I really, truly love puns to the bottom of my being. They're one of my favorite things. Because of this, I love the heck out of wedding hashtags and would love to have one (in fact the idea of getting to come up with a wedding hashtag about taking his last name is so entertaining to me that that is actually a point in that option's favor), but.....John? Not so much. The following conversation has actually happened:
Me: "If anyone ever calls me 'Mr. John LastName' I will divorce you on the spot." (this is a whole 'nother issue that will be discussed in a future post)
John: "If anyone uses a hashtag for our wedding, I will divorce you on the spot."
We were both kidding, but also were pretty serious about our strong objections to both things. So. There you go. I suppose we're not having a wedding hashtag. However, they are pretty interesting, so I'm going to talk about them anyway.
The Origins of Hashtags
The symbol itself - formally known as the Octothorpe but also called a number sign or pound sign, dates back to ancient Roman times. A New Yorker article called "The Ancient Roots of Punctuation" states:
"The story of the hashtag begins sometime around the fourteenth century, with the introduction of the Latin abbreviation “lb,” for the Roman term libra pondo, or 'pound weight.' Like many standard abbreviations of that period, “lb” was written with the addition of a horizontal bar, known as a tittle, or tilde... And though printers commonly cast this barred abbreviation as a single character, it was the rushed pens of scribes that eventually produced the symbol’s modern form: hurriedly dashed off again and again, the barred “lb” mutated into the abstract #... Though it is now referred to by a number of different names—“hash mark,” 'number sign,' and even 'octothorpe,' a jokey appellation coined by engineers working on the Touch-Tone telephone keypad—the phrase “pound sign” can be traced to the symbol’s ancient origins. For just as 'lb' came from libra, so the word 'pound' is descended from pondo, making the # a descendent of the Roman term libra pondo in both name and appearance."
The specific use of the symbol in a recognizable "hashtag" way is a lot older than you might think! A Lifewire article on the topic noted: "The metadata tags have been actually been around for quite some time, first being used in 1988 on a platform known as Internet Relay Chat or IRC. They were used much then as they are today, for grouping messages, images, content, and video into categories. The purpose of course, is so users can simply search hashtags and get all the relevant content associated with them." According to Lifewire, a resident of San Diego started using the hashtag #sandiegofire on Twitter (which launched July 15, 2006) to inform people about the ongoing wildfires in August 2007; other articles indicate that the first suggestion of # as a tracking tool to Twitter came from Chris Messina. This blog post by Stowe Boyd is believed to be the first one to actually coin the term "hashtag."
You can now use hashtags to track or group posts on a common theme on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest. I'll admit that I mostly use them sarcastically (as in the above headline or in my commonly used #blessed), but I do actually use them on my personal Instagram to track my ongoing photo chronicling of all my nail polish shades via #naileditproject (however, you'd have to be friends with me to see those, so it's really for my own personal use rather than to commune with others).
Here Comes the Hashtag
Buzzfeed attempted to track down the first people to use a wedding hashtag, and concluded from researching old twitter posts from June 2008 that it was a man named Jon Bohlinger. A few more mentions were made of the trend in 2008, then it started taking off more in 2009. A Pinterest spokesperson told them that there was a more than 800% increase in pins featuring "wedding hashtag" on their site between July 2015 and July 2015.
I used this blog as an excuse to reach out to Ariel Meadow Stallings, the publisher of one of my favorite websites, OffbeatBride.com. She said she first started really seeing wedding hashtags back in 2013, first with Twitter (pointing me to http://offbeatbride.com/seattle-boathouse-wedding/ as an example) and then with Instagram (http://offbeatbride.com/wedding-instagram-hashtag/).
If you can't come up with your own brilliant hashtag, there are a million wedding hashtag generators out there now (according to weddinghashtagwall I could use - #RachaelLovesJohn #AdventuresofRJ or my fave #DicksonandLorenzenMerger, or ooo since we're both lawyers we could be #DicksonLorenzenLLP BUT I WON'T BECAUSE JOHN IS A GRUMP*). Someone even started a business creating custom wedding hashtags for people. Offbeat Bride has a fantastic article talking about ways to come up with more unique hashtags that incorporate those awesome puns I was talking about earlier.
They really are a pretty powerful tool at this point - Several websites exist now to track hashtags and provide you with various analytics on them. I just used keyhole.co to search #weddinghashtag and got the following results for the past two weeks - 69 posts with 55 users using it, reaching 160 unique users. If you're keen on conglomerating your posts leading up to your wedding and all your guests' posts and pictures in one place, using a hashtag and a service like this would help you pull from all the various websites your guests might post on.
Also, just for your entertainment, this article "Best Wedding Hashtags Ever" from Brides.com is pretty hilarious. <3
*Actual photo of my fiancé.
I do not own this photo. Please don't sue me.