Walking on egg-shells: the challenges of serving many communities #Philosophizing#blogging#manifestos March 31 | Ariel Meadow Stallings offbeatariel When I wrote my book in 2005, I didn't have a philosophy about weddings. I had planned exactly one wedding (mine!) and avoided most wedding media (including websites, magazines, tv shows, and books) while doing so. Offbeat Bride: the book, was just me sharing my story, corroborating with a hundred or so other brides, and then trying to encourage folks to figure out what they wanted to do. When I first launched this website, I still didn't have a philosophy. I was just promoting the book, doing my thing. I ranted and bitched a fair amount before realizing that I didn't like the kind of attention that sort of writing attracted, and shifted to a more tolerant, "go you, whatever you may do" philosophy. By mid-2007, Offbeat Bride was dedicated to tolerant support of pretty much everything and everyone. And now here we are many years later. Despite the site having grown exponentially (1 million of you read every month!), we still focus on supporting non-traditional niches. These days, we cater to a LOT of different niches, and that's where the editorial challenge comes in: everyone wants us to cater to their niche, and when we don't, sometimes y'all get upset. See, when you're dedicated to niches, you can't make everyone happy all the time… because if we did that, we wouldn't be about the niches any more. We'd be USA Today. We've received complaints from members of almost every niche community you can imagine (and some you've never heard of), telling us that we're being insensitive because we didn't acknowledge their needs. We suggested having a drink, when some of you don't drink. We've written about honeymooning in regions with political turmoil, where some of you won't go. We've featured pictures of smoking brides, and when some of you think that it's a bad example for younger readers. We referred to a vegan wedding as "cruelty-free," and some of you like meat and don't appreciate the insinuations that you're cruel, thankyouverymuch. We've offended environmentalists by referring to a non-green-enough-for-their-tastes wedding as "eco." Once, an advertiser told us she was uncomfortable with our talk of genital excretions — but that ended up being a misunderstanding about the word "squee." I've gotten frequent enough complaints about the swearing on Offbeat Bride that I have a form letter response, thanking the writer for the feedback but informing them that swearing has been a part of Offbeat Bride's language since 2006 when I included the phrase "ass-fucking" in the book, and while I totally respect that the profanity isn't going to feel right for everyone, it's just part of how I do things. Then there's what I call the reverse discrimination fallacy, where brides on the more traditional end of the spectrum complain that they feel excluded or demonized for being "too normal." We've edited wedding profiles to exclude lines like, "I didn't want a stuffy traditional wedding," knowing that somewhere an Offbeat Lite bride was going to think to herself, "Oh, so now my wedding is STUFFY!? Fuck you, offbeater-than-thou bride." (Speaking of Offbeat Lite: not everyone likes that term, nor does everyone like the phrase "Wedding porn.") The feedback we receive from readers is almost always tremendously educational — even when we don't capitulate to the requests. I've learned a huge amount about gender identity from readers of Offbeat Bride. I had no idea that people who followed the Paleo diet saw it as an identity to the point where they would be offended by vegans. I've learned boat-loads about the range of recovery community opinions — some of you are positively mortified when we make even lighthearted suggests to have a drink, others joke about how one glass of wine would turn into the whole vineyard. The "offbeat couples of color" tag issue was one with strong and articulate opinions on both side of the fence. The only thing we could all agree on is that we should let folks self-identify. Related Post On being an offbeat consumer I don't see consumer as a bad word. You just have to be clear on your consumer values, and stick to them. The challenge for me editorially with all this feedback is that I simply can't make everyone happy. While we work our tails off to keep Offbeat Bride an inclusive, supportive environment where folks of all backgrounds, genders, niches, and tastes can hopefully feel comfortable, ultimately, this is OFFBEAT Bride, and you WILL see things here that you don't like. In serving another niche, sometimes we won't perfectly serve yours — and we hope that can be ok for everyone. If every post was written to cater to everybody's tastes, we'd be doing something wrong. We're not USA Today, after all — and that's part of why y'all read the site. For us, "Offbeat" ultimately just means being authentic to your identity, and for Megan that can mean cracking SNL jokes that people don't always get and/or like. For me, it means sometimes using language that strikes some people as crude and gross. For one intern, it sometimes means having strong opinions about websites that some wedding photographers might find insulting. Other writers might have suggestions for wedding undies, but also be ok with you not wearing underwear at all to your wedding. I want to encourage all our readers to be critical thinkers — we're not the arbiters of taste, nor are we going to be able to cater to all readers at all times. We LOVE getting feedback from our readers about how our posts make you feel, even if I can't always promise that we'll be able to make all of you feel good about every single post on the site. We're ok with that, and we hope you can be too. Reporter Name * Reporter Email * Original text Enter the original text here. Edited text* Enter your suggested copyedit here. Notes You can add a note for the editor here. * Required information. Fix Typo Ariel Meadow Stallings Author of Offbeat Bride: Creative Alternatives for Independent Brides, Ariel acts as the publisher of all the Offbeat Empire websites. She lives, loves, and dorks out hard in Seattle, WA. @offbeatariel @offbeatbride PREVIOUS Insect inception: imagine the creepy crawly bug-eyed possiblities NEXT Tera & Bret's casual literary DIY wedding Toggle comments [ 98 ] I sort of subscribe to the 80/20 rule when I think about OBB and reading about weddings in general–if I like, or can understand, or am simply interested in 80% of the stuff on the site, the site is good for me. That means that 20% of the site I may not like, I may not care about, and I may even disagree with or be offended by. What's important is that I find most of the content valuable for one reason or another and that I have a safe space to offer a disagreeing or controversial opinion as long as I do it politely. *That* is what I value about OffbeatBride–it's diverse enough to teach me about all kinds of new stuff, rather than pigeonholing me into a certain kind of "acceptable" offbeat- or traditional-ness, and tolerant enough that I feel safe to say when I don't like or understand something, and either get further information or an agreement to disagree. Good on ya, guys. Thanks for providing the space. 55 agree Reply And that is just the thing.. you can't make everyone happy all at the same time. Life happens, people move on.. It is called being Tolerant of those who you may not get, understand or even like. Hey, we love you, even though there have been things that I for one would not be all that in too, but thats ok. The only thing you can do is to be you. And that should be good enough.. 9 agree Reply I'm glad that you made this post, and I'm glad that offbeat bride exists, and I'm glad that you're sticking to your guns and doing what you do best. You're absolutely right, not everything on the site is going to appeal to everyone on the site, and that's okay. I think this is one of those times we agree to disagree, and find a way to put our opinions up in an adult and mature way. The whole point of offbeat bride is to be a community for the offbeat brides, right? So if a person feels excluded from one part of the website, then obviously you're doing something right, because it's all about being different. I'm from Vancouver Canada, so I happen to get frustrated that none of the ads I see are relevant, but I still love the posts, the ideas (aaand inspiration :P) and particularly reading about how different people approach the wedding tradition in such amazingly different ways. I think that this site is a celebration of humanity. The thing we all have in common here is that we're getting married. Beyond that, all the different things that make this community so colorful are what make this site worthwhile. Although I can't always find what I'm looking for here (like a response to my question in a forum for example) I can rarely find what I'm looking for elsewhere. Anyways, keep up the kick-ass job Ariel. We love the site and have become obsessed with the rest of the empire as well, for all the porn it's worth! xox WestcoastBex 15 agree Reply I could NOT agree more! You perfectly articulated all my thoughts while reading this. I've been anti-marriage/wedding since my first wedding, and because of the alternatives from the mainstream commercial-fest I've seen from this website, I've allowed myself to fall madly in love and desire a marriage again. Not that he didn't have any small part in that process THANK YOU! 2 agree Reply Any site that will use a form letter to defend their right to use the term ass-fucking, or similarly colorful language is alright in my book! Keep on keepin on OBB, and WORK ON YOUR SENSE OF HUMOR PEOPLE! 40 agree Reply This is probably the one of the best things I've read in the Offbeat empire. I've sometimes felt outside the fence because my particular Offbeat-ness doesn't have a handle (ie, steampunk, rockabilly, hippie, goth, or other self identifying term). But for me the authenticity comes not with belonging to a specific niche, but in being true to myself and also in enjoying, or simply learning about other ways things can be done. It's more than an aesthetic romp in counterculture, and I love that. There is a strong element of self exploration, encouragement of growth, and stretching one's comfort zone within your Offbeat world. I just want to say how much I appreciate the result of so much eggshell-treading on your part! 13 agree Reply Just for the record I love the Offbeat-empire and have no complaints. <3 Keep on rockin' it ladies. And ditto to what Amy said cause she is rad too. 9 agree Reply I so agree. I've never found anything on OB that offends me – though I've found plenty outside my personal range of experience. And that's a good thing! I'm not a bride nor even close to being engaged but I come back to this site all the time because it constantly opens my eyes to different views and cultures that I really, truly appreciate. 1 agrees Reply I'm also on board with this. Maybe it's just that I am extremely hard to offend, or very laid back. But when you try to give everyone the appropriate nod towards their identity, it can be so difficult. For what it's worth, I know that this site tries its best to be as acknowledging and respectful of identity as they can be. No one can be perfect, and certainly not a webgroup. It is the internet and a certain amount of wank and waaaaaah is to be expected. We should be so grateful there is something trying to cater to the many varied niches in the world, rather than be limited by what's going to make a majority smirk and nod. Reply I moderate a large forum on the internet. THIS. ALL OF THIS. I love my forum dearly but some of the things that offend them make me 0_o For the record, I and Altared Visions are proud to be fans of any wedding blog that includes the term "ass-fucking". 9 agree Reply Ariel- You're awesome and all of your sites are awesome. If people don't like them, they have the option not to read them… why is this so hard for people to understand? When I come upon a site I don't like, disagree with, or if I got offended by a site, I would just choose to ignore it and move on to find another one. Lighten up people… nobody is forcing you to be here and read/view. 4 agree Reply I really liked this post. I think a lot of people, especially people planning stressful events like weddings, take things way too seriously. When you read a post, just take away from it the ideas that you like and leave out the ideas that you don't. For instance, I love the way a lot of outdoor barbecue weddings are executed but my partner and I are vegan. Does that mean that the people who have meat at their weddings are evil and they are not the kind of people who I should draw inspiration from? Fuck no, it just means I serve seitan instead of pork. There are things on this site I don't always agree with but that happens everywhere I go. Hell, there are lots of things on vegan and vegetarian websites I don't agree with, but that doesn't mean I need to get offended and go on a twelve paragraph rant. If there's a way I can provide constructive criticism I do so and then I move on. 5 agree Reply I feel like Offbeat's not a niche community, it's a tolerant community. And tolerance means being accepting of things you don't agree with, not asking everyone to change their opinion to agree with you. Part of being human is growing, and you can't grow if you're never exposed to anything new! For what it's worth, the people of Offbeat are doing a damn fine job (oops I said a swear) and providing a great service. 16 agree Reply As an avid USA Today reader, I am very offended by this. 20 agree Reply HA!! 16 agree Reply Ha, I knew someone was going to say that! In all seriousness, though: Is there such thing as "an avid USA Today reader"? I only ever see people read USA Today in hotels! I can't wait until this comment offends someone! 1 agrees Reply As an avid hotel-stay-er-in-er, I am seriously offended by this comment. 4 agree Reply I love seeing all the different ways people choose to express their love for each other. It's nice to come over here after reading some other blog sites (that rhyme with shredding me) where everyone is so very mainstream. I like to know there are others who choose to walk "off the beaten aisle" no matter if that's the same path I chose or not! Reply This post actually pissed me off. I'm assuming that most of the people who read this site are people who have been treated badly at one point or another for a lifestyle choice they have either made or had thrusted upon them by the WAY they were made. To then turn around and insist that other people are 'offending them' is just rude and inconsiderate. Tolerance people. Jeez. I personally don't want to be a vegan, or follow a paleo diet, or marry someone of my same sex, or get a sex change, or be a super crunchy mom, or practice non-violence. You get the picture. But I will absolutely defend your right to do those things. Then to turn around and be offended because someone else has made a different choice is hypocritical. People need to get over themselves and get off their high-horse. 11 agree Reply Agreed. I know why the post was written…but what upsets me is that it even had to be written! Can't we all just be happy that OBB is even HERE? 7 agree Reply I want to be clear: this post wasn't written in response to a single precipitating incident. It's a meta-issue that's been a challenge for several years, and something I've been meaning to write about for ages, mostly so that I could refer to the post when future incidents arise … sorta like how I often link to posts like Your wedding is not a contest, Offbeat consumers, and Your wedding is tacky. 1 agrees Reply What's SNL? Reply We all know I hate acronyms, but "SNL" is actually how the Saturday Night Live digital shorts are branded: SNL Digital Shorts. Reply Just to clarify – the post pissed me off because you actually felt you had to write it to defend yourself! Tolerance, tolerance, tolerance jeez…. 3 agree Reply While I definitely appreciate your fervor, I think the issue here is that members of niche communities often feel marginalized — and so there's some EXTRA sensitivity when they find themselves feeling marginalized on a site where they thought they were included. I totally get it, actually. I may not always like it, but I totally get it. 3 agree Reply I'm sorry for all the nonsense that prompted this, but I very much enjoyed perusing your old bitching and ranting posts. Note to self: Explore the archives much more fully later. 2 agree Reply Pretty much concur with all of this. People need to stop being so dingdang sensitive. But just wanted to add that the "squee" portion of this made me LOL. 5 agree Reply Heh. Dingdang. Love it. Reply Hands down, my favourite thing about OBB since I first followed a link down the rabbit hole and found myself here is the insistence on tolerance. There will always be things people don't like, the line of "tacky" is always somewhere, and the real point is to be open to whatever floats our individual boats and not be offended if we prefer different waters to one another. I think we're all richer for being exposed to varying viewpoints, and I'm glad to see stuff I love as well as stuff I'm less partial to here and elsewhere. Part of self discovery is learning where the boundaries of our tastes/preferences are and we can't do that if we like everything we see. Thank you, Ariel and all, for giving us a place that supports us and encourages us to grow at the same time. I love it! 4 agree Reply Ever since the first day I found this blog, I have LOVED it! I don't like every post I see on here. OH FREAKIN WELL. Everyone is entitled to their own unique fantabulous damn wedding day! My first wedding was Offbeat Lite. If I ever marry again, my next wedding will definitely be Offbeat full-on! Hell, I can't decide whether to fantasize about a 20's speakeasy wedding or wearing Jedi robes! All I know is that this blog will be where I come to troll for inspiration! Rock on Ariel!! Reply I gots nothing better to say than, YOU'RE SUCH A BADASS ARIEL!!! Just even trying to imagine the task of moderating such a diverse community makes my head hurt, and you do it with such aplomb. I admire you. 3 agree Reply Oh Ariel, I am sorry that people keep bitching at you because you would *dare* to have an awesome and all-inclusive website to celebrate a vast range of diversity. I can only hope that when people are writing to correct you on the usage of a term or to enlighten you as to what a particular subculture is all about, that they are doing so in a polite and respectful manner. I love your site. I love your book. I may not identify with a lot of the bride profiles or shop at the vendors, but I can appreciate the posts for their own loveliness. Thank you for all that you do. 2 agree Reply My friend Lucy and I were discussing recently the irony of fellow alternatives/offbeats being some of the most intolerant people we've ever met. I speculate that it's because our offbeatness is born of passion. Sometimes we believe in something so strongly that we think everyone else should too, and we cross the line from justifying our choices into evangelism and judgment. I used to be more that way until I had kids; I hated feeling judged by other moms and resolved to treat them as I wanted to be treated. That philosophy seeped into everything else too. My former La Leche League leader summed it up by saying, "Take what you need and leave the rest." Focus on what we have in common and just let the differences be, respect that we're all in different places and stages. I am not normally an Offbeat Bride follower, but I love that I can find these links through the other empire sites too. I highly admire the no-drama commenting policy and I'm so glad you wrote this; very well said, and a unique insight into your perspective. 5 agree Reply Love you, Ariel. 6 agree Reply Apparently I'm pretty hard to offend. I've read the majority of stuff on here and never been offended by any of it. I've seen stuff I don't like, but I just skip it, or occasionally google it and get even more confused. My philosophy is pretty much that you're never going to find another person who exactly shares all your opinions, thoughts and feelings, so you'll always disagree with someone about something. If anything it just makes like more interesting. 3 agree Reply Dear Offbeat Bride, I love you just the way you are. Hugs! Fionzilla 4 agree Reply I love you and your website, thanks for being yourself and allowing all of us to be ourselves in this space. As a survivor of the wedding industry, I was so pleased to find this site. I wish I knew of you years ago when I was deep in the Debutante Ball Wedding Industry of the Deep South. My husband and I could not handle the pressures of planning, and when my sister/MOH got knocked up with a due date of our supposed wedding date and wouldn't be able to make it, and then our venue fell through, we did a "fuck it" flash-mob wedding in January at the Getty in Los Angeles with just our closets siblings and friends. It was amazing and we don't regret a thing. However we still need you. We are now planning a reception party for our families and friends; it's easier now that we're married, but still it is pressure. Every time I come here, I get more ideas and inspiration, and validation that we're Doing It Right, even if it's going to be a BBQ in our new back yard and we're pretty much doing it all ourselves, and people have said: "you're already married, what's the point?" (Yeeeah…. you're off the list.) Cheers to you, you're wonderful for helping out offbeat brides and vendors alike. xoxox Reply If I was in love with everything I saw on Offbeat Bride, I'd be quickly bored to tears. 1 agrees Reply All I have to say to the people who complain about swearing is: Shit. Piss. Fuck. Cunt. Cocksucker. Motherfucker. Tits. (Thanks, George Carlin) 12 agree Reply I'm a grad student & teaching assistant in Women & Gender Studies, and the absolute hardest thing (and most important thing) that I end up trying to communicate to undergrads is that we need to genuinely try to take care of each other. It's hard to do that when everyone is only thinking of themselves. There's a great term, the "Race to Innocence" (Razack & Fellows) that refers to when we use our own marginalization to answer questions about the places where we are possibly complicit in the oppression of others… when we recognize the places where we are subordinated but not the places where we are positioned as dominant. I would never want to silence anyone… However, not only does it gets really tedious when it feels like everyone needs everything catered to their own interests only, but it's super problematic. There are bound to be clashes on OBB (for example: food politics can be classist, as well as can clash with cultural and religious expectations) – but I really take comfort in knowing there's a resource that's 80% for me (thanks Sarah!), and that is open to these kinds of conversations without allowing a free-for-all of claims to subordination. (Note: We are not talking about oppression here with these complaints on OBB – I think that to blanketly imply so would be stretching the word 'oppression' to the point of meaninglessness – I'm just drawing a parallel with discussions about systematic oppressions and how they intersect.) 3 agree Reply I have nothing but respect for people that stick to their guns and remain true to themselves. When my wife and I were planning our wedding, we checked out OBB all the time… we may not have liked everything we saw (some of it was WAY too much for us), but what in the hell would be the point of looking at a blog that didn't challenge us, or expand our vision, or provide new insights or ideas. I mean, isn't that the whole point of blogging and reading blogs? Or reading anything, for that matter? People who spend their whole lives poring over material that doesn't challenge them are wasteful. I've learned more about what I do believe by reading about things I don't believe. Also, I know people probably hate the wedding porn thing, but I betcha they've clicked it. I sure as hell did. Of course, I'm a guy. A Groom Kong. 1 agrees Reply I do have to say I love what the first lady said. 80/20 (not just for healthcare anymore!!) 80% of what I see on here I love love love. Actually I'd go more like 95/5 instead. And someone else said be true to yourself. So here I am like the only one saying this. I hate the f word. I grew up not saying the f word and I never do. I don't like it and thats my thing. I also don't like the "r" word (ugh, 'retarded', had to explain or else people would think I meant rotund or something!) I don't like it for the same reasons the term "thats so gay" is a derogatory term as well. It's been misused and abused as something ugly. I had friends who were mentally and physically challenged growing up and it killed me hearing them being taunted. Then as the term grew popular I heard it elsewhere to describe people, situations, outfits, cars you name it. Anything different or considered ugly. But like my dislike of the 'f' word, that is a part of me, always will be. Just because I don't like the use of the f word won't make me stop reading. Because I love OBB and ALL it stands for good ideas, awesome articles and I guess four lettered bombs. Reply If only more people refrained from writing a person or idea off completely just because they disagreed with a portion of what that person stood for. I really appreciated your comment! 2 agree Reply For the record, I think you do an amazing job and truly inspired me with my wedding. Keep up the good work! Reply Part of why I love offbeat bride is because there are so may different people and experiences being shared in the posts and in the comments. This is the one place where I can read the comments and NOT feel like I'm watching a daytime soap opera. This has been a haven for me when I normally feel like most places try to be so "everyone-friendly", overly politically correct – in other words, very bland. I like seeing things I know nothing about, I like being a little bit offended, but in an educational sense. I dig you all! Reply The funny thing is I think OBB actually has more success with being 'everyone friendly'. It may not be perfectly politically correct and they aren't trying to make everything right for everyone but the fact that they're willing to include anything and aren't going to put anyone down for their choices (I've seen some constructive critisism but that's different) works much better than trying to identify and avoid potentially offensive words whilst effectively saying "your lifestyle is not something we want to be associated with and you really need to hide it if you want anyone else to accept you on your wedding day", which is pretty much the message I get from most wedding resources. Reply Although I don't usually identify with any of the niches that are being profiled in Wedding porn for weeks at a time (that's what I get for being Offbeat Lite and an Academic Feminist/Anthropologist) I feel that my views on relationships and weddings/marriages are best reflected on Offbeat Bride over any other wedding blog. I read other wedding blogs and although I like them, the tone is a little smothering and all about the COUPLE that you are, not the individuals that you are. So yay for the tone being perfect regardless of the niche! 2 agree Reply Hate to say it, but people like to rant on the internet. I'm sure some of the complaints were genuine, but by and large I notice folks just like to get all self-righteous and indignant. If you can disarm them by not getting defensive and attempt a real conversation, I notice they quickly disappear. Which indicates to me it was mostly about the entertainment value for them, and having someone acknowledge them, and never really about the subject of their rant. 1 agrees Reply With Offbeat readers, it's mostly about acknowledgement. Thankfully we don't have a ton of ranters… it's more along the lines of "How COULD you?" As I mentioned up-thread, I think it comes down to members of marginalized groups being extra sensitive because they're caught off-guard by feeling marginalized HERE, of all places. A lot of these emails come with complaints about "I thought Offbeat meant…[fill in the blank about what it means to them]," which is honestly great market research for me. I wasn't just paying lip service when I said I appreciate all the feedback — it's really educational for me to hear how people relate to the sites and the content. I don't always (or even often) do what's requested, but it's always interesting. Reply Just want to say how much I looooooove youuuuuu. You're great! Reply I can understand why some of the men and women who read Offbeat Bride are a little annoyed right now with the post. I 100% understand where Ariel is coming from though, so I see both sides of the issue. I'm very laid back on things, but even I become very frustrated with the way our culture (speaking of American culture, regardless of heritage), has become. When did we become so spineless? Such bleeding-hearts? I consider myself one of those nasty, NPR supporting, pro-homeless shelter building, evil Liberals, and even I cringe when I see other Liberals feel a need to bend just a little bit backward to "accommodate" the needs of more conservative social groups that, quite frankly, already have the market cornered. But, deep down, I know I do this all the time, even if I hate myself a bit for doing so (NOT suggesting Ariel does!! Not 'assuming' anything of any nature either! I just want to completely clear on that!). It would go against my good conscious if I completely disregarded another human being's feelings on a matter. Maybe it's the two-edged sword of being a Liberal: on one hand, we are pro-people, on the other, we are, well, pro-people. However, because I am one of those evil, pro-people kind of Liberals, naturally I want to embrace everyone, even hope to help them understand other social groups around them. Unfortunately, a closed mind is a closed mind, and very little can be done until they choose to open the little door inside their mind, or board it up (the "My Son is Gay" post on Offbeat Mama comes to mind here). Notice Ariel is not being apologetic here. It's not as though she is apologizing for the language, the content, or how more conservative brides with dreams of a white wedding are dismayed with the flashes of patent leather and hot pink dresses. She's just saying that she does recognize and acknowledge their viewpoint, like a good Liberal should (remember, Liberals are for the people, even people they may feel run counter-culture to their own ethics and values. It's what sets us apart from conservatives who, lets face it, typically only help their own). I'm not trying to start an argument on Liberal verses Conservative here. I am just making a point that Ariel is an outspoken Liberal, and as one, I understand her dilemma here. She is being a genuinely good, well-meaning Liberal by showing she does see the flip side of the coin, regardless of whether she agrees or disagrees on their viewpoint. Reply Super interesting comment. I am definitely a liberal (although conservative by my family's standards), but for me the issues people have with Offbeat Bride aren't an issue of conservative/liberal. I've gotten equal complaints from both sides of the spectrum. Some more conservative readers find Offbeat Bride too out there — too much swearing, and those tacky nerds and weird gothic people. But then progressive at times find us too conservative — we're just another heteronormative wedding blog full of middle class couples having "weddings white people like," with a boringly-trendy colorful twist. That said, while I may be a good liberal, I'm also an entrepreneur. Being tolerant is more than about good values — it's good business. Why would I want to turn away a portion of my market by making them feel excluded/marginalized? (Who sounds like a Conservative now, hmmmmm? ;)) 3 agree Reply Like many others, I stumbled across Offbeat Bride when [major wedding website] started to feel like its' business model was making me feel inadequate so that I would buy more stuff. This blog caught my interest because the emphasis on common sense and rational thought felt so liberating. (Is it sad that published common sense is liberating?) However, since I decided to stick around the blog, one of the most interesting parts of being here has been the exposure to lifestyles, choices and sexuality that are _totally_ different than mine. I consider myself a fairly liberal, queer friendly kinda girl. I have friends and family of a variety of kinds of queer, and I've heard their unique (and also perfectly normal) challenges and problems. The post on jealousy in a polyamourous relationship got me started watching the BDSM/polyamory group. I've seen exactly one poly relationship, and it didn't begin or end well for the girl I knew who was in it. She felt abused, miserable, and degraded by the whole process and since then, I haven't thought much about polyamory other than seeing her so miserable for so long. Reading that group was the first time I've ever seen people explain how and why they're making the choices that they are, in a way that is respectful of all parties, and makes perfect sense. I'll have a lot more respect and understanding for poly folks if I come across any than I would have based on my previous experience. (I do like to think that I am generally respectful of nearly everyone I meet, but respect for someone in spite of their beliefs is different than respect for someone that also includes respecting the logic of their beliefs) So- these niche groups also serve another useful purpose: education. I'm happy to have been schooled. I think it's nearly certain that I would never have come across the frank discussions I've read here in another setting. 1 agrees Reply This post made me squee. I like how this relates to wedding planning too. It seems it's impossible to please everyone. The moral of the story is ignore the haters and do what YOU want. Reply I think it's also worth bearing in mind that it's possible to gain a lot from reading Offbeat Bride without ever actually seeing a single thing you would use. Correct me if I'm wrong but I think Offbeat Bride isn't so much about offering affirmation or ideas for any particular lifestyles as offering an alternative to mainstream wedding culture which seems to be largely about ways to hide who you are in order to conform to who you "should be" on your wedding day. This is the only wedding site I visit on a regular basis and I never buy the magazines etc. so I sometimes forget just how rare it is to see a bride in a non-white dress (or in some cases a non-white bride!), or even an informal wedding or a non-religious ceremony. When I do dip back into the mainstream it really brings home how easy it would be to feel like you are the only person in the world who ever tried to do anything differently and that can get very intimidating very quickly. Even if they're not doing the exact same things seeing other couples break away from the mainstream and make it work is incredibly reassuring. (Case in point: Other Wedding Site's "Do Something Different" tip of the day – 'why not rent a vintage car instead of a limo?') Reply I love off beat bride. Keep doding what you are doing. 1 agrees Reply If it wasn't for this website site at all, I do no think I would have gotten some kickass ideas for my wedding or if there was not going to be a wedding at all. For the most part, keep doing what you are doing as a writer Ariel and owner of Offbeat empire. Hell my fiance's is happy about this website and likes some of the ideas other offbeat brides have share with me. Hell it has also give me a place to vent and bitch since I do not have a lot of close friends. So keep bitching, writing, and ranting…we still love you! Reply I'm probably a little more "traditional" than most of the brides on this site, but I find that even the most outrageous and crazy offbeat weddings (while I might not want them for myself) still offer great insipiration. I often find little nuggets of ideas or advice I can use even if the wedding itself wouldn't suit me. (Same goes for some traditional and stuffy weddings.) Reply You know, one of the things I love about Offbeat Bride is that USUALLY, disagreements, feelings of being offended, etc. become constructive and interesting discussions instead of degenerating into silliness. So, even when people ARE offended – a good conversation can happen. It's the culture promoted by the moderators that allows so many of those productive, DIFFICULT conversations to happen. That's why the site promotes something way better than "tolerance." Tolerance implies a hierarchy – I have the right and the power to "tolerate" something I consider lesser, inferior. This site, and the groups, don't tolerate. They are diverse groups that at their core engage, accept, promote that diversity. Learn from each other as equal participants. And provide some kick-ass ideas too! 2 agree Reply This is a wonderful, well-written post and the philosophy translates to pretty much every community on the internet. The person who created the community/website makes the rules and if you don't like it, either suck it up, or go somewhere else. 1 agrees Reply Having bacon for breakfast, I can't say the "cruelty free" comments ever offended me. This is a strong passion for some people, and it's food, it doesn't hurt me if they want to eat something else. As for swearing, I curse like a sailor, so I can't say it bugs me. Being offbeat light doesn't make me feel disconnected from these ballsy brides, personally. I cheer them on, and they inspire me to put my foot down on things I really wanted (like my red shoes. I can compromise with the best of them, but I'm not wearing white shoes and that's final, thanks OBB!). What I'm trying to say is that, I fell in love with this website for it's diversity and fluidity. While other wedding sites have strict rules, OBB has this freeing sense where I can unwind. Instead of comments like "OMG, you CAN'T do that, it's not tradition!!" or "Well MY wedding went like this, so your marriage is less worthy of lasting than mine" there's encouragement. I love it. And anyone who has a problem with it is completely missing the point of this site. And I'll drink to that. 1 agrees Reply Ariel, I think you're doing a great job. This is the most supportive, welcoming forum on all the nets. I bet an overwhelming majority of people here feel that support and love here. Keep up the good work. 1 agrees Reply So, all I have to say is, thank you for linking to the old-school bitchy rant tagged posts, because reading them is putting a smile on my face Reply So many of our offbeatness seem to be traditional for us. Propose to him – done by my fmil in the 70's. Wear a non white prom dress – done by my Gran in the 50's. So our offbeat wedding plans turn out to be somewhat traditional but I really don't need the rant Labels really freak me out and the expectations around the label. The offbeat emprire made me realise that I'm normal and that I can rock my universe my own way. Reply Ariel: I'm always reader, never the writer, but just wanted to let you know, you're doing amazing job. There's a Polish proverb: "a person who satisfied everyone is yet to be born". You got pretty close to it. OBB is a burst of a fresh air in the white/ivory vanilla wedding world. It doesn't mean, that white/ivory vanilla is bad. Live and let live. And since I'm repeating what was said before, I won't be offended, if you won't publish my comment 4 agree Reply Read more comments 1 2 › Join the conversation Cancel Reply Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked * Comment Notify me of follow-up comments by email. 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