Offbeat Bride, Divorced

Notice anything missing on that left hand? Photo by Glass Coat Photobooth at Atlanta Lovesick Expo 2016
Notice anything missing on that left hand? Photo by Glass Coat Photobooth at Atlanta Lovesick Expo 2016

Oh hi there, it's me. Ariel. You know, the publisher of offbeatbride.com. The author with three names who wrote that book, Offbeat Bride: Creative Alternatives for Independent Brides, a decade ago? The founder of a publishing business built on the back of her 2004 wedding?

Yeah, that's me. And as of June 2016, I'm divorced.

It hasn't been a secret, but it hasn't felt appropriate to talk about it here until now. Things have been a little intense, you know?

…How intense, exactly?

Well, eight weeks after my partnership of 18 years collapsed, it was my job to fly all over the country to co-produce eight Lovesick Expo wedding fairs. While the expos ended up being deeply therapeutic, there's no denying that co-producing 400-person wedding shows was still a pretty balls-out (labia-out?) emotional experience.

If you came to a Lovesick Expo this year, maybe you noticed. If you brought me a copy of the Offbeat Bride book to sign, I may have smiled a little too hard. If you asked me if my husband was performing at the expo, you may have caught me visibly wince as I politely shook my head and said, "No, not this year."

Maybe you noticed the lack of a wedding ring, or just picked up on something being a little off, which lots people did, because I have a pretty shitty poker face despite the fancy dresses. If you looked me in the eye in the swirl of the wedding expo and asked me, "…you doin' ok?," I probably told you I wasn't.

How could I not? If you tell me how you started reading Offbeat Bride when planning your first wedding in 2012, and how you're using it again now in 2016 to plan your second wedding, how could I not tell you that I get it? When a divorced wedding vendor tells me about how he had to work a wedding the day after his ex left him, how could I not tell him that I get it? I really, really get it. I leaked tears all over my sequins, week after week. I flew back to my empty home, week after week.

Ariel Meadow Stallings at Lovesick Expo 2016
On stage at Lovesick Expo Seattle, with one of my co-producers, Tom.

Sharing & secrets

As my emotional barfing at Lovesick Expos should make clear, my divorce certainly has not been a secret… but it just didn't feel appropriate to publish anything about it while the situation was still unfolding. Out of respect for my son and the rest of my family, it won't ever be appropriate for me to say much about the end of my marriage… but now that the divorce is legally finalized and a matter of public record, it feels disingenuous not to acknowledge.

I mean, a decade ago I wrote a tell-all book about my fucking wedding! That book launched this website. This website launched what became the Offbeat Empire LLC, the company that supported my family as it was, and continues to support my family as it is now.

My greatest personal joy in being both an author and publisher has always been the personal connection with my readers. I'm a memoirist and service writer, for godsake! I write narrative nonfiction and relate my own personal experiences to your experiences! That's my fucking jam, so it's felt deeply uncomfortable to be cagey about such a profound shift in my life. It felt secret-y, even if it wasn't.

…Then again, offbeatbride.com isn't about me, and hasn't been for a very long time. Most readers don't even know who publishes the site, and why should they? If you're looking for wedding porn, it doesn't matter who manages the web hosting and pays the editors. But still, but still… sweet readers, it's felt weird between us, and I haven't liked it. I haven't liked having that wall up. It's nice to open the curtains and get some light in this dark place.

How does my divorce affect my work on Offbeat Bride?

It doesn't, other than that I probably won't be writing much relationship advice. (Oh, the hubris of thinking I had answers to questions like, "How do you make a relationship work for 18 years?" Now I'm smart enough to just shrug.)

As that divorced vendor at Lovesick suggests, there are a lot of us in the wedding industry who've gone through divorces. This is hardly a unique experience, or some sort of pain that I alone understand. I'm not the first wedding industry person to work straight through a divorce — hell, I'm not even the first wedding blogger to go through it. My special snowflake badge is officially forever retired.

Post-divorce, you might see me writing a bit more over on Offbeat Home & Life. God knows my personal writing has been an ink-black, seemingly bottomless cenote of words about grief, loss, healing, recovery, and personal development.

Inevitably, the next question everyone always asks me is this:

Will there be another book?

Gurl, please.

Of course there will.

This time, though, I've got no advice for anyone about anything. There will be no book called Offbeat Divorce. It was weird enough to become some sort of wedding expert — I was an Offbeat Bride who'd planned exactly ONE wedding. Why would I set myself up to give ill-informed advice based on having gone through exactly ONE divorce? And who the fuck am I to give advice about anything? Also, somehow writing a book called Offbeat Bride about my 2004 wedding has meant that it's 2016 and people still ask me about my wedding… I mean, it was awesome, but I do NOT want to set myself up to still be talking about my divorce in 2028, thanks.

So, while there will be no Offbeat Divorce, there may indeed be an Offbeat Bride, Divorced… because although I have zero interest in writing about my divorce, of course I have a shitload to say about the process of healing through rocky-as-fuck transitions like going from Offbeat Wife to Offbeat Life.

If you want to follow along with the writing I'm doing now, head over to Offbeat Home & Life.

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  1. You (and anyone else who's done the same) are a damned rock star to handle that and I wish you and your family all the best.

    Also, you rocked the shit out of that sequined dress, holy hell…

    67 agree
  2. Thank you for sharing, I think that's really brave of you to be public about this kind of thing. I'm a longtime fan of both book and the empire and I just want you to know that although we don't know each other, I'm still rooting for you. 🙂

    31 agree
  3. Thank you for sharing, Ariel. Sending light and love as you continue to navigate these new changes.

    16 agree
  4. I am in the midst of my own offbeat divorce and I thank you for writing this.

    18 agree
    • I'm not engaged, have no boyfriend, and rarely even date. I just read this blog from time to time because I've never seen anything like it. In any case, I think you would get more fans if you wrote an Offbeat Divorce spin off lol.

  5. Ariel, you are a badass bitch. I've always admired you. Your desire for transparency shows so much strength, though I'm sure that's not what it feels like right now.

    <3

    23 agree
  6. Oh man – that's a book I wish I had two years ago when I left my abusive ex. No one tells you about giving yourself time to heal and that the transition will feel a million times worse than your worst breakup before this. Please oh please write this book!!
    I'm glad you're in a place where you're ready to talk about it. Here's to getting through and finding joy on the other side.

    18 agree
  7. Even if both parties decide to amicably split, divorce sucks big time. I'm sorry, and I hope that now that the divorce is final the healing process continues. Hugs and blessings.

    15 agree
  8. Oh man, I'm sorry you're going through such a shit time Ariel. I can't imagine managing a wedding blog while going through that. Kudos to you for doing so though! All the virtual hugs in the world, and I hope things get better soon.

    5 agree
  9. I get it.

    And my heart goes out to you. Because I get it.

    My first wedding was published on Offbeat Bride in November 2011. Seven months later, I left my husband. The divorce was just finalized in November 2015 (longest process ever). During that time, I still saw images from our wedding pop up as the featured image for Offbeat Bride posts.

    I also work in the wedding industry, for a blog whose founder got divorced the same year I decided to leave my husband. There is a little pain behind it, something that can almost feel like hypocrisy from time to time. And it's hard as fuck for a while, but then it's not anymore.

    Your tribe is still here, and though it may look a little different, it's still your tribe. And fuck yes, Offbeat Bride, Divorced. I'd get behind that 1000%.

    31 agree
  10. As someone who has also gone through a divorce, I feel you and I admire your candor. Its a shit show, and I admire your ability to be honest about it (and yet still respectful and private) on a public platform. Offbeat bride was a very welcome and supportive haven when I was planning my (second) wedding. So thank you for all that you have worked so hard to create.

    5 agree
  11. I was wondering if this was happening! I was loving what you were doing on Snapchat but wondered about how there was less family in it. I want you to know that I love everything that you have done for us weirdos and I can't wait to see what you do next! Pour yourself a glass of Lemonade and drink it in. You got this.

    Xoxo

    4 agree
    • Yeah, folks following @offbeatbride on Snapchat have probably had more of a real window in than anyone else. My policy is to keep my kid mostly out of my business social media stuff (although he shows up in snaps some days!), but the telling lack of a spouse these past 8 months has probably been pretty obvious…

  12. I know you've probably heard this all before, but I feel the need to reiterate it:

    1) Your relationship was/is legitimate, just because it's "over" doesn't mean your advice isn't any less inspirational or needed. It might be even more valuable.

    2) As much as we as wedding vendors (and especially OBB vendors) don't want to admit it, a wedding and a marriage are two completely different things. You can (and have) helped plan thousands of weddings, and I doubt you want to put your fingers (ew?) in that many marriages (who the fuck would).

    3) You rock, and while this may be hard, staying in a place where you were unhappy, is harder. It's not fair to any of you, and it's so hard and strengthening to admit and make that decision.

    <3 <3 <3

    44 agree
  13. Solidarity sister. Married 2010, Featured on OOB in 2011 http://offbeatbride.com/new-york-gwen-stefani-wedding/ and divorced in 2013. I still use OOB to show people my wedding. I love OOB and the community and that will always last longer than my relationship. You are not alone and we love you. Be you, be happy, and we'll all get through this crazy thing called life together. <3 xoxo

    4 agree
  14. Sending love and positive vibes your way. I get it. My divorce was one of the most painful things I've ever experienced. But you will get through it. You've been through worse and the only way to go is up. You are now a member of a club you never intended to be a part of. But I will say the most beautiful thing about it is the look other divorced people give you. I hated it at first, but to see recognition of pain and pure empathy from those that have been through it too is comforting after a while. It's like, "you've been through this shitty thing too?! I hurt for you. I remember your pain. But look! It can be better!" I know that doesn't help now. Stupid time is the only thing that helps. The first full year is the hardest. But once you rebuild your life, you might find yourself loving your new life more than you ever thought possible. Thank you for sharing your story. I hope that you find what will heal you quickly. Love, light, and positive vibes.

    8 agree
  15. Wow. As I'm contemplating ending a 11-year through divorce, this resonates big time with me. Thank you for sharing this. I'm really in for all the possible contents related to healing to crushing-hard life transitions.

    5 agree
  16. love you so much. bless your honesty. fuck everyone else, you are a goddamn snowflake. xoxo.

    5 agree
  17. *hugs* <3

    I, a stranger on the internet, don't have much else to offer, but – virtual hugs & empathy. <3 *hugs*

    4 agree
  18. Sending you lots of love! My marriage also ended a couple years ago after being super involved in the Tribe. You are an amazing woman and I know you will just keep kicking ass.

    4 agree
  19. Much love! Thank you for sharing with us your struggles as a gasp *normal* person fighting the daily battle of life with normal problems. As ever you are being classy about it and we applaud you and look forward to your writing on Offbeat Home and to the bigger and better things you will be doing!

    2 agree
  20. I'm sorry that you are going through all of this. I used this blog obsessively when I was planning my September 2014 wedding. I am now in a similar situation as my husband sprung on me after 1.5 years of marriage he wants a divorce. I am blindsided and this is unbelievably difficult to get through. I am looking forward to reading more about your healing journey as I am trying to figure out how to heal myself. I wish you luck and happiness through all of this.

    4 agree
    • I've been there and it sucks. The most surprising thing for me was the strength of the overwhelming rage I felt at times. Don't fight your emotions but do take care of yourself. Sending you best wishes.

      • Thanks for the kind words. Overwhelming rage is what I feel most of the time. Just knowing that someone who loved you so much could go out of their way to be so cruel to you is sometimes just too much. He is serving me the papers on our anniversary in a few days.

  21. I've been reading your blog since the beginning and not because I was planning a wedding. In fact, I've never been married at all. Heck, I've never even had anyone tell me they love me or experienced a relationship of any kind other than the occasional "Oops, FWB" that brought my now 27-year-old son into the world. I'm telling you this because I read you for your writing and your wonderful curation of photos, not your marital status. And, I will continue to do so because you so Rock it!

    12 agree
  22. Hugs to you during this rough time.
    You've got a whole Tribe behind you (and in front of you and beside you) ready to give you love and support.
    Keep healing and keep being fabulous!

    2 agree
  23. Fellow divorcee' here! Married a beautiful woman in 2010, divorced in 2013. I met you at Lovesick Philly. And that handsome fella that was with me, well…we broke up. Haha. Currently with an amazing, wonderful man who treats me like a queen.

    Life happens, and absolutely no one is judging you because you're divorced. It is what it is. You pick yourself up by those boot straps and move on. I absolutely love your energy and spunk. You're a fantastic blogger, writer, and mother… and as long as you keep rockin' those sequins, girl… you've got this. (I still chuckle at that pic of you still wearing your dress getting through Philly's TSA… XD)

    6 agree
  24. Well, I'm sorry you had the barfy parts of the experience, but I get it, too. I came to OBB to plan my second wedding! Life happens.

    Don't let the bad parts drag you down. Over time, I came to see that my first marriage wasn't really a failure merely because it ended. And my negative feelings about marriage faded away (obvs, since I married again). I hope the same happens for you.

    5 agree
  25. *HUGS* You rock and I love you and your amazing Offbeat Empire just about as much as I love unicorns and zombies … and that's a fuck ton! 🙂

    3 agree
  26. As an old school Tribesmaid I am sending you so much love and support!!! Divorce is hard and shitty and I hope nothing but the best for your family during this time of transition. I've never been through a divorce myself so I won't lie and try to give false advice or platitudes, but I hope you know that you have a whole tribe at your back here for anything you need. <3

    3 agree
  27. Add another voice to the chorus offering you love and hugs from afar. Even though I'm not married yet, reading your thoughts and all the posts and being part of the Offbeat Empire community really has changed my life for the better. I'm rooting for you and looking forward to seeing what's next!

    2 agree
  28. I'm so glad you shared this… not that you went through all that bullshit, just that it makes me feel better about our encounter. I thought for sure that the awkward feeling was me because anxiety told me so. Sending much love during the rocky af period! ?

    2 agree
  29. PLEASE please continue to write and give advice about anything you want. I need it. Your book and the offbeat bride site was holy to this little atheist in the 4 months I had to plan my wedding while a wack ton of life happened. I'm really bad with names so in my head you were the "offbeat bride lady" and I'd ask myself what you would do in certain situations, including non-Wedding. Your voice really reasonated with me.
    So thank you. Also, please be good to yourself. You deserve it.

    8 agree
  30. Oh my.. so hard… loads of love and strength and good breezes from the other side of the ocean. You have been, and are, a great source of inspiration for me, both in owning my shit, and in starting a business. If you ever need a break, I'm sure there are a few Austrian homies and tribesmaids to welcome you in Vienna and all around the country.

    2 agree
  31. Things happen we all know that marriages and relationships don't always work out. My wife broke up with me only two and a half years after our ceremony some time it just doesn't work. love your book and this site It's been really helpful. As a lesbian bride (found the person I was meant to be with) planning the first of two weddings (civil partnership ceremony and wedding after marriage equality comes to Australia) we are planning our wedding how we like it not how the wedding industry thinks we should. Anyway love and healing to your family. Keep up the great work xx

    3 agree
  32. I had the 18 years down, but no advice on how to last 19 because I'm going through separation now.
    Shit doth happen. Good luck to you on your healing and hopefully you can maintain amicability for your young one.

    3 agree
  33. Ariel,
    I can't help but feel incredibly close to you, as I was just told two days ago that my marriage is also over. I've been a big fan of the offbeat sites, and at times I was a participant in the different communities. Offbeat Mama was launched right when I was becoming a Mama, and the community was there when I suffered a death in the family. As hard as it might be, I do hope you write about divorce, because where I stand, I could definitely use the help and support of this wonderful community that you created.

    I'm wishing you all the best, and just so you know, I think you're amazing. ???

    4 agree
  34. You and I planned weddings at the same time in 2004, on the same message board, and a story about my wedding was in your book. I'm now divorced, too, and I'm here because I'm getting remarried.

    I commend you on getting through the divorce while maintaining appropriate boundaries between public and private and without putting down your former husband. It's incredibly difficult to keep a positive face when you're torn apart inside. You're awesome for maintaining that boundary and respect for him and your son.

    And as you know from the many, many second+ brides reading and writing on this site, divorce isn't a death sentence for love. You'll get through and at some point the idea of loving someone else won't induce a sharp stabbing pain and nausea. At some point, you may be here planning another grand celebration and looking forward to the adventure of life with a new partner. And you'll be so much smarter about it than you were the first time around.

    1 agrees
  35. Love you just the same. And, in my thirties, I got divorced THREE times! No shame here, lady!

    3 agree
  36. Thank you for sharing this. While you may not feel qualified to give advice, you are perfect for it! Each phase of a relationship is a learning experience and now you can take your experience and offer support to anyone else to needs to hear "I get it." Advice doesn't have to be "how to make it work," sometimes the best advice is "how to deal and cope." Keep writing because it will help us and could be quite therapeutic at the same time.
    I've been there and I get it.

    5 agree
  37. Sending you some love from a fellow divorced wedding pro <3 I really admire your bravery in being public about it. You've inspired me to be as well!

    1 agrees
  38. Divorce is so painful and shitty and I haven't even begun to process anything. You write it, I'll buy it.

    3 agree
  39. Thanks for being brave and telling your readers. As you are probably finding, a lot of us have or are going through divorces also. Myself being one of them as of December last year when it became official. I remember feeling embarrassed about being featured on OBB in 2012. I shunned myself away from this site for a little while. I have recently been back, reading more about offbeat life, home etc. And realising more and more that this was never about just weddings, as Ariel said. Its about people, and community, support and encouragement while we stumble through our offbeat lives.

    3 agree
  40. I know a lot of divorced folx who said it sucked (a lot) in the beginning but eventually, they stopped wanting to hear the "Oh, I'm sorry's" and moved on into "Don't be sorry – it was the best thing for our family." Here's to hoping that offers comfort and is true for you soon enough. <3

    3 agree
  41. I got engaged in late 2011 and have been a member of the OBB Tribe since 2012. My now hubby and I broke up for a few months in 2013, got back together, finally married in 2015, were separated for a few months early this year, and are now back together with a stronger bond and healthier relationship than we've ever had in our 6+ years together. This community has been a huge help through all of the turmoil. Even though I am more of a Tribe stalker (I prefer to oogle and read rather than post or share), I still feel so accepted and supported, and it has made the hard times just a little bit easier. Your post here is a perfect example of why. Your Empire acknowledges that everyone's journey is different, and although there is a lot of advice out there, we each choose what is best for our situation and need not fear being attacked for that choice if we share it here. In the Tribe we are not defined by our marital status, or boxed into conventional traditions as we may be in other circles, both physical and virtual. Many people would read my background above and say, "wow…. Drama! How can you possibly have a stable, healthy relationship after all of that?! You're crazy!" Yet I feel comfortable sharing it here because I know so many people will totally or at least partially get it, and even if they don't, no one will judge or shame me for it. Thank you, thank you, thank you for providing this safe, loving forum. You may not hear from us quiet readers very often, but I know I'm not the only one here, and I know we all appreciate you sooooooo much. Much love to you in this difficult time. I look forward to many more years of everything the Empire has to offer, about ALL aspects of life.

    5 agree
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