Usually, weddings are about as controversial as a bump on a super boring log. The bride wears white, the in-laws give passive aggressive hugs, someone toots a wet fart while doing the chicken dance. Every wedding is the same because most of us don't want to use the most important day of our lives to shock our friends and embarrass our families.
Most of us, anyway. In other cases, attempts to have a unique and kitschy ceremony wind up celebrating historical horrors in the process. That's how we wound up with the ...
#5. Chinese Nazi Wedding
It's one thing to naively admire another culture and half-assedly incorporate their look into your wedding day. We're guessing most of the, let's face it, women who plan theme weddings like we're about to show you are more devoted to fashion than history -- if you want a medieval-themed wedding, you're not trying to make a political statement, you just think having the groomsmen in suits of armor will look cool. Besides, it's not like somebody is out there saying, "Hey, those Nazi uniforms looked suave as hell, let's do that!" Oh, wait ...
"I can feel a fourth Reich rising."
Oh. Oh, God.
So what in the hell could possibly be the innocent context behind this? Well apparently "Nazi Chic" has taken Asia by storm, to the point where the Chinese couple above felt no shame in using an SS uniform for their ceremony. The original blog post, published in 2011, is entitled "My SS military uniform and bridal veil~Everybody, be nice now~(^o^)/~." And as everyone knows, cutesy emoticons automatically negate judgment for romanticizing the most hated symbol of all time.
You know it's fucked up when a dude possibly checking out a dog's ass is the second worst thing in a photo.
While no one seems to know exactly who this couple is or why in the sweet name of God they're dressed like this, most "Nazi Chic" cosplayers insist that they're not in any way Nazi sympathizers but rather Nazi fashion emulators, a distinction that gives no one anywhere any sense of comfort or relief.
"It has a certain ge no cide quoi."
#4. Native American-themed Weddings
So, already you can see the problem with these theme weddings -- it's usually fairly oblivious people who won't spend one minute Googling to find out why what they're doing is just so, so wrong. So, they wind up glancing through a history book and adopting styles of the people in it as if they're fictional characters. Like the above Australian wedding, where they're ironically dressing as "Indians" as if "Indians" were something hilarious they saw in a cartoon once.
This wasn't a one-time event, either. Here's another one also from Australia:
"Using a filter makes it OK, right?"
This couple from Byron Bay wanted a Native American-themed wedding, but without the smallpox and forced relocations and heartbreak associated with the Native American narrative. And by that they meant they just wanted to incorporate feathers and teepees and dreamcatchers into their ceremony without everyone getting all judgy about it.
If you like feathers so much, we have two birds we'd like to give you.
After all, it's not like the feathers Native Americans wore in headdresses had any kind of ceremonial meaning or anything, right?
Not wanting to overshadow his bride, the groom passed on the Native American look for "'70s Coke Dealer," instead.
At least these two tried to keep things tasteful -- or as tasteful as you be when your wedding looks like Coachella's Instagram feed. On the other hand, the wedding of another Australian couple didn't bother with the subtlety of nuanced ethnocentrism and instead just went for straight-up racial stereotypes. From this:
How ... how could you think this was a good idea?
"Everyone smile for Milton, he's stuck in the hospital with a wounded knee."
To fucking this:
Some people even went dressed as cowboys. One guy came as a slot machine but he was turned away at the door for being too tacky.
Hookers were warmly welcomed, though. As always.
Originally featured on novafm.com.au (although the article has since been removed), the husband explained, "My wife loves her American Indians and always wanted to get married in America by an Indian Chief but decided that we would have it here in Perth." You'll notice there aren't any history books pictured.
Pictured: an actual decoration from the wedding. Somehow they resisted the urge to shove a giant cigar in his mouth.
#3. Non-Jewish Couple's Jewish Wedding
Motivated by their love of Judaism and the traditions of the Torah, Melanie Lo (Episcopalian) and Michael Pezzula (Catholic) decided that despite not being Jewish themselves, they wanted to have a Jewish wedding as a way to honor the faith of millions who have endured persecution and genocide throughout history with grace and dignity. Ha! Just kidding! We'll let the couple explain their motivation:
"I've ... been to a Catholic wedding, and they just seem boring. It's just like church," Michael said. "I thought, 'What am I going to do to set up the front of the room? 'A huppah would be perfect,' Melanie said.'"
Godong/Robert Harding World Imagery/Getty Images
Like the ignorant Yin to Nazi wedding's offensive Yang.
So the real key to Melanie and Michael's desire for a Jewish wedding was that in the whole universe of indoor tent-like structures, there was absolutely nothing else that could go at the front of the ceremony than a huppah. Which is stupid, as any kid with a sheet and five minutes on hand could tell you. But erecting a Gentile canopy at the front of the church wasn't an option, especially after the couple asked a rabbi to conduct their ceremony. And decided to display a ketubah, or Jewish marriage contract, and incorporate a Jewish blessing as they drank from the same wine glass. By that point, Melanie argued they might as well go whole-hog (so to speak) and do a traditional Jewish wedding ceremony. So they did.
We're guessing the groom kept some things Catholic.
The obvious problem here is that each one of those ancient rituals are steeped in traditions that go beyond a simple "This symbolizes our love." For example, there's a moment in a Jewish wedding ceremony when the groom steps on a wine glass and everyone shouts "Mazel Tov!" That's not just a fun opportunity to be destructive. Some scholars believe the tradition arose as a way to remember Rome's destruction of the Jewish Temple in 70 AD. As in, "don't get too excited, Jewish wedding guests, life still sucks sometimes." It would be hard for a non-Jewish couple to get that reference -- especially when one member of the couple professes a faith that is headquartered in the same city that was once responsible for the destruction of the Temple that they're commemorating. It's like he's acting out the Destruction of the Temple with his presumably Italian foot. Mazel tov!
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"And then we dance the traditional Torah, symbolising Moses driving the snakes out of Ireland!"