Thinking Bride: How Offbeat Bride helped me be more authentic

August 24 2015 | Guest post by GraceFace

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Fun Bride and Bridesmaids Photo
Photo by Mike Allebach

It's hard to plan a wedding while both the industry and your family and friends are telling you, "It HAS to be this way! If you don't have favors/a white dress/a rented car to drive away in, you might as well be giving the finger to the great institution that is MARRIAGE!"

I actually found Offbeat Bride through a site (that shall remain nameless but not blameless) where the writer was mocking it. The tone of the mockery was, "Look at these weirdos who think they're so special and different!" But here's the thing: I WANTED my wedding to be special and different.

Now, over a year later and as my wedding date quickly approaches, I shall literally count the ways in which Offbeat Bride has helped me. If it weren't for Offbeat Bride, my wedding would have been a lot more:

Luke & Suzanne's Muppet wedding
Photo from Luke and Suzanne's Muppet wedding. Photo by Megan Finley

1. Expensive

I live in a major metropolitan area, and when I started doing vendor research, I was dismayed at how much everything costs. When my beloved and I were researching wedding caterers for our area, we were disheartened by the not-terribly-creative choices for food (I'm no chef, but there are only so many ways you can put rosemary on chicken, people) AND the price alike.

Then Offbeat Bride tapped me on the shoulder and whispered, "Hey, you don't have to go with a wedding caterer. You don't have to buy a wedding gown at a salon, you can just get a dress off-the-rack."

We ultimately did both — we got our favorite BBQ restaurant to cater, and I got my wedding dress off-the-rack. We've had people snark that our wedding is "the BBQ wedding." Like A) that's a bad thing, and B) we're supposed to feel bad that it's "tacky." Nope, we get to eat the food we want on our wedding day with nary a limp vegetable in sight!

Ceremony
Photo from Nadia & Dale's wookiee boogie Star Wars wedding by Wedding Dream Services

2. Full of tastes and values that aren't ours

I had a weird epiphany halfway through wedding planning: Do I actually like blush pink and gold as a combination, or do I think I like it because it's all I'm seeing? I re-evaluated my priorities.

Offbeat Bride, yet again, encouraged me to think outside the vintage-suitcase card box. (Which, just to be clear, is a really darling idea but isn't "us.") It's very helpful to actually see other wedding options, because your friend can go on and on about how their boyfriend's cousin's nephew had a feminist rainbow Star Wars wedding, but it's another thing to see a feminist rainbow Star Wars wedding and think, "If they did it, maybe it's okay for me to do it too."

AMHP0229
Photo from Cristina and Adrian's wedding by Michael Hacker Photography

3. Not very well-researched

If I could rename Offbeat Bride, I'd probably rename it to "Thinking Bride" for all the research I've done into white wedding dresses, veils, bridesmaids' dresses, engagement rings, etc., to see if they really align with my values. I would totally slay at Wedding Jeopardy. Offbeat Brides are smart consumers in a world that wants you to buy first, ask questions later.

Traditional wedding planning sites don't want you to think too terribly hard about where certain wedding traditions come from, lest you don't spend your money on them. "Favors? Uh, they're just a thing people do, now buy these Jordan almonds, BUY THEM, I SAY!"

Photo by Oliver Barth
Photo by Oliver Barth from "How to fire a bridesmaid."

4. Drama-filled

Given the lines upon lines of text I've read here about people who used Offbeat Bride's communication and conflict resolution advice, my bridesmaids are goddesses among women.

But I thank Offbeat Bride for giving me the tools for clear communication with them. I told them they get to pick their own dresses, they don't have to help me with DIY projects, they don't have to make a toast, and I laid out other expectations for them.

That being said, I started wedding planning with wedding media telling me that $200 for a bridesmaid's dress was not only normal but "budget friendly" (their logic being, "Hey, at least it's not a $500 bridesmaid's dress!"), and my bridesmaids are probably very thankful that I found Offbeat Bride to say once again, "Hey, it doesn't have to be this way."

I may have found Offbeat Bride through a snark site, but at the end of the day, the wind has been taken out of my sails for snarking on other peoples' weddings. I'll flip through Martha Stewart Weddings magazine where the bride has a huge white cupcake ballgown, the groom's wearing a black tux, and their colors are blush pink and gold, and I'll think, "Hey, as long as those wedding choices made them happy."

My wedding choices make me happy. And thank you, Offbeat Bride, for giving me the courage and knowledge to make them.

You're welcome, GraceFace! Now tell us, other wonderful Offbeat Bride readers: What ways would your wedding have been different if you hadn't stumbled into our loving arms?

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Thanks again to Unity in Glass for sponsoring Offbeat Bride this week!

  1. I found offbeat bride too far into planning my first wedding to make it useful. I am SO glad that this time around I not only have an awesome offbeat groom, but I am doing exactly what GraceFace said – thinking first, buying later. I get to have what I really want and it will be an amazing day with friends and family.

  2. I love that you found Offbeat bride via snarking…it just amuses me so much.

    I KNEW I didn't want a traditional wedding, when I thought of a 'wedding' the ideas that came to mind were so meh I just couldn't get excited about it. Then it was the cost. Our wedding cost more than our original budget but less than average and we felt it was worth it. This is what we wanted to feel not – you just HAVE to spend X on flowers.

    Offbeat Bride provided that and more. Google 'wedding' and you get millions of images of women and men in white dresses and suits respectively, rings, white flowers and green landscape. Sometimes there's variation like a beach or traditional detail pictures but that's about it.

    I feel because of that everyone thinks you HAVE to have those things or its not a wedding, the its the 'most important day of your life' idea doesn't help either.

    When I could show my mum and sisters wedding pictures with bridesmaids in non-matching dresses and non-female bridesmaids they were happy that my 'crazy' ideas would work and not ruin 'my' day. They even started producing them themselves! Such pictures weren't just on Offbeat bride but the idea was often inspired by something here.

    The site even 'taught' us how to present our ideas so they wouldn't be rejected and how to ensure we got what we wanted without being accused of being a bridezilla/groomzilla.

    I think that's it's biggest selling point, its the one of the few places on the internet where you can ask: 'Should my Boyfriend have a wedding party role?' and get a civil, useful answer.

    • The snark site had a weird thesis. I originally found them because they snarked the industry and "Pinterest weddings" and the like, but when they snarked on offbeat weddings, I was like, "so . . . you blast the people who conform too much AND the people who don't conform at all? Make up your mind!" So I Googled Offbeat Bride, left the snark site, never looked back. ๐Ÿ™‚

      As I wrote above, it is SO important to actually be able to see what offbeat weddings look like for the reasons you stated. For instance, people were afraid that having Harry potter touches at my wedding would be "too childish," well, BAM! I have a couple of Offbeat Bride "Harry Potter wedding" articles with examples showing that the touches can look classy and elegant. Never fear, Offbeat Bride is here! ๐Ÿ˜€

  3. THIS. My partner and I knew from the start that ours wouldn't be a traditional wedding, but Offbeat Bride has supplied so many ideas and resources to help our planning process along! Plus, being part of an encouraging, positive, and… well, offbeat community is really empowering. ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. We're also using a restaurant for our caterer, in a large metro area, for $10/person. That is at least half of elsewhere! And if people turn their noses up at pasta, salad, and wraps then I don't even know what to say to 'em.

  5. This website, and the amazing Tribe community, saved our sanity during the wedding planning process. It's unfortunate how often you need validation that it's ok to be yourself during such a personal, meaningful time of your life, but we did need it. You all came through for us in spectacular fashion, and our wedding was the perfect representation of who we are, who we love, and what we value. Beyond being just a wedding blog, this corner of the internet is full of so much empowerment, humor and acceptance. My husband and I are coming up on our third anniversary in October, and I still read this blog several times a week.

  6. Beautiful post! Couldn't agree more!
    We knew right off the bat that our wedding definitely wasn't going to "look" like anything anyone had seen before because no one we know has ever attended a costume Halloween wedding before. That's how I found OBB btw, by googling "Halloween Wedding." After shuffling through a sea of orange and black weddings I stumbled onto a photo of a bride in a green dress. A GREEN dress! I clicked it and found myself in the most wonderful place on earth (too bad Disney World, you lose).

  7. I'm not engaged, and my boyfriend and I only recently began to even discuss getting married. Nevertheless, when I met him, I started looking at websites about weddings and getting married, especially since my boyfriend has been married before and discovered that for a wedding, 10,000 is considered inexpensive. What I discovered is, not only was he right, but it's even worse than that these days–all the sites out there say you "have to have" something or other: 200 people, a church, a 3000 dollar white dress (even if you hate white and have zero desire for a dress that expensive), a registry (even though, in this day and age, you've been living together for a while and already have all the can openers you need), and any number of other things, and all of this is with the idea that the bride's mother is going to pay.

    When I found Offbeat Bride (and Home&Life, by the way), I breathed a sigh of relief. People were getting married in their own back yards, with inexpensive rented furniture, food they (or their friends) had made on the cheap, that was still good, and with minimal dancing! There were abundant non-white dresses, extremely colorful hair styles, secular, non-church ceremonies, and nerdiness, just everywhere. Finally, a place I could go to look at wedding stuff, with a bright future in mind with my boyfriend, and not be inundated with the orders to buy a bunch of tchotchkes that people wouldn't really get. Finally, a place that told me it was okay to get friends to gift desserts rather than can openers. I'm really glad you're here. So glad, I'm getting a little teary in front of my tutoring class. Thank you, so much.

  8. People mock Offbeat Bride? Why?!?!?! (Rhetorical question.)

    I can't remember how I found this site, and although I never considered myself particularly offbeat, I LOVE how the site challenged my thinking. It helped me own my decisions about doing away with certain traditions and keeping those that were important to us as a couple.

    In retrospect, I think it really helped me to stand up to Wedding Industry pressure too.

    I'm so glad Offbeat Bride helped me have a personalised wedding rather than the cookie-cutter option (and taught me that if you want the cookie-cutter option, that's totally okay too!)

  9. So much this! And if I hadn't found Offbeat Bride, I wouldn't even be having a wedding, my partner and I would just sign paperwork and be done with it. OBB showed the value and viability of alternatives!

    • I know exactly what you mean! This is my second wedding–the first was an elopement with no one around–and I was undecided about having anything more than a paper signing event this time, especially since I have PTSD and cannot handle being the center of attention. When I found Offbeat Bride, I told myself, "You know what, Elphie, you are able to have a real celebration, even if there are only six people attending. You and that werewolf you are marrying can be giant dorks and have a feminist, humanist, Pagan, neo-Victorian, multicultural, "Firefly" wedding. You two can have a wedding cake, a first kind-of dance, and whatever the hex else you both want." This is pretty much a verbatim recollection of my conversation with myself upon that wonderful day. ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. So much yes to all of this. Although for us, our wedding is ending up being quite expensive, unfortunately, simply due to the guest count. Fiance's mom is one of nine kids, his dad is one of four, my mom is one of three, my dad is one of four, and basically everyone besides us has kids. However, we are very fortunate in that my parents have had the financial capability and the generosity to 1) pay for most things and 2) tell us that we were to do things however we wanted, and that they would make no demands or request certain traditions. Originally, we were planning on footing the bill ourselves because we were worried that if we took financial help from my parents or his parents, that there would be "rules" about what we could do with the money. We saved up a lot for it, and were on track to meet our savings goal, when we realized it probably wasn't going to be enough. I'm really grateful to my parents especially, who have been encouraging and excited for all of our crazy ideas– we are having a Renaissance/Fantasy themed wedding and are asking guests to come in costume, not mention we are having a pagan handfasting ceremony, I am wearing a green dress, and there won't be one bit of religion (I'm an atheistic pagan and fiance is an atheist) anywhere.

    Offbeat Bride helped me approach the finance issue with my parents, realize that we could really do whatever we wanted and we didn't have to stick to tradition, and gave me the courage to stick by our ideas and do a blatantly pagan ceremony in front of family who are almost entirely Christian of various levels of liberalism and conservatism. So thank you, OBB. ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. I love this article. In particular, I love these lines:
    […] the wind has been taken out of my sails for snarking on other peoples' weddings. I'll flip through Martha Stewart Weddings magazine […] and I'll think, "Hey, as long as those wedding choices made them happy."

    I'm fortunate in that my perception of weddings has never been steeped in WIC influences, and neither have either of our families'. However, I am still prone to the judgmental attitude that is a cornerstone of the WIC–if you can't shame women into buying your crap, how do you make money? OBB has opened my eyes to a wide range of authentic, joyful weddings. My own wedding may be Offbeat Lite and boring as heck for many folks, but it is "us", and OBB assures me that it's just fine. ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. I found OBB while not engaged, and I'm so glad I did! It gave me the gumption to propose to my Fusband without making either of us feel like I was being pushy or he was being emasculated.

    OBB has taught me that our wedding should be what we want, not what other want or expect it to be. That I can have a super awesome feminist wedding that's girly AF. That I can wear white, or not wear white, because at the end of the day, who cares! That we can stand proud together with our new combined surname and we shouldn't feel weird for defying conventions. And we shouldn't feel weird for following conventions. And that I'm throwing a bouquet of plush cats because I want to and that should be okay.

    Yayyy, OBB!

  13. Did anyone find Offbeat Bride through the book first?
    I was engaged many many years ago but never got married. At the time, I ended up buying the book when it looked like my cup of tea, compared to all the other blah wedding books out there at the time!!! I devoured it cover to cover and was desperate for more. It was only then I somehow decided to see if there was a website. I joined the original Ning tribe, but after that wedding fell through, ignored the Offbeatbride site and just focused on Offbeathome. But fast forward to being engaged again and I knew exactly where I needed to be!

    • You are in the sweetest most beloved minority. Most offbeatbride.com readers don't even realize there IS a book, and very few read it. Even fewer find the book first…!

      I get it: the book is pretty old at this point, and it's mostly memoir. The website isn't about me, so for some folks the book is like wtf is this shit?

      • I found the book to be valuable because it's in chronological order. A website publishes advice on invitations one day and then how to budget the next and it can be overwhelming. (Yes, yes, search function, but that doesn't necessarily stop one from worrying about dress shopping and favors at the same time. Not that I know that from experience or anything . . .) Plus, other websites (not Offbeat Bride) only allow one piece of advice from the bride and groom in a wedding profile and it's almost always something nebulous like "Be yourself and have fun!" not "I wish I had known that stamps cost a lot of money and factored that into my invitation budget," and so I found a start-to-finish analysis of a wedding to be very helpful.

        I guess what I'm trying to say is, ACCEPT MY ADORATION OF YOUR BOOK, ARIEL, GEEZ. ๐Ÿ˜‰

        • OK JEEZ OK YOU LOVE MY BOOK OK OK. ๐Ÿ˜›

          Seriously, it makes me feel so warm and fuzzy that people still like the book. I tried to read it last year, and all I could see were publisher errors (they fucked up the table of contents so bad in the 2nd edition) and things I wrote in 2005 that I wished I hadn't. (I was so mean to my in-laws!)

          But whatever: I'm so glad that book is still useful to folks!! XO

    • Yes, I have found the book first, via my mother. I was planning my wedding in 2013, before things got chaotic and the planning took a back seat, and my mother knows what kind of woman I am (the lovable, unconventional oddball in a den of muggles). She thought the book would be helpful in my planning. Then again, books have always been her thing, being a librarian and all. But I digress. Anyway, so the book is still a fave of mine. At this rate, it may end up becoming dog eared because I read and reread it all the time.

    • I also found the book first- and only a few months ago! I was just looking at the annoyingly pink wedding book section at B & N full of thick books that said "bride" on them and very thin books that said "groom". One was hot pink and talked about being an anti-wedding-planning-wedding-planner book but also used the words "your perfect day" on the cover- barf! I saw Offbeat Bride and had a huge sigh of relief when I saw a green book with the words "wedding industrial complex" in the blurb on the back. Finally a book that wasn't trying to shove me into a role I didn't feel I fit (like trying to wear shoes 2 sizes too small)!

  14. We've already eloped, now I'm waiting on the proposal (yep, totally off the beaten track, us). Of course wedding fever struck and much research ensued. While I usually subscribe to a honeybadger approach (http://offbeatbride.com/2011/06/my-top-5-ah-ha-moments) all the expectations and weird etiquette freaked me out so much that the idea of a wedding almost got thrown out – until there was the Offbeat Bride website.

    Most useful contribution thus far? The advice on tact from people who understand (http://offbeatbride.com/2009/01/copy-n-paste-conflict-resolution) – i.e. how to get married the way you want without alienating your loved ones. These responses can even be adapted to other areas of one's life!

  15. I wish I could "This!" this a hundred times over! About 4 years back, I somehow stumbled upon Offbeat Families, and it affirmed to me that I could live my life unapologetically, truthfully, and lovingly. It gave me the tools and words I needed to move forward in my unorthodox pregnancy and in raising my daughter in a way that I felt was healthy. Somehow during this time, I found Offbeat Bride and the wheels were set in motion. My fiancรฉ and I have only begun planning our wedding in the last couple of months. And guess what? Everything I looked into came in a pre-packaged box. Pre-packaged caterers, pre-packaged decor, pre-packaged alcohol, pre-packaged everything. And if that works for you, AWESOME. Do that. But for me, I want to DIY and make tough choices and have about 1000 conversations with my fiancรฉ about what our wedding would look like, and with that, certain freedoms.

    Considering I'm a Canadian woman marrying my Bangladeshi guy, and I have a 3 year old and we're both so very nontraditional…we needed you! We'll be sure to send pictures!

    If it wasn't for Offbeat Bride, I wouldn't even know that freedom was an option. THANK YOU. You are reflective of a generation that is moving forward towards acceptance and living in a way that complements their soul's song (I know I'm cheesy, I regret nothing)

    Thank you.

  16. My first marriage was in 1998 when I was all of 20. Back then, there were no resources to search for offbeat weddings, but my first husband and I took our love of Halloween and had the best costume reception party. I allowed my imagination to run wild (as wild as it could get on a small budget) and we had a lot of fun putting things together ourselves. I bought three large tins of popcorn in the "fall variety" and scooped them into Halloween treat bags, tied purple ribbon around them, curled the ribbon with scissors and "Voila!" – we had our favors. The DJ was the most important thing to us and he made sure that we had the dance party that we wanted. He brought all kinds of costumes and props and interacted with the crowd and it was an awesome time. The marriage only lasted 10 years, but the wedding is one that will always be remembered.

  17. This article is spot-on. I feel so much more relaxed knowing that our wedding day can (and should) be a unapologetic reflection of who we are, and not a collection of expectations from others.

    I've already been married once, and it was a very traditional day – nice in its own way, but it came with a lot of stress because there were things I couldn't control! This time? I'm relaxed, I'm having fun planning, and I'm not striving for the 'perfect day' – we are planning a day of celebration! Kids (and all the unpredictable behaviour they may bring) in the wedding party? Check! A woman in the groom's team? Check! Flowers created out of woven flax? Check! Mis-matched bridesmaids' dresses? Check! Making our own decisions about what we want? Check! Excited? You bet!!

    Thanks OBB for keeping it real and for all the inspiration ๐Ÿ™‚

  18. I found OBB through a friend of mine before I was even engaged. I loved seeing all the fun, non traditional ideas. FH and I want some tradition in our wedding, but we also want it to be a fun reflection of who we are. I love reading OBB and getting ideas for our wedding.

  19. My wedding is going to be on Halloween and it's amazing how many comments and looks I get when I tell people. I get the "oh okay, that's different" to "alright." My father gave me advice early on when I started to feel judged. He said "don't explain why you are having your wedding on Halloween. It is your wedding and when you try to explain why, it sounds like you're trying to justify why it's on Halloween. You don't need to justify anything to anyone." When I look back on my photos that I had saved for ideas, I laugh because I obviously was not thinking of the cost. When I started to do research, I came across this site from googling black wedding dresses. OBB is responsible for my invitations (Citali) and my venue (House of Blues). Seeing other people who weren't afraid to have their own type of wedding, gave me the affirmation that it's important to have a wedding for you and not everyone else. We aren't having a DJ(portable speaker), a cake(brownies), first dance, or a huge reception. And that's okay! Thanks OBB

  20. Yasss, all of this! If I hadn't stumbled upon Offbeat Bride, our wedding would have been very…vanilla. The site gave us the confidence to really just be who we are and value our, er, values. It started at our engagement when my now-husband bought the ring he could afford and no monthly payments. We valued putting our money into travelling and not my rock, so my husband followed through there! Yay him! In the end, the website gave me to confidence to have just a great party with a taco bar, lawn games, a Ben and Jerry's ice cream cart, and all in a blue gown with our friends and family. Thank you!

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