9 years of Offbeat Bride: we won (and why we’re done being special snowflakes)

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we won tshirt

January 1st, 2016 was Offbeat Bride's ninth anniversary! That is a hell of a long time to be doing anything, and it's especially a long time to be publishing a website. I mean, how many sites that you were reading in early 2007 are still around? How many of them are still active? Nine years on the internet is like 100 people years! This is me holding my little internet trophy and feeling awesome!

Nine years ago, it made sense to have an Offbeat Bride LiveJournal feed. Nine years ago, lots of you who are now engaged were in high school. Nine years ago, some of you who are now engaged were already married — to prior spouses. Nine years ago, red wedding dresses were almost unheard of, and Harry Potter weddings were never seen.

And somehow here we are: nine years later! Still kicking! Still cheerleading! Still celebrating.

Things HAVE changed though…

The biggest shift is that, well, WE WON. I wrote about this a bit last April:

This year it's even clearer… over the last nine years, we won the war against wedding homogeneity. It's not only just OK that your wedding reflect your personality, it's almost assumed that of course you're going to have some references to your favorite bits of pop culture, or the place where you had your first date, or that song your dad used to sing to you.

Being an Offbeat Bride just isn't as much of a battle as it used to be. All of us on staff really truly feel this shift in the site, and feel the shift in ourselves. I definitely founded this site with a sense of battling and rebelliousness. I wasn't just being myself, I was pushing hard against mainstream weddings, trying to carve out something different! I was defying the expectations! I was standing up for my own vision! Truth be told, I definitely had some special snowflakeness going on, and some offbeater-than-thou posturing. When my book first released, I made Offbeat Bride shirts that said “Fuck Taffeta.”

Nine years later, Offbeat Bride knows very well that some people like taffeta… and that's awesome! Nine years later, Offbeat Bride doesn't have to try so hard about being off anything. We're about inclusivity. We're about a welcoming community vibe, and speaking to each other with respect. We're about throwing the doors open, and moving past anyone having to prove themselves — including proving to anyone how offbeat you are or aren't. We're about authenticity, whether that means uber odd or streamlined and minimal.

How we're including more people in offbeatness

In no place is this inclusivity shift more obvious than the retirement of the Offbeat Bride Tribe. I know that some of you deeply loved our forum, but the sad truth was that its existence fostered a sense of Offbeat Us vs On-beat Them. Since members had to apply, I heard constantly from people worrying they weren't offbeat or cool enough to join. (The application process was mostly just to keep out spammers and trolls, but any wall around a community is immediately going to feel like it creates a “cool kids” table.)

What most members loved about the Tribe was the community vibe, the commitment to tolerance and support, the inclusivity and kind-heartedness. Nine years into Offbeat Bride's offbeat ride, it's clear that the community vibe is what really matters. It's why we're bringing that spirit of tolerant discussion out from a private forum and into our Open Threads on the blog. We're tired of the offbeat walled garden, and being the mall cop who decides who gets to come in.

The doors are open. Come on in.

So what is Offbeat Bride about in 2016?

Nine years in, Offbeat Bride is about cheerleading you in your wedding planning, supporting you through your challenges, providing inspiration and advice, all from a staff and community that's committed to inclusivity.

Offbeat Bride isn't about having the weirdest wedding, or being the first person to ever do that clever thing at your reception, or wanting guests to tell you “that was the best wedding I've ever been to!”

Offbeat Bride is about celebrating the ways each of us is offbeat and awesome, not about drawing lines around who's offbeat enough.

Offbeat Bride is about showing you the weddings of people you might not see on other wedding websites, because not everyone who gets married is a white, straight, cisgender, able-bodied twenty-something.

Offbeat Bride is about not taking ourselves too seriously, while also respecting and celebrating folks who do things differently than we do.

Offbeat Bride is about inspiring you to do things the way that feels right, regardless of whether that's over-the-top weird or quietly minimal. We know that offbeat isn't a spectrum — it's a prism and we love all y'all's love, no matter what it looks like.

Clearly, I'm in a navel gazing mood… so you tell me: what does Offbeat Bride mean to you? Ever year it's a little different… I want to hear from this year's readers! Tell us what you want the site to be, what you're looking for, and how we can help you get there.

Comments on 9 years of Offbeat Bride: we won (and why we’re done being special snowflakes)

  1. OBB is like the ‘me’ version of Pinterest. Not just for wedding planning (oh the hairspiration on here!), and not just for events. It’s like the coolest creative brainstorming group I could hope for, and I get to sit in and admire it all without being forced to contribute. 😉

  2. It’s feeling ok with my “strange” decisions. A reminder that my idea that this day should be about my fiancee and I celebrating this thing we do (our relationship) and our choice to bet half our shit that it’ll work out rather than tying down a man, or making an honest woman of me, or honouring our parents, or whatever else the wedding industry wants us to think – is OK. It doesn’t matter that the book was written nearly a decade ago. It’s become essential to me during this process.

  3. Another European here. I haven’t been to many weddings in my life, but the ones I’ve been to just didn’t feel right for what my partner and I were looking for. Thankfully, I pretty soon came across OBB and I never looked back. I had family members telling me that it’s “normal” to suffer on your wedding day due to uncomfortable attire – shoes, headdress, whatever… And I was simply not willing to put up with that. OBB gave me the assurance that it’s OK and desirable to be comfortable. I find it funny that so many of our choices that seem only logic to my partner and me, strike our environment as odd. There’s still a long way to go until people understand and it’s OK and fine to make the choices that fit the couple best and to not follow traditions or fashion.
    That said, my one wish would probably be to see more DIY projects on here. 🙂 Otherwise, I can’t wait to see what awesome weddings will be in store for us to admire in the future!

  4. OBB gave me permission to have a wedding that reflected everything that was lovely and fun and true about our relationship. It introduced me to vendors who would not only tolerate but celebrate those things. It gave me a community to plan and share and squeal and feel connected.

    Years later, when my husband left me and my life barely resembled what I thought it would be, OBB gave me permission to experience my divorce as authentically as I experienced my wedding and marriage. It gave me permission to heal without an influx of trite cliches or specific timeline of emotion. It not only tolerated but celebrated my path, my offbeat life path, by bringing me back to a safe place of nonjudgemental folks who were also living their own lives apart from those expectations.

    And now, OBB has given me permission to feel excitement about the potential of a second wedding to a man who may or may not also leave me. Understanding that risk has enabled me to be courageous about the big conversations while ultimately serene about the things I can’t control (that is: another person, whether they love me, how many years we will have together and whether we will be separated by his choice, my choice, mutual choice, or neither (death, etc), and what my future life path will resemble regardless of my hopes or assumptions; I can plant the seeds for the garden I hope, but the wind has a way of bringing in weeds – I am now embracing all the beautiful weeds).

    If he does, and if I am broken again, I know OBB will be here (as well as Offbeat Home) full of beautiful people who aren’t afraid of honest emotion and who will continue to teach me about resiliency and life.

    OBB has given me permission to live.

    Thank you.

  5. OBB was a big help in educating my guests, especially my husband’s family on handfastings and Pagan traditions. I was able to share other wedding, that were similar to ours with them. And the article I wrote about Pagan weddings was published here! Seeing my article on the subject on a website/online magazine that felt legit, made a huge difference for my guests.

    I do wish that there had been more very simple and stripped down weddings available, however. Even many of the weddings found under the “simple” and such tags, include things like a live band and catered meals. I felt a little left out while planning my wedding, because there was very little representation of basic receptions, back yard weddings and so forth.

    I also wish that there was better representation for beautiful and elaborate ceremonies. The articles that I found on crafting a ceremony seemed geared towards an attitude of “Here’s a simple, 5 minutes ceremony, because long/religious/fancy ceremonies suck!” I wanted a beautiful, elaborate, religious ceremony and a really simple reception. OBB seems to lean in the opposite direction.

    I’ve submitted my wedding, and our ceremony script. But I don’t expect to see either on the website. Which is too bad. But I imagine such things don’t draw as much interest.

    • Elaborate ceremonies and simple receptions are my favourite too! The way I see it, the ceremony is the important part, no matter how much fun the after party will be.

  6. OBB is inspiration, reassurance, and acceptance for me. I’m so happy I discovered this corner of the Internet. I have to say and second many other commenters though, I don’t think we’ve quite “won” yet, so there’s plenty more work to do for OBB 🙂
    Congrats on the 9th birthday!

  7. Off Beat Bride is about what you could do and not what you should do. It lets me dream and it lets me turn around and tell my mother that sometimes she is wrong and that the world and weddings don’t work the way she thinks they do anymore. I love that it has opened the door for creativity and personalization and that I can just be me and say it how I want to and not how I am supposed to. Finally it has allowed me to stop worrying about tacky and to just celebrate us and the fact that no matter how the day goes the marriage is what really matters!

  8. Not a new reader, I’ve been reading the site for some time now! I’ve always known I was a little..different, and now that my fiance (we’ve been engaged a year and that’s still THRILLING to say!) and I are planning a pirate wedding, I know I’m not alone.
    OBB is about celebrating who you are, and who you are as a couple. I can stop worrying about what his conservative parents think, or about how some relatives won’t come because it’s not going to be in a church, or performed by a religious leader. It’s opened the door for me to express myself creatively, and to really let my nerd flag fly!
    Happy level up day (a tad bit late but it’s fine) OBB!

  9. To me, offbeat bride celebrates a couple making their vows together in whatever way works for them. I always direct my couples to it because it is always a blog to celebrate love first and not all the flotsam that comes along with a wedding. I love you guys and your work! *cheers*

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