"Not an effort to be unique, but an effort to be us"

Photo by Snaptacular Photos.
Photo by Snaptacular Photos.

The New York Times recently ran an article called Your Hand in Marriage, and Offbeat Bride got a nod for our DIY posts. That's cool, but what really caught my eye was this quote from a bride named Lauren Ireland:

"I felt like there's such a movement to homogeneous wedding styles with Pinterest and Etsy, which are wonderful tools but do seem to make things seem very similar," she said.

Her wedding, she added, represented "not an effort to be unique, but an effort to be us."

I've been writing about this concept for years… Your wedding is not a contest (2007) and Why I worry when people say they want a unique wedding (2009) are just two examples. It's important to repeat, however, because I worry about the never-ending drive to be "offbeat enough" or perfectly whimsical or impeccably quirky.

I worry about couples pushing themselves so hard for external validation through their weddings. Validation-seeking is difficult, and the whole idea with starting Offbeat Bride was an effort to lessen wedding stress — not to increase the pressure to do it "right" in some sort of extremely unique, never-seen-before way. I love you guys, and I don't want you stressing out!

For some of us, weddings can be a really lovely way to express our true (and truly weird) selves. For others, we just want to get 'er done. Both these approaches to weddings are valid. Both of them are lovely. Both of them are weddings we've featured on this site.

Wedding planning takes effort, and of course with that investment of effort comes an investment of ourselves in the process. It's exciting and expensive and overwhelming. It's a perfect soup of big life shift, family dynamics, financial pressures, and cultural influences. You get absorbed by it (I love every single pop culture reference ever!), or you push against it (I am more than a bride! Fuck this!). Sometimes you do both within a few minutes.

My goal with Offbeat Bride has always just been to create a supportive, inclusive corner of the internet where people can comfortably enthuse over the process of planning a wedding. My goal has never been to be an enforcer of taste, a pusher of quirk, or a policeman of proper offbeatness. We're all just stumbling around, and my hope is that readers here feel supported and encouraged through their stumbling — never pressured to be anything they're not.

Like the rest of the Offbeat Empire, the mission on Offbeat Bride is to support our readers in expressing their most authentic selves. Whether that's a courthouse elopement, easy-peasy package wedding on a beach, or a disorientingly strange theatrical freakfest commitment ceremony, we want you to feel good about it.

…Not necessarily because it's unique, but because it's YOURS.

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  1. It is posts like this that make me deeply grateful for this website! Thank you, as always

    30 agree
  2. "My goal with Offbeat Bride has always just been to create a supportive, inclusive corner of the internet where people can comfortably enthuse over the process of planning a wedding." – and you have done. I continue to reference this site for many reasons but it is the inclusive, supportive, and the wedding-as-part-of marriage-or-partnership approach that make me love it. Well done Ariel & compatriots!

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  3. …and that's why I got so into it back when weddinging was a thing we were doing! There was no BS, no weird pressure or guilt-tripping sales tactics buried in the content, no editorial defensiveness around certain ingrained ideas. Even for the very small community of against-the-grain or "just be you" that is surprisingly rare.

    It's probably the main reason why I keep Offbeat Bride on my blog list when so many other wedding blogs were deleted after we tied the knot four years ago.

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      • I'm not the original poster, but I can chime in that I've been reading both OBB and OH&L since I was fourteen, right on up through marriage last December, and still read them both. πŸ™‚ (I'm 19.)

      • 8 months post-wedding I am still reading here. I do read Home and Life, but I read here more often! Partly that's because I like seeing wedding pics. Partly it's because I like the human content here and there's a little less of that on HaL. My fave posts on HaL are ones where you get a little insight into people's lived experiences rather than tutorials etc (which has always been true of my reading of OBB too!).

        3 agree
      • I am! I don't contribute as much as I did to the Tribe, because while of course I "do" lifestyle, I just don't tend to talk about it much and I kind of let it be what it is (and as an expat what's available to me is quite different from what's available to most readers). I do cook, but my cooking hobby is making seemingly difficult, complex recipes from scratch (Thai curries, Indian curries, pasta dishes, the really difficult Chinese dishes that require you to get a perfect glaze on the meat, challenging Armenian dishes like dolma and lahmacun) so I tend to follow more hardcore cooking blogs for that sort of thing.

        In terms of lifestyle, the only things I really do that I'm focused on enough to read a lifestyle blog about are travel and work (I freelance), and so I do read the expat, travel and work-related posts whenever they come up!

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      • I read both but OBB more – I love the way people invest themselves in their weddings and I have gleaned SO MANY wonderful ideas – many of which have evolved into thoughts and projects for other parts of life. The way OBB – The Book has so much information that radiates outward into life and your relationship itself, the blog does the same but adds some amazing reader comments – and even more wedding porn!

      • Reading this blog was enormously liberating while I was planning my own wedding three years ago. Now, I check into both Offbeat Bride and Offbeat Home regularly, to see what posts are new. Home tends to have more content relevant to me and my life – but Bride is still fun to read!

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  4. It's the posts like this that make me feel like joining the Offbeat Bride Tribe was one of the best wedding decisions I have made so far.

    I'm still in the early stages of planning, but I do find myself getting sucked into a blackhole of what I should or shouldn't do (influenced by both OBB and other wedding sites/the internet in general) and then something like this pops up, reminding me to take a step back and do what WE want to do, not what THEY want us to do.

    I've found lots of little quirks here and there on OBB since joining and they have contributed greatly to my planning process. I can't even begin to say how thankful I am for this non-judgemental space that allows me and my wedding to be just that, MINE!

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  5. Our wedding was "not an effort to be unique, but an effort to be us"

    There was a family member that took our wedding choices personally. She felt that since we chose not to take her up on her offer of leftovers from their wedding that we didn't like their wedding (honestly, their wedding wasn't for us, it had a fairy tale princess theme and I don't like theme parties). She offered us tulle and pink and turquoise decorations. They got married in high summer, we got married in October (someone pointed out to her that we probably didn't want them because pink and turquoise weren't our colours because we were getting married in the fall but she was still upset). We are very different from that couple – we like different things, we have had different experiences, etc.

    Our mantra was that we wanted our wedding to reflect us, and we used that guideline when making decisions.

    This was also a useful way to explain things to my MIL who didn't agree with some of our choices (e.g., not getting married in a church/by a minister since I've never been to church, that's not part of who I am, I would be lying/being fake if I was married in a church/by a minister – it took her a long time to get over our decision but it was hard for her to argue against who I am as a person, though she did tell me "a church is just a place to get married" when I told her I would not be comfortable getting married in a church).

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    • We had this same experience… We didn't want other peoples leftovers, so we must have hated their weddings. We didn't hate them; we just didn't like them for us. My sister in law offered to give me her veil, and seemed to take it as a slight when I said veils were not for me, but thanks anyway. I appreciated the offer, and I wasn't saying veils suck all around. I just didn't want a big long white one. People don't understand that you're not insulting them, you just want to have your day, not theirs.

      3 agree
      • This also goes for people recommending vendors. This person had conflicts with most of her vendors. She threatened to sue the bakery, florist and the rental company after things did go as she had expected – the florist and the rental company gave her huge discounts to appease her. Other people we knew had used the same bakery so we opted to go with that bakery for our cake despite this person's issues with the bakery. We met with the photographer they used but opted to go with a photographer another friend used due to cost (for what we got, their photographer was over $1000 more). (Our officiant was recommended by a friend, the florist was recommended by two other people, and we didn't have any rentals.) This woman and her husband got married in a city near where they live because she said that there was no place to get married in the town where they live. The way she said it was pretty funny because she meant there was no where she wanted to get married in the town, since she knew there were places to get married as she had been to weddings in the town (most people get married in a church and rent a hall or the golf course for the reception – one of the couples that had got married in town jokingly commented that this woman thought their wedding wasn't good enough). We got married in the town (since that's where my husband's family lives), so again it seemed like we were trying to do everything to spite her.

  6. I wish I had stumbled upon this website before I got married 3 years ago. Not because I felt much pressure to do things a certain way, but because I see ideas that I would of loved to have tried. I had a slim $3000 wedding budget. I had the wedding of my dreams. My sister who was my maid of dis-honor, stressed so much more than me. And I was happy to let her, but didn't make any changes because of it. My husband chose a white dress shirt and a gold tie, my dress was off white and my flowers were pink. She almost couldn't stand it. I encourage people now to check out this page, and remember that they don't have to spend a fortune. The biggest expense was my dress ($600) and the old school house we got married in ($450 for three day). We dyed the bridesmaids eyelet dresses ourselves, made home made strawberry jam as party gifts, and had a pot luck (who knew so many people would be happy to bring food in beautiful dishes that ended up being the wedding gifts)! I would change not a single thing about that day. I wish all brides could have a stress free day of their dreams!

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  7. Sometimes it feels a bit like couples are darned either way. There's judgement on everyone's wedding day, whether it's for being 'trendy' or for being 'offbeat'. Your choices won't be for everyone, and so long as you are choosing what will make you and your partner/s happy, I say sod what the rest think! I am in love with the midsummer night's style of wedding decor and my partner is an all out metaller, so we are incorporating both our tastes into one. People say it won't work, you can't combine something so 'girly' and so 'blokey'. We say f*ck em! It isn't their wedding day and they don't need to take our ideas and put them in their celebrations do they? πŸ˜‰ At the end of it all, there's aspects of weddings that pretty much everyone has (nice clothes, good food, a venue) it's all about representing you; whether or not that fits the Pinterest mold is irrelevant.

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  8. We started off trying too hard to be different. We knew we didn't want cookie cutter. In the process of freaking out I realized that what people expect of us (a HUGE nerdtastic wedding) isn't what we want. We will still have the gamer theme but we picked our favorite games instead of trying to cram everything in. I'm not freaking out anymore. Plus I have the Tribe to help keep me sane too. πŸ˜€

    6 agree
  9. After telling a friend about my plans so far, she said 'Oh, so you're having a pinterest wedding then?'
    Made me a bit sad, considering I didn't really know what pinterest was, but then after I had a look to see what she was talking about, I was fine with it. Everything on pinterest is beautiful, and there were aspects of my plans that were well covered on pinterest, but who cares?
    I want our wedding to be about us, whether we are unique or not.

    3 agree
  10. Throughout the whole process of planning our very own rockabilly wedding, in each aspect we tried to choose the option that best reflects our relationship. We're more metalheads, but in order to accommodate our non-metalhead families, we opted for old school rock 'n roll music on the night, which kind of evolved into a rockabilly theme. Which kinda opened up a whole new subgenre of awesome for us. Trust us to think of the music first, and then have the rest of the details fall into place haha! Some people will love all our ideas, some won't get it or like it at all, but we are having a wedding that is authentically us and that's kind of all that really matters. Thank you for this post, I had to remind myself of this fact again. Getting married in May 2015 and NOW I'm getting excited! ^_^

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