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.