Offbeat Bride + Traditional Groom = ?!?

By on Jan. 27th

Original photo by Flickr user owenstache. Altered by Creative Commons License

I finished Offbeat Bride in just two sittings because I just couldn't put it down.

My only disappointment was that there weren't any suggestions on how to handle being an offbeat bride with a traditional groom.

How do you have an offbeat wedding without crossing the line?

How to have a traditional ceremony that won't make me feel like I'm at someone else's wedding? -Becky

Becky, this is a great question, and absolutely a topic that should have been in the book! I lucked out by having a groom whose wedding visions were as hallucinogenic as mine, but your situation is infinitely more common — just because two people are engaged doesn't mean they're somehow a brain-unit with matching Christmas sweaters and 100% aligned opinions.

There are some general conflict mediation issues that I touch on in my book that you could use when negotiating with a traditional groom (ie, the "Why instead of No technique") but compromising with your fiance is certainly different than dealing with a family member.

First of all, take a moment to appreciate your fiance having opinions about the wedding and wanting to be involved in the planning process. It's weird how, even in offbeat wedding planning, there's this sadly stereotypical gender divide. All too often, grooms just resign themselves to whatever their bride wants ("…it's her special daaay…"), and while that's sort of awesome in a fucked up way (who doesn't like getting what she wants?) from a gender-egalitarian perspective it's really a blessing that your fiance is invested in the planning of the wedding.

My advice would be to do a writing exercise where each of you sit down and brainstorm separately about what you want from your wedding. What are your three deal-breakers, the things you really REALLY want to have at your wedding? Don't focus on things you don't want — that can be a recipe for conflict. It's always more useful to be proactive instead of reactive. What three things do you really REALLY want at your offbeat wedding? And what three things does he really REALLY want at his more traditional wedding?

What are your three deal-breakers, the things you really REALLY want to have at your wedding? Don't focus on things you don't want — that can be a recipe for conflict. It's always more useful to be proactive instead of reactive.

Once you've each got your lists together, you can come to the negotiation table and see how things line up. If you're really lucky, the deal-breakers aren't mutually exclusive — i.e. he wants to have readings from Corinthians and you want your father to do a reading. That's easy: have your father read from Corinthians. But more likely there will be a few head-butting differences, i.e. he wants to be in a church and you want to be outside; he wants to have groomsmen and you want to stand alone. This is where you can get into some negotiations, ie, making sure each of you have at least two of your deal-breakers represented in the wedding.

I realize this sounds ridiculously over-structured and formalized, but I think it can be really helpful to have tools like this when you're talking over your plans and priorities. By having these deal-breaker items, you'll hopefully be able to stand at your wedding and look around and see a few of the things that are really important to you, knowing that you compromised on certain aspects, but that your deal-breakers are accounted for. Good luck!