The mysteries of the Offbeat Bride Tribe member application explained

Guestpost by Offbeat Bride Tribe Moderators on Dec. 20th
I applied for the Offbeat Bride Tribe a while ago and I haven't heard back — did I get rejected because I'm not offbeat enough?

The short answer: NO.

We do not EVER decline Offbeat Bride Tribe memberships based on how nontraditional your wedding is or is not.

Now, here's the much longer answer:

How do we figure out who to approve for the Tribe? Hint: It has NOTHING to do with how offbeat your wedding is.

While our FAQ addresses general questions about why the Tribe is private and how "offbeat-ness" has NOTHING to do with it, we thought we'd provide a bit more insight into what we look for in the Tribe submissions, and why we ask what we do on the application.

As of 2014, the Tribe has over 12,000 members, with between ten to fifty new members applying every single day. That's ten to fifty new applications that we review and approve. Manually. Every day. Every single one. It generally takes us no more than a week to review applications, so if you applied over a week ago and haven't heard back … your application was likely declined.

Here are the reasons we decline a small percentage of applications:

  • Answers are too short or unanswered completely, so we can't tell if you're a real person or a spam robot (this is the most common)
  • Applicant included links/references to business website or ad-sponsored blog
  • Application didn't fit with our Code of Conduct (outright hostility, weight talk, vendors, one up/low-manship, etc.)
  • Applicant is already married, or not engaged but "just loves weddings"
  • The wedding is more than three years away
  • We made a mistake

Yep. About that last one: Mistakes happen. On your end, our end, on technology's end, who knows! You make typos, we click the wrong button, our emails end up in your spam folders: all these things (and worse!) have happened. If you think a tragedy has occurred with your application, Email us. We'll work it out.

Now, notice what's NOT on that list? Your wedding's offbeatness (what does that even mean!?) or anything about your personality.


How to make sure your app gets approved

Let's get one thing out of the way immediately: our applications are NOT a "Let's see if you're cool enough to join" test. Personal style and "offbeat-ness" has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with applicant approval. Mostly, we're looking to screen out spammers, vendors, trolls, and those "playing wedding" (i.e. dreaming about a someday wedding rather than actively planning an imminent event). We DO NOT CARE if you or your wedding are "cool" — whatever that may mean.

We also want to share this great advice from a Tribe member:

I found the easiest way to approach the application was to treat it as if I'd already been accepted and was writing my profile for the site (which made it especially convenient that the application info does become your profile.) So rather than stressing that I was being tested on my suitability, it just became a matter of working out what I thought my fellow tribe members would want to know about me and my wedding.

Our application has lots of questions, with each one having a very specific purpose. Let's review them one by one, and we can show you what we look for when approving applicants…

Application section: "About Me"

We want to know a bit about you. That's it. Just something that shows why you want to join, and demonstrating that you're putting some thoughtfulness into your application. You could write six paragraphs (some have), you could write a few sentences (most do). You could write about your job, your fiance, your cats, what you had for breakfast… it doesn't matter. We just need to know you're a real live human, and not an asshole.

How to get declined:

  • We get several apps every day with gibberish like "XABGXY" or "—" written in every slot, which is obviously spam, or a vendor trying to get in. Those get booted.
  • If you write "Not now," "I don't do these," or "None of your business" — your app gets declined. That's a red flag that says, "I want your resource but can't be bothered to give you any information about myself." These kinds of answers do not lend themselves to someone who is going to be an active and helpful Tribe member.
  • Generic answers like "bride to be" of "newly engaged" are typically a strike against you — unless the rest of your app is awesome. Sneaky spammers and businesses are getting smarter and making more legit-looking apps, saying things like "found my true love," or "can't wait to get married!" So, when we see a generic app that looks like it came out of an auto-complete program, it gets declined.

Application section: "Wedding Date"

The reason the date question exists is because the Tribe is a wedding planning tool. It is not a place to sit and ogle wedding porn (you can do that here on the blog), or to play at what your dream wedding will be when you find someone. It is for members who are very actively planning a wedding. A few years ago when membership was wide open, many non-wedding planning members flooded in and overwhelmed the group with non-wedding related posts. It became hard to find content related to, well, planning a wedding. With 7,000 members, we have to keep the group focused … it's already totally overwhelming as it is!

For all of you who are actively planning a wedding, but don't have a date because you're waiting on a venue, pick an approximate date and tell me what's going on in your application. We are real-live people reading your words, so we can approve your application if you share the specifics of your situation.

How to get declined:

  • Have a wedding date in the past. (If you just want to share your wedding story with Offbeat Bride, there's no need to join the tribe. Just submit your wedding!)
  • Have a wedding date more than three years in the future. (Remember, the Tribe is about ACTIVE wedding planning. If you're more than three years out, hold off on joining until you're at the stage where you're booking vendors, sending invitations, etc.)

Application section: "City and State/Region"

This is mostly so that once you're in, you can find other members in your area. If you don't have a set venue or have privacy concerns, a state or region works fine.


Application section: "Website (or Wedsite)"

We want to see either your personal website or your wedding website. Personal website could also mean your Pinterest page or Tumblr. If you don't have a website, then you don't need to put anything here… but a website is a great way for us to get to know you. (Oh, and if you want a free wedding website, you can get one from Offbeat Bride & mywedding.com!)

How to get declined:

  • Link your wedding business (remember: no vendors)
  • Link your Etsy shop (again, no vendors — even bride vendors)
  • Link your ad-sponsored blog
  • Link a random business (we want to see YOUR site, not your venue's website)

Application section: "Share a couple details about your wedding plans"

Nothing earth shattering here. The section is to give us and then your fellow Tribe members an idea of who you are and how to help you! If you don't think your plans are offbeat, remember: we don't care how offbeat you think you are or aren't. We think you're awesome, no matter what your wedding style — including not having a style at all! That's cool too.

How to get declined:

  • Say something short-winded and obtuse like "not sure" or "undecided" or "don't know" (We can't approve you if we can't get to know you! Take your time with your application and share your vision, even if it's totally undecided and could change tomorrow. We don't care if it's crazy and out-there or traditional and reserved — we just need to know that you're a real person planning your real wedding.)

Application section: "Other than inspiration and ideas, what are you looking for on the Tribe?"

Half of you say "inspiration and ideas" anyway. (Pranksters :P) This question is probably the one that we use the most when figuring out if someone is a good fit for the Tribe. Our most common replies are people looking for support because of their family issues, or they need a dose of sanity — and that's cool. Or you're going crazy looking for a good dress, or decorating on a budget — right on.

How to get declined

  • Say something snarky like "none of your business"
  • Give a one word non-answer like "stuff" or "info"
  • If you're looking for "brilliant ideas so I can get my wedding featured on as many blogs as possible," you're not really a good fit.
  • "I'm starting a wedding business, and want to pick the minds of brides to be." Not going to happen.

A note for those looking for weight loss support:
Sometimes applicants will answer this question by saying, "I'm looking for support so I can lose weight and fit into my dress." Almost every forum for brides has weight discussion issues. The Offbeat Bride Tribe does not, and that's not changing. We are a wedding planning site, not a weight loss community. We don't have the resources for your journey to get fit.

Imagine it like any other social place — if you want to get fit, your best option is to go to a gym, not a pottery class. You need a forum that can completely support that side of you and give you the best possible opportunity to get to those goals, and the Tribe is not that place. We don't decline applicants who are looking for weight loss support, but we do contact them to let them know that they won't find it on the Tribe.


Application section: "This is a social community — tell us what you have to offer your fellow members"

Some members have expressed concern about this question. Like any good village, the Tribe based on a system of give and take, and we want you to know that up front. If all you think you have to offer is a listening ear, that's fine. We NEED listeners! You don't have to be a Tattoo Artist/DIY Maven/Organic Chef to be a member. This question is just another way to get to know your fellow members. Just be yourself.


In closing

We understand that some of you who aren't engaged are chomping at the bit to get into the Tribe. We love you but you aren't the right fit for the forum right now. The Tribe is for active wedding planning, and if you aren't in that phase at the moment, it's not going to hold any interest for you. Kind of like when you were little and thought it would be awesome to stay up late with your parents, only to find out all they did was watch the news.

It has been adamantly voiced, numerous times that the Tribe members are beyond thankful that the Tribe is private, and as a result, is their safe place. By letting people who aren't actively planning into the fold, that privacy is taken from them. We can't let that happen. We apologize to those who aren't eligible at this time to become Tribe members, but our responsibility is to take care of the current members, and if the Tribe was a public forum, it would not be the wonderful place it is today. Our aim is not to be exclusive, but rather to make the Tribe as useful as possible to members.

Our hope is that by writing this post, more of you who ARE eligible understand how to take the time with your application so that we can get you approved.

If you have any questions about the Tribe, email us!

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About Offbeat Bride Tribe Moderators

The Tribe's team of moderators work their tails off to keep the Offbeat Bride Tribe running.

http://tribe.offbeatbride.com