A Southern PlantationTwo of the nation's largest online wedding-planning platforms will now be discouraging would-be couples from booking former slave plantations as wedding venues. Many plantations have successfully rebranded themselves as “elegant" and “charming" places to get married. But many people view this development as problematic, given the dark history of these places. 

Under pressure from civil rights groups, Pinterest and the Knot Worldwide have agreed to stop promoting any content from venues that romanticizes, glorifies or celebrates Southern plantation history. 

"Weddings should be a symbol of love and unity," a Pinterest spokesperson told Buzzfeed News. "Plantations represent none of those things. We are working to limit the distribution of this content and accounts across our platform, and continue to not accept advertisements for them."

Wedding Sites Scrub Plantations

Knot Worldwide chief marketing officer Dhanusha Sivajee also said her company wants to ensure all their customers “don’t feel in any way discriminated against.”

Both wedding sites apparently saw the light following a written pressure campaign from civil rights advocacy group Color of Change. “The decision to glorify plantations as nostalgic sites of celebration is not an empowering one for the Black women and justice-minded people who use your site,” read one letter sent to Knot Worldwide executives. “Plantations are physical reminders of one of the most horrific human rights abuses the world has ever seen. The wedding industry routinely denies the violent conditions Black people faced under chattel slavery by promoting plantations as romantic places to marry."

Similar letters were sent to Zola, Martha Stewarts Weddings and Bride. The letter sent to Zola said, “‘classic,' 'elegant,' and 'glamorous,' are just a few of the tags that your site uses to describe the places where many of your readers’ ancestors were tortured and stripped of their most fundamental rights."

After the publication of the initial Buzzfeed article, Zola removed all plantation venues from their website as well.

Plantations Remain Popular Wedding Destinations

A sizeable chunk of the $76 billion in revenue generated by the US wedding industry in 2019 will go to venues. And plantations are an increasingly-desirable place to hold weddings. Although nothing new, plantation weddings are apparently back in vogue amongst Southerners seeking some antebellum charm for their big day. Notably, actors Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds were recently married at the Boone Hall Plantation, where dozens of black men, women, and children were once enslaved.

The Tuckahoe Plantation in Virginia, the boyhood home of Thomas Jefferson, hosted about 25 weddings in 2014, with a la carte items such as lighting packages, lanterns and a bedroom in the historic mansion for the bride to get ready in pushing costs up to $8,000 - all without any mention of the old S-word. 

In fact, visiting the website for most of these venues will yield very little knowledge about the slaves who toiled in the fields, under an unrelenting Southern sun, for up to 16 hours at a time. Many plantation websites do their best to avoid the subject of slavery, and some scrub the word ‘slavery’ from their website entirely. And in Louisiana - where slaves comprised nearly half the population in 1860 - only one former plantation, the Whitney Plantation, now functions as a museum of slavery.

At many of these impressive estates, a blissfully ignorant visitor might leave without ever knowing about the gruesome conditions and cruelty so many people were subjected to on that very same soil.

Color of Change VP Arisha Hatch believes rebranding plantations as "romantic farms" or "stately manors" seeks to erase an important part of this nation's history. “If we were talking about concentration camps, it would be weird and disrespectful and egregious for folks to be seeking to have their weddings at these locations,” she explains. So why is it okay at plantations? 

History and Healing

Given how wildly influential they are in the wedding industry, do websites like Pinterest and the Knot have a moral imperative to steer people away from plantation weddings?

Those who still live in and operate the plantations don't seem to begrudge the decision, but they argue that focusing on history makes it difficult to look to the future. Vicksburg Mayor, George Flaggs Jr., said he won’t criticize a private business for making a business decision - but that history is history. “If we continue to live in the past, we’ll stay in the past,” he insists. 

Slavery on a Southern plantation

Jennifer Combs, director of Visit Natchez, told the Clarion Ledger that “we certainly understand and respect the efforts to make people more aware of slave history, an incredibly tragic time in our nation’s history… However, we’re not aware of, nor would we condone, any of the many wedding venues here glorifying that history in any way.”

Another venue owner, Debbie Cosey, explained that she tells prospective wedding customers her venue’s history before they sign the paperwork. “As ugly as it was, it was such a romantic period. It makes for a beautiful wedding,” she says. 

And that's just it. There's no denying the beauty of these venues -- that's _why _they're so popular. The question is: is it okay to ignore the horrific histories of these grounds in the name of promoting love and happiness (and turning a serious profit)? 

On the one hand, terrible atrocities have occurred all over the world throughout history. People still go to those places. They laugh in those places. They even get married in those places, often without issue. 

But is this equivalent? Many would argue no. Slavery is such a uniquely painful stain on America's history -- a deep wound that has never closed, despite many decades of healing. Under no circumstance is profiting off the beauty of such cursed ground acceptable, opponents say. 

What do you think? Is it insensitive to get married at a plantation venue, or are people overreacting?

31 comments

  1. Reverend Hannah Grace's Avatar Reverend Hannah Grace

    Would you have a wedding at Auschwitz or Bergen-Belsen or Dachau? I fully support not using plantations for weddings. I think museums would be a better use for these facilities but it won't happen because it's all about making money and museums don't make as much money as weddings. The ante-bellum South should be remembered, but as it actually was, not as it is romantically portrayed from a white perspective. Sorry, but I'm with the protesters on this one.

    1. June Tanner's Avatar June Tanner

      No I wouldn't, but neither Auschwitz, Bergen-Belsen, or Dachau are gorgeous southern colonial homes. Put the past in the past where it belongs and leave it there. We, as human beings, I hope will never repeat the atrosities in our history on this planet. However, people need to quit being so over-sensitive in this current day and age. This plantation home is a gorgeous building. Period.

      The British have wrecked atrosities on people of color in many countries, ie. Carribean islands, South Pacific Islands, New Zealand, and Australia just to name a few. Does that mean if you had the chance to be married in Buckingham Palace you would turn it down over principle? I don't think so.

      People need to focus on just being kind to each now...today and get off the bandwagon of past inhumanities.

      1. Molly Silfies's Avatar Molly Silfies

        THANK YOU!!! I TOTALLY AGREE !!! HAVING BEEN BORN IN MISSISSIPPI, I STILL HAVE WONDERFUL MIXED RACE WELL-EDUCATED SUCCESSFUL FAMILY LIVING THERE. HAVING LIVED IN UTAH, CALIFORNIA & ARIZONA FOR < 3 + DECADES I MUST SAY THE TRUTH. STOP LOOKING ON FROM OUTSIDE IN JUDGMENT OF SOMETHING YOU HAVE NEVER EXPERIENCED. I AM PROUD OF MY ENTIRE FAMILY, IRREGARDLESS OF SKIN HUES. THEY ARE AN IMMENSE & VERY SUCCESSFUL PEOPLE!!! I LOVE THEM ALL!!!!!!!!!

  1. Sharmagne Leland-St. John-Sylbert's Avatar Sharmagne Leland-St. John-Sylbert

    " NO One Brings up the Issue That Our Whole Nation; Not just the South Was Founded By Racist Rapist, Murderers; and Country Stealers .. The Almost total Genocide of some tribes"

    Thank you for remembering this. So many have forgotten.

    Sharmagne Leland-St. John A Proud Memebr of The Confederated Colville Tribe of Nespelem, Washington

  1. Angela Kaye Sawyers's Avatar Angela Kaye Sawyers

    I Find it very hypocritical that some of you are saying slavery is in the past no one is alive who is a slave so folks should just move on. That's why it's a problem now, sweep everything under the rug until it.blows up. Slavery was officially abolished in1865 sure but there were some part of this country that didn't tell the enslaved people until 2 years later. You all are blinded by prejudice and don't even see it. Also I would dare some of you to say to a person of Jewish descent that the Holocaust was almost 80 years ago and they should.move on. People even get in a tizzy when smiley pictures are taken at the former World trade center site but when it comes to Black people its different. Yeah I said it. Fact of the matter is this country has not atoned for the genocide of indigenous people nor the enslavement of Africans and until it does this conversation will continue. As a side note having a relationship with Black, Indigenous or other people of.color doesn't magically erase prejudice. So please stop using your non white friend as a get out off racism card.

    1. Daniel J. Trebas's Avatar Daniel J. Trebas

      Historical correction: slavery may have been temporarily abolished in 1865 but the revised slavery was back in less than 6 months when the 13th amendment was ratified (Dec.1865-Jan.1866); it says "slavery shall not exist EXCEPT as punishment" after being duly convicted (not JUSTLY convicted.The modern American slave markets are thriving in the prison systems of our nation. Sooooo... why not have the weddings at a prison where slavery still exists. However, I also think marketing former plantations as wedding venues could appeal to people with darker skin. Not in overlooking past abuses and horrors but as a symbolic triumph over them.

  1. Lionheart's Avatar Lionheart

    So people shouldn’t go to Germany for a wedding or vacation because of World War 1 & 2? These events are more recent than slavery in the USA. It’s time to let go and put those dark days of the past behind us and replace the negative aspect of those places with positive energy...in my humble opinion.

    1. Ilmenheru Terikson's Avatar Ilmenheru Terikson

      Let me offer a bit more precision to your attempt at an analogue and see if you still feel it seems ok. What about having a wedding at the site of a death camp? What about on top of a mass grave? Because no one is saying you cant get married down south or enjoy the beauty of that part of the world. The homes of the wealthy built upon slavery, the fields soaked in their blood, and the countless numbers of dead slaves used as hog chow however should be torn down. They serve no real use to society, and only continue to give the illusion of culture and refinement to a culture that was as brutal and savage as any known in the pages of history.

      1. Lionheart's Avatar Lionheart

        All very interesting points, and I do understand your analogies. Let me add though that many people get married by ministers of a religion whereby the deity of that religion actually condoned slavery, beatings, and even stoning people to death. That deity is also responsible, if you want to believe stories in a book, of mass infanticide, and genocide, on a scale greater than any holocaust. Yet people still worship that deity and get married within that religion. Are you happy with that? What would your defense position be of weddings performed by ministers who worship such a demonic deity?

      2. June Tanner's Avatar June Tanner

        I just couldn't disagree with you more, Ilmenheru Terikson. Tearing down a building that doesn't belong to you is a criminal offense in this day and age because it is wrong to destroy someone elses property, regardless of how you may feel personally.

        Trying to destroy history by rewriting it is just wrong. Future generations need to know about the past inhumanities we as homo sapiens have commited on each other with the hope of never repeating these atrosties. The Vatican has already rewritten and hidden enough of the past atrosities they are responsible for all in the name of God (power and greed).

        History is history. The stories should be retold repeatedly and unbiasedly. It is what happened and should not be changed just to make an individual person or group feel better. Keep it real, truthful, and honest. It is not our place to try and manipulate history or news like so many current news spokespersons feel intitled to do today.

      3. Dark Gray's Avatar Dark Gray

        Ilmenheru Terikson, I respect your view that these places are the moral equivalent of death camps. Knowing that, I would never ask you to officiate a wedding at a southern plantation.

        Can you respect the views of others that these places are beautiful and peaceful and are quite suitable settings for their weddings? Or is your view the only one that counts?

    2. Lionheart's Avatar Lionheart

      Should read......World War 1 and 2?

      1. Carl Bernard Elfstrom's Avatar Carl Bernard Elfstrom

        Didn't the civil war end in1865? Plantations and slavery had nothing to do with anyone who is now living, except for depressive, pitying, pitiful types who cry about everything that's ever happened in this world. A building you've never been in isn't going to haunt anyone with what happened there in the past. The people who are haunted by such things are haunting themselves. Get over it. Go to counseling if you have to. Don't seek to ruin a good thing for those who are wrapped tighter than you.

  1. Howard Pippin's Avatar Howard Pippin

    Once more Mr. Lionheart, I must agree with you. Trying to dredge up things in the past, that you don't like, does not give them the right do away with them. Good things have come out of many bad things. It sounds like some want the plantations burned, buried in a deep hole, and maybe just separate that part of the United States, from the north. I wouldn't be surprised if they could be the ones raising Cain about the commercial about the lady riding the exercise bike.The nitpicking and reopening of old wounds was not benefited by the election of Mr. Obama. Race relations backed up about 40 years and they haven't turned around yet.To those that claim to be Christians, peace, And to those that are not Christians, peace be with you too.

  1. Carl Bernard Elfstrom's Avatar Carl Bernard Elfstrom

    Have y'all ever heard a song by Nancy Blum called Spirits Walking The Wind. People have lived ànd died everywhere, for all kinds of reasons. There is no holy place where something bad hasn't happened. It's not the place, but the minds of those present that are affected, however they are affected, by the way they interpret their thoughts and emotions.

    1. June Tanner's Avatar June Tanner

      I believe that is Nancy Bloom

  1. Lori Mongillo's Avatar Lori Mongillo

    Perception is a difficult thing to change. The plantations hold nothing more than the perceptions we have of historical events. I guess we FEAR it can happen again, so we need to keep it fresh in our minds. We are continually raising dark memories that we don't actually own. FEAR is a disease that we can't find a cure for. It is used as a weapon by those who seek to control others. The horrific past of slavery will continue to possess our minds for as long as we allow the control to continue. Though, I do recognize, there are many that still cling to the pathetic indiscretions of their ancestors, and a lesser consciousness and intelligence that causes them to profess their prejudice, there are more that have stepped into a color blind world and would like to see a future where these prejudice minds are able to grow and catch up with the higher consciousness that is emerging.
    These buildings are beautiful. Continuing to harden our perceptions to the darkness of the past cannot light the way to the future. We can't fix what happened so long ago, but we can affect whether we respond with fear or with dignity. We can see beauty as it is, or, in our perceived FEAR, we can choose to burn everything to the ground because someone tells us we need to keep the FEAR and darkness alive. We actually have a choice in how we think.

    1. Christine's Avatar Christine

      You're right. People really need to get over stuff. My family went vacationing in Europe and people told me I couldn't bake cookies in a concentration camp. They have perfectly good ovens just sitting there going to waste because SJWs live in FEAR and darkness. If anything, the place could have used some yummy sugar cookies to brighten up all the pathetic bleeding hearts of the world walking around the place all mopey. We have a choice in how we think!!

      1. Reverend Will's Avatar Reverend Will

        As a Southern citizen who was born in "Yankee" country I can see both sides of the issue. What I see happening is the systematic erasure of a history people don't want to remember, yet won't let go of it. We are told we're bad to go there and it should be burned yet we're also told we're bad if we don't make special consideration for anyone of color. It is a double standard and needs to stop either way. Wiping out the history of the US is dooming us to forget our mistakes and not learning a darn thing from them.

        1. Lori Mongillo's Avatar Lori Mongillo

          No one needs to wipe out the history of the US or forget the atrocities that took place. Actual history needs to be taught in schools. Prejudices also needs to be addressed in schools, because so many parents live in the dark ages with "us against them" attitudes. There have been atrocities in every culture. Our own soldiers committed atrocities, as well as our ancestors and our religions. As long as we hold on to the anger we can't move past those things that happened. An ideal world is far away, but one person at a time can either change the negative perceptions or pass them on, keeping the hatred alive and well. As long as we cling to the darkness it will persist.

      2. Rod Gesner's Avatar Rod Gesner

        I find your OP to be incredibly offensive!! as someone with German Heritage; (the Gesner's Came over in 1600's and Started a shipyard on the Hudson R) Black (Silas Grinstead Came over in the 1600's as an apprentice Lawyer as an indentured servant to a colonel in Virginia; met and fell in love with the mixed Daughter of a Slave owner. fought 2 losing court cases but finally won her freedom in front of the Virginia assembly; as the Child of a Free man (they then changed the Law that only the Child of a Free woman to avoid 1st born inheritance claims;( .. ) and Native ancestry: Blackfoot.. From a German Standpoint How Dare you come into their country and Make Light of The Horrors of Gassing and Burning humans...To say nothing of it being rediculous to suggest baking food; in incineration ovens.. While there may be Germans today that have forgotten the past lessons;And fallen under the Bigoted Spell of the New Reich.. anyone that was there as a Child; Would Surely be horrified at such a suggestion...We can Keep the plantation houses and use them as Cooperatives for the many that never got the Mule and 40 acres they were promised; but promoting them as Romantic upper Class Wedding venues; While the Nieghbours both Black, White, Brown, and Red; Suffer in Poverty Rooted in their Exploited origins; is JUST WRONG.. If you really did Say what you Claim to have said in Germany; I'm Surprised They didn't Throw you Off the Tour and Out of Their Country....

    2. June Tanner's Avatar June Tanner

      Couldn't have said it better!

  1. Rod Gesner's Avatar Rod Gesner

    While I wouldn't go to a Plantation for a Wedding; They are incredible Symbols of the overblown Elitism of the Times; and Ironically there magnificence and beauty Should be an Honor to the Slaves that built them. Much Like Trump Towers and Other symbols of Modern EXCESSES They should be historical Lessons; Rather than dissapeared as a Politically Correct ReDo of our history (IU Bloomington has Recently Renamed Building based on "New Attitudes against some Acceptable at the time beliefs of the Great minds and Founders; (Keep the Names But Include the controversy in their History;) IU Also Spent over 100,000$ To remove Symbols that were considered an ancient Sign of Good Luck; Because They were similar to a Swastika; Rather than adding A Simple Sign explaining the difference to educate the viewers.. So Far No None has demanded That Pedofile Herman Wells Name and Statue be removed (Someone that I Know met him as a Young man and Received a Secret Handshake that implied a Sexual overture) But Enough of that... What Outrages me is That NO One Brings up the Issue That Our Whole Nation; Not just the South Was Founded By Racist Rapist, Murderers; and Country Stealers .. The Almost total Genocide of some tribes The Coopting and enslaving of the Young Natives By Catholics and Other Missions who even denied them their Language... Ironic Side Note If you would ignore these issues but Still think the Slavery issue is More important Don't go to Any Cherokee sites in the S USA as They were coopted to the point where they Kept Blacks as Slaves Profiting to the point of being plantation owners themselves; and Then as a Greater insult Offered Tribal rights to former slaves; Only to Recently deny it to any black or black native mix whose ancestors were their Slaves. But Didn't other tribes take Slaves? yes some tribes took and kept slaves before we even got here; But it was a Tribal competition(alternative to Killing) and a way of Diversifying of the gene Pool.. Not Wholesale Import of Another race To Promote Greater Wealth To Already Rich Exploiters.. So Where is a Safe place for a Wedding in this country?? I Guess Wherever you and Yours Feel Safe? ;)

    1. June Tanner's Avatar June Tanner

      West Africans sold each other into slavery and continue to do so in some countries. Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Chad, Sudan, Ghana, Benin, Togo and Nigeria continue with this practice today as part of their centuries-old culture of servitude.

      1. Rod Gesner's Avatar Rod Gesner

        and Yet the enlightened Xtians from USA have not invaded and turned back the Tide of slavery and Oppression as we explain/justify our WARS on other Muslim countries Guess their resources don't matter as much as Rare earth magnetics Oil and Opium.. while it may have been and still be it does not justify our continued support of Slavery in it's varied forms ie..Sex Trafficing Domestic Servitude by unprotected "illegals" and the Greatest slavery "Credit Slavery and exploitive Mind numbing Promotion By Wasteful capitalism...

  1. Robin Clark Boyd's Avatar Robin Clark Boyd

    We can not dismiss everything because of the past. We learn, atone, and move on.

  1. Dark Gray's Avatar Dark Gray

    "The holiest of all the spots on earth is where an ancient hatred has become a present love." -- A Course in Miracles

  1. Robert N Clarkson's Avatar Robert N Clarkson

    Your final paragraphs sum it up nicely. Folks want beautiful settings for their wedding and photos. I'm tired of all the blatant self interest discriminatory PC bull.

  1. Minister Mike's Avatar Minister Mike

    Isn't it grand how so many people work so hard to push readers away from the issue? BTW, it's called obfuscation.

    What any other country did has nothing to do with issue presented - using for weddings venues that were, once, owned by slave owners. Anyone who celebrates anything at one of those venues knows about the slavery - yes, anyone and everyone - so any moral hesitation to use them should left to the celebrants.

    Something that bothers me, though, is that neither the venues nor the services that advertise or offer the services bother to bring up the sordid past.

  1. Catherine Lee McIver's Avatar Catherine Lee McIver

    As the great grand child of slaves, I cant believe how people on this site are so God Awful insensitive to the concerns of an entire race of people. Nope nobody currently alive has had anything to do with slavery but is it soooo unbelievable that I or my family might be hurt having not known of our heritage, where our family is truly from or who our descendants might be??? Those are the things I think of when I even hear the word plantation. Those are the feelings of my family and an entire race of people. I hope that you don't think you will live happily ever after partying and getting married in the midst of hate, degradation, family separation abuse disrespect, oh well maybe you do. The souls that endured such pain, but hey its a BEAUTIFUL VENUE. But you know since it did not happen to your descendants lets forget it. I mean come on that was a long time ago...no harm no foul. Your attitudes are no better than the slave owners of plantations that thought slavery was no big deal in the first place. Let it go right ?? Happy wedding season. Don't come for me I certainly am not interested. What God do you people serve??

  1. Richard Lee Cornell's Avatar Richard Lee Cornell

    My great grandfather was shipped over to America when his lord and master brought land in America.
    As a European serf he was at the mercy of the landowner when he landed in America he was still at the mercy of the lord and master. He worked his tail off, could speak broken English to the day he died. My grandfather took over from his father and he was consider a serf / farmer. Never really owning the land just pay off the expensive of being shipped to America. My grandfather got the land free and clear when his lord and master got killed in WW1. I can trace my relatives as being serfs in Europe just after the plague of 1342. Before that they were slaves. I consider my self as a freeman. Being told by someone who ansectors were slaves where I can go or can not go, tells me that person may still be a ghost of a slave embodyed in that person. Telling me I must feel guilty for the fire bombing of cities in WW2 by the US. Really! Sorry about not feeling guilty about anyone that was, or is currently a slave any where on this planet. As I said I is a Freeman.

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