TORONTO -- The photographers behind a couple’s “The Handmaid’s Tale” wedding photo are defending it following a flood of comments criticizing it for appearing to misunderstand the oppressive world depicted in the novel and television series.

The TV series, produced by Hulu and based on Margaret Atwood’s 1985 novel, is about a theocratic dystopian United States where women, called handmaids, are raped and forced to bear the children of men whose wives are infertile. It’s also where being LGBTQ is illegal.

So it may seem strange that this world would be the backdrop for a wedding photo. But in the past week, newlyweds Kendra and Tortsten Mueller did just that and it’s caused quite the stir.

Their photograph featured the bride and groom kissing in between a row of handmaids in front of a Cambridge, Ont., wall the TV crew uses for scenes of the “Hanging Wall” -- where people are hung for going against the world’s fictional religious regime.

Once the photo was posted on Twitter, it quickly went viral garnering 1,000 comments – the majority of which were critical.

“Everyone knows the core of a successful hetero marriage is having access to sex slaves,” one person tweeted, with another writing “honestly I can’t think of a better example of white women feminism.”

Many called out the photo for missing the point of the show and flooded both the Facebook and Instagram pages of London, Ont.-based photographers Van Daele and Russell who took the photo.

Several people CTV News Kitchener spoke to on the street said they were confused by the photo’s theme when considering the bleak fictional world of Gilead.

“I think this is awful and I can’t believe someone did this for their wedding,” one person said, with another person calling the photo “very distasteful because of the issues in the show and how they betray women.”


Screenshots on Twitter appeared to show the photographers vehemently defending the photo against “keyboard warriors” and other detractors. “We’d love to see you out in the streets participating in women’s marches, supporting equal rights for everyone, regardless of sexual orientation … instead of sitting here scrolling through Instagram, knee-jerking your way through comments.”

However since then, at the couple’s request, the posts and the photographers’ comments have been taken down from photographer’s social media pages. CTV News Kitchener reached out to the newlyweds who have declined to comment.

But in a statement provided to CTV News Kitchener, the photographers, who said they were fans of the show, said they “didn't expect the photo to go viral, but we are SOOO HAPPY IT HAS.”

The pair explained this was “because hopefully it will wake people up to how they too contribute to the oppression and hatred that they're rightfully worked up over." They also explained actresses decked out red cloaks and white bonnets weren’t hired for the shoot.

"The couple are actually photographed on site, the rest is Photoshop," the photographers said.

“We know we are all good, compassionate people who don't feel the need to defend ourselves from the conclusions everyone is jumping too. We absolutely understand the gravity of the shows message, which is why we love the show so much as terrifyingly real as it is becoming more and more every day.”