Are offbeat weddings trendy?

trendy offbeat bride

Recently, this question came up on the Offbeat Bride Tribe:

Through my past two years looking into wedding things, I've noticed more and more of a push for "offbeat" in the mainstream. It got me to thinking, has being "offbeat" become the new wedding trend? I keep seeing things like funky hair colors, mix-match colors, DIY items sold for tons by the wedding industry, etc. etc.

I am having mixed feelings about this, mostly because I enjoy the offbeat look and it's also been a way to be more cost effective as opposed to the "traditional" wedding. My fear is that as this becomes the new most trendy thing in the Wedding Industry, sure we will see more available offbeat options, but the demand and costs will sky-rocket to fit the greedy Wedding Industry prices.

Ok, so let's talk about this.

Has offbeat gone mainstream?

obb compared trafficBefore I get to the concept of nontraditional weddings have become trendy, first I have to address whether Offbeat Bride specifically has gone mainstream. Certainly, the growing popularity of Offbeat Bride over the last five years is steady and strong (we have 2.2 million pageviews a month, which is significant) … but the last time this question came up, I used cold hard web stats to answer it. These stats which confirm that Offbeat Bride is still a lightweight compared to mainstream sites like The Knot and Martha Stewart Weddings. There are always going to be more people interested in Style Me Pretty's more accessible take on weddings. Offbeat Bride may be growing in popularity, but we are still pretty fringe.

Based on web traffic (which, as a web publisher is what's most important to me), then my first answer is no: offbeat weddings have not gone mainstream. Then the question becomes this: have corners (and maybe even whole hallways) of the wedding industry woken up to the fact that nontraditional weddings are a viable business market? Yes. Absolutely yes, and if you think that's a bad thing, well, I hate to tell you this — I am to blame. Offbeat Bride is a business… and even more than that, it's become an industry node. A whole niche wedding industry has sprung up around this site.

Offbeat Wedding Industrial Complex

I heard from one of our early ad clients recently. She IMed me last week to tell me that when she surveyed her readers, 40% of them were STILL coming from Offbeat Bride, almost four years after her first ad. I'll keep her anonymous, but you know who she is. She makes distinctive wedding accessories that are duplicated so extensively that they're basically a micro industry in themselves. She now supports her family with her small business and has several employees. This is, without a doubt, the very coolest part of my job: helping little tiny indie businesses blossom by sharing their awesomeness on the website. I am a farmer of awesome blossoms!

While this is warm and fuzzy, it also means that yes: offbeat weddings have indeed become their own industrial complex. (I suppose we could call it the OWIC, if you're into acronyms — which we all know I'm not.) There's a whole tiny micro market of artisans and designers and planners and jewelers who make their living off of you and your wedding. The real question is — does this mean you'll pay more for your wedding stuffs? I haven't seen this to be the case.

What does an offbeat wedding look like?

I'd like to comment on the whole concept of an "offbeat aesthetic." While there are absolutely visual trends that come and go through offbeat weddings, I think the core unifying value of an Offbeat Bride wedding is authenticity to the couple. If there are trends in offbeat weddings, it's because they're reflecting the interests of the couples getting married — and interests roll in trends. Is the wedding trendy because it's offbeat, or is the wedding just reflecting the trends that ripple through our shared collective lifestyles and cultures?

As an obsessive people-watcher and trend spotter, I looove watching these patterns roll through the amazing people we feature on this site. I've said many times that what I love most about Offbeat Bride isn't the weddings themselves — I've never really cared about weddings, even my own! Before Offbeat Bride: Creative Alternatives For Independent Brides was published, I pitched a book called Left Coast Landscapes: Culture and lifestyle with west coast weirdos. Perhaps wisely, my New York lit agent told me no one in hell would buy THAT fucking book, but they MIGHT buy a book about wedding planning. So I wrote a wedding book — about how weirdos get married.

Trendy: it's not a bad word

People-watching is one of those endeavors that improves as you age. As I move through my mid-30s, I'm realizing that I've got almost 20 years of trend-watching and pop culture obsessing and subculture ogling to call on. I feel like I start to see patterns and fractals spidering through the cultural trends — it's like I'm staring at the stars on acid, but the stars are wedding trends… MAN! I'm kidding, but seriously: I love watching trends and watching cultures morph and shift. I love learning about new pockets of culture I didn't even know existed.

This is all to say: trends are FUCKING AWESOME. I realize that not everyone loves them like I do, and that some people eschew being affected by trends. Some people eschew it so hard, that it's like they're always watching to see what's become trendy so that they can officially stop liking it, because it's OVER. This bar? It's over.

(Sorry for the hulu link, non-US readers! This Portlandia video isn't available on youtube. :( )

Or as one Offbeat Bride Tribe member said:

I'll admit, I was beyond pissed when stuff I've loved forever, like old beat up apothecary equipment and rustic industrial factory stuffs, became the new "in" thing, mainly because it made it harder for me to GET this stuff now that I'm old enough to buy it — but it also felt like a betrayal.

"I've loved these things since before they were cool. I was decidedly uncool for ages, and put my time in. I deserve these things, not you! You don't care about them, you just care about being trendy!"

The relief is that these things are cyclical; people will eventually get bored with flea markets, and neon Chucks under designer gowns. Dresses will eventually go back to having sleeves, roses will come back into favor, and the world will carry on. The subcultures will get their mojo back (at deeply discounted prices!)

We are all sheeple

The trend-averse reactive response — I totally get it. It doesn't always feel good to feel like a sheep. We're all special snowflakes, aren't we? Yes, we're all snowflakes — exactly the same in our perceptions of our somehow-differentness. The truly amazing book/photo project Exactitudes pretty much nailed that discussion for me. Back in 2004, I was flipping through the book, laughing at all the "we're all different in the same way!" studies of sheeple, and then I came to this page:


The description of the set read, in its charming ESL poetry:

Children of the flouro force, creative DIY girls, running up hip outfits, spontaneous fruits in the chill-out room, spaced out on laughing gas.

I blinked. I stammered. This identity that I had worked so hard for, that I had molded and carefully tended like a bonsai tree, that I thought of as truly ME — it was summed up by some photographers in Rotterdam, describing a bunch of girls who had tended their own careful bonsai trees. These weren't my people — these were people on the other side of the planet doing the EXACT SAME FUCKING THING AS ME! I was in my late-20s when I had this realization: we're all sheep in some form or another. We are social creatures, and we are navigating through our lives in proximity to each other, and this proximity translates into cultural trends.

It's not a bad thing. I swear. Not if you're awake about it, and aware of the influences around you. One old raver friend summarized this as "scene not herd." It's not a bad thing to be part of a scene or trend — you just need to be self-aware enough to recognize it and examine it to make sure it's what you really want. You can't fall asleep at the wheel, but you don't have to pull over and get out of the car.

Aesthetic patterns & editorial fatigue

So, yes, there are trends. But then there's the next question: is there an "offbeat aesthetic." We make a point to feature weddings that scatter as widely as possible along the aesthetic spectrum. Certainly we see clusters of wedding styles — the UK red dress retro weddings, the American folksy chic DIY aesthetic, the steamy/noir/gothic stuff, the sci-fi/cosplay and historical fringe, etc etc. But we also have featured simple, stripped down weddings that don't have much of an aesthetic at all — people standing in the mountains holding hands, or walking down the non-aisle with not a single decoration.

Do I "look down" on a wedding that features a design element I've seen many times? …Are you kidding!?

Certainly there are visual trends that come in waves. We have a super secret "editorial fatigue" list of concepts that have gotten over-exposure. (And no: I'm not telling you what's on it.) I don't see these over-exposed trends as in any way bad — for me, it's not an issue of taste. It's simply a matter of editorial quality. That's part of being a publisher; you think about content on a meta-level. Do I "look down" on a wedding that features a design element I've seen many times? ….Are you kidding!? People do not (and should not) plan their wedding with a publisher in mind. "Editorial variety" is not a factor in your wedding planning.

If you're having an offbeat wedding, your goal is crafting a wedding that feels like an authentic, genuine reflection of who you are — and that includes those of you who are trendy dilettantes who dabble in aesthetics.

Following trends vs. finding your authentic vision

I say this as exactly that kind of trendy dilettante. This weekend marks the seventh anniversary of my and Dre's wedding. It's starting to be long enough ago that trends have moved on and shifted. I look at my wedding and aspects of it are dated — my outfit is very much reflective of who I was at the time, just like the outfit I'm wearing as I type this is also dated. My aesthetic has never aimed for descriptors like "a timeless classic" or "a modern vintage." I love novelty in fashion, and so of course that means my 2004 wedding dress is going to look a little dated in 2011.

But the core of my wedding celebration? The part where we're camping with friends and family, being in nature, dressing up, relaxing in the grass, celebrating under the stars, and sleeping in the forest? That was so timeless that we do it every freaking year at what's become known as Meadowfabulous.

camp Meadowfab
Photo from Meadowfabulous 2009
Ellen
My friend Ellen, living the Meadowfab dream -- silly hats and beers in the woods.

In this way, because my wedding was focused on what was most important to us (the camping/celebrating part), it's totally timeless. Being in the woods wasn't an aesthetic choice — it just is who we are. I didn't see pictures of a forested wedding and decide "Ooh, that's what I want for my thing!" I was a person raised in the woods marrying a dude also raised in the woods, so we got married in the woods.

If the "offbeat aesthetic" is "your wedding reflecting who you are," then it's hard to worry about it being co-opted or whored out or jacked up by an industry. The offbeat industry that's sprung up around this website isn't looking to secretly exploit you — they want to help you craft a wedding to meet your own visions.

Wait, what was I talking about?

Ok, ok. So let's reel it back in here. Lemme see if I can summarize:

  • offbeat still in the minority
  • but yes it's a trend, and that's not a bad thing
  • and yes it's an industry, but that's not a bad thing either
  • doesn't really matter though, as long as you're authentic to your own vision

Final note: it's odd to notice how my views on trends and culture have evolved as I've gotten older. For me, once I got into my 30s, I felt sort of freed from trends-as-shackles that I'd experienced in my 20s. I felt like I had permission to like or not like whatever, regardless. The cheezy fucking music I adore, that my music snob friends look down on? Meh, that's cool. We don't have to like the same music. The differences in parenting styles and philosophies? There's a reason Offbeat Mama has a category called "It worked for me!" Different things work for different people. It's cool. I feel like I'm more aware of how these trends interplay, and less triggered to be reactive. I'm excited to see how it evolves in my 40s.

  1. One place I've seen a lot of offbeat-wedding talk is in media about the cost of weddings. There seems to be some backlash about how expensive some weddings are these days, and when people talk about an antidote to cost they often bring up less-traditional solutions–DIY, creative locations, etc. I think that being thrifty and not over-the-top is trendy these days, so that often requires the creativity and intentionality of an offbeat wedding.

    19 agree
  2. My thoughts: Shouldn't be celebrate the fact that brides are embracing what it is that THEY want to do? Is it just a terror of not having a "mainstream" to rebel against?
    I work for a southern magazine company and we publish two bridal magazines a year featuring local "wow" weddings. Few weddings I've seen were perfectly in line with bridal tradition. Brides are incorporating details from their family heritage, fun themes, crazy cakes, colorful accessories, locally-sourced food… and these are $25,000+ weddings where brides wouldn't THINK of wearing anything but white. (Though I did see a wedding that I desperately wanted the couple to submit to OBB. SO CUTE.)
    My point being–I love it! I love seeing brides putting themselves into their weddings instead of going through the motions for the sake of the people around them. These brides meticulously choose details to reflect who they are while operating within the framework of the appearances of a traditional wedding. I applaud their work and I think it's wonderful to see so many brides choosing to spend their budgets in really conscious ways. (Many of the brides use etsy, biodegradable "silverware", local bridal boutiques, locally-grown produce and other "trendy" stuff that are Offbeat favorites. And yes, I've seen mustaches and photobooths and buntings.)

    19 agree
    • Is it just a terror of not having a "mainstream" to rebel against? HA!! Yes.

      13 agree
  3. Ariel, This commentary is the reason I keep coming back to Offbeat Bride, Offbeat Mama, and Offbeat Home. Perhaps it is because I am in the same stage of life as you. It's what I see as maturity/life experience meets individual spunkiness. Thank you and all of those who work with Offbeat Empire for letting me feel like I "fit" while simultaneously "standing out".

    12 agree
  4. Getting married outdoors can (and does) cost more than getting married in a church. My wedding reception in a museum is going to cost a lot more than the same thing in a country club. It's not just about thrift.

    I think the general point is that everyone wants to look unique, and so a lot of people are having cookie-cutter uniqueness. A librarian having a literature themed wedding might be touchingly significant, whereas someone who barely knows how to read having the same wedding because she likes the flowers made of pages from a book just ISN'T.

    As Ariel has said time and again – Offbeat is a misnomer. Authentic is what we're aiming for.

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    • I think you hit the nail on the head with "authentic", as opposed to offbeat for the sake of being offbeat. The problem with setting up oneself as the antithesis of the "mainstream" is the tendency to identify solely in opposition, losing track of what is important. It really shouldn't matter how "mainstream" something is- staying true to one's own identity and beliefs (authenticity again!) is what we should all strive for.

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    • I agree but I think you have to be very careful when applying this logic to other peoples weddings.

      It's like the endless online arguments about who is entitled to call themselves a "true fan" of a band or a sports team or a TV show or whatever. Is the true fan the guy with the season ticket who's at every game kitted out head to foot in merchandise, or the guy who saved up all the money he could reasonably spare for one ticket to one game? Or the guy who lives too far away to even make one game but still supports the team because his father and grandfather did before him? Maybe it's all of them, or none.

      When you get into talking about other peoples intentions and what their choices mean to them it can seem very easy to identify who is being more sincere but it's virtually impossible to know because you rarely have all the details. Maybe she wanted to be a librarian but was talked out of it because her family percieved it as a low paying or hard to get into job. Maybe flowers made from book pages mean the world to her but she can't find a way to clearly articulate that, or it hasn't occured to her that she needs to justify her choice at all.

      Of course you could be completely right. But the point is it's rarely a good idea to assume you understand another persons intentions.

      23 agree
  5. I think my father-in-law-in-waiting summed it up better than I could:

    "You're not having an untraditional wedding to be different but having a traditional wedding that's true to you both and that's what matters."

    7 agree
  6. Great post! I've heard a lot of people say. "You shouldn't wear ___, because you are going to look back at your wedding photos and they will look dated." We have to DO what feel right not WEAR clothes and hair that will be at the height of fashin for ever…

    1 agrees
    • I wrote in my book about datedness being a goal — I wanted my wedding to reflect the time when it happened.

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      • As my new partner/husband kept saying: the marriage is forever, but the wedding has a date! We shoudln't be afraid to let our weddings reflect the time in which they occurred – look how much we're loving the vintage snacks! And it will be a great reminder of who you were when you married, and how you have evolved. He loved reading that part of your book.

        8 agree
    • If anyone says this to me during my planning, I'm going to go grab all their wedding albums (which they've shown me multiple times at various ages) and open them up and go "You mean like this?".

      I will look precisely like I mean to on my wedding day, just like they did.

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  7. I could not love this post enough Ariel! To be authentic to self (as individuals and as a couple) is above all the most important goal – not conforming to either tradition or trend that carry no personal meaning. Being who you are is embracing it even if it's now trendy.

    Well written as always!

    4 agree
  8. I'll never forget my mum summing up my fluoro handmade tutu, blue fishnets, army shirt and statement t- shirts as a uniform. Didn't she know how different my clothes were? How dare she say I was a part of something!
    Now I look at electro kids and think damn it, she was right, we were all different shades of the same thing!
    I think another part to this is the fact that people are now far more aware of the big bad conglomerate boys and a little more attuned to the indie cindies who are making a far better job of making something that is completely "us" rather than being told what we want!
    Bravo Ariel! Awesome bit of writing!

    1 agrees
  9. Sometimes I'll go to a wedding and the couple won't even have found me on here (or may not have mentioned it)- but I can immediately tell something's up. "Have you been reading Offbeat Bride?" I'll ask, and I am always right. In my experience no two of these weddings are alike, I mean there are commonalities, but aesthetically they are unique. There's just something very OBB about them. Also these weddings have always been awesome. Without exception.

    So while I agree that Offbeat or 'alternative' weddings are deffinitly trendy, I would say first of all: Thank goodness, and second of all in my experience Offbeat Brides somehow maintain their autonomy within that trend.

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  10. OK, Ariel – I've always been a fan of your take on things but, as of this piece, I now have a fantasy in which I get to go back to high school and have all my subjects taught by you. I would've payed MUCH better attention. ;)

    2 agree
  11. Trends? Fashion? So not important. What's 'offbeat' here is the acceptance of all these different cultures and sub-cultures, regardless of if it's "in" or not. It's not something I see in these other wedding websites, and it's the biggest reason why I keep coming back to this one.

    16 agree
  12. Great post! The way I see it is that we're all humans; in nature, there are hardly any inherently distinguishing traits that individual animals within a species have that set them apart from others like themselves. We're lucky to have so many different traits that make us individual, but we're still all humans — there's bound to be repetition and similar thinking between us all. That's why, as you said, trends are cyclical. And I think that's actually pretty cool.

    When it comes to weddings, no matter how offbeat we are, we're still taking part in a tradition that's thousands of years old. Again, there's bound to be some repetition. :)

    2 agree
  13. For me, I had a thought that "Wow, people are starting to wear different color Chucks in every wedding now. It must be the new "in" thing to do." When I mentioned it to my boyfriend he pointed out "It's not really a trend. It's just something you've seen plenty of times on Offbeat Bride and you are now more aware of it. The more you read, the more you see plenty of it, so you become more aware of it. Hence it looks like it's trendy when it's not." I think he made a good point.

    Look at the tags for each wedding. One is for steampunk. Granted, I haven't seen that many steampunk weddings (none in person) but if I were to read about every steampunk wedding featured here, it would seem as if everyone is doing it.

    I definitely agree with those who say it's more about being authentic to who you are as a couple rather than following some checklist of do's and don'ts. It's when your offbeat wedding is onbeat with who you are.

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    • I totally agree. It may seem like there are more offbeat weddings because look where we are — a site dedicated to them! We're in this world. But when I emerge from my "geeky" space to visit a more traditional wedding site, read a magazine or (shudder) go a wedding show, the more traditional elements are still dominant even if there is the odd superhero-themed cake in the mix somewhere.

      I think if a couple does their wedding for themselves and they love it enough, it won't matter if someone else has something similar. For example, every wedding I or a family member has attended in the last year has had a photobooth but my fiance and I still booked one because they're so much fun, not because of or despite being trendy. We just want one!

      0 agree
  14. Personally I'd love it if offbeat weddings did become mainstream. As Ariel said in the article ultimately offbeat means doing what's right for you, regardless of what anyone else would do or is doing and personally I think that would be an awesome attitude for everyone to have.

    Imagine if everyone felt free to do what means the most to them rather than what's traditional or fasionable or expected. And on top of that if everyone else understood and expected instead of acting as if the world was going to end because they want nonfloral centerpieces or whatever. I think it'd make a lot of people happier, and make wedding planning much less stressful as well.

    And if the wedding industry does start producing and selling 'offbeat' wedding supplies, so what? The places they're currently bought or aquired from aren't going to stop. Just like you can currently choose between ordering pre-made floral bouquets from a florist or buying/growing the flowers seperately and assembling your own you could choose between buying mason jars with sand and tealight candles in them for $50 each (for example) or collecting the supplies and making your own for less.

    4 agree
  15. We actually just got married 3 weeks ago tomorrow. We've always been a little "offbeat" in our own day to day lives..we like a huge variety of music, theater, entertainment, etc…and are almost always up for anything.

    The first thing we did to make our wedding offbeat was refuse to take money from anyone. We didnt want the obligation to have to conform to anyone else's ideals about what our wedding should be. Sure we pulled things from OBB that we totally fell in love with (ring warming ceremony, Wai-Ching! and Jonas Seaman!), but ultimately we even made those things our own.

    The most important thing was always staying true to who we are and what our lives together have been like. For some family that was there, it was a little surprising. And in those ways it felt like a coming out party (even though we're heterosexual). We heard all the "oh my!" and "you cant do ______" and just ignored it. And it was AMAZING!

    The trendiest thing we ever did was fall in love and decide to get married and I think that is A-OK! :) Thank you for yet another great post!

    3 agree
  16. Monty Python's 'The Life of Brian':
    Brian: "Look, you are all individuals."
    Crowd: "Yes, we are all individuals."
    Little guy in corner: "I'm not."

    I've always been fond of that little guy in the corner, he knew what was what. ;)

    19 agree
  17. I love this article, but I don't know if I would say off beat weddings are so much trending but I think the wedding rules and standards are changing. I think the weddings in the 20s &30s where different from the ones in the 60s & 70s. Everything evolves and I think that is what is happening. I actually think its a good thing that weddings are going toward the couple and how they really are instead of having it to your grandmas standards.thats how they should be any ways and I think this generation of brides might be opening there eyes alittle more to that.

    7 agree
  18. After I finished reading this post, I LITERALLY put down my laptop and gave you a standing ovation, Ariel. Seriously one of the best things I've read in a long time. And it applies to so many areas of life! Amazing! Now, if I could only cleverly disguise this in such a way that my students would read it….

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  19. I'm suddenly wondering if this is in any way tied to the increasing number of couples funding and planning their own wedding.

    We're often reminded when complaining about parents trying to take over that for many of them it's what was expected. Their parents (the brides specifically) paid for and largely planned their wedding and they were essentially told to put up with it and they'll get their turn when they have kids.

    It's hard enough trying to tailor a wedding to your own tastes, trying to do it for someone else would be a nightmare so I suspect many people might have fallen back on a traditional format or current fasions as a way of simplifying the process.

    2 agree
    • To go along with this line of thinking on the bride's parents paying for the wedding, my parents actually did help pay for it (which shames me, but I lost that argument pretty quickly), I think brides these days are also starting to benefit from having parents who are more willing to be open about "offbeat" attitudes. Though my parents paid for the venue, they did not try to control the overall aesthetic in any way. They even came up with more off the wall ideas than I did! In the end, I think parents with a more relaxed and/or open attitude toward life will be more willing to help their kids plan weddings that deviate from the so-called standards because they're glad they don't have to conform to goals they might secretly find ridiculous. Trust me. My dad was stoked that he could wear Bermuda shorts to my wedding.

      4 agree
  20. Ariel, I think you might be the sanest person on the internet.

    13 agree
    • This may be the highest compliment anyone has ever paid me. Also, I think I'm going to make myself a trophy that says SANEST PERSON ON INTERNET, just to prove you wrong!

      6 agree
  21. Very good post, very mature look on how people think and act.

    I have been reading OBB for some time now, and I have also noticed these 'offbeat trends', like wearing sneakers and DIY-bunting. I think too many people take ideas from others because they like them, not because it fits their personality.

    I have used OBB as a way to get (and remain) enthusiastic about my own wedding planning and get inspiration from, not so much to get ready-ideas from. There was one thing that I found here and 'copied', which were mason jars centerpieces. I got married yesterday and looking back, this was the element I liked least. Because it was the only thing I did because it was 'very pretty', not because it represented 'us'.

    3 agree
  22. Ariel, I loved you before this post and even more after it!!! that portlandia clip is one of my favorites. i heart fred armisen and i heart offbeat bride :)

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  23. I would think traditional = expensive and offbeat can = inexpensive. So the trend is driven by the economy.

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  24. I have to say that I am all for more mainstream acceptance of offbeat, individual weddings. I feel like the standardization of weddings, and the growing list of "must haves" is a really modern thing driven by economic forces, and needs to change. The more old wedding photos I see (and and stories I hear), the more I believe that weddings have always been a bit offbeat, a bit individual, in part because there was very little industry supporting it.
    I will admit, I used both this website, and the knot. The knot had a good checklist (and I am NOT good at details) and I was ruthless at cutting everything I didn't want. This website was invaluable to me though, inspiring me, and reminding me that it was ok to follow my own vision, and the weddings are as joyously diverse as love is. I expect I will continue to read the website long after the wedding has come and gone!
    Our wedding theme: "We love each other, we love you, and we are NOT going into debt over this."

    2 agree
  25. Great post/article. In a way it feels a bit sad that authentic means offbeat – in that I wish that all brides could be offbeat. I appreciate and enjoy the group here that has embraced authenticity in some of the bigger pieces of our lives (family, marriage, home).

    1 agrees
  26. if being offbeat means my and my partners personalities and likes come through in our wedding..than so be it..if being offbeat means being eco friendly..local sourced, being responsible to our earth than I am totally down with being an offbeat bride. Our wedding will reflect our love, the people around us and our community. Wouldn't have it any other way. I love this site and love reading all the wonderful stories. thank you thank you thank you!

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  27. I can see that in the States, offbeat weddings are becoming more usual, but not in Portugal. What I did in my wedding is probably considered OBBLite, but in Portugal it was way offbeat. It wasn't only my parents' generation and older or vendors who gave me grief: a lot of friends and family of my generation also said "you can't do that, that's not how it's done!".

    Although DIY has been around for a while for brides who couldn't afford traditional gifts / invitations / decoration (the first DIY wedding stuff I received in my life was done by a friend in 1997 who had serious money problems; I was 17) and is becoming more and more usual in Portugal since couples are with increasingly frequency paying for their own weddings, still these things will mostly be made very similarly to the mainstream stuff (with rare exceptions, usually from people with Artsy backgrounds).

    So I guess it depends on where you are. The USA is such a big country that perhaps you have a bit of everything: I'm guessing that in some parts of your country, an OBBLite wedding is scandalous, while in others even an off-the-charts offbeat wedding will make passers-by go "oh look, another one". I know that, in my little country by the sea, offbeat is still very very far from mainstream, or even in fashion.

    1 agrees
  28. Ariel: This is a great post and it reminded me of a fantastic article I read recently. As a fellow 30-something, I think there is a factor in the offbeat bride psyche for those of us who grew up in the midst of the late 80s/90s alternative music scene – a time when you had to go alt to get anything good (i'm not saying radio is necessarily awesome today, but I do think that era was jam-packed with amazing underground artists and the contrast with the Celion Dion fare on radio was extreme). Okay stay with me: my point is, we grew up in an era when 'legitimacy' for anyone with a creative bone in their body was all about being subversive – so it feels lousy thinking the popular kids have caught onto it. It's all connected…For every 90s alternative kid who reveled in their own obscurity, it's now a different game for music lover:Why the Old-School Music Snob Is the Least Cool Kid on Twitter: http://nyti.ms/HjHRWE

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    • My screen was doing weird things so here's my point: even if/when something becomes popular, don't forget why you loved it in the first place. To paraphrase Jim Jarmusch, "there is no originality, only authenticity". It's a great long quote about art and legitimate theft – I don't think I can post a picture but search google images for Jim Jarmusch, Nothing is Original. It says it all.

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      • Love it – because at the end of it you're really saying not to own your subculture role because it's different but do it because it's you.
        And: trip-hop! I still have a demo cassette with a purple construction-paper cover, typewriter print: "A Little bit of Tricky", handed to me in a lineup for Portishead, on a rainy cold November evening in Toronto. Portishead played in a blacked-out church, we sat in pews for one of my fav concerts of all time.

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  29. Personally I do think it's becoming more acceptable to not follow every single tradition and mold for weddings so those of us who maybe would have been too spineless to let our personal freak flags fly a decade ago have no problem now declaring what we want. Offbeat Bride and other sites like Rock'n'Roll Bride have been great inspirational resources for me personally, but I was seeking out something that was way more me to begin with.

    Until I see a bridal mag that isn't 50% ads and has some great unique weddings and ideas I don't think I'll buy that offbeat is more mainstream. I think the internet helps unite the offbeat together and "normal" people don't individualize themselves as often online. It's the fluoro-haired and the crafters who really proclaim their missions from the rafters online. I have plenty of acquaintances who are cool people but with no desire to be imaginative or different with most of their lives.

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  30. This might be the best and most insightful article I've read here, which is saying something as this place is a veritable cornucopia of good stuff. I'd say I was a pretty stuffy/uptight child (aesthetically speaking) then went very much anti-whatever was mainstream cool as a teenager, and settled somewhere in the middle as an adult. I "pass" in mainstream culture (I'm a bureaucrat, for crying out loud, but I always hope somebody who saw me on the street wouldn't guess), but there's always some little twist to make something my own. I wasn't sure, when I decided to join the Tribe, if I'd fit here. Because I'm, what, too offbeat lite? But, that hasn't been the case, I've been welcomed for all the things that make me squee about my wedding, whether they're traditional as hell or outside the box. And it's totally ok that my version of outside the box isn't a tardis card box, but rather stuff that's "very us." I love the concept of authentic as the real descriptor, as opposed to offbeat. My wedding will be very "us" with a mix of the traditional and our quirky interests, and if everybody can find their brand of authentic, there will happy brides (and grooms) all over the traditional to offbeat spectrum.

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  31. My finger would fall off from over-clicking the THIS! button as many times as I'd like to on this entire entry, so I'll just say that you are the farmer of MY awesome blossom. There's no way I'd be where I am (and that includes being able to take a month off of paying work to volunteer to photograph women survivors of the Rwandan genocide) without Offbeat Bride.

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  32. we're curvy tattooed queer nerds, it was bound to be a social experiment in doing our thing.

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  33. This reminds me of a friend who has a t-shirt with the slogan on the front 'I listen to bands that don't even exist yet'

    I think (hope) his tongue is firmly in his cheek…

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  34. ha! I love that portlandia! Good article, I remember reading this when it was originally posted but just saw the show….perfect for the post!

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  35. Sorry but that's exactly when offbeatness should kick in when WIC starts to offer "offbeat" so called DIY items which actually manufactured in a sweatshop and skyrocket the prices. Then you should still be offbeat and take off the beaten path and really DIY the hell of your wedding. But if you were already relying on WIC from the beginning to stay offbeat I can tell you one or two things what's wrong with your reasoning…

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