You know what would make a super-cute wedding theme: retro-poor people chic! At least that's what Sarah Louise Hunt and her groom, Brian thought when they planned their special day. "The 'Depression-era hobo' theme of our wedding didn’t come to us right away. In fact, it was my obsession with the 1930s, the 'great recession,' our own limited budget and, finally, a suggestion from Brian’s grandma, Rose, that planted the tiny seed of the idea into our head," Sarah wrote on the Etsy blog. For $15,000, Sarah and Brian had what they think could've been the first ever hobo-themed nuptials. And after the backlash from the offensive event, it will likely also be the last ever poor-people chic event.
Monday, Etsy ran a post detailing the planning and execution of Brian and Sarah's big day, in which they discuss how they recreated life during the great depression. "We invited our friends and family to share in our happiest of days, wear their shabbiest, drink moonshine, eat their fill of BBQ and pie, dance to a live jug band and howl at the moon." After the post went up, Regretsy's Helen Killer, a site "where DIY meets WTF," which re-posts some of the more regretful Etsy creations, reblogged the hobo-chic wedding, pointing out the sheer insensitivity of it all.
They fell in love with the very idea of penniless, homeless migrants, drifting from town to town, looking for work! Those hobos were just yummy, with their faded antique quilts and feed sacks, and those super cute boots they always wore. That whole period was just so desaturated and Brother Where Art Thou, which is also totes adorbs.
Okay, maybe many hobos found themselves having to leave their families in order to find enough work to support them, or maybe they escaped from harsh lives in orphanages. And, okay, maybe they died on train tracks or sweltered to death in locked box-cars. And maybe when they did finally find some work, they were set upon by thieves who took everything from them and threw them off of fast moving trains.
Certainly Sarah and Brian didn't think their genius theme could offend the less fortunate. And some commenters thought the whole shinding was quite cute. "What a memorable wedding for you two and all that attended I am sure... so very creative and oh so comfortable!! very best wishes for many years of happiness," said commenter RedorGrayArt. "Brilliant! So charming and beautifully done. Congrats to both of you and your endless creativity!" added commenter RedMarionette.
But most found it utterly horrifying. From commenter Scoutie:
Really? These "hobos" were often young men and entire families totally out of work and without any way of finding their way out. Like others have said, if this was JUST a 1930s wedding, no one would be calling you out. Because it wouldn't be as historically insensitive. No one in the 30s really looked like a retouched movie star, after all, and white men didn't wear zoot suits convincingly. They dressed like you did. But to call this a HOBO/DEPRESSION WEDDING? Those "hobos" died of disease, starvation, exposure, and suicide. Those "hobos" weren't living a romantic life. Those "hobos" were hurting. And you are not sensitively honoring that. You're playing with it. Whatever you may think, you don't understand history at all.
And commenter ParaisoKawaii adds:
I'm not even from the US, I'm Chilean, and still I remember my history classes when they mentioned the depression and the poverty... and just how horrible it was, I just find this very offensive. My parents still remember the moments my country had problems, how they didn't have food, how not even the markets didn't have food, because there wasn't any food anywhere...They were dark times with lots of pain and death.
And those are just two of the bunch.
After the unfortunate backlash, Etsy's editorial director, Juliet, updated the post with an apology note, mostly regretting the conversation that ensued. "We offer our apologies. It’s very important that Etsy be a place where everyone feels safe and respected, and that all dialogue remains civil. We realize now what we could have done differently as editors and we thank you for sharing your honest reactions. " What exactly they should have "done differently" she does not say, failing to concede the offensiveness of the theme.
The bride and groom also responded to the hoopla. "My 'hobo' wedding is featured on @Etsy blog and all of the Internet is being a dick. :(" tweeted Sarah. We guess that's the risk you run when you share your wedding with the Internet--it's a cruel commenter world out there.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.