What would you do if, two weeks after your perfect dream wedding, you opened up your Facebook to see that the Best Man’s wife has made a breastfeeding meme complaining about you? Better yet, that meme has gone completely viral. In the literal sense. Worldwide.
But let me back up and start at the beginning, from the bride’s perspective. Because every publication in the world has picked up this story and not one single member of the press has contacted the bride and groom for comment before publishing. And that’s not fair.
Groom Garrett and best man Justin have been bffs since the beginning of high school, but bride Shelby and Justin’s wife Ceara only interact as much as is necessary for social purposes. Among other things, the bride is uncomfortable with Ceara’s (who is nursing a two year old and an infant) penchant for popping out a boob to breastfeed wherever and whenever she happens to be, and never making any effort to cover up in the slightest. Even after the folks she’s doing it in front of have politely expressed discomfort.
Anticipating a scene if somebody asked Ceara to cover up when she popped out her boob at the head table during the reception, the bride and her mother decided to head it off at the pass. They asked their wedding planner how to handle their concerns, and she advised them to include the following note in the invitations of the six nursing mothers on the guest list:
To all our mommies who are breastfeeding, we are thinking of you; we are sensitive to the fact you may need to breastfeed during our event, therefore we have designated an appropriate place for you to feed your baby so that you do not have to do so in front of our Family and Friends. For your convenience we are accommodating you with a comfortable and private area with chairs and baby blankets in the ladies room. We request that you use this area when you are breastfeeding.
Bride Shelby said they figured that if Ceara had a problem with it, she would say something about it. If she was unhappy with the bathroom location, they had a backup spot for her – an office upstairs in their venue. They were positive they would have to give her options.
But Ceara didn’t say a word. In fact, none of the six couples (yes, they all got them, not just Ceara like she told People Magazine) who received the special note said anything about it to the bride or groom before, during, or after the wedding. Ceara and her husband actually left their children at home and told everybody they’d left them with a wet nurse to breastfeed them in their absence.
The wedding was a success
By all accounts, everybody had a fabulous time at the wedding. The guests who brought babies fed them outside the view of the other guests (whether they all used the provided bathroom station, I do not know). Nobody felt uncomfortable, nobody complained. Shelby and her mom thought they’d really dodged a bullet.
Until the social media sh**storm started, and it hasn’t stopped since.
Everyone in their hometown of Wills Point, Texas, knows who the story is about, although Ceara defended herself by saying that she’d never named the bride and groom when she uploaded a picture of the nursing area in the ladies room with a picture of the note from the invitation. She posted it to a breastfeeding support Facebook page, and it was all over the Internet within hours.
Listen to the Wedding Reality Check with Sandy Malone podcast below to hear EXACTLY what the bride and groom had to say in their first interview since their wedding received a viral shaming.
While Ceara maintains that she kept their names out of it, she’d previously posted plenty of pictures to her own social media that make it very easy to figure out who the targets of her shaming are. And it’s put a “dark cloud” over the honeymoon period of their marriage, the couple says.
Shelby found out about the posting when a family member reached out asking if she was “okay.” She was, until she saw Ceara’s meme with the bathroom photo from her wedding. And started reading thousands of hateful comments from around the globe.
Nobody in the media has reached out to the bride and groom
Every day there are more stories, and yet, to date, nobody from the media has reached out to talk to them. Shelby’s mom Devon called me this afternoon and told me what happened. She’s devastated that her daughter’s wedding memories are going to be marred by this social media fiasco.
Shelby and Garrett are hurt. He says the friendship with Justin is over forever. Weirdly, Ceara and Justin continue to call and text both the bride and groom demanding to talk, and insisting they remain friends. Shelby and Garrett, understandably, are not interested in having any contact ever again. Who would be?
Open breastfeeding at weddings has been an active battleground since it became legal to breastfeed pretty much anywhere in the United States. But just because you can do something somewhere, doesn’t mean you should. Especially when you are a guest at somebody’s wedding.
The act of shaming somebody’s wedding after you’ve been a guest, and the beneficiary of their generosity, is never okay. Whether you’re complaining about the breastfeeding accommodations, the food, or the venue, being invited to a wedding is an honor. A gracious guest should overlook any discomforts, and certainly not publicize them. But Ceara had another plan, and she executed it quite successfully. Publications from the US, UK and even Vietnam have picked up the original meme.
Ceara’s world-wide shaming session implies her only option would have been to breastfeed in the bathroom, but that’s not true. Had she asked the bride for alternatives, they had a Plan B ready to roll. But instead of dealing with the matter directly, Ceara struck one of the most major passive-aggressive blows I’ve ever seen played by a member of the wedding party. And yes, I realize it was her husband who was actually in the wedding party, but there’s no way you can pretend he had no idea what was going on.
That’s what upsets the groom so much. He actually made a point to discuss the issue with Justin after the wedding invitations went out, in the two months before the big day. Justin told him it would be cool, and not a problem. And then his wife did this.
“I’m over it,” Shelby says. “But we have the right to tell our side of the story.”
The couple stands by their decision to ask breastfeeding guests to use the ladies room to nurse at their wedding
Shelby and Garrett stand by their decision to ask nursing mothers to do so in a private place. They wouldn’t have sent out the note at all, they say, if not for the knowledge that Ceara would most certainly bare her breasts at the dinner table at their wedding reception. They had no concern that any of the other nursing mothers would “be so disrespectful” on their big day. The note was sent because their wedding planner advised them it was the best course of action, according to the Mother of the Bride.
The bride and groom decided to speak up and share their side of the story because it feels like Ceara set them up for this international shame fest. They gave her the opportunity to address her problem with their solution pre-wedding, and instead, she opted to leave her baby home. Then she turned them into the breastfeeding advocacy groups two weeks after she was a guest at their wedding, eating their food, drinking their booze, and appearing in all of their most important wedding pictures.
How should Ceara have handled the Shelby and Garrett’s breastfeeding request? She could have talked to them about it, and they would have presented her with private nursing options until she accepted one. Or she could have chosen to express her opinion by staying home.