The mysteries of the Offbeat Bride Tribe member application explained

December 20 | Guest post by Offbeat Bride Tribe Moderators

The Offbeat Bride Tribe was our private online forum that was active from 2007 – 2015. It's no longer active, but we're leaving this post up for posterity.

I applied for the Offbeat Bride Tribe a while ago and I haven't heard back — did I get rejected because I'm not offbeat enough?

The short answer: NO.

We do not EVER decline Offbeat Bride Tribe memberships based on how nontraditional your wedding is or is not.

Now, here's the much longer answer:

How do we figure out who to approve for the Tribe? Hint: It has NOTHING to do with how offbeat your wedding is.
While our FAQ addresses general questions about why the Tribe is private and how "offbeat-ness" has NOTHING to do with it, we thought we'd provide a bit more insight into what we look for in the Tribe submissions, and why we ask what we do on the application.

The Tribe has over 20,000 members, with between ten to fifty new members applying every single day. That's ten to fifty new applications that we review and approve. Manually. Every day. Every single one. It generally takes us no more than a week to review applications, so if you applied over a week ago and haven't heard back … your application was likely declined.

Here are the reasons we decline a small percentage of applications:

  • Answers are too short or unanswered completely, so we can't tell if you're a real person or a spam robot (this is the most common)
  • Applicant included links/references to business website or ad-sponsored blog
  • Application didn't fit with our Code of Conduct (outright hostility, weight talk, vendors, one up/low-manship, etc.)
  • Applicant is already married, or not engaged but "just loves weddings"
  • The wedding is more than three years away
  • We made a mistake

Yep. About that last one: Mistakes happen. On your end, our end, on technology's end, who knows! You make typos, we click the wrong button, our emails end up in your spam folders: all these things (and worse!) have happened. If you think a tragedy has occurred with your application, Email us. We'll work it out.

Now, notice what's NOT on that list? Your wedding's offbeatness (what does that even mean!?) or anything about your personality.

How to make sure your app gets approved

Let's get one thing out of the way immediately: our applications are NOT a "Let's see if you're cool enough to join" test. Personal style and "offbeat-ness" has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with applicant approval. Mostly, we're looking to screen out spammers, vendors, trolls, and those "playing wedding" (i.e. dreaming about a someday wedding rather than actively planning an imminent event). We DO NOT CARE if you or your wedding are "cool" — whatever that may mean.

We also want to share this great advice from a Tribe member:

I found the easiest way to approach the application was to treat it as if I'd already been accepted and was writing my profile for the site (which made it especially convenient that the application info does become your profile.) So rather than stressing that I was being tested on my suitability, it just became a matter of working out what I thought my fellow tribe members would want to know about me and my wedding.

Our application has lots of questions, with each one having a very specific purpose. Let's review them one by one, and we can show you what we look for when approving applicants…

Application section: "About Me"

We want to know a bit about you. That's it. Just something that shows why you want to join, and demonstrating that you're putting some thoughtfulness into your application. You could write six paragraphs (some have), you could write a few sentences (most do). You could write about your job, your fiance, your cats, what you had for breakfast… it doesn't matter. We just need to know you're a real live human, and not an asshole.

How to get declined:

  • We get several apps every day with gibberish like "XABGXY" or "—" written in every slot, which is obviously spam, or a vendor trying to get in. Those get booted.
  • If you write "Not now," "I don't do these," or "None of your business" — your app gets declined. That's a red flag that says, "I want your resource but can't be bothered to give you any information about myself." These kinds of answers do not lend themselves to someone who is going to be an active and helpful Tribe member.
  • Generic answers like "bride to be" or "newly engaged" are typically a strike against you — unless the rest of your app is awesome. Sneaky spammers and businesses are getting smarter and making more legit-looking apps, saying things like "found my true love," or "can't wait to get married!" So, when we see a generic app that looks like it came out of an auto-complete program, it gets declined.

Application section: "Wedding Date"

The reason the date question exists is because the Tribe is a wedding planning tool. It is not a place to sit and ogle wedding porn (you can do that here on the blog), or to play at what your dream wedding will be when you find someone. It is for members who are very actively planning a wedding. A few years ago when membership was wide open, many non-wedding planning members flooded in and overwhelmed the group with non-wedding related posts. It became hard to find content related to, well, planning a wedding.

For all of you who are actively planning a wedding, but don't have a date because you're waiting on a venue, pick an approximate date and tell me what's going on in your application. We are real-live people reading your words, so we can approve your application if you share the specifics of your situation.

How to get declined:

  • Have a wedding date in the past. (If you just want to share your wedding story with Offbeat Bride, there's no need to join the tribe. Just submit your wedding!)
  • Have a wedding date more than three years in the future. (Remember, the Tribe is about ACTIVE wedding planning. If you're more than three years out, hold off on joining until you're at the stage where you're booking vendors, sending invitations, etc.)

Application section: "City and State/Region"

This is mostly so that once you're in, you can find other members in your area. If you don't have a set venue or have privacy concerns, a state or region works fine.

Application section: "Website (or Wedsite)"

We want to see either your personal website or your wedding website. Personal website could also mean your Pinterest page or Tumblr. If you don't have a website, then you don't need to put anything here… but a website is a great way for us to get to know you. (Oh, and if you want a free wedding website, you can get one from Offbeat Bride &!)

How to get declined:

  • Link your wedding business (remember: no vendors)
  • Link your Etsy shop (again, no vendors — even bride vendors)
  • Link your ad-sponsored blog
  • Link a random business (we want to see YOUR site, not your venue's website)

Application section: "Share a couple details about your wedding plans"

Nothing earth shattering here. The section is to give us and then your fellow Tribe members an idea of who you are and how to help you! If you don't think your plans are offbeat, remember: we don't care how offbeat you think you are or aren't. We think you're awesome, no matter what your wedding style — including not having a style at all! That's cool too.

How to get declined:

  • Say something short-winded and obtuse like "not sure" or "undecided" or "don't know" (We can't approve you if we can't get to know you! Take your time with your application and share your vision, even if it's totally undecided and could change tomorrow. We don't care if it's crazy and out-there or traditional and reserved — we just need to know that you're a real person planning your real wedding.)

Imagine it like any other social place — if you want to get fit, your best option is to go to a gym, not a pottery class. You need a forum that can completely support that side of you and give you the best possible opportunity to get to those goals, and the Tribe is not that place. We don't decline applicants who are looking for weight loss support, but we do contact them to let them know that they won't find it on the Tribe.

In closing

We understand that some of you who aren't engaged are chomping at the bit to get into the Tribe. We love you but you aren't the right fit for the forum right now. The Tribe is for active wedding planning, and if you aren't in that phase at the moment, it's not going to hold any interest for you. Kind of like when you were little and thought it would be awesome to stay up late with your parents, only to find out all they did was watch the news.

It has been adamantly voiced, numerous times that the Tribe members are beyond thankful that the Tribe is private, and as a result, is their safe place. By letting people who aren't actively planning into the fold, that privacy is taken from them. We can't let that happen. We apologize to those who aren't eligible at this time to become Tribe members, but our responsibility is to take care of the current members, and if the Tribe was a public forum, it would not be the wonderful place it is today. Our aim is not to be exclusive, but rather to make the Tribe as useful as possible to members.

Our hope is that by writing this post, more of you who ARE eligible understand how to take the time with your application so that we can get you approved.

If you have any questions about the Tribe, email us!

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  1. thank you for the thorough explanation.


    ps: "…Kind of like when you were little and thought it would be awesome to stay up late with your parents, only to find out all they did was watch the news…."

    = AWESOME.

    9 agree
  2. That definitely covers it! Poppy (okay, Ang, but I'm calling her the Queen of Poppy Cakes) nailed it all. Tribe is all about a safe place to actually plan your wedding and deal with all the things that entails.

    2 agree
  3. This is a great and informative little article. Even though I am engaged, I haven't sent in my OBT application yet. Simply put, we're just basking in our newly engaged-ness right now and aren't quite ready yet to dive into wedding planning and immerse ourselves in that chaos.

    But you'll be hearing from me before too long!

    7 agree
  4. Just out of curiosity, do we ever get cleaned out of OBBT? I mean, those of us who've already married aren't actively planning a wedding anymore. I wouldn't want it that way since married OBBT members still give great advice!

    2 agree
      • This doesn't even apply to me, but just out of curiosity, if married people give great advice, and you stay in forever even after you're married and are no longer planning a wedding, why is it that people who are already married are not eligible to apply? I mean, I understand the rationale behind not letting people who are not planning a wedding apply, but it seems a bit contradictory to me to keep people who are already married in, but not let them apply when they might have great advice about the process they just recently went through. It just doesn't really seem logical to me to think that you can be in the Tribe when you're already married, and you're input is considered valid, but only if you apply during the already hectic process of wedding planning.

        I'm not trying to be overly critical, and I don't think it would be right to kick people out. It just seems to be kind of flawed logic, and I'm curious if you have thought about this and what your thoughts are. Thank you!

        10 agree
        • There are several reasons, the main one being numbers.

          Second reason: privacy. By limited the Tribe to people who are actively planning their weddings, we know that everyone is there for themselves, not out to snoop. Of course, that isn't the sole reason anyone would want to join post-wedding, but it is something we have to be aware of.

          Finally, over the past couple years, we've noticed that many people wanting to join after their weddings were doing so for promotion purposes … either to peddle their wedding-related business, or to have their wedding ooed and ahhed over. (Note: we're all for oohing and ahhing! That's why we do wedding profiles every day on the blog! Submit yours!) The existence of the wedding date question filters these out.

          Obviously, not everyone who's married is out to snoop/vend/preen in the forums, but there is only so much we can do with a web form, and we're doing the best we can with what we have. Not to mention, the Tribe isn't the only place for marrieds to give advice — the comments on this blog are a great place for lively discussion, and seen by 10 times as many people a day.

          4 agree
          • Not intending to be rude, but your response didn't necessarily answer her question, which was why married Tribe members were grandfathered in, particularly with the conditions you brought up regarding limited space. I'm not even interested in joining the Tribe (I'm planning on having a very private courthouse wedding), but I was struck by the contradictory nature of that statement. I can understand that it might be a bookkeeping nightmare, and that's a perfectly rational reason for not going through and sifting out all the married Tribe members that have no longer been active on the forums after a certain amount of time, but a married individual is a married individual, regardless whether they joined a forum before or after their wedding date.

            5 agree
          • Not rude at all! We don't kick anyone out of OBB unless they're breaking rules. That means these folks are grandfathered in: people who are in OBT then get married, people who are engaged but then their relationship breaks up, people who joined way back when, before there was the wedding date question and really wouldn't qualify under today's standards.

            The reason they aren't booted out is everyone moves on in their own time. Someone who went through a break up with their intended might want to run as far away as possible from wedding planning forums, while others find the OBT a great place to sell their wedding stuffs, and give reviews on vendors that return deposits in the case of the wedding being called off. Some members slap their wedding porn up in an update then take off, thanking us, but saying they don't need us any more. Others stick around to give advice.

            Bottom line, no one is going to be removed unless they did something wrong. If they choose to leave it will be of their own volition. That is why OBT members are "grandfathered in" after they're wedded.

            The best way I can think to explain why we don't let already marrieds in is, would a mother, who has a 3 month old baby and isn't expecting, sign up for a birthing class? It isn't going to be of any use to her because she already had the event that it prepares her for. That being said, if she attended a birthing class while she was pregnant, really clicked with the people there, and decided to hang out to help with the classes after she had her baby, that's productive for both her and the new students.

            I hope that makes a bit more sense.

            7 agree
          • I would have liked to join to be part of the community, I already had my wedding featured so I don't need to promote it or anything, I just really enjoy this website and when there's a link on a fun wedding/article to an "offbeat tribe member" I would like to see more about them… I feel left out of the party πŸ™

            3 agree
      • As I scrolled down I realized a person commented that they'd stopped posting after their wedding… and it got me thinking. If you have inactive tribe members who vamoose after posting their wedding porn, never to return or pop up on the OB Family forum… then either move thier Login IDs to the Family/Parenting forums that you have planned or else delete them entirely.

        You can reduce redundancy efficiently when you weed out inactive members. Say after 4 months of inactivity send an automated e-mail if no reponse even after 30 days, then delete/relocate. That is the only way you will be able to cope with a growing tribe.

        2 agree
  5. Yay! Great article! I swear I stressed over the "Tell us what you have to offer the community," question for about an hour. I have no DIY skills, don't cook, not a vegan, hippie, whatever. I'm terribly average…but I did grow up in a terribly dysfunctional family and I'm good at listening. It got me in. πŸ˜€

    3 agree
    • That's pretty much what I said too. Something about how I'm good at listening and can be another encoraging voice to reassure people that their offbeat ideas can work.

  6. Makes me wonder why I got approved. I think I just complained that the questionnaire sounded like a quiz to me. LOL

    Probably because I *am* planning a wedding, but still, I was pretty snarky. πŸ˜›

  7. Such dedicated screening! I can't believe I got in through such a thorough process. I feel honoured πŸ˜€ Even though I had no idea what to put for so many questions!

  8. So, do you guys get through every app, every day? Or do you have a backlog? If so, do you answer apps in the order in which they were received? I have no opinion about this, really, I'm just curious. πŸ™‚

    • We check the apps every day, although there are times where we get busy and they might sit for a few days.

      If there is someone we have questions on we'll set them aside, but we always do them in chronological order.

  9. So…when I applied to the tribe, I was sincere in my answers, but had I realized it was really an intense application process, I would have taken more time, elaborated more, expressed more of my ideas and how I can contribute to the community, etc. (I applied when I followed a link from some comments and was directed to apply to the tribe to see what was on the page, so it was kind of on-the-fly.) Can we re-apply?

    • Yup! Like Ariel said, sometimes apps get declined by mistake, up until recently, if the date was in the past, and no one responded to our emails, we delete it a few weeks later. Apparently that wasn't working, so we've tweaked how we handled those.

      The only reason you can't reapply is if your previous app is pending.

      1 agrees
  10. I kind of take issue with "Have a wedding date more than three years in the future.". I applied pretty damn far out from the wedding, but I was far more actively involved in planning the wedding a few years back than I am now two months out from the wedding.

    4 agree
    • I also take issue with this. Long engagements do exist for a variety of reasons, and just because a couple does not fit the traditional one year engagement schedule does not mean they are not actively planning years in advance.

      • We understand that everyone moves through their planning process at different rates. The three year guideline was reached upon for numerous reasons: Most venues won't take any deposits further out then that, an influx of detail saturated content can be overwhelming for people who don't really feel the need to be making decisions yet, leading to frustration, extra time with no direction often leads to wedding overload with little to no productivity.

        Our guidelines are based on many years of experience helping of brides plan their weddings. While the "within three year" time frame isn't going to encompass every single engagement (I know a couple that was engaged for 10 years before they got wedded), it's the best option suited for the kind of help and information we have on the Tribe.

  11. After reading your explanation of such a thorough process, I'm rather sorry my answers were so on-the-fly – as Melissa explained so beautifully, I'd have liked to have given you better responses then. Also, we've changed our wedding date to five years in the future – Pi day, to be exact. It gives us more time to plan and save for the wedding we really want. Would you prefer that I delist now and reapply closer to the time? I'd be sorry to go, but I'd understand if that's necessary as it's quite a way off and I'm not able to book vendors at this stage (even the venue I have in mind declined doing so five years in the future).

    • As my plans were sort of thrown off from "yay buying rings this month!" to "Well maybe we should wait a few more years before making things official," I've just opted to be pretty much inactive until I'm back to being engaged πŸ˜›

  12. Thank you so much for the explanation of the application process. I have to confess that I've been feeling somewhat sore because despite the fact that we've been working hard on planning our wedding together for months, and had a time range in mind for almost a year, because we didn't have a date firmly set I felt that my application wasn't welcomed. I also felt that although we're technically engaged and all our friends, family and colleagues know that, because we had yet to do the official "ring thing" that I should just wait.

    Ach! Just one more week to go 'til I have my ring. You'll see my application coming straight after that, I can guarantee you that.

    1 agrees
    • As a tribe member you don't have to have done the ring thing! I would bet good money that only 40% of the brides on there have had a "proper" proposal. Most are like me, and discussed a wedding with my partner and thus, WEDDING! πŸ™‚
      Don't think you have to have a ring to be in the tribe. If I were you I would just apply now! Most brides on there discuss the search for their rings, and it sounds like you are in the right stage of planning to become a member πŸ™‚

      2 agree
      • Agreed! There are entire topics on the tribe for couples who never had a proper proposal and/or don't have a ring.

        I can't speak for family and friends (who all seem to have their own rules on what makes an engagement "real" or official) but I think all the tribe needs is any kind of proof that you're actively planning and not just thinking about a some-day wedding you might like to have maybe.

        1 agrees
  13. Super interesting to see and read about. You must know so much about the people on the site!!

  14. I loved being on the tribe when I was planning my wedding, but once I didn't need the (extremely useful) tool anymore, it felt right to stop posting. There's plenty of wedding porn on this blog as is, so I figured that I could get my fix without being a distraction in the forums.

  15. I found the easiest way to approach the application was to treat it as if I'd already been accepted and was writing my profile for the site (which made it especially convinient that this info does become your profile.)

    So rather than stressing that I was being tested on my sutiability (which was my initial reaction) it just became a matter of working out what I thought my fellow tribe members would want to know about me and my wedding.

  16. I totally liked filling out the application, I was slightly nervous but I knew I wanted to be a part of this. I had already joind some other forum and it was just not doing it for me. While nonone was outwardly rude to me about my ideas, they were a bit stnadoffish and well to be blunt, not really helpfull. I find alot of good help and support here. And i like knowing that I'm not going to be attacked for my ideas, or spamed. When I saw there was an application process I wanted to join the tribe even more!

    1 agrees
  17. Thank you so much for this post. I've been engaged almost a year now and found this site last March, but was a little intimidated by the application. This just gave me the courage to go fill it out. Right now.

  18. I am glad I came upon this post…I LOVE everything about Offbeat Bride and have already received ideas to incorporate into our day. I have yet to read a derogatory post or comment, so kudos on achieving the goal of supporting one another! It would be wonderful to join the community. I was thinking of trying to join the Tribe today, but I see that I would probably be denied as it stands right now.

    My situation is this: My hubs and I got married at the courthouse in Oct 2009. It was a VERY simple event, thrown together by myself within the span of 24 hours (I stayed up all night the night before to make my bouquet and hairpiece, bouts for my man and son, unity candle, and cake.) There was no party, and only my MIL and BF were there as witnesses. We certainly had a very happy day, but it wasn't perfect without the rest of our loved ones. My husband and I agreed that for our 5th anniversary, we would have the vow renewal of our dreams, which I am already planning, because A) We're procrastinators in the extreme, and B) We are trying to merge Celtic, Renaissance, and modern elements into our DIY recommitment ceremony/reception. It is quite the undertaking.

    So my question is this- Since I am already married, next year when I submit my app ( 3 years until my 5th anni), will I be excluded under the "no-marrieds clause"?

    • Gray area, but usually we say yes (Depends on the app). You ARE planning a wedding type event, still have to deal with the vendors, the guest list, all that fun stuff.

      • Cool beans! Thank you for replying so promptly. I do recognize the grayness of a vow renewal, but at some other sites (such as a particular one that is Knot so tolerant), members outright disdain them with the attitude of "If you didn't do it the first time, then it sucks to be you, 'cause you missed your chance"…
        I believe that there are many couples out there who are planning recommitment events, and it would be a shame for them to be ostracized because it isn't the first time down the aisle together. I'm glad to see that couples like my hubs and I have a chance here.

  19. So I *think* I belong more here than on the other wedding websites, as nobody seems to understand me out there, but FH and I are currently in talks about what exactly this wedding will take shape as so I'm holding of my OBB application for now. But thank you so much for having somewhere that the OBB can go and survive and not be judged.

  20. Hiya,

    I wish I saw this before I applied – i thought it was a profile too!!! I do have a slight question concerning the time frame though, why 3 years?? (I am hopefully getting married in 3 but with me and FH being students, no parental money, living in an incredibly expensive city… you get the idea.

    Although it is 3 years away, I am actively planning. I have a plan of exactly what i'd like (*tht i care about), a list of wht my FH cares about (cake and food….) and a preliminary budget. I am looking at venues and have one in mind which has a lengthy waiting list.

    What i wanted to come on for was advice, to gage what i could do to bring costs down, if any other scots had ideas, discuss anything and everything to do with being a bride in paticular how do you pick a MoH when all your friends are blokes and lining up to be groomsmen … advice on inviting stepfamilies, and dealing with the crap emotional stuff (my dad died this month v suddenly its a little raw).

    Because being a bride in 3 years time is a little sucky, and I really want to get my teeth into sorting out the stuff that I can do now.

    • We understand where you're coming from. The crappy reality is that when you're dealing with a growing forum of 20,000+ members, you have to do what you need to to make sure the forum runs smoothly. That means making some rules that might exclude some awesome people at the moment, to keep out some of the dramas. The reasoning as to the three year cut off is multi fold:

      1) We want to make sure you're actually getting married. Sounds harsh, but when membership was open we had a lot of members that were in love with the idea of getting married, and as such always considered themselves in the process of "getting married". There were much dramas involved, since these girls weren't productively actually planning, being a hindrance to those who were. Having a date within three years cut back on the dreamers and schemers.

      2) Secret Weddings. This plays into #1 a bit, but members who are planning a wedding without the knowledge of their partner. These prospective members don't have a date, because they don't have acknowledgement from their partners that there is going to be a wedding. Many of these members surmised that they will have convinced their partners by the time their planned wedding came about, and as such would plan 5 or 6 years out.

      3) Overload. Planning a wedding is hard. We've found that many of our brides who have a longer than 3 year engagement get overwhelmed and frustrated with all the options that they see. Because their goal is farther off, there's more chances for self doubt, which is something we try to avoid.

      So we realized that we needed a cut off point. As to why we chose three, as opposed to two or four or six…

      4) Most venues won't book out more than three years. Since that's a big part of the where the wedding ball gets rolling, we figured it was a great place to start.

  21. lol I feel like such a moron. I think I accidentally submitted my application with an unfinished paragraph. If I'm not mistaken, that paragraph was literally mid-sentence! haha!
    Does that happen often? I would appreciate hearing I'm not alone, but if I am alone, I know I won't suffer. lol My man loves me anyway and that's what's important! ;p haha!

    1 agrees
  22. I had a little trouble submitting mine, it had a *hiccup* during submission. I'm hoping it went through, I really want to be able to be a part of this community. From the articles and comments left on them alone, I really think this is a great place to help with my planning.

  23. You list one of your declination reasons as being married.

    My husband and I were married by proxy (meaning, he wasn't there) and we desire to have a ceremony where he can actually attend and we can share vows face to face in front of friends and family. I've been attacked and ostracized by other wedding planning sites due to others believing I don't "deserve" a ceremony and reception because we're already married on paper. Our reasons for doing so are private and personal.

    I'm hoping that you guys are the one site that can be supportive of such a ceremony/reception, as it requires the same planning, vendors, etc…

    • I'm not a mod but wanted to comment. Yes you're 'already married' BUT you are actively planning a wedding, which is also a requirement. The main idea is, you have to be in the planning process. Just my opinion, and I think you'd be find applying as long as you explain like you did in this comment πŸ™‚

      1 agrees
  24. Something is wrong with the register page. It says name is required but it will NOT let me type in the box. I cant even copy and paste in the box. Everything else is working fine but I dont want to spend all my time filling out when it will get denied because it wont let me fill out my name!

  25. I just sent in my application to the Tribe (after considering your advice above, of course!) but no where did it ask me those last two questions!?
    I hope you don't reject me because of that! Did you change the application since writing this article, or is my computer just being weird?
    I've been reading Offbeat Empire for years, but now that we've discussed a vague wedding timeline and I'm planning a Christmas proposal, its time to join the Tribe-I'm super excited!

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