes' avowal that "I didn't start this, I didn't even want this to happen, I just wanted a normal wedding day like everyone else" might not be exactly accurate, we get what she means. If you're invited to a wedding, it's a privilege, and people should not be leaving themselves open to mockery (we can debate voluntary newspaper accounts in another article.) And if they're strangers? To each her own.