Oh Noes, I Think My Wedding Will Be Normal!

September 24 2012 | Guest post by Kirsten Hansen
Bouquet
Photo of Kirsten's colorful bouquet by Chris Graham.
By the time our wedding was about to happen, I didn't feel like it was offbeat or super unique or even all that nontraditional. Seriously. It all felt incredibly normal and I actually had a moment of confusion about it all feeling so normal. I mean, I read Offbeat Bride. I was part of the Offbeat Bride Tribe. How could I be having what felt like a "normal" wedding?

You may think I'm crazy since our wedding was actually pretty darn offbeat and unique. But it didn't really feel that offbeat, and I was wondering if I should be concerned. I saw all these seriously amazing weddings on Offbeat Bride and the Tribe and I wanted to be among that crowd.

I went through my personal checklist and thought about all the elements of our wedding, all the decisions the dude and I had made. At which point I realized that yes, we had made a lot of awesome choices and the wedding was going to be perfect for us. (Actually, I realized that yes, it really was going to be different. But for us that was the right choice.)

Then I realized that the fact that it felt normal was awesome. It actually meant we were doing it right.

A red dress, pizza, an art gallery venue, a ceremony we wrote, dude not in a tux. All of that felt perfectly normal and well within acceptable parameters for a wedding.

Why? Because for us, the point was to have a wedding we would enjoy. So that's what we focused on. In fact, I was so busy focusing on that that I honestly forgot just how many things we were doing to make it ours. I kid you not. None of it seemed that offbeat after eight months of planning it.

I also tried very hard to replace "offbeat" with "authentic" in my head. After all, that's really what Offbeat Bride is all about: Being true to yourself, your partner(s), your family and friends. Whatever wedding results will be the right one because it is authentic, not because it's off-the-wall or different.

For me, an authentic wedding sits in opposition to what you're told you must have, because that's just how it's done. So the choices you make should be made intentionally, not just by default. The only thing required for a wedding is a commitment. All the rest of it is window dressing so pick your curtains accordingly!

There is absolutely nothing wrong with any of the parts of anyone's wedding. Traditional white wedding dresses and tuxes are awesome if they're your thing. A trek to the dessert might be the ideal location. A religious ceremony that is meaningful might be exactly what you want. An '80s dance party could be exactly what you need. Or maybe you long to get weddinged.

For us, having an authentic wedding meant considering the choices we had and making decisions based on what fit us and our situation. So we chose delivery food from our favourite place because we love the food, it was a decent price, and we know it doesn't make my dude with a picky stomach sick. We had real, live flowers because my mum really, really wanted flowers because she enjoys them (and part of me does too). I had a red, swing-style dress because white makes me look ill, and I've always wanted a fancy red dress.

Wedding planning can be stressful, with so many decisions packed into a short time frame and so many expectations heaped on. Sometimes those expectations are to conform. Sometimes they are to be as far from the stereotype as possible.

I say that if you make your decisions based on you that it's that much easier to just enjoy getting married. It doesn't matter what anyone else thinks or does (because your wedding isn't a contest). It is just as awesome to have an Offbeat Lite wedding with a white dress, tuxes, a church, and all the trimmings as it is to have a masquerade gender-queer handfasting.

As long as you have your wedding. And if it feels normal, that's okay.


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  1. I really needed to hear this. I am just in the beginning stages of planning, but part of me feels like people are going to panic and it is too offbeat. And aside from a few elements, it isn't going to be in my mind. But doing the "traditional" you-must-do-this-or-the-sky-will-fall stuff doesn't feel right. It doesn't feel normal. When I think of our Renaissance theme with bagpipers and harpist and all the details my fiance and I want, I feel happy…and normal. Thanks for helping me focus on what is truly important!

    8 agree
  2. We paid for our wedding ourselves, a little because it was our second and mostly because we wanted full control over it! We had just enough DIY elements, simple decorative elements throughout, injected our personality everywhere (in the food, music, cocktails and venues) My dress was a vintage 50's emerald green costume gala gown, my shoes were disco glitter….And i had moments where I worried that it wasnt enough..until i was in it and realized that to add stuff "just because" was not in our nature and most brides do it , because they think they gotta. We didnt have cake toppers, toasting glasses, we didnt do the garter/bouquet toss, and NO ONE asked where that was!

    4 agree
    • I remember years back a high-school friend of mine got married (I was a birdesmaid) and she had a really traditional wedding in just about every way. But she really didn't want to do a garter toss and was very concerned that people were going to pressure her into doing it. I think that once you reach a certain point of non-traditional people stop asking, but if you go traditional except for a couple of details people wonder where the details went. Of course you still get to say "we skipped it because that's what we wanted to do!" I mean, really, if she had simply not worn a garter no one could force them to do a garter toss!

      2 agree
  3. I love that you wrote this! I've just started out, I'm very sure that there are some things that I do and do not want for my day. Some are very offbeat and then some feel overly traditional. Thank you for your words of wisdom as I really start planning for when my time comes.

    1 agrees
  4. THIS!!"The only thing required for a wedding is a commitment. All the rest of it is window dressing "

    As one who works in the wedding industry, and sees crazy, stressed out brides on the regular.. Yeah…
    I tell them all the time that the only thing you HAVE to do on your wedding day is to commit yourself to someone you love; the rest is just fluff!!

    14 agree
  5. I had a few people say me to at various points (before and after) that my wedding was (or was going to be) really wild or weird and I'd respond, tongue in cheek, "but we're having a ceremony with a priest followed by dinner and dancing! It's very traditional!" Although I know plenty of weddings that had none of those things, to me that's really the heart of what a wedding is so I wanted to do all that. On the other hand, we definitely included details that would have blown the pants off any REALLY traditional wedding planner. So, yeah, I similarly feel like my wedding was simultaneously TOTALLY NORMAL and TOTALLY WEIRD. But the most important part is it was totally us.

    2 agree
  6. " So the choices you make should be made intentionally, not just by default. "

    Amen to that, sister! It's so sad that in my country cookie-cutter wedding is the norm. You pick decors, food, etc from a catalogue. Brides everywhere take a wedding package offered by venues that includes almost the who shebang. The options are limited as well if you're on a budget.

    Offbeat, unique, or intimate wedding is very rarely heard. Finding vendors that would accommodate a small wedding is very hard. In the end, you'd still have to spend a lot of money if you want an offbeat wedding.

    This is one of the reason why my fiance & I are going to get married in the States (where he's from).

  7. Cheers to that! As I go on with my wedding planning more and more, I'm realizing how standard my wedding will be despite efforts otherwise, but am I going to still enjoy it? Hell yeah!

    Our wedding is going to be in a ballroom with around 150 people (such big families o_O) and I'm wearing a long white dress (with antique-y lace!), but it's a gorgeous ballroom built in the 20's and those people will all be very much loved family and friends!

    1 agrees
  8. I love this post. By the time we actually had our wedding, I really did forget how "Offbeat" it was. It was only later that night, when comments and compliments started trickling in, did I realize that we had pulled off something most of our guests had never seen before. Because it was authentic, it seemed "normal" to us! I think that's a really insightful way to gauge your choices as you go through the process.

    2 agree
  9. This!! Love this! I've tried to say exactly this so Many times and never quite worked out how (I called mine offbeat lite because it didnt feel very offbeat to me-then OB got flack on fb for calling it lite because someone else saw it as crazy offbeat) so thankyou for writing this!

  10. Oh, all of this. So much.

    I started to feel like I was not enough offbeat, I think because I spent a lot of time on OBB and the Tribe. It was quite quickly cured by reading some other wedding blogs and seeing so. many. posts. by people saying "Oh, you just *have* to do this, right?".

    The other thing I suppose is that choices that I was expecting to cause shock and amazement really didn't – "You're having a purple dress? Of course you are. What else would you wear?"

    And then eventually I worked out that there is no "offbeat enough" or "normal enough". You have to be you, and that's perfect.

    Oops, that got a bit soppy. Sorry.

    1 agrees
  11. I had a similar feeling of normalcy by the time it was my wedding. I wasn't out to make it crazy or anything and a lot of DIY choices were made out of financial necessity, but still, I thought we would have this very different type of wedding. I think I was so engulfed with the type of wedding I wanted that it just sounded normal by the end. It was exactly what we wanted and went off without a hitch. Afterward, guests were telling me over and over what a good time they had and how different it was than any other wedding they had been to. I heard the word unique many times from many people. And several people noted how these details we had were so perfect for our personalities. I guess sometimes when we get so focused on what we want, we forget how "traditional" weddings can be most of the time, and forget that our guests love us and therefore will love what our personalities come up for our wedding.

    1 agrees
  12. My wedding is in about 5 weeks and while on some levels it appears really off-beat (at least to some guests) it is actually very traditional which for me makes it all the more off-beat.

    My soon-to-be husband is a trans-man who converted to Judaism about three years ago. I am a bi-girl raised in very Reform Jewish home. We are having a very traditional Jewish ceremony, far more traditional than my parents. We are looking at it as the foundation for our Jewish home, so much so it almost seems radical to me since I grew up in such a Reform world. However to my guests (ie grandparents) the laid-back atmosphere for my reception and small guest list is what makes this wedding so off-beat. It's really all in perception.

    1 agrees
  13. I'm struggling with this concept too. Our budget is non-existant (almost literally) and my ideas for an offbeat wedding come with price tags. But if I compare what I have planned with the weddings that I've been to, I guess I could say it's going to be offbeat. But I had to come to terms with this being our wedding, and yeah, it's not going to inspire, and it's not going to be on the front page of Martha Stewart, either. I guess there's just a lot of awesome weddings to compare to.

    3 agree
  14. Great post!

    My wedding feels pretty 'normal' to me, but I think that's because I'm used to seeing much more imaginative celebrations on here. However, I'm sure some of our guests will think we're really 'different' for having music from Star Wars in the ceremony, for example.

    I think viewing our weddings as 'authentic', rather than worrying about being too offbeat/too normal, is brilliant advice.

    3 agree
  15. Thank you so much for this. I'm starting the search for a dress and there's a part of me that would love it to be a colorful dress because a lot of the white ones in my budget are so boring. But there is this other part of me that has that traditional institution of weddings stuck in my head and wants a white one so I don't alienate the more conservative members of my family and well you know the really nice ones are stunning. It's reassuring to know this is a "normal" feeling!

  16. I love this.
    So much.
    What I have realized, especially in my addiction to OBB and my "night job" working as a wedding planner/coordinator, is that everyone has a different view of normal.
    Last weekend I worked a wedding where the venue coordinator freaked out because there wasn't going to be a garter or bouquet toss. "But it's tradition!"
    The weekend before that, I went to an outdoor wedding where everyone was encouraged to wear something that allowed them to "commune with the fairy spirits of the forest." Many wings were worn, and in this setting and for those people, it was exactly right and exactly normal.
    You're never going to please everyone. If OBB has taught me anything, it's that staying true to yourself and to your partnership is the most important part of any union.

    1 agrees
  17. I agree so much!
    We wrote our own ceremony, our friend got ordained online and married us, we got married in an old masonic theater, my friend that is a beautiful singer and song writer played our music, my bridesmaids walked down the aisle to one of his songs, and I walked down the aisle to Josh Ritter, Change of Time.

    At the same time, I had a white dress, my husband and officiant wore tuxes, we had flower bouquets, cake cutting, etc.

    We just cut and paste what traditional things actually meant something to us. It wasn't super offbeat, but it was us and we loved it. Our main goal was to go in unmarried and leave married, the rest were just details. We also wanted to make sure everyone that took time off had a great time celebrating with us. Missions accomplished!

    3 agree

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