Offbeat Bride, Divorced

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Notice anything missing on that left hand? Photo by Glass Coat Photobooth at Atlanta Lovesick Expo 2016
Notice anything missing on that left hand? Photo by Glass Coat Photobooth at Atlanta Lovesick Expo 2016

Oh hi there, it's me. Ariel. You know, the publisher of offbeatbride.com. The author with three names who wrote that book, Offbeat Bride: Creative Alternatives for Independent Brides, a decade ago? The founder of a publishing business built on the back of her 2004 wedding?

Yeah, that's me. And as of June 2016, I'm divorced.

It hasn't been a secret, but it hasn't felt appropriate to talk about it here until now. Things have been a little intense, you know?

…How intense, exactly?

Well, eight weeks after my partnership of 18 years collapsed, it was my job to fly all over the country to co-produce eight Lovesick Expo wedding fairs. While the expos ended up being deeply therapeutic, there's no denying that co-producing 400-person wedding shows was still a pretty balls-out (labia-out?) emotional experience.

If you came to a Lovesick Expo this year, maybe you noticed. If you brought me a copy of the Offbeat Bride book to sign, I may have smiled a little too hard. If you asked me if my husband was performing at the expo, you may have caught me visibly wince as I politely shook my head and said, “No, not this year.”

Maybe you noticed the lack of a wedding ring, or just picked up on something being a little off, which lots people did, because I have a pretty shitty poker face despite the fancy dresses. If you looked me in the eye in the swirl of the wedding expo and asked me, “…you doin' ok?,” I probably told you I wasn't.

How could I not? If you tell me how you started reading Offbeat Bride when planning your first wedding in 2012, and how you're using it again now in 2016 to plan your second wedding, how could I not tell you that I get it? When a divorced wedding vendor tells me about how he had to work a wedding the day after his ex left him, how could I not tell him that I get it? I really, really get it. I leaked tears all over my sequins, week after week. I flew back to my empty home, week after week.

Ariel at Lovesick Expo 2016
On stage at Lovesick Expo Seattle, with one of my co-producers, Tom.

Sharing & secrets

As my emotional barfing at Lovesick Expos should make clear, my divorce certainly has not been a secret… but it just didn't feel appropriate to publish anything about it while the situation was still unfolding. Out of respect for my son and the rest of my family, it won't ever be appropriate for me to say much about the end of my marriage… but now that the divorce is legally finalized and a matter of public record, it feels disingenuous not to acknowledge.

I mean, a decade ago I wrote a tell-all book about my fucking wedding! That book launched this website. This website launched what became the Offbeat Empire LLC, the company that supported my family as it was, and continues to support my family as it is now.

My greatest personal joy in being both an author and publisher has always been the personal connection with my readers. I'm a memoirist and service writer, for godsake! I write narrative nonfiction and relate my own personal experiences to your experiences! That's my fucking jam, so it's felt deeply uncomfortable to be cagey about such a profound shift in my life. It felt secret-y, even if it wasn't.

…Then again, offbeatbride.com isn't about me, and hasn't been for a very long time. Most readers don't even know who publishes the site, and why should they? If you're looking for wedding porn, it doesn't matter who manages the web hosting and pays the editors. But still, but still… sweet readers, it's felt weird between us, and I haven't liked it. I haven't liked having that wall up. It's nice to open the curtains and get some light in this dark place.

How does my divorce affect my work on Offbeat Bride?

It doesn't, other than that I probably won't be writing much relationship advice. (Oh, the hubris of thinking I had answers to questions like, “How do you make a relationship work for 18 years?” Now I'm smart enough to just shrug.)

As that divorced vendor at Lovesick suggests, there are a lot of us in the wedding industry who've gone through divorces. This is hardly a unique experience, or some sort of pain that I alone understand. I'm not the first wedding industry person to work straight through a divorce — hell, I'm not even the first wedding blogger to go through it. My special snowflake badge is officially forever retired.

Post-divorce, you might see me writing a bit more over on Offbeat Home & Life. God knows my personal writing has been an ink-black, seemingly bottomless cenote of words about grief, loss, healing, recovery, and personal development.

Inevitably, the next question everyone always asks me is this:

Will there be another book?

Gurl, please.

Of course there will.

But maybe not the book you think. There will be no book called Offbeat Divorce. It was weird enough to become some sort of wedding expert — I was an Offbeat Bride who'd planned exactly ONE wedding. Why would I set myself up to give ill-informed advice based on having gone through exactly ONE divorce?

Also, somehow writing a book called Offbeat Bride about my 2004 wedding has meant that it's 2016 and people still ask me about my wedding… I mean, it was awesome, but I do NOT want to set myself up to still be talking about my divorce in 2028, thanks.

So, while there will be no Offbeat Divorce, there will indeed be a book about the process of recovering from that shitshow. See, I have zero interest in writing about my divorce, but I have a LOT to say about the process of healing through rocky-as-fuck transitions like going from Offbeat Wife to Offbeat Life.

UPDATE 2020:

…Well, that only took a few years!

The book that came out of this situation is called From Shitshow To Afterglow, and it hit bookstores in July 2020! You can get it at Amazon, on Audible, or buy it from your local indie bookseller.

If you want to try before you buy, you can read an excerpt over at my new website, findyourafterglow.com.

Comments on Offbeat Bride, Divorced

  1. You and I planned weddings at the same time in 2004, on the same message board, and a story about my wedding was in your book. I’m now divorced, too, and I’m here because I’m getting remarried.

    I commend you on getting through the divorce while maintaining appropriate boundaries between public and private and without putting down your former husband. It’s incredibly difficult to keep a positive face when you’re torn apart inside. You’re awesome for maintaining that boundary and respect for him and your son.

    And as you know from the many, many second+ brides reading and writing on this site, divorce isn’t a death sentence for love. You’ll get through and at some point the idea of loving someone else won’t induce a sharp stabbing pain and nausea. At some point, you may be here planning another grand celebration and looking forward to the adventure of life with a new partner. And you’ll be so much smarter about it than you were the first time around.

  2. Love you just the same. And, in my thirties, I got divorced THREE times! No shame here, lady!

  3. Thank you for sharing this. While you may not feel qualified to give advice, you are perfect for it! Each phase of a relationship is a learning experience and now you can take your experience and offer support to anyone else to needs to hear “I get it.” Advice doesn’t have to be “how to make it work,” sometimes the best advice is “how to deal and cope.” Keep writing because it will help us and could be quite therapeutic at the same time.
    I’ve been there and I get it.

  4. Sending you some love from a fellow divorced wedding pro <3 I really admire your bravery in being public about it. You've inspired me to be as well!

  5. Divorce is so painful and shitty and I haven’t even begun to process anything. You write it, I’ll buy it.

  6. Thanks for being brave and telling your readers. As you are probably finding, a lot of us have or are going through divorces also. Myself being one of them as of December last year when it became official. I remember feeling embarrassed about being featured on OBB in 2012. I shunned myself away from this site for a little while. I have recently been back, reading more about offbeat life, home etc. And realising more and more that this was never about just weddings, as Ariel said. Its about people, and community, support and encouragement while we stumble through our offbeat lives.

  7. I know a lot of divorced folx who said it sucked (a lot) in the beginning but eventually, they stopped wanting to hear the “Oh, I’m sorry’s” and moved on into “Don’t be sorry – it was the best thing for our family.” Here’s to hoping that offers comfort and is true for you soon enough. <3

  8. I got engaged in late 2011 and have been a member of the OBB Tribe since 2012. My now hubby and I broke up for a few months in 2013, got back together, finally married in 2015, were separated for a few months early this year, and are now back together with a stronger bond and healthier relationship than we’ve ever had in our 6+ years together. This community has been a huge help through all of the turmoil. Even though I am more of a Tribe stalker (I prefer to oogle and read rather than post or share), I still feel so accepted and supported, and it has made the hard times just a little bit easier. Your post here is a perfect example of why. Your Empire acknowledges that everyone’s journey is different, and although there is a lot of advice out there, we each choose what is best for our situation and need not fear being attacked for that choice if we share it here. In the Tribe we are not defined by our marital status, or boxed into conventional traditions as we may be in other circles, both physical and virtual. Many people would read my background above and say, “wow…. Drama! How can you possibly have a stable, healthy relationship after all of that?! You’re crazy!” Yet I feel comfortable sharing it here because I know so many people will totally or at least partially get it, and even if they don’t, no one will judge or shame me for it. Thank you, thank you, thank you for providing this safe, loving forum. You may not hear from us quiet readers very often, but I know I’m not the only one here, and I know we all appreciate you sooooooo much. Much love to you in this difficult time. I look forward to many more years of everything the Empire has to offer, about ALL aspects of life.

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