Construction is always more difficult than demolition

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A reader sent me this “Best of Craigslist” post that encapsulates one writer's take on all the traditional things she doesn't want at her wedding. (And yes, I'm assuming the author is a woman, although there's no way to know.)

… I couldn’t help but look around at your wedding and think, “Wow. I don’t want any of this.” But don’t think that your wedding specifically turned me off to weddings. No, we are all now in our late twenties and wedding invitations appear in the mail with almost the same frequency that delivery guys slip take-out menus under my door. And now, having attended and been in a few weddings, I can’t help but think “I don't want any of it.”

You should definitely go read the whole post. It's hilarious — but then be sure to come back, because I've got something important to say…

It's a great little rant, filled with the writer's frustrations about all the traditions they'll be skipping when and if they ever get married. It's good for a chuckle and a nod-along as you read it, but I realized by the time I was done that it brought up some issues for me.

See, I don't really care about what you DON'T want at your wedding. It's easy to point at things other people have done and shout No! No! No! as you stamp your feet. It's easy to react against stuffy traditions, family expectations, and a wedding industry that shoves its “you gottas” down your throat.

But you know what's much harder? Creating what you want. It's so easy to slam other people for their over-the-top this, their tasteless that, their tacky whatever. It's much harder to stare down the muzzle of your own wedding (and your own life!) and determine what you actually want from it.

When you make all your plans through the process of elimination, you're cheating yourself out of some amazing creative opportunities.

I rally a lot about constructive, proactive communication … I'm sure it gets tiresome at times. But reacting online to things you don't like can almost become a sport of snark, a grand volly of bitching and dismissing. I don't want a church! I hate the patriarchal bullshit of the father walking me down the aisle!

Ok, sure. That's the easy part. Now the harder part is finding your perfect non-church venue and a way to include your family in the ceremony in ways that are more meaningful to you. Rejection and rebellion isn't especially creative — and me, I'm mostly interested in the creative process. Saying “FUCK YOU, TRADITIONS!” only gets you out the door. It's a long walk to the altar.

Focusing on proactiveness and creativity works wonders for communication with family members, too. Instead of just hollaring, “But, Mom: I don't want a receiving line!” (which is you rejecting her), you can try “Mom, I've looked for a more engaging, fun way to interact with my guests — that's why we're getting a bouncy castle!” (Which is you agreeing with the idea of engaging with guests, and providing your solution.) Then you can stop arguing about what you don't want, and start building support for what you do want.

It's easy to be reactionary. It's much more difficult to stop griping about what you don't want, and dare to make your own plans.

UPDATE: This post isn't intended as some sort of slam on the Craigslist poster. The posting is a funny little rant, and the writer is not alone in her frustrations. I'm just not interested in criticizing the author — rather, I'm interested in exploring the ways in which it's easier to focus on what you don't want instead of focusing on creating something new. The Craigslist post is just one example out of thousands across the web.

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Comments on Construction is always more difficult than demolition

  1. I think the best any of us can do is make our lives, ceremonies, weddings and marriages be exactly what *we* need and want… and leaving everyone else what they need to do. Life just gets so much freer and easier and (omg!) happier that way 🙂

  2. I’ll second that amen! So far, I’m finding that in creating my own (and my finace’s own) style of wedding, we’re really revisiting who we are and what’s meaningful to us- individually and as a couple. It kind of feels like wedding therapy. The idea of being judged on a wedding you have put your heart and soul into and created based on who you are is kind of a scary prospect. But in the end, that’s why we’re all here, right? To say “nope, I’m doing it my way- and fuck you, judgement.” It’s just a waste of time to tear down anyone else’s idea of a wedding, traditional or not. Let’s just appreciate that we have the opportunity to build each other up and the courage to create our own zany, wacky, beautiful celebrations of love!

  3. I actually loved the Craigslist rant, I gotta say. That being said, it’s also an anonymous Craigslist posting. No one said that it’s the only thing s/he’s thinking about, and it’s just a rant much like the rest of us have rants about anything in our lives. I think it’s a little unfair to judge ths poster based on this one rant, saying she needs a drink or to get laid or to lay off. I’m sure s/he’s a rational person.

    But Ariel, you’re right! Creating what you do want is much harder than just rejecting tradition for the sake of tradition, for sure. But that’s also the fun part! At the end of the day, everyone wants their guests to feel welcome, the wedding to be meaningful, and the reception to be fun! “Tradition” is (in part) intended to ensure that, but it’s not necessary.

  4. Not pretentious – frustrated! How many weddings have you been to where you were a captive audience being shuffled from one canned moment to the next (time to cut the cake – time to throw the bouquet – time to be here for this pic – time to…). I feel her pain and no judgment that she vented.

    I think Ariel’s point is dead-on though. The easy part is deciding what you DON’T want at your wedding – but you do have to identify what you don’t want so you can focus on the things that you DO want. Give the craiglist venter a break and let her clear her head. Now it’s up to her to think about what she’d like to do to have a meaningful, authentic event.

  5. I think there may be something positive in deciding what you DON’T want. My biggest problem is that my list of “oh-my-god-that-would-be-awesomes” is a little overwhelming. If you’re able to, in a constructive way, weed out the parts that AREN’T important or part of your style, it makes the “I-have-to-have-its” easier to decide on. I guess the key here is to do so in a positive, contemplative way instead of tearing down other people’s different, but equally valid, ideas of what they want for themselves.

  6. I actually read this craigslist post a long time ago (I admit I did a search for “wedding” in the best-of section) and I enjoyed it. But I also agree with Ariel. But before I read Ariel’s response, as I read through the post this time around, I was thinking, “Ah, I’m not into churches either. That’s why we selected our special offbeat venue! Ahh, we don’t want 300 guests either, that’s why our guest list is down to 80 and hopefully going lower! Oh, the single table is awful, I’m glad my wedding and the reception is structured in a different way…”

    So Ariel, thanks for making me realize I have already been taking some constructive steps, but thanks even more for the reminder. I attended a “WIC-inspired” wedding this weekend, and I admit that afterward my FH and I whispered, “Yikes! We won’t be having THAT or THAT at ours!” It’s not necessarily healthy, and it’s not necessarily nice, either.

  7. Maybe she was just venting…sometimes you have to do that, you know? Get all the negative stuff out at once so you can focus on your other thoughts.

    It’s always risky posting your personal thoughts on the internet!

  8. “…but you do have to identify what you don’t want so you can focus on the things that you DO want.”

    I don’t think this is necessarily true. While thoughts similar to those of the Craigslist poster certainly went through my head, when my fiance and I actually starting figuring out what we wanted our wedding to be, we just started from the ground up. What things are important to us? Friends, family, good music, good food, good beer, etc.

    The “I definitely don’t wants” really only come into play for me when someone (fiance, mother, caterer, etc) brings up what people will be EXPECTING from the event, and that’s what I see in the rant, too: it’s not just about bucking tradition, but also about not meeting people’s expectations. THAT’S what’s truly frustrating for me.

    Not that building a wedding from the ground up is a free an easy process, of course. =p

  9. I soooo agree about the negative approach being wrong in life as well. It reminds me of Loyd Dobler (John Cusack in Say Anything) answering the question of what he wants to do with his life:”I don’t want to sell anything, buy anything, or process anything as a career. I don’t want to sell anything bought or processed, or buy anything sold or processed, or process anything sold, bought, or processed…”

  10. I agree, I liked the post, didn’t think it was pretentious, yes it was a rant and rants aren’t don’t really help acheive much (apart from stress relief) it was a rejection of tradition, and as it was anonymous it was probably her way of releasing the frustration of what a traditional wedding can pose to someone who doesn’t want one.

    But then having said that of course Ariel is right! It’s very easy to say what you don’t want, I think I did that before deciding what we did want. The hard part for us (and I bet for the Craigslist writer) comes after and is the creation, like Ariel says, of what you and your partner want your wedding to be.

    I read the post at a good point in wedding planning when I was pretty much fed up of it and it gave me a chuckle. I saw it as a take what you want from tradition and don’t worry about not having what everyone else has.

  11. Ariel is spot on. Creating a wedding that personalizes the two people getting married is a daunting affair. But I would argue that it is the RIGHT way of doing it. It is kind of like couple’s therapy; it’s a chance to reexamine the most important parts of your relationship, and how you express them.

    That said, I think the reality of planning a wedding is more complicated. People have to start off with some kind of template, or they get overwhelmed. I’ve been in so many weddings over the years (I play the cello) that I take full responsibility for playing the ‘No!’ game. But that’s because I’m trying to find something I like to stand on. Once I find that, it’s all about what expresses me and my beau the best.

    I’m sure there are many artist brides out there that see a blank page and can create something totally theirs from it. But when it comes to your everyday semi-creative bride (or groom, or whoever’s planning), having a framework to jump off from makes the whole thing seem more manageable.

    So there you go. Just remember that you can adapt and weed without being negative. And that’s what Ariel’s message truly is, I think.

  12. Thanks for all the comments, everyone.

    Just to clarify: this is so NOT a slam on the original posting. I totally get that it’s a lighthearted rant that lots of us will relate to. It’s just one of thousands (hundreds of thousands?) of rants like this across the web. I gots nuthin’ personally against ranters — I’m just saying that ranting is the easy part and that the real creative work comes when you quit focusing on what you don’t want and shift your focus to creating something new.

    I don’t think the original poster is pretentious or mean or rude or off-base. I just think ranting about weddings only gets you so far, and the stuff that comes AFTER is always both more interesting and more difficult.

  13. I really think Ariel was using the (admittedly hilarious) Craigslist post simply as a jumping-off point for the bigger picture here: it is easier to say what you don’t like than build your own wedding.

    Why? Because saying you don’t like someone else’s stuff makes sense, but how do you create your own meaningful event by going around looking at other people’s stuff? I admit it: it’s been HARD for me to create this wedding and imbue it with personal elements. One, I’m not the most creative person and two, God bless ‘im, but my FH is squarer than SpongeBob.

    It really wasn’t about the Craigslist post – that’s just a great example to use for her actual point.

  14. A brilliant observation and attitude, Ariel. This is not just a lesson for wedding planning but one for life.

    Here’s what I learned in 30+ years of teaching owners how to work with their dogs – it’s easy, often automatic and absolutely fruitless to only say “NO!” There are thousands of “NO’s” in the world (for dogs and people alike) and fewer and often less obvious “yes’s.” Do the work, find the “yes’s” and keep those in the forefront of everything you do. It works and makes your life and relationships a hell of a lot more positive. And a healthy understanding that you can’t control other’s behavior, only your response, goes a long way too.

    As for our wedding, FH and I are planning it like a fun party with our best friends and loved ones. Oh, and there will be a marriage ceremony to kick off the festivities. Because that works for us. And here’s to whatever works for you – cheers!

  15. I completely agree with you, but I also understand where the craigslist person’s coming from.

    I agree with about half of what that person wrote, as my wedding will be lacking some traditional features, and can understand why they wouldn’t want the rest.

    But, at the end of the day, if you don’t want it all, then don’t have it! Ha! I also find weddings boring. They’re pretty, they’re lovely, they’re boring. Do what you want, afterall!

    Interesting. I find it fascinating that people rant on Craigslist. What an odd spot to do that.

  16. Ariel’s comments about this nails-it-on-the-head rant remind me of hearing my middle son say to my younger son “stop whining and DO something about it!”
    yes – it’s easy to identify what you dislike about what other people do/plan/have/have done but much harder to make your own choices, think independently, and DO SOMETHING about it. that’s why I love OBB and OBBT – you’re all individuals, not the proverbial Wedding Lemmings that follow the WIC and other people’s expectations. if you WANT an uber-traditional-over-the-top wedding – have it and LOVE IT! if you want a bouncy castle, your best male college friend as flower girl, a handfasting, an Islamic honey ritual, an Apache wedding prayer, tatooed wedding rings and Fleuvog boots – have it and LOVE IT! it’s really about celebrating a union, a marriage, and how you celebrate is up to you.
    it’s harder to build a unique, personal event rather than just choosing white or ivory, chicken or fish, tux or black suit. I commend everyone who puts in the effort !!

  17. This is what I keep running into. With every damn thing.

    I know what I don’t like and what I don’t want. I know who I’m NOT. I know what he and I together are not.

    But I don’t know who I am anymore. I don’t know what he and I will grow to be. I don’t know what suits us enough to be worth pissing off two families and three generations. And that’s why wedding planning makes me curl up into a ball and have a good cry roughly once every six weeks.

  18. For me the most amazing thing about planning our wedding was that I would say “hey lets do this” and he would give me that look-the one that said I am uncomfortable with that. I found out more about his boundaries and what he really cherished (who knew he really wanted a bride in a white dress??? i mean I never expected that). We got really good at compromise and, being a taurus, that is something I am not always good at. I love the fact that I found out about his music preferences more than I knew already and he found out that I think really well on my feet and can budget like a mad woman.

    I walked away from our wedding, not only with a new last name and a man who makes me feel more like me than anyone ever, but with a better appreciation for who he is and why he makes this relationship so grand. Our wedding was indeed lile someone said earlier, wedding therapy and I am so grateful having had the experience!

  19. I love it. It’s actually hilarious. Because we have all been there and after many weddings Jonathon and I have left going I didn’t like this or that, but instead I’d like this or that.

    But at least she knows what she does want… and that is cake. And who can blame a person for wanting cake. Especially yummy cake? Seriously.

    LOL. But it made my day.

  20. i think that, for some of us, the No No No rant is part of a necessary process. you have to barf up all the frustration and bile you have built up about standard weddings in order to take a fresh look at the structure of a wedding and take back what you like.

    but you also have to recognize that jordan almonds wrapped in tulle make some people very happy. and let ’em be happy.

  21. I think we’re all still too focused on this little brat attitude of “I want, I want, I want!” “It’s MY special day and I’ll cry if I want to!”. Offbeat Bride used to be about more then just a different coloured dress and now it kinda just seems like it’s the same wedding industry but “alternative” style with still all the trappings of consumerism and a false-sense of “personal” identity. So you know what I want?

    I want to be able to whisper I love you to my new husband and have him hear me even in a crowd. I want to share this day with my friends and family and not have what I purchased and how I put it together be what’s talked about most.

    I want people to leave my wedding and not say: “Wow she has such great style, that wedding was beautiful”, but instead: “Wow, they are so in love I’ve never seen anyone more suited to one another! I can’t believe those two freaks finally found each other!”

  22. I used to define my life like this.
    “I don’t want… It can’t be… I don’t like”
    With much help from my FH I’ve been able to realize you cannot define your life, or in this case wedding, by what you don’t want. I have found that knowing what you want can come at a price, however. My mother wanted to be part of the planning of the wedding, and I wanted her to be as well, but in a much more passive role than she was willing to accept. Now, because I know what I want she wants nothing to do with the process, and it makes me really sad. Mostly because she says things like, “oh I don’t care” when I ask her what she thinks of something like should I just cancel and have a courthouse ceremony or, “I haven’t given it much thought” when I ask her what she’s thought about wearing. Because she has no control she is uninterested in being a part of the planning. She Hates our wedding, our concept, our venue, my dress, everything. I am sticking to my guns and doing what I want, but I still want my mom to be happy and enjoy herself. It seems I can only choose one.

  23. THIS! Post was perfectly timed.

    Weddings have generated much, “Do not want X,” in me. Largely the negativity was a reaction against seeing things that my husband-to-be and I are temperamentally ill suited for. Much like the Craig’s List post – which I did laugh over because of the familiar sentiments expressed in it.

    It was only recently that I said to myself, “I really need to stop thinking about what we DON’T want, and focusing on what we DO want.” I’m finding that constructing a wedding concept from the bottom-up, rather than top down, makes me much happier.

  24. ShiloM, I’m a little put off by your comment, simply because you’ve referred to OBBers as “brats” for listing their wants — and then you’ve listed what YOU want.

    That’s great; that’s what Ariel is suggesting that we do, rather than talking too much about what we DON’T want. But in your comment, you seem to be placing the things that you want from your wedding on a pedestal, ignoring that other people’s wants might be just as important to them as your wish for simplicity and quietude at your wedding.

  25. Interesting thoughts. But I am left to wonder why it is, then, that your book title reads “taffeta free alternatives…” It seems that you are saying in that title “I don’t want Tafetta.” I have to say that while I LOVED your book that part of the title has always bugged me a little. It seems to imply that a bride who ends up in a tafetta gown isn’t an OBB.

  26. K, here’s the honest answer: the subtitle of the book was written by my publisher. I approved it, but didn’t write it.

    It’s also worth noting that the book was written in 2005 — two years before the start of In the two and a half years of working on this website, my philosophies about weddings have shifted in subtle ways. I wouldn’t approve “taffeta-free” as a subtitle if I had the chance to do it again — in part because when I was doing my PR work on radio and television, I was stunned at how many people can’t pronounce the word “taffeta.” (I heard “ta-FETA” a lot — like the cheese.)

    My publisher is planning to release a revised edition of the book next Spring. There may be lots of little changes…

  27. Yowch.

    It’s very possible that I don’t have a very good sense of humor, but the rant didn’t strike me as very funny at all.

    Wanting the dress, the favors and the church doesn’t make you a conformist any more than a red dress ar goth makeup mean you’re “free spirit. They’re signs and symbols and the motivation behind a choice is as powerful as the manifestation. Put another way, the woman who insists on a religious ceremony even though her Dad is an atheist hippy might be more offbeat than the bride who obsesses over whether the bands on her reception playlist are sufficiently obscure. It’s not just what you want, it’s why you want it.

    People also seem to forget that weddings are about community. The people witnessing the event are as important as the bride and groom, and it makes me sad that this individual assumes that everyone shares her distaste. I may not always like the food, and some of the traditions can be a bit jarring, but I’m always honored to be invited.

  28. Dear Anonymous (#18):

    Oh, honey, I just wanted to hug you after reading that.

    I come from a very traditional family, and I know there will be many, many clashes about what I *should* and *shouldn’t* do on my wedding day.

    You know what, though? Sometimes, compromises are better for everyone. It may not be your dream, or your ideal, but sometimes being flexible is exactly what’s needed. (To wit: I will not be having booze at my wedding–it would hurt many people in my family if I did. I would prefer it, but it’s okay that I compromise on this.)

    It’s going to be okay, it really will be. You and your love will make things work out.

    …I hope this is encouraging, O Anonymous one–and I really hope you have some close friends to give you affection, kleenex, and maybe some wine right now.

    Hang in there–it’s going to be all right.

  29. I have the weirdest sense of deja vu reading that craigslist posting. I’m almost certain it was lifted from some blog I read the other day (or possibly vice versa).

    I decided early on that I didn’t want a hotel ballroom or banquet hall, but quickly realized all the cool, pretty, quirky locations weren’t going to work for us because of cost or size restrictions (who knew I had over 100 close friends and relatives? Not me!). So now I’m trying to work out what it is about the hotel ballroom I don’t like, so I can then address what I can do to make our wedding feel like an authentic representation of us as people, but with a dance floor, and not like my shitty senior prom.

  30. YAHOO! I agree, once again, with all of you. But not just in a PC/don’t make waves way.

    I’m part of the OBT (offbeat bride tribe) and I’m about to be “weddinged” in a month. The gals online have helped me save TONS of money, helped me in the DIY aspects, gone creative for me when I lost it, and allow me to read their rants when I don’t have it in me to say what I need to.

    AND – it’s still the wedding industry. Our need to “make the day ours” can get overwhelming. I don’t think anyone has an idea of how many decisions need to be made until your thigh-high IN IT. And, as in life, saying NO is easier than creating. But that is a cop-out. The spirit and love that ShiloM speaks of comes from hard work of CREATING that love and spirit – it does not easily happen. If it did – BAM! wouldn’t the world be different?

    So, the rant of what we don’t want is often a knee-jerk reaction and we forget to follow it up with what we DO want. Listen to me US CONGRESS and SENATE! Oh, wait, different forum…hehehe

    Lastly, take the risk to CREATE! Rebels are everywhere. Creators are rare!

    (Oh, and best of luck finding vendors that give you room to create! SMILES!)

  31. I am ALWAYS listening to people complain about weddings. Guess what, you can get married without a wedding in the traditional sense (amazing but true!).

    I felt like the craigslist person so I decided to buck all of it and just have family (and my lovely $300 wedding dress that I adore still). I understand where you are coming from Ariel, but trying to convince your mom to do it your way (or convince your future in-law) is not easy. Yeah, they love you, but they can be quite vocal and difficult too.

    I am still bitter about having to shell out over $200 for a dress I will never wear again (unless bridemaid’s dresses make a comeback on the runway). I believe the craigslist person posted out of frustration and I totally get it. My theory though is if that isnt what you want, then simply don’t do it. Any of it!!! I had no stress on my wedding day, no arguments with family, no panic over the cake, flowers, etc. If a big wedding works for you, go for it. But for goodness sake, then dont complain! I hope “cake girl” gets her dream day.

  32. I knew my piece would be off-putting to some. Anytime you focus away from material things someone assumes you have a holier-then-thou attitude and gets squirmy.

    Anyway, I wasn’t saying that offbeat brides are brats, per se, more so referring to our entire generation without excluding myself, of course. A generalization, no doubt, but admitedly we do have a streak of the “me-first” generation in us. After all, this site wouldn’t even exist were it not for us wanting things “our” way.

    That being said, I think Laura captures it best in her comment. Sometimes, I get tired of seeing the how and the what and yearn for more why.

    Why is the red dress the dress of your dreams, other then it’s pretty and different? What symbolism does the hula hoop have for you (threw that one in for you Ariel).

    You know stuff like that. Your whole book was so full of love and the reason it was inspiring was because you were following your heart, not just shopping for cool.

    I miss learning why it’s always been a fantasy to marry in a cave or what yellow means to the groom…or is it really just that people “don’t want” traditional and there’s nothing more to it then that.

    It just kind of reminds me of “green washing”, you know it’s great that people are using “organic, green” products (alternative non-trad weddings), but doesn’t it just feel like people just switched brands without actually changing any of their consumerist habits?

    Especially with the posts I’ve been reading lately. I mean I see posts about not saying “tacky” or not “obsessing” over where people bought what, about keeping the spirit, not the store in mind, that it’s not a competition of cool…it seems to me like I may not be the only one who feels that the soul is missing a bit here.

  33. I don’t really see the humor in that Craigslist posting either- I didn’t hear any really original thought in it, there was nothing that made me see any of the traditional elements of a wedding in a new or thoughtful light that would sway me to or away from them. Then again, I have never been a fan of the rant.

    As for the “I want” discussion- I have a tendency to get sucked into consumerism, its something that I have to step back and admonish myself about from time to time, but that I see also as a human trait- there is a battle between the altruistic, community and relationship part of the mind and the desire and competition part of the mind that I think everyone who takes a good look at themselves can recognize. Weddings send these tendencies into absolute crazed overdrive.

    As for generation me, I get a little sick of that sometimes. Human beings are human beings, and I have a hard time believing that a generation was born so unlike those before it, and reading memoirs of folks from varied generations makes me even less convinced that my generation is any more self absorbed, narcissistic, and wanty-wanty than those before it. Are we those things? Yep. But so were humans from an eon ago.

  34. Thank you!!! I saw this post on another blog and I thought the same thing. I understand where the writer is coming from, but I feel as if they are being very very negative. If you don’t like those things, don’t do them. But if someone wears a white dress does that mean they haven’t thought about it and you should automatically write them off? NO.
    I don’t think I would like this person at my wedding.

  35. amen sisters. sing it.
    the boy and i sat down over wine one night, and came up with a set of grounds rules – all positive in the vein of “i/we want”. and now we’ve taken that approach on to the 7 (!) parents involved. every time we’re confronted with “you’re not going to ….” we’re equipped with, “well, what would you like?”

  36. I really enjoy reading this blog. I’m in my mid 40s and getting married next year for the first time.

    Lovely comment from Rebecca about the Anonymous posting. How wonderful that you reached out to her.

    I’m trying to create that “magical” day for me and my FH, but there’s so much to think about. With all the commercial sites and ideas out there, I’m sure it would be easy to “plagiarize” someone else’s dream day.

    So, I’m going to cool it on the research for a minute or two and just start making a list of reasons why I’m marrying my guy, what things make up our personal styles. Then I’m going to talk to him, and together we’ll figure out how we can express those things on our wedding day to make it a true celebration with our family and friends.


  37. I am still laughing about how Ariel discovered people can’t pronounce taffeta. I could just picture a look of horror on her face as someone says “taf-FETA” during an interview.

    Just a random note, but the whole “taffeta-free alternatives” subtitle never bothered me. Yeah, it does kind of assume that offbeat brides wouldn’t wear taffeta, which of course isn’t always true, and it indicates in a larger sense that “There are just some things offbeat brides CAN’T do” which is not the spirit of the book at all. But besides that, I think it does a nice job of conveying “Hey, this book provides an opportunity for you to think through what you really want for your wedding, and why, without having to automatically submit to what everyone else does.”

    What sort of bugged me more was that the bride on the cover is wearing a white dress. Obviously, being an offbeat bride does not mean you can’t wear white, and lots of offbeat brides indeed do wear white, but the white dress on the cover didn’t seem to go with the rest of the book. I always imagined the publishers wanted the dress to at least be white so people could immediately recognize this was for weddings…you know? So it kind of goes back to doing what is immediately recognizable for weddings, which again isn’t very “offbeat.”

    Phew. Anyway, I also want to say I can see where ShiloM is coming from. Sometimes when I spend too much time on OBT I feel overwhelmed by all the tiny stylistic details we are all obsessing over…it does seem pretty similar to a “standard” WIC wedding in the sense of consumarism, only that we are obsessing over different stuff…

  38. @ Rebecca:

    Thanks. 🙂 Somehow, I’m muddling through and most of the compromises are made. I just hope, at the end of the day, it still feels like *I* was in there somewhere.

    We’ll find out this fall!

  39. Just wanted to weigh in on this – the thing that helped Jay and I the most with making our wedding “ours” was: what symbolises our relationship/the love we feel for each other? What things mean the most to us? How can we incorporate things we feel strongly about … i.e., being environmentally friendly, being low-maintenance (I would love to be one of those people who can make a fabulous centrepiece out of popsicle sticks, a mirror and some pipecleaners, but I’m not) and making our “day” as fun, loving and inclusive as possible? We want people to leave saying, “Wow, those two are fabulous together – what a great celebration of love!” I don’t think (and I don’t really care if) anyone will remember what colour or how many napkins there were, or whether there was a DJ or a band.

    I mean, aren’t weddings all about celebrating your love for each other with the people that, for whatever reason, you have a connection with? There’s absolutely nothing wrong with co-ordinated everything and a string quartet playing “The Wedding March”, but shouldn’t you have whatever you’re doing because it means something to you and makes the day that much more special? It took a while for us to figure out exactly what we wanted – and a lot of it involved “No. No. No FREAKIN’ way!” but it was also comforting to be able to look at things and realize that whatever-it-was wasn’t something that would make our day meaningful for us.

    So I guess, to finish this ramble off – sometimes being true to yourself involves a lot of looking around at what’s gone before and crossing it off as a possibility before you can find something that makes you smile and say, “Hell, yeah!”

  40. When my girlfriend and I started talking about what we wanted in a wedding, we both knew that we wanted something simple; a small ceremony to declare our love and commitment to each other in front of our friends and family, and then a fun party to celebrate. (“Simple and nice” is harder to manage than I’d have though, by the way.) So I guess that we did start out building up that way.

    That being said, I can certainly appreciate where the ranter is coming from (and I also know exactly what it feels like when you just need to blow off steam about something). And I think for us, at least, examining some of the strong “Do Not Wants” has helped us clarify what we do want.

    For example, neither of was into getting married in a church, even an accepting one. Why was that important to us? Because neither of us expresses our spirituality that way, and it would not have felt authentic for us. So we found something that did feel authentic to us. (We’re getting married in the woods, because that makes us feel connected.) Or if you react against big weddings, why is that? Is it because they seem extravagant, or because this is a moment that you want to share only with people who are very important to you? (I think either of these, or another reason, is valid, incidentally, as is wanting to have a great big party with everyone you or your families know. Good luck affording it, but more power to you.) How can you use this knowledge of what is important to you constructively?

    So I think you can start from a negative reaction and find the positive. Or maybe that’s just me.

  41. Hmm. Just to add a completely different perspective, does anyone else get tired of all the meaningfulness and personalization?

    Why in the world do all the necessary tiny details that are part of a large party have to be super thoughtful and meaningful? You’re coming together to have people witness your commitment, that doesn’t mean everyone has to see you you you in everything.

    Why can’t you have the Wedding March without putting any thought into it simply because you need music and its as nice as anything else. What’s wrong with that?

    Does anyone other then the couple themselves care about the meaningful places they’ve had they dates that are represented in the table numbers? Eh.

    I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with putting so much thought and effort into personalizing things. I’m saying whats so ethical about that?

    Isn’t the fact that it’s a wedding and you’re getting married enough? Of course it’s going to reflect you! Because you’ll be the ones there! And your family and friends!

    Yes, it’s all about the personal love between you and your partner, but that is personal and no you can’t get everyone to see it because it’s too personal by its very nature.

  42. Not everyone needs to get married.

    I say, if you and your other don’t want a wedding, then don’t have one. Problem solved.

    Wait 8 years and see if you change your mind about it.

    That was our strategy.

  43. My wedding’s only a couple of weeks away now, so I was very curious to see what the poster didn’t like about weddings. I have to say my smile got broader and broader as I went down her list and realized that we’re not doing most of what upsets her.

    But you know what, I wouldn’t want to see the personal lists of wedding rants for each of my guests, that would be waaaaay too stressful. Instead, her post has made me happy that my partner and I have been mindful about what we think is important to include in our celebration.

    And if some of our guests don’t feel like decorating or wearing their crowns, that’s ok. But I plan to make mine sparkle 🙂

  44. I agree that the important (and most fun) part of the process is figuring out what you really want, not tearing down what you don’t. But for me there was a pivotal point which happened in between. A realisation that hit me just after acknowledging that I don’t want any of it, when I said “you know what, it’s OK not to have any of that stuff”. That’s when I let myself even think about what I wanted. Maybe the craigslist girl was a bit slow like me and needed to go through the process.

  45. I have to agree w/ Victoria.

    I too get tired of all the forced meaningfulness. It often makes me feel that if I can’t justify my choice of shoe style with some long, drawn out explaination of how it represents some oh-so-special aspect of our relationship or my personality, that I should just go with white pumps.

    Perhaps I want a red dress just because I think it’s pretty. Maybe we’re getting married in our back yard because it’s cheaper – not because we have some deep-set beleifs about family and home. Does that make it less of a special occasion?

    I agree it’s better (more positive and constructive) to focus on the things you like/want over the things you dont like/want. However, saying that if you do want something you’re required to justify it to the gills in order to rid yourself of the consumerist label seems silly.

  46. I love reading these discussion threads on OBB. I think that is one of the reasons I return to this site, despite the fact that I wouldn’t define myself as offbeat. Meaning and personality are big parts of what I see on this site, and things I want to echo in my own wedding. I appreciate Ariel’s open honest approach and her challenges and reminders to readers to re-focus.

  47. @ShiloM — I just wanted to say thank you for your thoughtful expansion of your original comment. I suspect that we are not actually all that different in our outlook, although I don’t necessarily believe that my/our generation is any more selfish than the one before.

    I think part of the reason that sometimes things can come off as superficial here on OBB (and this probably applies to more traditional wedding sites as well) is that most of us already *know* the “whys” about why we’re getting married. Because we’re in love. Because we want to celebrate with our friends and family. Because we’ve found a partner to share our lives with. We have reasons, and they’re the same for a lot of us and different for some of us, but the basic idea is that all of us are planning a union with someone we love.

    We already know that, and now we’re trying to figure out how to express those whys in ways that actually evoke something about our personalities and the kind of people we want to be. And some of us are trying to find a balance, too, between what we want because of how we feel, and what we can afford. I’d personally like to buy a drink for everyone who’s ever had a hand in making my future husband and me the people we are, for example, but instead I have to settle for buffet and beer for our nearest and dearest. 🙂 This all results in a lot of what seems like consumerist talk. Some of it IS consumerist talk; I mean, I’m paying extra for good beer at my reception because my friends and I LIKE good beer, not because it symbolizes anything in particular about my fiance and me (except that we like good beer). And sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in things and lose sight of the whys. It’s easy to get caught up in a crisis of indecision because there are so many pretty, pretty dresses, and maybe lose track of the idea that your partner’s going to think you’re the most gorgeous human alive, whether you pick the pink tulle or the red satin. But the folks I’ve met on Offbeat Bride Tribe all strike me as people who are striving for the meaningful, and who are full of joy.

    I don’t think it’s wrong to say “I want,” whether about materialistic things or non-materialistic notions. “I want” and “we want” are pretty much the only things you can say in planning a wedding that will help you actually have an event that expresses who you are and what your values are. And at the risk of rambling, they’re also the words that help us shape who we are throughout our lives. They’re not dirty, and I’m grateful to have the opportunity to say “I want,” particularly when I turn to my fiance and say “I want you.”

  48. I say …take a hint from us queermos who don’t have to worry about “rejecting” all of the establishmentarian wedding traditions –because they’re not available to us. In the face of ostracism queer partners have been creating their own amazing, unique celebrations that focus on honoring the lives, communities, and families that couples have built for themselves…for decades! When your relationship isn’t legally recognized and family members routinely boycott your “special day” it serves as a critical reminder of what makes ones partnership so important and the reason for celebrating it. The CL “rant” and this discussion as a whole points to a broader, more important topic which is the vast number of couples who are so absorbed by perfecting their weddings that instead of a meaningful celebration that reflects & honors the couple being wed so often weddings turn into a manifestation of all the aforementioned material “traditions” …and rants pop up lamenting what a drag it is to be obligated to celebrate ones partnership with the person they (at least presumably and ideally) adore. When any single aspect stops being a reflection and celebration of your life with your partner and starts becoming a prop for a show or an obligatory compromise in the name of tradition it’s time to get back to the basics.

  49. P.S. And of course what should be obvious but I forgot to underline is that getting married is a privilege …as is the opportunity to create a wedding celebration that is unique (and true) to you/your partner. I admire the couples who use their weddings to bring family together, share what’s important with their guests through action (not just talk –like DIY/upcycled eco weddings, family reunion style, etc).

  50. For a minute, instead of “Crate & Barrel,” I thought the original post said, “I don’t want to be registered at Cracker Barrel.”

  51. Oooh…I just realized that my photo is in this post. I’m the bouncy bride.

    People get too hung up on what they don’t want. I know I did. I didn’t want the first dance, I didn’t want the clinky glass thingy…and then I decided to start focusing on what I did want. And much like the poster of the rant, I definitly wanted cake. And candy. And fun! I got over the should and shouldn’t and did what felt right. But I did keep family involved every step of the way and I valued their input (even though I didn’t always take their advice). And it was the best day of my life…though I never thought I’d say that because it seems so cliche. But it was so much damn fun and I smile every time I think about it! 🙂

  52. @ Anonymous:

    You are so welcome! 🙂 I hope things are getting better for you…

    (and thanks, LM–this is one of the many reasons I love OBB)

  53. Thanks so much for this post! With 4 months to go, I am getting so sick of hearing peoples opinions. What about other options?!?!

  54. This post is how I feel most of the time.
    I really want to get married, but don’t want all the ‘fluff’ that comes along with a wedding.
    A marriage to me is building a family, the rest is just extra.

  55. Sorry. I totally identified with Anonymous, and with ShiLoM’s comment about “those freaks finding each other.” I know what we’re not and what we don’t want (and couldn’t even afford), and the process of figuring out who I am, who we are, and what we want and what we can afford is making me puke and cry and scream. Considering I’m also job-hunting and changing careers, the fact I adore my Freak is the only thing that makes this shit worth it. I never dreamed about weddings – I never thought I’d meet someone. But, now (miracle) that I’m about to get married I’m not going to do a half-assed job of it. And I insist that it will be fun. (irony intentional)

    Anonymous – hand over that bottle, here’s my flask.

  56. great post!

    I never wanted a wedding – but my fiance and I talked it through and decided it would be meaningful to mark the event with family & friends.

    The easiest thing, by far, was to make a list of everything we didn’t want.

    Then – the hard part – trying to figure out what we did want.

    Basically, we took the first list, and turned every negative into a positive. For example, “we don’t want everyone stuck at a table watching us go through the motions” became “we want to create an event that focuses on our guests & encourages mingling.” To make it happen, we decided to have multiple tables of themed hors d’oeuvres instead of a sit down dinner & open lounge style seating instead of place settings.

    But even once we had things like that figured out, it was harder to make it happen. No matter how “unique” a product they claim to deliver, wedding vendors are set up for cookie cutter results. It took months and months of research to find a seamstress who’d make a black dress, a caterer who’d deliver sushi, and a venue that would let us throw this party our way.

    6 weeks to go, and my entire house is a happy DIY mess! but I am looking forward to an awesome party. 🙂

  57. I love this…. My Bow seams to be saying this exact thing. (I don’t Want … When all along I have been trying to explain to him that this is about us me and him no one ells lets bring us into our once in a life time memorable moment.

  58. Did you guys ever consider that the Craigslist poster might be single? Maybe I just want her to be, but when you’re single, it’s hard to see weddings as “constructive” or “creative.” You guys have your day. Let us rant.

  59. Right on!
    It’s always interesting listening to what people say they will or won’t have at their wedding when they haven’t actually faced the reality of planning thier own wedding yet. I’ve eaten alot of my past words of what I would or wouldn’t have, hell I used to wonder why people even got married at all. A friend of mine who used said just 2 months ago “I’m not wearing makeup or make a big deal” just got engaged and was facebooking in a minute about the party of a lifetime.
    When it’s YOUR wedding things are different. As soon as that ring was on my finger the old “oh I don’t want all that” went out the door. It’s an incredible opportinity to express yourselves as a couple and it’s actually a real challenge if you have a dream that strays from the beaten path. You can’t please all the people, and if you tried it would probably end up pretty boring, so you might as well please yourselves!

  60. Thanks. This was exactly what I needed today. I’ve been drowning in wedding indecisiveness and stress. I think, though, that I’ve devoted a lot more focus to deconstruction rather than vision and self-discovery and ground-up construction. Time to switch gears.

  61. It’s funny how the deeper I go into wedding planning, the more life lessons I learn and more opportunities I have to improve myself.
    Thanks Ariel you’re awesome!

  62. Agreed! I thought the rant was hilarious, but I feel like, if you’re being offbeat for the sole pleasure of kicking Tradition in the nuts, then it’s more of a petty vengeance than joyful self expression. That’s what I love about OBB, it’s full of lovely, bold people who don’t mind being ‘different’! ^_^ Thank you for creating this site!

  63. I love this post. I love it every time that I read it, because it resonates so much with my wedding planning process. I’ve not had a easy go at it, planning out my wedding and trying to blend traditions with my new in-laws. It’s really tempting to just say no, when I really should look at things as “what I want to do” instead of “I don’t want this tradition, that decor and especially not those shoes!”
    Sometimes, even on the tribe, it’s easy to go into a more rant-y, snarky place. Sometimes, I get so caught up in what I don’t want, I forget how awesome it is that I’m getting married.

  64. There are actually a whole lot of details like that to take into consideration. That could be a great point to bring up.

  65. I find wedding ranting so odd. Of course we all have things we dont like but for weddings especially, I try to appreciate that the bride and groom sent many hours trying to ensure they and their guests have a decent time. Sure, not everyone is on board with certain things but I just feel people complain too much about attending weddings. You dont always have to go if you dont want to.

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