Last week, a reader of this article noted, So nice to hear that this isn't a total “offbeat bride sin.”
I was aghast. People think there are actual ways to sin against being an Offbeat Bride? That there's a wrong way to be weird? Or the “not weird enough” reverse discrimination fallacy, where if you're “not offbeat enough” the Offbeat Empire's secret service are going to show up in liberty curls, and with wiggle dresses, and sonic screwdrivers, and haul you off to Offbeat Jail where our copyeditor Caroline will don one of her outfits, and make you pay.
You guys. Seriously! I'm always a bit personally taken aback when I see stuff like this, because it makes me feel like I've failed at my job as a cheerleader and supporter of all things along all offbeat spectrums.
But then I realize there is actually such a thing as an Offbeat Sin. Things that readers do that make me want to hop into my Unmarked Black Prius with my flashing etiquette lights twinkling tastefully from a burlap-wrapped dashboard.
Here are the two crimes against Offbeatism that I immediately identified as things that get you sent to BEAT-Y JAIL:
CRIME 1: Ask a question without fucking searching
I'm very serious about this, you guys. We have close to 5000 blog posts on Offbeat Bride, and 30,000 member posts on the Offbeat Bride Tribe. I know we're all special snowflakes, and you're sure you're the first person to plan the most unique Princess Bride/Doctor Who mashup with a rainbow dress, converse, and wedding pies… but actually you're part of an enormous lineage of Offbeat Brides. We've been online since January 2007. We have readers in their early 20s who have been reading us since they were in junior high. Lots of us have planned weird weddings before, and our insights are here for you… assuming you use the fucking search box.
Sometimes I'm not sure if this is a crime of special snowflakeness, or just a more straightforward tech failing or UI issue. (Side note: did anyone notice how the Tribe's search engine was upgraded this weekend? WOOT!) But really: type whatever you're thinking about into the search box. 90% chance that your issue — family drama, weddings with no theme, dead parents, etc… almost anything you can think of, we've written about. We have a few topics yet to cover (mother-son dances? Someone asked recently and we were like, “Wait, how do we not have THAT post?!”), but the search box is your best friend.
CRIME 2: Look back on your wedding, and feel like it belonged to someone else
Read that again. I'm not saying your wedding needs to be quirky (unless you're quirky). I'm not saying it needs to be alternative, indie, or nontraditional (unless you're any of those things, which I was — in some ways, cloyingly so).
I've written many times over the years (since 2007! Did I mention that yet! Oh! I did! *waves cane in salutation*) about how if I were to more literally name Offbeat Bride, it would just be authentic bride. That's been the mission for ages, and that means that your wedding should reflect YOU, not me and my aging West Coast weirdo post-raver/second-gen hippie/gen x former burner condo-dweller. Not Managing Editor Megan, who really thinks you need more sharks and card boxes. Not Associate Editor Catherine, who gets weepy over wedding vows sometimes and really wishes you'd spent longer writing yours.
Yeah, I know this site is called Offbeat Bride, because it's based on a book, and the book was based on my personal wedding story. I started it all with a weird, quirky wedding, so I went for a title that described me and my wedding. Think of the name of this site as just its founders' title — not a suggestion or a demand about your wedding. You can self-identify however you want — neo-traditionalist librarian cisgender bride or aesthetically obsessive groom or pansexual wedding party member or LORD ALMIGHTY fill in the blanks (that blank is the only part of the Offbeat Empire's reader survey that I miss).
You guys know this, right? That we feature tons of weddings here that are SO NOT MY PERSONAL STYLE. Weddings with stuff that I give the side-eye, that strike me as silly, that strike me as something I'd never ever do. These side-eye weddings are also the ones that I as an editor love the very most. Why? Because it's so evident that you people are so deeply and powerfully YOU. You managed to make decisions that line up with who you are both aesthetically and values-wise. I get to soak up all that YOU-ness. I've got plenty of ME-ness already. FEED ME YOUR YOU-NESS. IT SUSTAINS ME.
The only wedding that fails some sort offbeat test is a wedding where years later you look back and think, “Oy, whose wedding was THAT?!” In this way, it's as tragic to me to imagine a rebellious contrarian who realizes a couple years later that actually they're kind of a traditionalist who loves their cultural history and wishes they'd honored it more… as it is for me to imagine the free spirit who somehow found themselves in a religious ceremony that doesn't line up to their values, forced into a consumer culture they can't afford. It doesn't matter if your wedding is offbeat or traditional: it matters that it reflects your and your partner's lives and values.
The Offbeat Empire is about supporting folks figuring out who they are, and finding ways to express it. Offbeat Bride of course focuses on weddings as one small, focused, celebratory form of that expression (while Offbeat Home & Life talks about all the OTHER forms). My goal as publisher and cheerleading captain and inadvertent wedding industry interloper, is really just to support you expressing yourself.
I don't want any of you looking back on your wedding and being like, “God, I don't even like Game Of Thrones that much.” Offbeater-than-thou weddings just for offbeatness' sake? That's a misdemeanor right there, and we won't arrest you, but we will escort you off of the property to head over to Offbeat Home & Life's archives, where we can support you with awesome articles to build self-awareness and confidence. We believe in rehabilitative treatment here.
Or as Tuscadero said
Just remember, they don't give out trophies for the most exhausted couple with the most original wedding. They really don't. I've looked into that too.
Preach. All we're here to do together is have a wedding that reflects you, and appreciate other people's reflections. We don't need to compete. We just get to learn and be impressed by how much potential for awesomeness there is in this cohort. Even if it's awesome that doesn't look like us. In fact, ESPECIALLY if it doesn't look like us.