Where did the original OBBs come from, has my relationship changed post-wedding, and do I ever get sick of weddings?

How did you manage to attract the initial OBBs who have been so eager to share their stories with you? -Monica H.

When I first started researching my book in 2005, I did what most journalists do: I put a call out to my network of writing colleagues across the country to see who had great stories to share. I'd followed a few stories on the Kvetch boards on Indiebride and contacted those folks directly. A couple of the brides featured in the book were people I knew personally, but most of them are stories that I found through research and networking.

When I launched the website in January 2007, the profiles were originally just my way to give a bit more background on the brides featured in the book. I quickly realized that there were other folks who might want to share their stories and set up the questionnaire so that blog readers could submit their weddings.

These days, there are so many weddings submitted that there's no way I could feature them all … even with Megan posting four or five a week!

Do you ever get tired of talking about weddings? -Karolynn


I've actually never been all that interested in weddings. Really, weddings are just an excuse for me to talk about people, relationships, commitment, parties, fashion, family dynamics, food, photography, subcultures, and design. These things all interest me. Weddings? Meh. They're fun too.

I was explaining you to my partner and I was like 'she's kind of a funky-hula-hooping-rasta-raver-hippy type'… After reading your book I can see where you got your hippy — what else has made you 'you' and have you always been 'offbeat'?

HA! It's always funny to see how other people describe me. I retired from hula hooping in 2006, and have never been involved in reggae or rasta culture at all. That said, I'm slippery so you're forgiven for being confused.

I was raised by hippies, but wax my legs, wear makeup, and live in a condo. Despite my corporate job, mortgage, and love of chai lattes, I'm a terrible yuppie — I refuse to work more than 28 hours a week and my car is almost 15 years old. Despite the stereotypes about ravers, even at the height of my party daze I needed lots of sleep and always paid my rent on time. These days I prefer neo-soul and R&B to electronic music.

My personality's been influenced most strongly by:

  • being the only child of my hippie parents
  • nerding out on computers in the late '80s
  • loving musical theater in high school
  • raving through my 20s
  • studying sociology and publishing in college
  • living almost exclusively in large cities since the early '90s
  • working in the tech & media industries all of my adult life

Inexcusably bad teen fashionI was NOT always offbeat. In an attempt to rebel against my parents, in high school I tried my damndest to blend in with my preppy classmates. Check out this hot photo of me in a pair of pegged jeans, braided belt, and pastel shirt. My bedroom may have been a school bus, but I wanted nothing more than to live on a cul de sac.In college my roommates called me "neutral girl" and I was basically granola lite.

This all changed in the mid-90s when I started going to raves and had an aha! moment of realizing that I sucked at trying to fit in and I might as well just be the freak my parents raised me to be.

I've been much happier since, and part of that is that I'm comfortable contradicting myself and never quite fitting in all the way. At my corporate job, I'm the crazy weirdo. At parties and festivals, I'm the uptight bourgeoisie with the mortgage. Compared to my artist friends, I'm too entrepreneurial. Compared to my dotcom friends, I'm too lazy. Next to my parents, I'm the family conservative. Outside the liberal bubble of the West Coast, I'm a complete radical.

If I had to describe myself I'd go for something like "urban bohemian geek."

Would you say there's been an uptick on offbeat weddings due to the economy? -KD

Absolutely. My book publisher is releasing a revised and updated edition of my book for 2010, and the big new chapter is going to be all about budgeting. The way I see it is with the economy bottoming out, even more traditional couples have to think creatively about their weddings. It's harder to justify spending tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars to hire people to just make it happen.

That said, I think some of the increasing popularity in offbeat weddings is just a natural response to all the wedding excess that's been popular for the last decade or so. The pendulum swings back and forth!

Do you think there's more pressure now to be offbeat than to have the traditional wedding? -Ashley

theknot-vs-offbeatbrideHA! Asked like a true offbeat bride. I think it's easy to feel that way if you spend lots of time on nontraditional wedding blogs and forums. But all you have to do is step outside our little weird wedding neighborhood and compare The Knot's traffic to Offbeat Bride's traffic to know that nontraditional weddings are a long, looong way from becoming the norm.

Despite getting married for fairly practical reasons, do you think your relationship has changed since getting married or just evolved in the way it naturally would have with or without a marriage certificate? -Sara

I honestly cannot think of a single thing I would point to and say "THAT CHANGED AFTER WE GOT MARRIED." I just checked with Dre, and he said, "Other than health insurance? Nadda."

august7We'd been together for almost 7 years before we got married, and got married 5 years ago today, so our wedding is around the middle point of our history. Certainly our relationship has evolved and progressed in the years since we got married … but not nearly as much as it did in the years before we got married.

But honestly, I can't think of any changes that are the result of being spouses. Buying a home was a WAY bigger deal in terms of combining our finances, and I predict having a baby this winter will be a much bigger shift than signing some papers and throwing an afternoon party back in 2004.

What makes you happier than just about anything else in the world? -Beck

A few things come to mind:

  1. I'm just glad you put things in perspective always! To this group of people you're one thing and to another group of people you're something else… and to offbeat people offbeatness seems like the norm but all you gotta do is step out to see things in perspective. It's all relative.

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  2. I always forget that I'm in the OBB bubble, then someone asks looks at me funny for having my brothers be bridestwins…Thanks for putting up some perspective :D (Happy Anniversary!)

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  3. Ariel, it's always a pleasure learning a little more about you – you are the #1 cheerleader for genuine Offbeat Brides, and learning that you're as normal/freaky as the rest of us makes me smile.

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  4. I'm relatively new, and I enjoyed learning more about you. I'm grateful for this cool place to hang out as I plan my mid-life wedding. And you're right, having a baby will change you both more than anything else. It's a major opportunity to learn more about yourself an each other. One of the scariest things is the first time you hear one of your parent's voices coming out of your mouth. ;)

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  5. it is SUCH A RELIEF to hear you say that you don't feel like your relationship with andreas changed all that much….FH and I have been together almost seven years and everyone is saying to us "it will be completely different when you're married" – but neither of us wants it to be! We're perfectly happy right now the way things are, and they were like this before we got engaged…so it gives my anxiety about getting married a little bit of relief…thank you! :)

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  6. You know the economy is getting bad when The Knot is featuring more DIY projects, and has an entire section of their website dedicated to budget weddings.

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    • I don't remember that being there at the beginning of my wedding planning, that's for sure! :)

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  7. Happy Anniversary!!! Tom and I celebrated our 5th anniversary of being together yesterday and a friend of mine just had her 4th wedding anniversary yesterday as well.

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  8. Well happy anniversary! I cannot tell you how much I enjoy your book and your website. My fiance and I got engaged back in March, then he lost his job. He has been unable to find work for four months now. We have been planning and we still plan on having the wedding in April, although we have no budget. But it is like a game, how cheap and amazing can we make it? We are simple people with a wonderful group of talented friends. I am so excited to see what our wedding day will look like. And through looking at your website and seeing all the wonderful diy ideas I am confident that it will be perfect. Even if (heaven forbid, as my family seems to feel ) I never have an engagement ring and i get most of my decorations from garage sales and estate sales… which btw i have found sooo much cute stuff for the wedding and reception! it is really exciting! I hope we can have as much fun as you and Andreas. Not just at the wedding, but the next 5 years! and on… :)

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  9. This part made me tear up for some reason –
    "I'm comfortable contradicting myself and never quite fitting in all the way. At my corporate job, I'm the crazy weirdo. At parties and festivals, I'm the uptight bourgeoisie with the mortgage. Compared to my artist friends, I'm too entrepreneurial. Compared to my dotcom friends, I'm too lazy. Next to my parents, I'm the family conservative. Outside the liberal bubble of the West Coast, I'm a complete radical."

    I feel the same way most times. Like I flitter in and out of "subcultures" and regular cultures too much to truly belong to any one…

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    • Me too me too! Case in point: I'm pretty excited to be putting our two crazy families in their wildly varying levels of religiosity, our liberal church friends and our roller derby friends all together in one room for a wedding. The event may create a subculture all its own.

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  10. Amber, me too! I guess we must be our own culture, since there seems to be a number of us…

    Ariel, thanks again for sharing. I really liked what you said about weddings, as well.

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  11. Happy Anniversary!
    I love your description: urban bohemian geek- AWESOME. :)
    I know this is weird- but your book and wedding website has been essential in our wedding planning. Without it I would have definitely felt alone and stressed about why I was hating all these traditional- "you have to's" about the wedding industry.
    Ariel- I want to thank you so so so much for researching, writing and publishing OBB. I read it right after we got engaged, and THANK GOODNESS. Soon after I was confronted with so many traditional assumptions, from well-meaning family, to friends to complete strangers. If I hadn't read your book and realized that actually- there doesn't HAVE to be rules, I would have been a HUGE BALL OF STRESS right now. As it is- we're currently dealing with the parental-unit in-law's having a complete breakdown with the concept that we're BOTH hyphenating our last names. Your advice and careful, thoughtful consideration has helped immensely.

    Thank you and Many Blessings on your future family! :)

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  12. I'm glad to hear that you're adding a budgeting chapter. Especially because offbeat weddings and budget weddings go hand in hand. Traditional cakes, traditional venues, traditional dresses, etc., all cost an arm and a leg; the more you head off the beaten path, the easier it is to save money.

    Why? I suspect there's a vicious cycle with the cost of "traditional" wedding trappings. Vendors charge more because they know they can get away with it, but then when brides pay more for something (whether it's catering or monogrammed napkins) they become more demanding about it being "perfect", and then vendors say "woah, brides are a pain to deal with – I'd better charge more just to cover the extra time I have to put into these jobs", prices go up, and brides demand even more for their money, and so on.

    When I was planning my own wedding, the *most expensive* venues were the ones that specialized in weddings. Tiered cakes were more than twice the price (per serving) than flat cakes. I was told to buy flowers for a "funeral" rather than a "wedding". No getting around it – standard wedding fare is friggin expensive! Going the DIY/offbeat route is the best way to save a fortune and still have a great wedding.

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  13. thanks for the insight. happy anniversary (late)

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  14. despite my current doula career, potential midwifery aspirations and my complete disinterest in becoming a mother, this posting has renewed my faith in children of wild and imaginative parents finding their own gorgeous ways in the world.

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  15. Happy Anniversary! I completely identify with how you described yourself – I laughed out loud at the "be the freak my parents raised me to be". I know how that is! Thanks so much for answering our questions in your own great style – I really love this Q&A feature!

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  16. "I'm comfortable contradicting myself and never quite fitting in all the way. At my corporate job, I'm the crazy weirdo. At parties and festivals, I'm the uptight bourgeoisie with the mortgage. Compared to my artist friends, I'm too entrepreneurial. Compared to my dotcom friends, I'm too lazy. Next to my parents, I'm the family conservative. Outside the liberal bubble of the West Coast, I'm a complete radical."

    I know what you mean! That's me! In my circle of geeky friends, I'm slighty uptight and a little too normal, but when I'm at work with my Daily-Mail reading shopping addict compadres I feel like a complete outsider (though I get on really well with all of them!). I'm too colourful to be a goth, but too gothy to be 'normal'. There are other gals here who feel the same! Maybe we should form a culture ourselves; the 'we-don't-know-but-please-be-our-friends'!

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  17. Thank you for this site. I found it just yesterday and I'm quickly immersing myself in it, this has been WAY more insightful and useful than the bland traditional wedding sites. And yes, I'm going to actually buy a copy of the book. Wedding is in three months, time's a wastin!

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  18. oh, and Rozi, I totally get the "too colorful to be a goth, but too gothy to be normal" feeling.

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  19. This is Ariel's mother writing, commenting on Ariel's great description of what has made Ariel the way she is……..Truth is, most of us don't fit into nice, neat boxes. Ariel's describes her parents (one of them being me) as 'hippies' but that isn't necessarily the best description of the two of us either. Certainly I'm 'counter-culture' which means to me that I don't embrace mainstream values and live a different kind of lifestyle than the standard American scene, but then again, many people live outside that norm, not necessarily just 'hippies.' David, Ariel's father, has held a mainstream job with the King County public transportation agency for many decades……in many ways not a hippie at all. We're all a mish-mash of contradictions and different streams of interest and inclination. The most important thing is to be in alignment with the values that truly feel and fit the best for each one of us. I see that Ariel is finding her way and always has! Its very liberating to realize you don't have to fit in one box or another and she keeps making her way in her own colorful style. And I'm glad to see that she inspires so many of her readers to find their/your authentic voice and expression……Most important to BE TRUE TO YOURSELF rather than try to fit in or please somebody else. So keep on keepin on, offbeat readers!

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