Magazine editor Marielle Wakim has turned custom hashtags into a thriving business – Happily Ever #Hashtagged. We spoke to her about how business is going, and what it takes to make a smash-hit hashtag.
How did you turn wedding hashtagging into a job?
If there are two things I love, it’s weddings and wordplay. So, when hashtags for weddings became a thing, it felt natural to marry those two loves. In 2016, I was invited to 16 weddings. Because I’m insane, I attended 14 of them. Nearly all of those couples asked for help in coming up with personalised hashtags. As a full-time editor working at a wedding magazine, I pretty much pun for a living. It made me think there could be a business here.
You charge US$50 per custom hashtag. How did you come to that price?
I took a poll among friends and family to come up with a reasonable pricing structure. Some thought I could charge more; others thought I was overcharging by a mile. But, in the grand scheme of the Industrial Wedding Complex, this is probably the cheapest thing a couple will pay for during the planning process.
What is your creative process behind coming up with the perfect hashtag?
That’s a trade secret! But I can tell you that I rely heavily on rhymes, puns and idioms. I always ask if a couple have special instructions – like, please don’t use my maiden name; make it Disney-themed or we want to incorporate Chance the Rapper lyrics! It’s yet another extension of a couple’s personality. Like the cake or the flowers or the dress, they want everything to be tailor-made to them.
How busy has the business been going so far?
I’ve had more than 300 orders so far, which is more than 1000 hashtags when you consider people are ordering packages of three or five. I also have a waitlist that hovers around 150 people. Most of my customers are millennials, but I’ve had orders for 60th birthdays, second and third marriages and family trips. A hashtag, at its most basic level, is a sorting mechanism so they can see all the photographs they missed.
What’s been your favourite hashtag creation to date?
I loved #MollyPicksUpTheTempo (the groom’s surname was Tempo) and #JessCaseScenario (for a bride named Jess). To come up with five good ones I often have to come up with 10 bad ones. But I love that I’m part of people’s special day.