A bride-to-be shared on TikTok that she and her fiancé were planning on making it mandatory for wedding guests to be vaccinated for their upcoming nuptials. In response, some commenters seemingly lost their minds over the decision.
Personal wedding choices have a history of causing controversy on the video-sharing platform. In early June, one bride shared the “transparent” letter she sent to all of her bridesmaids, with some TikTokers calling the move “genius” and others slamming it as “tacky.” That same month, another bride went viral after sharing a video of her groom, who was caught checking his phone as she walked down the aisle.
In this case, Ileana Paules-Bronet simply wanted to share that the couple required wedding guests to be vaccinated in order to attend their October event.
She had just 400 or so followers at the time she posted the video explaining her decision, because like a lot of people coping with the pandemic, she had downloaded TikTok in 2020 to scroll through funny videos and occasionally post for her friends and family.
Paules-Bronet told In The Know that she kept seeing videos pop up on her For You page in which people were saying “controversial things that were not actually controversial.” On one of these videos, she saw people agreeing and commenting, “you just gained a follower.” From there, she got the idea to share her wedding vaccination plan with the world via TikTok.
“This might lose me some followers, but whatever, I don’t have that many followers to begin with anyway,” Paules-Bronet said in the May 22 video that started it all. “I’m getting married this October, and my fiancé and I are requiring COVID vaccinations to come to our wedding.”
Since posting the video, Paules-Bronet has gained over 23,000 followers and counting.
“I just assumed the 400 people who follow me would like [the video], and maybe it would show up on some of their friends’ For You pages,” she told In The Know. “Even after I posted it and it started to get bigger, I still didn’t think anything about, like, having my account blow up.”
“I honestly thought, ‘OK, maybe this will get me 100 more followers,’” she added. “I knew what I was saying could be seen as controversial by a lot of ridiculous TikTok Americans… [but] I didn’t think it would go the way that it did.”
The bride-to-be said it was a no-brainer for the couple to make it mandatory for all of their wedding guests to be vaccinated — of course, except for those who have a legitimate medical excuse or guests’ kids under the age of 12.
Paules-Bronet and her husband had set their October wedding date in August 2019, and as rules surrounding COVID-19 changed throughout 2020, the couple changed their vision for what their wedding would look like; they discussed what would happen if they had to cancel it, and who would make the cut if the venue was only allowing 25% capacity.
Then, in May 2021, knowing that the majority of their guests lived in the U.S., they decided to write in their wedding invitations that all guests would be required to be vaccinated in order to attend.
Hundreds of TikTok users disagreed with the decision, despite not being invited to the wedding or knowing Paules-Bronet personally.
“If you are vaccinated, what does it matter if someone else isn’t?” a commenter asked.
“It’s not OK to demand a medical procedure on anyone,” another said.
Since the original video went viral, Paules-Bronet has posted dozens of additional videos in response to certain inflammatory comments posted on her TikToks.
“I got so many comments that were just so worth responding to,” she said. “I didn’t consider taking [the video] down, but there were some comments that I responded to that I considered deleting.”
Paules-Bronet has since used the reply feature as a way to share actual facts — like information about HIPAA and why this isn’t an invasion of privacy — with viewers, and to shut down seriously offensive anti-Semitic attacks, some of which went so far as to compare her wedding decision to the Holocaust.
“How do people know so little about the Holocaust that they are comparing a private wedding to the Holocaust?” she asked. “Those are the kinds [of comments] that do get to me, get under my skin.”
As for people who were actually invited to the wedding?
“We’ve gotten no RSVPs that say, ‘No, I’m not coming because of your vaccine rule,’” Paules-Bronet revealed. “We’ve had no backlash from people we’ve actually invited.”
Fortunately, there is a silver lining. For one thing, Paules-Bronet can’t help but appreciate the irony that so many trolls interact with and hate-follow her account, she’s now paid by the TikTok Creator Fund.
And although it may seem like it at times, the comments on her videos are not all negative.
“The amount of kindness I’ve gotten from people is so much greater than the hate, and it outweighs all of it tenfold,” she explained. “Kind people are very humble and just want to let me know that they saw my content and appreciate it, or that they’re doing something similar with their wedding.”
Also, unlike many of her trolls, Paules-Bronet actually is making a difference in the lives of fellow TikTokers.
“I had a teenager who messaged me being like, ‘Hey, I’m fully vaccinated but I’m still wearing a mask, and my mom is trying to convince me that I don’t ever need to wear a mask again. I’m not really good at doing research online… I know you said that wearing masks can still keep other people safe, is there anything you could send me that I could show my mom?’” she shared. “I was like, ‘Oh my God, of course!’”
For any other brides looking to make it mandatory that their wedding guests are vaccinated, Paules-Bronet has some sound advice.
“Be as upfront about it as possible,” she said. “Make sure that you and your fiancé are on the same page if your families are close, and make sure if they don’t agree with it, at least they respect your decision.”
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If you enjoyed this story, read more about this couple’s plans to have a sweet “re-wedding” ceremony after spouse comes out as transgender.
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