Why read wedding blogs?

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Graphic courtesy of Splendid Insights. This is one page from an awesome market research document.
Graphic courtesy of Splendid Insights. This is one page from an awesome market research document.

Why are you here right now? If the data above is accurate, chances are pretty good that you're looking for wedding ideas (you KNOW we have a million for you to steal) or trying to get inspired. Neither of these are especially surprising, right? I see the same cycle happen every year — a wave of freshly engaged folks flooding in looking for ideas and inspiration… and then at a certain point being like, “Oh my god, I'm overwhelmed with ideas! I have too much inspiration! I need to stop looking at wedding inspo and start, like, actually getting some shit done.”

This always seems to come with a bit of guilt (“I'm sorry, I have to stop or I'm going to get overwhelmed…”) or even blame (“the site isn't as useful as it used to be” …because you've moved from idea-gathering into the next phase of wedding planning, just as you should!), but it's totally just the natural process of planning a big event. First you gather ideas and inspiration from wedding blogs, then you make some choices, then you start acting on those choices. Sometimes as part of those actions you need advice (53% of you!) or logistical assistance (40%).

According to this data, 18% of you are looking for commiseration and a sense of community. This is actually a little surprising to me. When the Offbeat Bride Tribe was still online, only about 1% of Offbeat Bride's readers signed up, and an even smaller percentage of that number were active on the site. The post-Tribe Facebook group that circled up is about 160 people. Offbeat Bride's Facebook page has over 150k followers, but it's a good week if 2% of y'all comment.

Don't even get me started on blog comments, which have never been the Offbeat Bride's community's medium of choice. Our experiment with open threads these last six months hasn't been especially successful, so I'm not sure how long we'll continue to dedicate resources to them. I mean, it's kind of depressing to be like OPEN THREAD… crickets. The one that did the best was kind of most depressing:

Part of this disconnect may be an issue of people wanting a sense of community and commiseration through lurking… as in, “I want community, but I don't want to actually contribute.” That's a pretty common internet phenomenon. Honestly, I've spent years waffling over sustainable ways to provide for the 18% who want more community support… I've yet to find the sweet spot between resources expended and value offered. (Ooh, don't you love it when I talk adding value to business resources HONK SHOO BORING.)

Moving on… let's talk about my personal favorite: the 48% of you who are here to daydream or procrastinate. Friends! I think we're best at cheerleading, empowering, and inspiring… but daydreamers and procrastinators, we are you, and we are here for you. It's no secret that I'm an armchair demographer, and people-watching is my favorite hobby. Combine people-watching with fashion, food, good times, and making out!? ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Offbeat Bride is the happiest place of all these things.

But now y'all tell me: why do YOU read wedding media? Especially as the internet shifts, with less and less people browsing their favorite sites, and more and more people just trawling their feeds for links (“I saw this hilarious thing on Facebook, but I can't remember where it actually — maybe it was Buzzfeed or HuffPo…?”), it's interesting to see how the ways people shift in the ways they use their wedding media.


Comments on Why read wedding blogs?

  1. I keep coming back because I love the content and I love weddings. Also a lot of wedding sites that I read cover all kinds of articles about relationships. I’ve found some really helpful sponsored posts (about life insurance for example) as well as anonymous articles about sex, kids, death etc. It’s like a wider community for me to participate in (or observe) than I have access to in my everyday life. Even with my in-person married friends, of which I have few, we don’t talk about all this stuff very much.

    My own was almost 3 years ago.

    • Just playing the devil’s advocate, I think this is something that has been turning me off from A Practical Wedding recently. I love the book and a lot of things about the site, but I feel like the “weddings” part has started to take a backseat to more general posts about marriage, work, etc. (and the comments section can get intense). I can see why they would do it to maintain a readership, but sometimes I just want to read about weddings and leave the harder stuff for real life.

  2. I’ve been reading Offbeat Bride pretty regularly for, um, hmm, several years? Like 6 or 7 maybe–waaaay longer than I’ve actually been planning a wedding?? -_-;; So, I have definitely been in the “daydream and procrastinate” group.

    I feel like OBB has a great mix of really solid logistical advice, advice for dealing with wedding headaches, AND pretty weddings to look at. I love that OBB consistently has high-quality and polished content (some other super-popular wedding blogs I read are full of typos or boring posts that are thinly veiled ads), and a real commitment to inclusivity without being clickbait-y (e.g., another blog’s post might be titled “feminist interfaith genderqueer wedding” but then the post itself will have little or nothing to do with any of those things). I also love reading the posts about individual weddings, especially when they’re in the couple’s own words rather than just the pictures and an intro paragraph.


  3. I love many of the articles that you all publish. And I would like to participate/commiserate a bit more but I am not a huge fan of the way your comments section is set up. I find the threaded conversations here hard to follow, and the lack of a consistent screen name/login can make it difficulty to engage with other readers. I don’t know that other commenters will agree with me, but have you all considered using a pre-existing system like Intense Debate, or Disqus?

    • There have been discussions about Disqus in these parts for years, and it always seems like it’s half people being like OMG WHY DO YOU NOT USE IT, and half being like “thank GAWD you don’t use it.”

      I personally like it and would consider switching if I thought that was going to be the magic bullet for comments.

      • I’m not sure if it would help (although I can’t imagine it would hurt). But personally I like Disqus, and I think their platform has gotten much better in the past year or two. I’ve been browsing your website for years as a ‘daydreamer/procrastinator’ but just recently got engaged and actually NEEDED a community to talk to.

      • I don’t know if it’s a “magic bullet”, but I personally would comment more if there was a better interface/comment threading.

        I also like the idea of more general “open threads” – so not based around a specific question, but maybe a recap of that weeks top few posts and then more general questions – what are your weekend plans, what’s your next to do task for your wedding, what’s been your least/most favourite part of wedding planning so far?

        • Totally with you on this weekly round up open discussion post. We’ll work on that.

    • I actually find the way the comments here are set up to be extremely accessible. Having the comments organised chronologically makes them easy to follow, and replies to specific comments are attached to said comment so that avoids confusion. I like not having to have an account and log-in to something like Disqus. With this system you can casually add a comment without logging in/logging out, and you don’t need to remember passwords for a system you rarely use. I would have thought most people would keep a consistent screen name, unless they post so infrequently that they forgot what they used before, in which case they’d be difficult to engage with anyway.

  4. I started reading OBB when I started writing the wedding blog for the hotel I work for. OBB helped me be more inclusive in my language and worldview, as I was never really a part of the WIC before and I wanted to avoid the cliches.

    Then, I fell in love with the site and the stories. While there will always be times I like X wedding more than Y wedding, I love that weddings of all sizes, shapes and colors are represented.

    And now, I’m engaged myself! I’m a non-traditional bride (45, second wedding, nerd), so this has helped me when we’re making non-traditional decisions (because I’m a nerd, it’s my second wedding). I feel like our decisions are OK. Because they’re ours. And that’s good.

    Also? I love pictures of happy people. And this site has ’em!

  5. I’m not going to lie, I come back here for the shoe posts. And maybe the occasional headline that strikes my fancy (like this one) while I am looking for the latest shoe post.

    So shoes.

    • HA! It’s so funny because when I first started doing the shoe posts (which are an affiliate revenue driver) wayyyy back in 2008, I was so worried that people would find them too monetized, too superficial, too silly, too consumeristic, etc.

      Instead, it turns out that for a certain slice of us, we just love looking at shoes. And that’s ok.

  6. I used this site a bit when I was planning my wedding, but even the posts that weren’t “useful” to me, I enjoyed reading–I was just in a really wedding-y place at that point in my life, and I didn’t want to over-tax my friends talking about it. I enjoyed being on a all-weddings, all-the-time site that also mirrored my values, more or less. OBB was the only wedding site I really read in the run-up to the wedding…or after.

    I still read the site pretty regularly because I miss my wedding–the only downside of being married is that, if it all works out, I can never have another wedding. I like to reminisce and, again, this is a good place to do it without annoying anyone.

    Also, as the other commenters mentioned, I like some of the products mentioned here–shoes and clothes especially. So while I read less than I used to, and use almost none of the advice offered, I’m actually still the right demographic for some of the advertising here, at least a little bit. Huh–weird!

    • So, question: do you read Offbeat Home & Life now that you’re married? The idea of course has always been that people could “graduate” over there to find Offbeat Empire related stuff that’s less weddingy, but I’m always curious to hear about when/if folks actually find the site a fit for their post-Offbeat Bride needs.

      • I’m a graduate, but I just read both now that I’m married! I just really like looking at wedding stuff even though ours is over. Plus, we want to throw a big anniversary party every time it falls on a Saturday so I’m still using it for inspiration! That coffee bar post from a few days ago? Definitely will be featuring a version of that at anniversary 2020!
        For me Offbeat Home & Life has made a nice transition from the OMG WEDDING! phase into the OMG LIFE! phase.
        The articles featured on both OB sites have really opened my eyes a lot. I was a lot less accepting and way quicker to judge others than I am now, and I truly believe it’s because of all the awesome and different perspectives I’ve been exposed to through these sites. So thanks for helping me be a better me! 🙂

      • Hi Ariel,

        Yes, I do read Home & Life, and I like a lot of what’s posted there. But some of it is not my jam–I don’t have a house or kids–and since there’s only one post a day over there, I often drift over to OBB. I feel like I’m getting the content I want in general, just over a couple different sites.

    • As far as marriages working out and not getting another wedding, you can always throw vow renewals. I knew a woman who threw a big to-do every 10-15 years for it!

  7. Totally a procrastinator/daydreamer here. My entire romantic experience consists of something I didn’t realize was a date at the time, so I’m not exactly looking for practical advice; it’s pretty and it’s good at making me feel calmer, and that’s all I ask right now. (I’ve actually been reading it as something to do in my half-hour break between classes this semester.)

  8. I have always explained the appeal of wedding blogs (both pre- and now post-wedding planning) as ‘nice people doing happy things’. I think there is something special about weddings as a way of bringing together not only people, but also things that are somehow special to individuals, and I love reading about all the little meaningful details.

    Weirdly enough, I didn’t get anything more out of wedding blogs while I was actually wedding-planning. Thinking about it now, I wonder if that is because I’d used wedding blogs as cheery fantasy procrastination material for so long that they basically continued in that role, and never quite joined up with the reality.

  9. I read because I feel happy and hopeful when I see other people’s weddings going through. I’m currently long distance with a fiance who had to put our wedding plans on hold because we didnt make the financial cutoff for a family reunification/fiance visa for his country. So it’s another year for us until we can get married and I can move, since we dont want to be married and still seperated.

    So looking at Offbeat bride and other wedding blogs helps me put it into a “its coming” attitude instead of a “its not going to get there” attitude. Even though I can’t necessarily get the details ready, I feel like when its time itll fall into place.

  10. I have a boyfriend, it’s super serious, and we totally plan on getting married. We have no idea if it will be before kids or after kids or whatever, but it’s in the cards.
    I come here because the “nontraditional” weddings at The Knot feature $20,000 weddings, big, expensive, white dresses, at least 5 matching bridesmaids and groomsmen (and it’s always girls on one side, boys on the other), and maybe (maybe!) a suitcase cardbox and a video game doohickey (only on the groom’s side, because only male people are allowed to like that stuff).
    I come here because no one is going to be scared off by the fact that my boyfriend and I are going to have a $1000, GoT, Doctor, Marvel, Animaniacs wedding, that I’m wearing a $150 purple dress that I bought online, that I made my own cake, that it’s in my parents’ backyard, or that I hired my 11th grade speech teacher to be the photographer.
    I come here because it’s super feminist and accepting of people of all shapes, sizes, colors, creeds, beliefs, ideals, orientations, identities, and living spaces, and no one is fazed by any of that.
    My boyfriend hasn’t proposed yet, nor have I proposed to him. We’ve still looked at this website together, and said “that looks like something we would do” or “that’s not us, but it works for them” or even “I’m never doing anything like that” and all of that is okay. I’ll almost certainly continue to look at this site after I get married, because I like the inclusiveness.

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