The 9 ways I’m making our vow renewal better than our not-so-great wedding

Guest post by Danielle

P O L K A . D O TI first found Offbeat Bride during a search for non-floral bouquets. After overcoming some trepidation because I didn't understand “porn” and “STDs” in the Offbeat Empire context, I joined a wonderful, supportive community of people who were united in their desire to be authentic.

Unfortunately, I had no idea how to properly handle the treasure trove. Offbeat Bride and The Offbeat Bride Tribe became my Cave of Wonders. There were so many amazing things I'd never seen or imagined! Seriously, SO many! But Offbeat Bride and the Tribe are so much more, and that's where I missed the boat. Or, I found the boat, and got in, but forgot to use the sail, or something.

Our wedding planning began well; it did not continue that way. Our 2009 wedding was endured rather than enjoyed by our guests and ourselves. Blame is useless. I cannot undo what has been done.

But I knew there was a way to create new, happy, memories… my husband and I could have a vow renewal! This time I want to enjoy the planning. I want to look forward to the day. I want to have fun. I want our family and friends to enjoy the event. I want to celebrate our relationship.

In the five years since our wedding, I've reflected on how I can make the vow renewal planning a much better experience than wedding planning was. Here are my top nine realizations…

1. Stop telling everyone everything

Resist the urge to talk about your wedding with everyone. Some people are not going to love your decisions. Sometimes those same people will tell you exactly why what you're doing is [insert negative word here].

2. Read Offbeat Bride articles, not just porn posts

Definitely read all the philosophizing, advice, and WTF category posts. I totally read articles in these categories while I planned. However, in the midst of the difficulties in planning the wedding, and the “OOOH shiny” aspects of planning the wedding, I will admit I got a little lost in looking at too much porn.

3. Remember that you are (or can be) part of the Offbeat Bride Tribe

The Offbeat Bride Tribe‘s forums and journals are a great resource for communicating with awesome people. It's a safe space and that is invaluable. It's worth taking the time to sign up, and really explore the community's tools.

4. Accept that you will probably spend money on the wedding

Spending money is difficult for me. Sticker shock hit me hard. I went down the rabbit hole and thought, “This money could be used for [insert practical thing], NOT just one day of my life.” Although this is true, it was not helpful. A budget and saving money are helpful.

5. Care about the wedding

After a really difficult point, my husband and I told ourselves and everyone else we “didn't care” about the wedding, we only cared about our marriage. Everyone should care about their relationship more than their wedding, but our apathy was contagious — leaving others to not care about the wedding either. And because, duh, we did care about the wedding, that hurt us.

6. Do not decide in spite

Some of our wedding decisions were based in frustration, hurt, and anger. Doing this may feel good in the moment, but it will not in the forever. It was acceptable to be frustrated, hurt, and angry. It was not acceptable when we became petty and immature.

7. Remember that things are just things

I love symbolism. I love meaning. I love the why. But not everything needs to mean something. You can incorporate something into your day because it is pretty/makes you smile/is funny. Just because it CAN all mean something, does not mean it HAS to.

8. Share the day, don't give it away

People told me and my husband that “a wedding is for the guests.” I do not agree. A wedding is your day that can be shared with others. You should make as many or as few decisions about the event as you want.

9. Be authentic

It is great to go against the grain, but be true to yourself while you do so. We are not one thing, one category, or one piece. We are many. Embracing one trait does not negate the others. One can be offbeat and traditional, masculine and feminine, Trekkie and Jedi. Offbeat Bride and long white gowns are both part of the wedding industry.

Five years later, accepting my desire for another ceremony has been hard. I've wrestled with this want for years. At times it still feels frivolous, selfish, and indulgent. We are married, a new ceremony won't change that.

So I reject the name “vow renewal” for the ceremony. I do not want to renew our vows. I've decided instead to call our celebration a “vow rejoicing.” The phrase best expresses what I hope our new day will be.

People will probably judge. Some may treat our invitation like a chore. The day won't be perfect, as I learned before. But so long as there is happiness, laughter, and love (and I follow my own advice this time), it will be more than enough.

Any other vow renewals in the house? What are you doing differently this time?

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