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. Sorry to hear that, it sounds like things were really tough for you.

    Working the Expos despite everything is a brave decision. I’ve followed this blog since before I was engaged and it always provided solid advice and support for my choices to be different from the mainstream. I wish you all the best and offer virtual hugs, if they’re desired. Xx

    • For real, Bobbi… I coulda written almost every word of your post, except the parts where you’re farther along on the compassion train. I’ll get there some day…

  2. What really strikes me here is your statement about being a wedding expert. I don’t listen to experts (outside of a few fields, like medicine) because it seems to be 99% opinion-presented-as-fact. But your book, your site, and your empire (wait, does that make you our Empress?) didn’t take the tack of being the expert. You took the tack of being honest and creative, as an alternative voice in a sea of white taffeta. By publishing and speaking and hosting, you told me that weddings and unions and people can be authentically themselves- zany or traditional, as long as it’s honest and fun. Which, frankly, is a better message than the previous 30 years of programming I had before. So don’t be hard on yourself, because your being amazing and inspiring has LITERALLY ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with your marital state.

    (But if you wanna write a book about dating post-divorce, I’m down- got a lot of folks who need a bit of sunshine around that these days.)

    • wait, does that make you our Empress?

      It does, but I self-identify as Kween. 😉

  3. I’m so sorry you had to go through all this
    I guess the main thing I want to say is I know how inclusive you try to make this site but hell if anyone is going to judge you for that, or want to look at the shoes or stories on your site less … fuck them. They do not belong here. Honestly. I’ve been part of this online family (if mostly the kind of estranged awkward cousin) since about 2011 and I value your advice and stories just as much as I ever did. No one gets out of life alive and some people don’t stay in love forever, or they love but just can’t practically do it anymore. Obviously I don’t know what happened but I can say with almost complete certainty that you didn’t fail. I’m guessing/hoping you know that.
    I really hope to see more of your writing about life and everything for sure
    lots of love, take care of yourself

  4. Wow, I’m so sorry you are going through this. Your original personal blog was one of the first ones I ever went back and read all the archives of like a stalker. Obviously you haven’t shared much of your personal life with readers for years, but I think there of those of us that still wonder about your life. Even if this divorce is “for the best”, it still sucks a lot. Sending you healing thoughts!

  5. I know I am stupid late to this, and there’s been 6+ additional months of healing and emotion and all that. Hopefully, you’re in a stronger position now than you were when you were writing this.

    All I came here to say is that married or single, you’re still someone to admire for your honesty, candor and sun-bleached, naked vulnerability.

    Whether or not you feel like you can give advice, or tell anyone anything, I just hope at some point you’re able to really get your wobbly legs strong again, stand up and say “yes, I am here. I am still standing and fuck you for second guessing my grit.”

    • Thank you so much for this. Six months later, I AM less wobbly… but still a bit vulnerable in a sun-bleached way. <3

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