2009 Reader Survey results

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Last month I invited y'all to tell me a bit about yourselves via my first ever Reader Survey. Close to 2000 of you took the time to answer my questions — THANK YOU! The exercise was truly enlightening on many levels, and I figured I'd take the time to share some of the results with you all…

Gender & Age
Perhaps unsurprisingly, 98% of you are women. Offbeat dudes: I salute you! Age-wise, half of you are between 24-27, although my readers range from 16 to 60. Bonus points to the reader who identified themselves as 23.75 years old. Way to be precise!

Location
Most of you are urban, with 70% reporting they live in large or small cities. 76% of you are from the US, 8% from Canada, 5% from Australia, and 5% from the UK. Breaking down that vast majority that's in the US, it looks like a fourth of you are West Coast and the rest of you are scattered across the country with bubbles in NY, MA, and TX.

Identities
While over half of you are actively planning your weddings, a surprising number of you are hoping to become engaged (14%) or already married (13%). 5% of you identify as gay, lesbian, transgendered or otherwise queer. (On a related subject, I got feedback from several readers who feel offbeat bride is, as one respondent put it, “too much over the top on Gay subjects.” As someone who has a gay mother AND mother-in-law, lesbian weddings are deeply important to me and y'all can expect I'll continue to be “over the top” in my coverage.)

What you want more of
I asked y'all what you wanted more of, and everyone seems to want more wedding porn and bride profiles. I'm working on it! I also got a lot of feedback that people want more content relevant to their specific region. Just to let you all know that, while I'm very clear that OBB is NOT a wedding directory, I am exploring options for how I could integrate regional vendor listings.

For folks outside the US, y'all wanted more international content. Given that over three-fourths of my readers are in America, I'm American, and my book was published by an American publisher, I'm afraid that I can't promise that the site is ever going to become hugely international — although I've always featured weddings in Canada, the UK, Australia and even South Africa, and will continue to do so.

I also got a lot of feedback that y'all want more content for grooms and more DIY coverage, both of which I'm definitely going to work to integrate!

Social Networking & Media
So, I work in social media so this part was really interesting to me. You guys looove Facebook, with 87% of you using the site, as compared to only 50% of you using MySpace and 15% using Twitter. (For what it's worth Offbeat Bride is on Facebook, although it's mostly just an RSS feed.) 54% of you are members of the Offbeat Bride's social network on Ning.com (the OBT), and about 60% of you blog in one capacity or another.

Why do you read Offbeat Bride?
90% said it was the inspiration! 80% are obsessed with the photos, but only 45% come here for the writing. (HA!) 45% find it reassuring and 35% said Offbeat Bride makes them feel confident. I also got lots of great write in comments:

  • If I didn't read OBB, the wedding industry would have eaten my soul already.
  • I just like looking at/hearing about people. Lots of people. Lots of different kinds of people. Weddings are somewhere that a person's personality can really shine through, and I am a big fan of people's personalities.
  • It makes me feel less guilty about considering to marry
  • It's refreshingly non-judgemental. It's okay to be totally and completely offbeat, but it's also okay to be mostly traditional and maybe just a teensy bit offbeat.
  • It feels so good to see people like me respected, validated, represented, and in love.

Offbeat Advertising
The vast majority of you said the ads on the site don't bother you and that you respect the advertisers who are listed here, and a third of you went so far as to say you usually like the products featured. There was a lot of feedback about how so few of the ads are regionally relevant and lemme just say I hear ya! I really wish I had more advertisers who were selling products online so that they would be relevant to everyone. That said, if you fall in love with an out of town wedding photographer you see here, know that most of 'em would love to travel to your wedding.

I was surprised by how many people told me that they don't see the ads because they use an ad blocker or an RSS reader. I thought that I'd made my advertising policy and practice pretty clear, but just to clear up any confusion: Offbeat ads are posted as blog posts (there's a whole category of 'em), so those of you who read via RSS or use ad blockers are absolutely seeing each and every single one. While ads posts are very clearly identified as such on the website (look for the “Advertisement” in the title or the text at the top that tells you YO, THIS IS AN AD!), thanks to y'all's feedback, I did realize that ads are NOT marked as such via RSS, so I'll be making changes to my RSS output to remedy that.

Budgets
I suspected, but now I know for real: the vast majority of Offbeat Brides are throwing budget weddings! Although 10% of you declined to answer (I totally respect that), 60% of you told me your wedding budget was less than $10,000 — less than half the cost of the average American wedding. Only 3% of you are planning weddings over $30k. Elsewhere in the survey, I got feedback from a few folks who wished Offbeat Bride was less focused on budget weddings, but given the fact that the majority of my readers are on tight budgets, I don't foresee much change in my focus.

Feedback
Holy moly, y'all had a LOT to say, ranging from the impossibly sweet all the way to caustically negative. A few trends on the negative side were:

  • OBT frustrations (I tried to address some of these issues by writing this faq)
  • Issues with offbeat homogeneity/trends (which inspired me to write this)
  • People wishing the site was more focused on their specific needs, ie region, style, budget, sexual orientation, etc. (I try to make Offbeat Bride as varied as I can, but there's simply no way I can make it the perfect website for everyone. I thank you all in advance for your forgiveness.)

But it wasn't all bad. Some of you wrote amazing little missives, a few of which I wanted to share:

  • I don't think you quite knew what you were getting into when you started this! This is the greatest online community. Whether or not we're talking weddings, you have cultivated an environment that supports… well, support! Positive thinking and educated, sincere opinions and advice abound!
  • Keep up the good work! I'm a woman marrying a man, but for some reason, I find the transgender weddings featured most inspirational.
  • Love it! You're inspirational to people who aren't even dating anyone at the moment – I see it as a blog about being brave and being yourself. Thank you!
  • Thank you for helping us offbeat and even not-so-offbeat brides feel at home. I have learned so much from your site and from your book. It has helped me to feel comfortable with my out-of-the box thinking and to even be ok with my in-the-box thinking.
  • When I found obb, I felt kind of alone in an ‘offbeat life'. Your words inspire me to become the best version of myself, and to smile despite what other's may think along the way. Since finding your blog I've grown more confident. Please consider writing a book about your offbeat life. An offbeat woman/girls' guide to living life and pursuing happiness. It would rock. This is the book I want very much to read.

…Aww, you guys! Seriously, some of the sweet comments made me tear up. It's such an honor to write for such lovely people. Snarfle.

I still have a lot of mulling over to do about the survey in terms of what does it all mean about the future of Offbeat Bride … but thanks to each and every one of you who took the time to answer my questions!

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Comments on 2009 Reader Survey results

  1. Heh, that first missive was mine, and you’re so welcome! (*slight gloat*)
    I do believe we were all so happy to provide feedback.

  2. Ariel- I’m just glad you’ve done what you have. Obviously it’s impossible to please everyone, but in the lives of many of us who have always been a little (or a lot) ‘different’, it’s a revolution. I’ve seen people much more and much less extreme than me, different in all sorts of ways. And no matter what the survey says, the overwhelming feeling here is one of tolerance, acceptance, and celebration of our differences AND similarities. That’s why I’m still here when my wedding was last summer, and never ever plan on leaving. If the world were more like OBB, it would be a better place. And I’m not kissing your ass, I believe that.

  3. I think the youth of your core audience (much more than half under 30) has a lot to do with the interest in budget weddings. That’s not to say the only people interested in budget weddings are strapped for cash, but it likely IS a factor.

    I’m in my late 30s and looking back, had I been married 10 or 15 years ago, I would have planned a budget gothy-punk rock wedding.

    But as is unfortunately true for most, I’ve mellowed out and have come to realize that my tastes have since then broadened and deepened. I am glad I didn’t get hitched back then because I think I will now have a celebration that’ll better stand the test of time.

    I’m not having a budget wedding, but neither am I having a “wedding industrial” extravaganza.

    There IS a huge middle ground, so please don’t forget that in your focus! I suspect many of us are planning fabulous, somewhat more costly weddings that are personal, handmade, eco-conscious, and offbeat.

  4. I’m part of a straight couple, but the LBGT weddings/commitment ceremonies on OBB are the ones that most often inspire me and remind me why I want to get married.

  5. I think one easy way to help OBB readers get regional-specific information would be to create a means for users to search for entries specific to their region in the wedding porn and vendors sections. The tags are a good start, not all weddings/vendors have been given a geographic tag.

  6. Heartfelt thanks for the ”too much over the top on Gay subjects” Ariel. I’m planning an all-bride wedding Australia, where we are not even close to legalising gay marriage. While people are generally supportive, other responses have ranged from ”I don’t know why you’re bothering when it’s not real anyway” to ”I keep forgetting you’re getting married cos… well… you know” and several family members who think the whole thing is a fancy dress party and that we’re just playing house. It’s been tough at times.

    The queer profiles, porn and MASSIVE support from readers on OBB and OBT have literally kept me from chucking the whole thing in a couple of times. I LOVE that queer weddings are featured on your site with no more comment than ”look how gorgeous this wedding is”.

    So, thank you for spreading the love, keeping me a little more sane and giving me a place to come when I just want to feel like a normal person planning the wedding she and her partner deserve just as much as anyone else!

  7. Crystal, that’s actually a task that my beloved intern Shrie is working on … going back through the archives and geographically tagging all my old posts. Pity poor Shrie: it’s tedious work!

  8. Considering that I’m female heteroflexible and my soon to be wife is MtF Transgendered, and we both help run an educational group for BDSM folks, I was at my wits end about how to reconcile my sweetie’s desire for tradition and the ~need~ for our wedding to be anything but!

    Thanks, Ariel, for having a place and a book that says I don’t have to buy into the Stepford-wife stuff like having the invitations match the placecards!

    We’re planning on a great foresty wedding in the fall and one hell of a party after, and reading about your foresty setup really gave me some ideas!

    Thanks!

  9. I wasn’t a reader for the reader survey, but I was doing a *lot* of bridal blog surfing this morning, and this is one I kept coming back to. I’m trying to plan an Alice in Wonderland wedding on a less-than-$10k budget, and I’ll definitely be checking back for creative inspiration. Thanks!

  10. I love OBB!! Keep up the good work!! You are listed as one of my favorite sites and I read you short of like the bible!!! SOOO AWESOME!!! I’m glad I found this site!!

  11. Ariel,

    Thanks for all of the time and energy you’ve put into making Offbeat Bride the raddest wedding related site on the web. The community you created is inspirational, supportive and generally effin awesome – you should definitely be proud of what you’ve done! I’m glad to be a part of it.

    Rock on,

    j.

  12. (coming out of the woodwork to say):
    i think i said this: “It feels so good to see people like me respected, validated, represented, and in love.” & if i didn’t, well, i’m glad someone else feels the same way.

    also, thank you for being so “over the top”?

    (do you think anyone would ever request that you not be over the top with straight weddings? honestly.)

  13. Ariel,
    I am one of your international readers from Berlin, Germany and although most of the weddings are American they are still over the top inspiring.
    I often spend quite some time to search for similar vendors in Germany. It’s hard work at times, but it is also a lot of fun 😉

    Thanks for all the inspiration and keep them coming!

  14. Keep OBB queer!
    Pfft… silly people saying the gay thing is over the top – it’s all weddings! It’s all people loving each other! It’s all ‘porn’ to look at! Who cares what dangly/non-dangly bits we have!

    🙂

  15. I didn’t participate, sorry. 🙁

    But I wanted to let you know, I began following your website about over a year ago, while helping a friend find a cool plus size wedding gown. Ever since I have been addicted to the site, I love reading about how creative people are and still financially savvy.

    My only wish, now as someone who is looking at walking down the isle in the near future, is that I wish there was a forum section to talk to people about having alternative weddings, exchange ideas and thoughts.

    Otherwise, married or not. I plan on remaining an OBB Addict.

    Addicted always,
    -Kathryn

  16. I love this site. I really do. My one upgrade was to include more content for grooms. In our planning, it’s my fiance who seems to be “groomzilla” and I’m way more laid back about the details. He feels wierd on most wedding sites though because most are clearly geared towards women.

    At one point I remember you noting that while you did receive contributions for lesbian weddings, you didn’t often get them for gay weddings. I wonder if it’s because grooms are put off by the “bride” in Offbeat Bride? Perhaps they don’t realize that you are really supporting anyone of any gender involved with weddings? I’m not sure of the technical things needed to attract more of those readers though.

    Still – I can’t wait to keep reading!

  17. Just wanted to echo what Kate said about offbeat grooms – it has taken my partner and I a long time to get to a place where we feel good about discussing engagement, because neither of us could stomach the thought of a “weddingy” wedding, like the ones we’re frequently invited to. It’s been much easier for me to get a sense of other options that we’d have, and how to do it in an “us” way, largely because of this site – thankyou!! But I’m not sure there’d be anywhere for him to go that would serve a similar function – I think he would see OBB and think it was largely focused on female aspects (even though I think it’s quite balanced.) It would be great for Dre to do a guest post or two, maybe? Or something similar that we can show our offbeat-grooms-to-be so that they can get a sense of offbeat weddings from a guy perspective? [I recognise that lots of guys would be totally able to sift out or take on board the more feminine aspects of the thing, but I suspect mine – and many others – might not react that way.]

  18. Thank you so much for the wonderful writing and the porn for all genders and sexualities. Hee. Hee.
    Personally, I am a straight girl who has struggled with the idea of matrimony. My “people” seem to have screwed it up royally, and I have had a hard time justifying participating in such an “exclusive” institution, even though I am set to this summer. I can’t wait for the day when a wedding is just a wedding and a marriage is real, whether it’s a bride and groom, a bride and bride, a groom and groom, or a bride who once was a groom and a groom who once was a bride. I really feel this site will have a big hand in making that happen. Thanks!

  19. I second the comment from the respondent who suggested an Ariel-penned “Offbeat life” book for women and girls. I would TOTALLY give that to my little sisters for their 16th birthdays.
    🙂

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