Hipsterism, the lifestyle choice of young, middle-class people attempting to refine the middle class, emerged roughly a decade ago. Now that hipsters have received their MFAs and reluctantly settled into careers, they're getting married. But the hipster aesthetic is defined by childish spontaneity and half-assism. Tackling a ritual associated with becoming a card-carrying adult can be a problem.
The solution? Infuse the ceremony itself with the trappings of hipsterdom. The wedding then becomes the hipster's last stand, his final opportunity to show friends and family what a fun and individualistic middle-class young person he is, before he becomes just another mortgage holder.
In the last few years, a hipster-wedding Bizarro World has come into being, one replete with conventions just as strict as those its creators longed to escape. The betrothed hipster must adhere to a fascistic regimen of self-expression, upcycled jam jars, and unparalleled, painstaking wedding-favor design. This world, though marked by forced whimsy, mirrors the mainstream in its object fetishism and pantomime. Instead of roses, it has bicycles; instead of heirloom silver, handmade crafts.
The new hipster-wedding regime subverts an adult ritual with signifiers of childhood, puts quotes around a serious commitment. As it denies adulthood, the hipster wedding so denies that it took just as long and cost just as much as its non-hipster equivalent. To follow are its key characteristics.
1. PUT A BIRD ON IT
Hipster crafts tend to involve a preponderance of woodland creatures — as when an LA couple, wed at the Natural History Museum, took their shots wearing animal masks in front of a menacing taxidermied bear.
2. MUSTACHE ON A STICK
Ah, the mustache party. How bleak our lives must have been before we first began to take photographs of one another wearing comically oversize mustaches on sticks for the sole purpose of spicing up our Facebook profiles.
3. INVITATION AS ART
Every hipster is friends with at least one graphic designer, which is handy when you need a new logo for your Tumblr. But when it comes to wedding invitations, how does the hipster couple differentiate their invitations from those of all their hipster friends, many of who are, yes, graphic designers?
4. OCD PAPERCRAFT
All weddings have labels — table numbers and place cards. But in their quest to make everything at their reception heart-stoppingly personalized and whimsical, the hipster's wedding is a veritable phantasmagoria of letterpress. (Note: a surplus of graphic-designer friends likely factors into this as well.)
Hipsters never miss an opportunity to label. Why give the ringbearer a stupid pillow when there's something to label? Instead, try a wedding box with letterpress reading "Here Comes the Bride." Go ahead, hipsters, put letterpress placecards in front of the food. Put a big screenprinted sign over the table with the food on it. Label the bride's side, the groom's side, the flowers, the dance floor, the dog. Label your Internet-ordained friend performing the ceremony.
5. SHOES IN A BUCKET
Far more preferable: casual shoes. But since it's a wedding, they need to match. Think armies of groomsmen in black Chucks, bridesmaids in boat shoes or cowboy boots. The barefoot hipster wedding is not unheard-of, especially because it provides the opportunity to label something — in this case, a sign on a bucket telling you to put your shoes in it.
6. HERE COMES THE BRIDE
Choosing songs is among the most important wedding decisions a hipster couple can make. It presents the opportunity to be original and to express allegiance to hipster consensus at the same time. The best hipster wedding songs, while providing evidence of superior music tastes, coexist on opposing sides of the cultural spectrum: on one, songs that surprise those in attendance through their relative obscurity; on the other, songs familiar to all attending, even cousins from Florida, but unlikely to be used as a first dance or wedding march (i.e., the theme from Top Gun). Whether Grandpa's tapping his foot or sadly shaking his head, rest assured that he doesn't understand you.
Justices of the Peace, Unitarians, friends ordained in the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster — these are acceptable officiates, ones that will not raise an eyebrow at your farm-stand turnip cake, or the sign hanging over it reading "farm-stand turnip cake," or maybe your rainbow cake — you know, for marriage equality!
Hipsters are similarly required to write their own vows. Some write from the heart. Some incorporate poetry from the New York school. Others appropriate lyrics from '70s arena-rock bands for whose songs they have an ironic appreciation.
Food, like décor, should evince an obvious co-mingling of high and low tastes — hot-dog carts and farm stand turnips are equally at home at the hipster wedding buffet table. While cupcake towers can supply the event with the perfect dose of fastidious detail and childish whimsy, their current popularity with other, non-hipster brides has lately deprived them of their former glory.
9. SOCIAL MEDIA POSTERITY
The hipster would not exist without social media. The hipster couple repays this debt with a token offering. Many a hipster couple has set up a designated area so their photographer friend may take pictures that resemble those from a photo booth — in some cases, an actual photo booth — and plaster them on Facebook. The iPhone, too, has its place at the hipster wedding. There's no need to leave technology at home when there's minutiae to document.
Social media has generated much of the hipster wedding accoutrements. Would mustache on a stick exist without Facebook? Would labeled pies? It's doubtful. Thanks, Facebook.
10. FAUX-EDGY WEDDING SHOTS
O dentists' daughters, o tax attorneys' sons! Back home in the suburbs, nobody understood you. Driving to Costco in your parents' SUV, you'd stare out at the expanse of manicured lawns, thinking, I wasn't meant for this! Do these people feel? Are they even alive?
But you weren't trapped there — far from it. You're too smart for that. Right after college, you moved to a gentrifying neighborhood in the Big City and scared your parents half to death. Even though you'd sworn to yourself long ago that you didn't care what they thought, in your innermost heart, you were glad. Sure, the dirty sidewalks and overweight people in cheap, stained sweatpants were unpleasant at first, but you got used to it.
Now it's your wedding day. The gaping maw of legitimate adulthood yawns before you like all the soccer fields you played on as a child lined end to end. Dad slaps you on the back and makes a joke about law school. But you'll show him. You gather your friends — your real, urban family — and take your wedding photos in a filthy alleyway. Fuck you, Dad!
The comments on the article are a good read. There's a lengthy, thoughtful comment mentioning the meaning of making homemade jam but claiming not to be a hipster, followed by the rather succinct Takes one to know one. It's safe to say that people will defend their life-long love of woodland creatures to the death, even though they've long since forgotten about their victory gardens. That's so 2009.