Finally owning that I'm a more traditional bride: You are awesome and so am I

Updated Oct 12 2015
Guest post by donteatmenooo
Wheee!
Donteatmenooo in her awesome white wedding dress. Photo by Leah Renee Photography.
I had a panic attack the day I discovered OffbeatBride.com. I was already engaged, and had already argued furiously with my fiancΓ© that weddings were large family affairs and that we would have to deal with 300 people because that was SIMPLY THE WAY IT IS DONE. I had some serious apologizing to do to my future-husband once I became comfortable making the wedding truly ours, and not my family's.

Offbeat Bride (both the book and the site) changed me a lot. I became more comfortable with who I am. I discovered fashions and subcultures that I had never known existed, but now love. I learned how to deal with stress, with family, with my own doubts. But because of this fabulous place, I also developed one of my biggest doubts about the wedding: was it going to be offbeat enough?

I found myself stressing out the closer it got to my wedding, thinking, "I want to write my own vows! I want to have a handfasting and jump over a broomstick! I want to have a fabulous rainbow ribbon veil and lots of kids running around and skeleton cake toppers and an iPod for a DJ and pies instead of cake and a potluck and I want everyone to help out and I want everything DIY…" etc etc etc. Oh, I also wanted to be able to do everything on a tiny budget, something everyone seemed to be able to do. Basically, I was saying to all those offbeat brides, "I WANT TO BE JUST LIKE YOU!" which makes sense, because you are all awesome. But I was forgetting to want to be me.

I wanted to wear white, despite how much I loved all those fabulously colored dresses. I wanted to have the ceremony in a church to honor our parents' religion, despite also wanting to write my own short ceremony with lots of laughter and silliness. And I wanted to have it in a small, expensive tourist town (where I grew up), a place in which there were no fun, offbeat venues to be found, and in which the only normal venue to fit our whole guest list was a pricey golf club that did not allow outside catering. The reception was going to have alcohol and dancing. Despite the fact that this was what I actually wanted, I found myself worrying that my family would end up thinking I was normal (i.e. traditional and boring), and I couldn't have that! Especially not after finally discovering my true offbeat side! I finally ended up breaking down in tears over the fact that I was going to have real flowers in my bouquet (real flowers! How normal and boring!), and that was when my wonderful husband-to-be sat me down to have a talking-to.

Making Our Getaway
Making their getaway. Photo by Leah Renee Photography
The first thing he did was remind me of the Offbeat Bride post about being more traditional and how really being offbeat was about being true to yourself. Then he said, "Look. You designed your own dress. You are wearing neon orange shoes. We are playing Rock Band instead of dancing. We're avoiding 'bridal' music. We designed the invitations. You don't have 'colors.' Your wedding cabal will be wearing tutus. We have books and toys for centerpieces. What exactly makes you think this won't be offbeat?" My answer, of course, was that everyone on Offbeat Bride does those things! I would not stand out! I am not truly offbeat! I fail as a person! And of course that's when he bonked me on the head.

We had a wonderful wedding, and everyone was impressed (or horrified) by how "us" it was, which made me intensely happy. It was in a church and I was wearing white and we had a swanky venue, but we also had robots and video games and bright colors and lots of offbeat fun. The groom and I were in our element; we were sharing who we were while also paying due respect to our families and guests. We DIYed what we had the time and resources to do, and bought the rest. We spent barely under the national average budget for weddings (which is crazy, I know — we had a lot of people in an expensive location!), but we made sure that most everything was reusable, so it wasn't just for one day. We weren't traditional where it wasn't necessary, and we weren't offbeat where it wasn't necessary, either. (Well, not too much…)

And while I can still drool over all the weddings featured on Offbeat Bride, who spent literally one tenth of our budget and still are perfectly fabulous, I would not trade my wedding for any of them (even the Halloween and costume ones!), because our wedding was awesome and "us." Whether you would consider it offbeat or more traditional, it was fun! And I wouldn't have done it any other way.

Chipotle!!!
Mmmm Chipotle… Photo by Leah Renee Photography

  1. One Offbeat Lite to another (and lover of subcultures introduced to me by Offbeat Bride): You rocked your wedding, girl. Go you and your guy!

  2. this article is awesome, it totally says: ME. The thing is not about being or being offbeat, is about being your true self, wether you want what everybody else has or want something completely different. As long as you remain true to yourself, you're good to go πŸ˜€

  3. Your wedding looks beautiful and it was you! That's what's important.

    As much as I admire all the gorgeous non-flower bouquets featured on Offbeat Bride, I love real flowers too and had a real flower bouquet. πŸ™‚

  4. Wow, I'm so glad I read this! I just recently got married and felt the same as you. I have used the weddings on this site as an inspiration for my own offbeat wedding, concentrating on getting our own style across and veering away from the tradition. After our wedding, I received many comments about how traditional it was…I was so insulted! Although there were traditional elements, I thought our guests would focus on what was different and comment about that! But at the same time, everyone agreed that the wedding was very 'us' and at the end of the day that's what matters most. We kept the traditional aspects that we liked and got rid of what we didn't. Having an offbeat wedding isn't a competition of who's wedding is the most outrageous, it's about doing what you love and what will make you both happy. All of the brides I have met on this site have been super nice and laidback…and we've all had beautiful weddings with our own personal touches. That's the most important, that it's a reflection of the couple :). Thanks for the post!

  5. *cheer*! Sounds like you did everything just right!

    Also, as one of those "I must have a colored dress regardless" folks, can I just say that I look at *your* dress and say "Oh, gosh, if that's what a white dress is like, I love it!" and would have felt really tempted even if it wasn't what was perfectly me because it is so *amazingly* gorgeous. Can I ask where you got it?

    • Haha, thanks for appreciating it. I still can't help thinking about how beautiful it is, and I'm definitely not usually that vain. πŸ™‚
      I had it made by a couple vendors on Etsy (hopefully they'll publish my profile and you can get the vendors there, otherwise I'll come back), because I couldn't find ANY white dresses that I liked! But how often do you get to wear white? I was glad, however, that a couple of my friends had been convinced that I would wear a bright red dress or something, so I am confident people don't ese me as entirely traditional. πŸ™‚

  6. This really reasonated with me, especially the second half. Not long after I started planning properly I almost completely stopped visiting other wedding sites because I just wasn't getting anything from them. But when my entire wedding experience was coming from OBB it was easy to forget that it was, well, offbeat. Coloured dresses and non-floral centerpieces and iPod DJ's became normal to me.

    On the one hand it stopped me from worrying so much about my ideas but on the other hand it left me kind of unprepared for other peoples reactions and sometimes made me feel like my wedding would be boring and just like everyone elses.

    And then of course on the day it didn't matter either way because it was exactly the wedding we wanted.

    Edit: Just want to say I didn't put the link on the word i pod and I'm not sure where it came from or what it links to.

  7. I don't know, getting Chipotle at your wedding sounds offbeat enough to me. =D Also, that dress is to die for. Loving those swanky sleeves!

  8. From I suppose a regular (?) offbeat to an offbeat lite-ee – your wedding sounds really amazing and it seems like you and your hubby are really happy with your choices. That's the most important thing and what it's all about! It breaks my heart when people make choices that they aren't happy with but feel they HAVE to do them, in order to conform to whatever, be it tradition or alternative surroundings. In the end, marriage is actually a highly traditional act no matter how much we dress it up with space invaders and rainbow dresses and flower-less accoutrements. So every offbeat bride is indulging in that tradition, and just putting her own twist on it. And that twist can manifest in any way and to whatever extreme that makes her and her partner happy πŸ™‚ Remember, it takes all kinds of offbeat to make up the rainbow of diverse weddings, and your offbeat lite is a part of that.

  9. I am so glad you wrote this. In planning my own wedding, I've been so stressed out that honoring our guests (which, yes, includes our parents who are helping pay/plan) will mean shutting out my own vision. And that's one of our core wedding values! So, if my mom wants a wedding planner there that day and she wants to pay for it, who cares? It doesn't change our life together or even that day, really.

    Anyway, it made my day to read this. Thanks for articulating that fear so well.

  10. Wait a minute! I recognize that trolley … Or at least the word "Mackinaw". Did you get married in Mackinaw City? Or somewhere thereabouts?

    It looks like it was a beautiful wedding! Congrats!

    • Close… Northern Michigan anyway. Petoskey/Bay Harbor area. But yeah, the trolley is from Mackinaw City. Still cheaper than a limo!

  11. Yeah, I think your burritos give an auto-boost to your OffBeat-ness! ;p
    Good stuff…I've definitely been through some of these feelings, especially the "but I didn't want regular flowers!!!" one…they'll be cool, though. ;p

  12. Your wedding sounds like it was lovely, and the most important thing is that YOU enjoyed it! Our wedding was similar – it was definitely offbeat lite. In fact, I wouldn't even call it that offbeat, but what made it great for us (and our guests too, I like to think) was that it was really "us", which is the important part.

  13. I totally felt the same way about OBB when I first found it…it was like coming home for a bit. And my wedding turned out perfect, just enough "us" and not too much "in your face, deal with it" kind of non-traditional. That said, I made zero apologies for anything. If it wasnt traditional enough for some people(my officiant wore fishnets, a petticoat skirt and a corset) than that wasnt my issue. It was theres. I was over it and moving on πŸ™‚ Lucky for me, my friends and family know and love me dearly, expected oddities, still raised an eyebrow or 2 but never once criticized.

  14. Wow. This was EXACTLY what I needed to read at this very moment! I am 3 weeks away from my wedding and I have been struggling with EXACTLY the same issues as you did for the better part of the past year.

    I too, read Ariel's book and became enthralled, inspired and insane over the ideas and plans to have an offbeat wedding. But due to a mountain of obstacles and bizarre preferences, I have only a smattering of 'offbeatness' and I am really disappointed in myself. I really wanted to go all out…but it was not within our capacity. I feel like I caved on so many details…it KILLS me to even think about them.

    But reading this just made me step back and say, "Wait a sec, Tara…even though you wound up having to get married in a lame chapel and use a boring reception venue, you managed to pull together a vintage 1930s style wedding, you designed/printed/constructed your own elaborate pocketfold invitations, your gorgeous dress has been handmade by a friend from a discontinued vintage dress pattern, your 'colors' and flowers are a lively mix of dark, bold fall colors, lots of greenery, etc., you are walking down the aisle to a string quartet version of a Smiths song, you have a typewriter for a guest book, and a 30' wacky waving inflatable arm man welcoming your guests. RELAX."

    Heads up Ariel…I'll be sending you a full report and photos of this madness soon after it happens. πŸ™‚

    –Tara

    • Seriously, your wedding sounds offbeat to me! (and lovely, good luck with everything!)

      Don't worry so much about losing some of the details you wanted. Your wedding is a brief snapshot in time; you don't have to fit every little detail of your offbeatness into it. There will be enough. And there will definitely be other ways to showcase any differing styles or ideas. I mean, Offbeat Home anyone? Think of what you HAVE done to make your wedding awesome – that's what you are (and should be) excited about!

      Also, going to a very traditional wedding of a close friend helps put things in perspective. It was still a lovely wedding and it fit her, but it really made me realize how "offbeat" and wonderful my own wedding was.

  15. I soooo needed to read this today. Thank you! I have been stressing, of all things about buying my dress from a big chain. I'd love to support a local and/or indie designer, but the finances just are not there for me. The big chains have some serious economies of scale going on, and I would rather spend more money on things that are really important to me (like food and pies and fabulous sparkling wine/champagne), rather than a dress I will wear once.

    Anyway, thanks for for this post. The pics look great and the burritos are totally making me hungry (and also thinking maybe we should go taco truck, rather than California style BBQ for food. Although it's hard for me to say no to a good tri-tip.)

  16. I love this. πŸ™‚
    And I've seen a lot of "offbeat lite" brides stressing in the same way. But what I don't think most of them realize is that us "offbeat" brides also stress at times, about not going the traditional route. F'real!

    For example, just recently I've been stressing over having pizza at our reception. Are people going to think that's *too* weird? Pizza at a wedding?

    And my dress – looks nothing like a bridal gown. It's flow-y and charcoal gray. And I often wonder if I'll regret not having a big, awesome ball gown.

    But these are just brief doubts, and I of course realize that my wedding will be awesome because it is right for me. Just as any "offbeat lite" wedding will be awesome because it is YOU.

    We all have our doubts, though!

  17. PREACH! Thank you for summing up so clearly where I'm at and the thoughtful balancing act that is Offbeat-Lite-dom.

  18. "Everyone on Offbeat Bride does those things! I would not stand out! I am not truly offbeat! I fail as a person! And of course that's when he bonked me on the head."

    Thank you for this laugh! And thank you, too, for articulating something that I didn't even know, until just now, was an issue for me.

    I'm so anxious to get engaged and start planning already that I've been scouring this site for fabulous ideas and sometimes feel overwhelmed at all the magnificence that I can't possibly match – if only because I can't wear seven dresses at once or carry five awesome non-floral bouquets. πŸ™‚ ("How to finally settle on one thing and leave the rest behind" might be a good blog subject!)

    Although, now that I think about it, it would be pretty funny to walk down the aisle carrying one thing, set it down, run back, and walk up again carrying something else πŸ™‚

  19. I absolutely needed this perspective. While my cousin and his wife are wonderful people, their wedding was incredibly cookie-cutter to me and I vowed when I got married I'd be ORIGINAL! And then I found Offbeat Bride and thought YES! ORIGINAL! But as the plans are starting to come together, I'm realizing that the wedding is not going to be as offbeat as I would have thought I wanted. We are having a relatively traditional Lutheren ceremony, both because our officient is a Lutheren pastor and because our venue is a chapel and has guidelines for weddings. The food and reception venue is going to be fairly standard, and I may even have *gasp* real flowers somewhere in the decor. But I need to keep it real, and pick stuff that we want, whether or not it's something that other people might also want, and therefor something that lots of other people will do. THANK YOU!!

  20. What a fantastic post! I'm so sad to think of all of the other brides and grooms throughout history who have had a wedding that reflected anyone and everyone but themselves.

    My fiancee and I have embraced the traditional elements of western weddings that we liked, and completely discarded almost all of the rest without a thought. The best part is that the loved ones that we have shared some of our more unconventional ideas with have just been so excited for us that we are truly making it OURS!

    Offbeatbride.com has definitely helped me become satisfied with that. My little sister got married this summer in an offbeat (lite, I guess) kind of way, and at dinner she said, "It was perfect!" That made me cry. That is how every bride should feel at the end of the day.

    This quote wins: We had a wonderful wedding, and everyone was impressed (or horrified) by how "us" it was, which made me intensely happy. God bless the offbeat brides. And grooms. πŸ™‚

  21. OBB is fantastic for two reasons: the first the author and other posters cover very well – everyone is welcome and celebrated on here even if you could be classified as 'normal'. We're offbeat because in a world where people blindly accept, we question and strive to stay true to ourselves. And there's nothing lite about that πŸ˜€
    The second is that it doesn't fill up my inbox with spam to allow me to read ultimately useless and bland wedding 'tips'.
    The third (I can't count ok ;)) is that the articles are always in depth, interesting and useful in so many ways.

  22. THANK YOU!!! I just found this article at the absolute perfect time. Reading this just calmed my crazy brain. I fell in love with Offbeat Bride and have become a bit of an addict. I too was determined to do something unique and crazy and awesome. And I think our wedding will still be very "us", but it's not as offbeat as I was expecting. I was talking to my mom yesterday and she actually said "oh, you guys are going much more traditional than I expected". Which of course sent me right back here looking for ways to make our wedding more offbeat. I really needed this dose of sanity to remind me that it's not about who can be the weirdest or do it on the smallest budget, that it's just about it being totally "us". So thank you for helping me keep my sanity right when I needed it. And your wedding looks like it was amazing!

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