Marielle Wakim was invited to 16 weddings last year.
Of those, she attended 14. That’s quite a feat — and expense.
Wakim is the founder of Happily Ever #Hashtagged, the first business to create fully customized hashtags, according to Wakim.
How the Idea of Happily Ever #Hashtagged Sparked
For each wedding Wakim attended, the couples asked their dear, creative friend for a favor: Help us create a hashtag.
Yup. Hashtags have become an integral part of wedding planning these days. Formulating a creative, personalized hashtag ranks right up there with tasting cake and picking out invitations.
Wakim, 29, is the arts and culture editor at Los Angeles magazine, which is all about voice — and puns. Because of her way with words, she became everyone’s go-to hashtag brainstormer.
“At the most functional level, it’s a sorting mechanism,” Wakim says. The bride and groom, wedding guests or even long-lost friends can search the unique hashtag to see the photos, tweets and Facebook posts tagged from the big day.
Plus, Wakim says, couples want it to have a personality. She’s seen many couples include the hashtag on invites, write the hashtag on chalkboards at the reception or even shout it to the world across a bus.
But apparently those who aren’t well-versed in puns or creative — like her accounting friends, Wakim says — struggle to come up with something creative. That’s when her services are needed.
Because her friends needed this service, Wakim deduced there is, in fact, a demand for this creative product.
So she resolved to create a business out of it.
How Wakim Created a Unique Business at Nearly No Cost
Throughout her year of weddings, Wakim kept saying she’d start charging people for her creative juices. Around September, she finally decided to jump.
She admitted it could be the worst idea — or the best. But she wouldn’t know until she tried.
She launched the Happily Ever #Hashtagged website on Nov. 1, 2016.
That night, as Wakim was driving to a trivia night with her co-worker, she received her first order.
And she’d spent nothing advertising. (To this day, she hasn’t spent a dime on ads.)
All her friends who’d used her wittiness shared her new venture on Facebook. In that first month, she received two to three orders a week, which thrilled Wakim.
Then December hit. New York magazine picked up Wakim’s story and her creative business, identifying it as “the first of its kind.”
You probably saw it circulating on Facebook and Twitter — it went viral.
“When that happened, it was an insane snowball effect,” Wakim says. She received about 90 orders and had to wait-list another 200 or so.
And, the only thing Wakim had to invest in was a domain name and Google Suite — about $400 total, she says.
How Wakim is Capitalizing on Wedding Hashtags
When Wakim and I chatted in the middle of February, she estimated she’d received about 125 hashtag orders, which means she’d brainstormed close to 400 hashtags.
In fact, she’d closed her online order form, giving her more time to catch up before taking on more assignments. (She does plan to open it again, and will add you to her waitlist if you email her.)
In addition to her full-time magazine job, she suspects she sneaks in at least 10 hours a week of hashtag work.
“Coming up with something unique and special isn’t as simple as staring at the ceiling for five minutes,” Wakim says.
Her online order form (again, closed for now) asks each couple a few get-to-know-you questions. Then, she goes one step further to ask about the couple and offer up additional comments.
For example, a couple might have met in Denver and they’re obsessed. Wakim can try to work that in with their names.
Some of her favorite hashtags have included #SimpMyBride (a play on “Pimp My Ride” for the Simpsons) and #JessCaseScenario (like best case scenario, but for a bride, Jess, who was marrying Case).
Wakim offers four pricing options: $40 for a single hashtag, $85 for three hashtag options, $115 wedding and bachelor/bachelorette hashtags and $40 for other event-oriented hashtags, like birthdays.
Wakim didn’t reveal how much money she’s made thus far. But it’s fair to say with more than 100 completed orders and the $85-package being the most popular, she’s made hashtags into a successful side gig with lots of potential to grow.
Your Turn: What do you think of Happily Ever #Hashtagged?
Carson Kohler (@CarsonKohler) is a junior writer at The Penny Hoarder. She appreciates a good pun.