Love and compromise: how an Offbeat Bride and a traditional groom make it work

March 26 | Guest post by El Johnson
Cross stitch by Etsy seller sitchingood
Cross stitch by Etsy seller sitchingood
While wedding planning is lots of fun, it can also be stressful, especially when each partner has different ideas of what the wedding should look like.

An Offbeat Bride and a traditional groom, like myself and my fiancé, can clash at times. The offbeat partner can feel restricted; the traditional partner can feel pushed.

While I try very hard not to subscribe to the Wedding Industrial Complex's idea of "everything is about me, me, me," sometimes it's hard to compromise. Sometimes I get pouty and selfish, maybe even demanding. In those moments, I am not loving my fiancé.

Do I still want to marry him? Yes. Do I still long to be close to him? Yes. Do I still appreciate all the wonderful things about him? Yes. But, though love often includes those feelings, that's not what love is about. I have to remind myself that love is about self-sacrifice to the one I've promised to marry. Love is not a warm fuzzy feeling; love is putting your significant other before yourself.

Does that mean being a doormat? No. But it does mean gently and joyfully compromising when you can see that something is important to your fiancé.

His traditional ideals are just as close to his heart as my offbeat ones are to mine. His wants and needs are just as important, no matter how many bridal magazines push the idea that the wedding is all about the bride.

The wedding is about marital love, and marital love is about more than just one person — equally deserving of their desires. People sacrificing for each other, and committing to do so for the rest of their lives. That love should be reflected in wedding planning as much as any other area of life.

Each time we disagree on a wedding-planning decision, it is an opportunity to work together to show love to each other. Sometimes that means him letting me have my way. Sometimes it means me letting go of an idea. Sometimes it means coming together in a compromise that is reflective of both of us.

Love is more than a feeling. Love is valuing your partner enough to put their desires on par with — or even ahead of — your own. I don't always do that. I don't always love my fiancé. And he doesn't always love me. But we are committed to trying for the rest of our lives, and that's what our wedding is about.

Offbeat + traditional couples, how do you guys work it out when you're feeling less than happy about compromising?

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  1. My wedding passed 10 days ago, I was an offbeat bride, he was a traditional groom. I wanted a colorful dress, he wanted to see me in white. I wanted a few people with us, he wanted a big restaurant wedding…So I divided the wedding in 2 parts. During our legal ceremony, I was in a white short crochet dress (offbeat, but still white!) and only our parents and our sisters were present. On the next day we had a big party in a expencive hotel with very nice restaurant with our friends and extended families, I wore a vintage dress with Paris pattern. And the dj played heavy metal/hard rock which is pretty offbeat for a Bulgarian wedding. 🙂

    11 agree
    • It sounds like you guys made great compromises! Compromises are beautiful because they reflect both of you! That sounds like an awesome wedding (both of them)!

    • My partner is the same, his big "wedding fantasy" is to see me walk down the aisle in a white dress. I envisioned something more… black if I'm honest but it's so important to him. He gets all misty eyed when he thinks about it and so I've decided that making the man I love feel that happy and fulfilling that particular fantasy is definitely worth a white dress!

      1 agrees
  2. This happens to me a fair bit, and not just in the wedding planning. FH and I talk about everything, a ton. When we disagree, we try to make sure we understand what the other person wants, and why. Talking out the why part is important because often, especially for me, the why is unclear, as I'm sometimes the more traditional one. It's just…something that I think should be a certain way. Trying to figure out why helps us justify our wants to each other, and ourselves. Either someone realizes their position doesn't make sense ("just because" doesn't usually cut it) or the reasons are so good that the other person internalizes that want as their own. Our definition of compromise has become "optimizing so the other person has to give up as little as possible."

    6 agree
    • I am a huge fan of the WHY? If I don't understand WHY I'm doing something or WHY you want it this way I feel like I'm being pushed into something and I generally dig my heels in and fight. Being with an introverted man (myself being an extrovert and loving the idea of talking things through) makes things tough but our key phrase is 'I need you to use more/less words'.

      10 agree
    • I totally agree with this and I'm always trying to do it, but the frustration comes in when FH says "I don't know why," or "Because that's what everyone does." I keep trying to push him to examine why he wants to do something, and I never know how to respond when even he doesn't know.

  3. C and I are pretty much this. He really doesn't like advertising his geekery in photographic posterity. Which means I had to give up him stepping out of a friend's Tardis at the start of the ceremony and laying to rest the idea of an epic multi-geekdom cake. (Someday, I may describe this geeky cake wetdream.)

    What it comes down to, I think, is respecting your partner's comfort zone, ideas, and personality. Without respect, there isn't much of an equal relationship.

    Trust this old lady who learned that the hard way through her first marriage. 🙂

    12 agree
    • The point about respecting comfort zone is a great one. I know what it's like to feel pushed out of my comfort zone and it's really unpleasant if you're not ready for it. I don't want to do that to my fiance. That's a really good way to put it; thank you!

      3 agree
  4. This is such a good message. I've been married for about 9-10 months now and I know I don't always put my husbands needs or wants above my own and he doesn't always put mine above his. I especially like your last line: "But we are committed to trying for the rest of our lives, and that's what our wedding is about." Lately I've been frustrated that we don't spend as much quality time together as we used to. I'm always working and he's playing computer games and working, neither of us does enough house work… the list of frustrations go on, but none of that matters as much as showing the other person that you love them every chance you can.

    Sometimes you need reminders to try instead of just get frustrated with the way things are. I wish you and your fiance all the happiness in the world as you plan and enter married life 🙂

    1 agrees
    • Thank you 😀
      That's a good thing to keep in mind: taking action when something is frustrating, instead of just sitting there being frustrated. That's definitely a concept I want to remember through our married years. I know marriage is always going to take work, and I want to put that work in. I want to make it a great marriage. And "showing the other person that you love them every chance you can" sound like a great way to do that!

  5. This was me and my husband as well. I fell in to the rabbit hole of Offbeat Bride and came out with a ton of enthusiasm and no direction. Future husband was baffled. At one point he snapped at me "We don't have to do shit differently just to be weird." At first I was furious…just what was he accusing me of! But that turned out to be an epiphany in wedding planning. I picked my battles based on things I really wanted or were important, not just to "be weird", and he in turn loosened up and got behind most of them since I could articulate a reason beyond "Cuz it's cool!"

    4 agree
    • That's something I've learned too, to pick my battles based on what's actually important and not what's being weird just for weird's sake. It's like the point that's been made on this blog before, that it's more "authentic bride" than "weird bride". Embrace what is authentic, whether that's offbeat or traditional. Know why it's important, and then go for it! Or for the compromise; whatever is best for everyone in the relationship 🙂 That's what I like to think, anyway!

      1 agrees
    • I totally agree with this! Throughout the planning I've been trying to do things 'out of the ordinary' and so many times it was purely because I thought it was cool! My future husband is quite trad so and I can see him making a comment like yours did if I don't sort myself out, and come up with 'real' reasons for choosing things that are a bit offbeat.
      Although, if you think something is cool, doesn't that make it kinda important? Prioritising is hard!

    • I agree, but the same point should be made in reverse. "Traditional" choices should earn themselves in the couple's minds as well, and part of the point of Offbeat is to remember that we don't have to just follow the beaten path just because it's normal.

      And of course there's the simple fact that what most people nowadays think is 'traditional' is coming from 2-4 decades of successful wedding industry. =)

  6. My OH is also more traditional than me in certain ways. Years ago, when I was planning my brother's wedding, he announced that he wouldn't marry me if I walked down the aisle in a non full length dress (after nearly 9 years together, he's never seen me in full length dress still!). But he's also begged me to re-die my hair pink and black like it was when we met.

    We're getting married in a church because it really matters to him, but incorporating plenty of secular elements in order to accommodate me – we're lucky to be dealing with a fantastic rector.

    Compromise is tough – but as he keeps reminding me… This is our wedding, not mine. Years ago when a friend's fiancé said something similar I didn't understand… Guess it was a tell that I wasn't grown up enough to get married in my mid 20s.

    2 agree
  7. My great grandmother, when asked for a definition of love, thought for a moment before replying: 'love is commitment'. Not the most romanticised view, totally void of all the fuzzy and pretty and feelings (and somewhat surprising to my starry eyed young self when I heard it). But I've come to believe it's wisest and truest definition of love I've ever heard.

    5 agree
  8. I so agree with this. I am a offbeat bride city girl, my fiancé' is a very laid back country farm boy. So we are having a traditional 50s vintage style daytime wedding that will end by 6pm.There will be a little sass added lol. like my baby blue converses.. and some pastel skulls added to some of the cupcakes.. But afterwards a group of our awesome offbeat friends are going out on the town for the night.

  9. Wow. Just wow.
    I was sitting on the couch fuming at his unrelenting insistence that we accept text RSVP's (which I am completely against, because from first-hand experience when you give people a choice of how to "book" it results in chasing them for information – which I am not willing to do with so much other non-wedding stuff to sort out.). So I decided to hop on here and see what could distract me. And guess what popped up straight away in the top banner?

    I've given in on a lot of things so far. If it were solely up to me we'd be having an immediate family-only ceremony and dinner with an open party afterwards, but we're doing the traditional Irish ballpark-100-people-sit-down-dinner thing like he wants. We're having a live band at the reception because "You can't have music on an iPod" — when I pressed for a more detailed reason, I got a half-sigh, half-grunt.

    Right now, I don't really love him. And he just went back to work (current time is 8.30pm). So now I feel horrible and alone.

    2 agree
  10. I'm stuck with a traditional fiancé. I showed him some short dresses I loved and he told me they aren't "bridal" unless they're long so I bought a long dress. H wants traditional catering, etc. I figure I'll just appease him this one day and whatever, we have our whole lives for me to be offbeat. But I still search short dresses…

    • If a short dress is "bridal" for you then it's bridal. You have to feel comfortable as the bride. Once he sees you walking down the aisle, the dress will be the last thing on his mind!

      1 agrees

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