Want to get married at an “elegant” or “charming” plantation home? Well, you shouldn’t, according to two big players in the wedding industry.
Pinterest, every bride-to-be’s first destination for budget wedding inspiration, and the Knot, a wedding planning website, “will stop promoting wedding content that romanticizes former slave plantations,” according to a BuzzFeed report released this week.
What exactly does romanticizing a plantation mean? On the Knot, “new guidelines are meant to ensure that wedding vendors aren’t referring to a history that includes slavery using language such as ‘elegant’ or ‘charming.’”
Pinterest will get a little more assertive: “A Pinterest spokesperson told BuzzFeed News that the company will restrict plantation wedding content on its website, and is working on de-indexing Google searches for plantation weddings on Pinterest. Though users can still search for it, they’ll see an advisory that some of that content may violate Pinterest’s policies.”
So, if you want to get married in a cute little plantation home — notice I didn’t say elegant — you won’t be getting much help.
The intentions behind the Knot and Pinterest’s decisions are good. No one should market their wedding venue by saying some home’s history of housing a white family served by two dozen slaves living in barracks-style sheds is “charming.”
Much of the South’s past is far from elegant and charming, but more than a century after the Civil War, since these homes have been converted into event spaces, there’s nothing wrong with searching for an “elegant” plantation home. Now, they’re just beautiful houses. Why not use them for something good?
When a bride-to-be looks up “plantation wedding,” what she romanticizes is not “home with a racist past,” it’s a large Southern house with white columns and a patch of green grass on which she’ll frolic while her photographer desperately snaps pictures.
Yet, the idea persists that brides and vendors who support such venues are whitewashing history. A headline in the Washington Post reads, dramatically, “Wedding vendors romanticize slave plantations. The Knot and Pinterest will no longer promote them.” The article explains that Color of Change, the group that lobbied Pinterest and the Knot to change their policies, “realized that some vendors use decorative words like ‘breathtaking’ to describe plantations — venues that evoke painful imagery for African Americans.”
We shouldn’t gloss over the sins of our ancestors, but we don’t have to throw out the good things they created: namely, gorgeous homes that couples — white, black, or otherwise — can now reclaim to celebrate something beautiful.