Am I still offbeat if I love white chair covers? (Hint: YES.)

Updated Oct 12 2015
Guest post by Ali
By: montymanateeweddingsCC BY 2.0

In music, you can clap on the on-beat or the off-beat but, essentially, you're still in time…

Not long after I joined the Offbeat Bride Tribe, another member posted her weird feelings about the more traditional aspects of her wedding. Ariel posted a reply stating that this issue comes up every year or so and she finds it's best to let Tribe members figure it out for themselves.

Wise words, Ariel. I didn't get it at the time, but the last six months have been a journey for me, a journey of discovery about myself, about my future husband, and about the US we have created. If I could sum it up in one line, it would be:

I LIKE WHITE CHAIR COVERS AND I CANNOT LIE.

We never set out to be "offbeat." When we started planning our wedding, I can't really say that either of us had any idea what a wedding was "supposed" to look like! Very early on, I noticed that every time I searched for something — rockabilly bride, steampunk cake — Google images brought me to Offbeat Bride. I came, I saw, I joined, I never looked back.

It's been a liberating experience, but that liberation brought with it choice that couples who prefer to stay well within tradition don't have to face:

  • We learned that we didn't have to have a big, formal party but could have a bbq in my mum's garden, but we chose to hire a big venue because we wanted to.
  • I learned that I didn't have to wear white, but I chose to because I wanted to.
  • I learned that I don't need to take my husband's name but I have chosen to because I want to.

We also learned about the Wedding Industrial Complex. The dreaded WIC! I had never heard that term before, but it has become a familiar concept to me over the last few months. And the term has also come to represent, in my mind, the expectations of the world around me… and let me tell them:

  • I'm wearing a short dress because I want to.
  • We're having a crazy Beetlejuice wedding cake because we want to.
  • We're mentioning zombies and aliens in our ceremony because we want to.

Ahh, zombies. It seems that, with offbeat brides, no wedding is complete without zombies and aliens. And this was our next hurdle. How to react when you realise it's all been done before?

As we started making decisions, we started to feel rather pleased with our offbeat selves. "Wow, aren't we different!" and "Ooh, our wedding is going to be so out there!" Then we heard about a friend of a friend's wedding that had something similar or, the worst moment for me, when our lovely, very traditional friend (who is getting married six weeks before us) confided to me "I'm so glad you're having a short dress too, I don't feel so different now." WHAT?!

We saw weddings online that were smaller, better, weirder! We started to wrestle with the more traditional elements of our wedding plans, wondering if, perhaps, they're a bit too standard. And in doing this, I lost sight of what going the "offbeat" route is all about — doing it authentically. So, I've said it once and I'll say it again:

I'M HAVING CHAIR COVERS! THEY'RE COSTING ME MONEY BECAUSE I LIKE THEM! MWAHAHAHA!

And, so, at the mid-point of our planning, it seems to me that, just as in music:

You can clap on the on-beat. You're in time, and some people think it's naff.

You can clap on the off-beat. You're still in time, and some people think it's naff.

Or you can clap all over the shop. You're still in time — it's just jazz — and most people think that's naff. But if that's what makes you happy, you go on and wave those jazz hands 'til your fingers drop off.

  1. You know what? That sounds freakin awesome and I might have to print it out and tape it up beside my computer so I don't freak out everytime I see someone with cooler better groovier more original ideas than me – MY ideas are lovely and YOUR ideas are lovely and EVERYONE'S ideas are lovely.
    And that is that *nod nod*.

  2. Hooray Ali! I am with you … I am spending a buttload on gold Chivari chairs because I LIKE them, and I think they will look nice with my gold spray-painted juice bottle centerpieces. We are doing what we want, without labels. But I struggled with this for a long time. Thank you for your post!

  3. God, I love this post! I only wish that the issue didn't come up so frequently for Offbeat Bride readers… it seems like no matter how many times I remind people of this, brides still wrestle with feeling like someone somewhere MUST be judging them…

    Maybe they are, but I swear: NOT US! 🙂

    (For Tribe members, see this thread that just went up)

  4. I was thinking this through the other day (after reading through a buttload of wedding magazines my sister in law gave me) and I decided the difference is (and not always, but for me), that the Offbeat Bride way is to start with what you want and make a wedding out of it (even if it ends up looking an awful lot like your average bridal magazine wedding), and the bridal magazine way is to start with what a wedding should look like and try to make it fit you, a little bit, around the edges.

    • So true! When I had just gotten engaged, my BFF sent me a bridal magazine. It was a sweet gesture, but the magazine stressed me out because it created a feeling of expectations, what a wedding 'should' be like, that didn't fit what I wanted at all! I was so glad when I found OBB and learned that I could do whatever the hell I want.

    • Sorry for the thread necro (reply to a 4-year-old post), but I just wanted to let you know you just put in words what I've been trying to get my head around for my own wedding planning. My friends had a wedding that was great, and had lots of stuff about them, but felt very WIC anyway- and I think that's why! They took the existing mold and plugged themselves into it, not the other way around. Thank you!

  5. I think of Offbeat as a philosophy more than a look. I'm decidedly offbeat-lite (the most radical thing we did was walk in to the ceremony together and have my husband's teenaged son and daughter as his attendants… which shocked, um, exactly nobody) I think I even confessed my non-offbeatness to Ariel when I ordered her book! 🙂

    BUT… I did look to OB for ideas, reassurance, wedding fixes, inspiration, and humor during the planning process and beyond. I like knowing that there's a non-hysterical conversation going on about weddings and how to navigate them. I don't identify with most of the 'categories' (for lack of a better word) of offbeat that we see here, but I love knowing more about them. I'm not going to have a pirate themed anything, but I love seeing your version!

    For me, offbeat = fun and creative and unafraid.

    • I like knowing that there's a non-hysterical conversation going on about weddings and how to navigate them – oh yes! And I didn't realise how necessary this was until reading about 5 normal wedding magazines in one go. Whoah there.

  6. Being authentic can be scary, whether you're going really far off the traditional line or if you actually want to follow that line. All I have to say is kudos to all of the people out there who are being true to themselves, whatever version of offbeat that looks like!

  7. I've been struggling with this too. especially with the "it's been done before" stuff. Thank you for reminding me that I'm doing this stuff because it's what I want. It's ok that a friend of a friend had a broach bouquet – I'm having one because I want it and it means something to me. Everything I'm doing at the wedding is something that I (and my FI) want! It makes us happy – and that's the main thing.

  8. It's funny that you used chair covers as an example in this post.

    That's one of the things I struggled with when planning my wedding, and for this reason. I felt like I shouldn't have chair covers because it seemed like a perfect symbol of WIC insanity (do you ever see chair covers at any other time? I don't think I ever have) and a complete waste of money.

    On the other hand I didn't want crappy chairs that would look out of place. I wanted them to match the beautiful garden marquee we were renting, and my awesome (although at the time non-existant outside my mind) green and gold rustic center pieces.

    I finally decided I could justify the cost of green and/or gold chair covers, if nessesary I'd DIY them to make it cheaper, when we went to see the venue's full set-up for the first time.

    And there were these really lovely green and gold chairs (gold coloured frame, green seats). It was almost annoying. I'd spend so much time agonising over this and it'd just become a complete non-issue.

    Oddly enough I didn't feel nearly as conflicted about the custom M&M's I wanted for favours. Maybe because affording them was always out of the question anyway. Or maybe because they're Awesome even if they are absurdly WIC.

  9. I often wondered if I was "off beat" enough to fit in here, because many of my personal convictions are conservative. However my approach to life and fun have never, ever been conventional. Now that I look at it, that is what being "offbeat" is about!

  10. I was just talking to my friend about this last night. She said "doing your wedding however you want is kind of this new fad that is sweeping through" I was like "uh what? Personalizing your wedding is new?!" WIC has totally taken over, but that doesn't mean you're a sell-out if you subscribe to it! I'm having white chair covers too. And they'll be really pretty against my BLUE wedding dress *grin*

  11. I totally agree and am in the same boat, but I simply can't bring myself to care about chair covers! I'm wearing a white fluffy dress, using real flowers, having the ceremony in a bought-and-paid-for botanical garden, etc, but am also having a Portal cake, making my real rose bouquet from split-colored roses, and am hand sewing said fluffy white dress. Some things about OBB really annoy me and I've been vocal about it, but some things are mind-blowingly awesome. I figure as long as "because we want to so stfu" is the answer behind every decision, crazy or lite, it's all good.

  12. This is such a great reminder. I have adopted the motto of "It may not be truly unique, but it is uniquely us." I have to remind myself of that a lot. If I find myself thinking of doing something just because I think I should, or I see something really neat and start to wonder should I include that? I stop and think it this unique to us or to another couple.

  13. "I'M HAVING CHAIR COVERS! THEY'RE COSTING ME MONEY BECAUSE I LIKE THEM! MWAHAHAHA!"

    Best line I've seen in a while! You go with your chair covers! 🙂

  14. I have struggled with these issues too. If someone walked up to me and gave me an unlimited amount of money that could only be spent on my wedding, I would go all out. I am filled with over-the-top ideas that I think would be really fun and exciting and different (and very me – I am an over-the-top kind of person. That's just who I am). But there would still be things I want to do the traditional way. For example, I want to wear a white dress and I want my dad to walk me down the aisle. Because I just want it that way.

    Unfortunately, nobody walked up to me with an unlimited budget and we decided it was important to us to keep the budget very small, even though our parents are paying for it and were willing to put in more money. Having a smaller budget does not give us the opportunity to, say, get married on a boat or hire a marching band or ride up the aisle on a camal. So it will only be as over-the-top as we can get within our budget. But we are finding ways to make it true to our nerdy/out-there personalities.

    Another issue I've had is feeling like I only have one shot at this (I hope), and it has to be right. But it all comes back to our goals for our wedding – to have a good time, to not spend a bajillion dollars on it, and to have it be true to who we are. Not every single detail has to fit each of those goals. If there are a few things that I want to do the traditional way, even though I am not a traditional person at all, that's ok.

  15. I'm right there with y'all. My wedding will be rather traditional (church service, buffet dinner, attendants, etc). I struggled with being "original", until my fiance pointed out that we shouldn't be doing anything JUST to impress/shock the guests. That's just as bad in an offbeat wedding as it is in a WIC one. So now I'm much more selective with my choices…do I want something because it means something to us? I want a brownie cake because I like brownies more than cake, NOT because I want to shock my uber-conservative cousin by not having a tiered cake. The thing I love about OBT is the freedom of choice. Choose to have a white wedding because you want it, or choose offbeat because you want it, but its YOUR CHOICE! Affirmation to do what works for you…that's what its all about.

    • Brownie Cakes for the win. That was the first thing we decided.

      "Will you marry me"
      "Can we have brownies not cake?"
      "yes please"

  16. Excellent post! I think the single best thing about OBB, besides the inspiring pictures of course, is that it is a place for women to talk about weddings without being horrid and judgy about it. Even if you love Martha Stewart Weddings and plan to emulate one in every single respect, OBB is *still* a great place for you, because it gets you thinking about what you really want and empowers you to know you have choices!

    Weddings are unique among social rituals in this regard–not many people would be cruel enough to vilify someone for the christening or bar mitzvah or graduation party they have, and we all know (thanks to Ariel) that your Quinceañera dress can be as balls-out awesome as you want! Yet weddings are open season for criticism, in the media and at home. OBB is a safe space to get back to the fun and joy of weddings, chair covers or not!

  17. Love this. I just discovered OBB, and it's a brilliant antidote to bridal magazines. However, I felt I was a bit 'lite'… Now I'm coming round to the fact that it's our wedding, we'll do it how we like and if it ends up traditional or really off-beat, it doesn't matter. 🙂 Thanks everyone!

  18. I Love this post!! I ended up on OBB bc everything that I wanted seemed sooo different to those around me. Everything is book themed, from book centerpieces to bookmark escort cards, the whole bit. But as I am now under 6 months away I am realizing that really the things we are doing aren't all that different. I'm just throwing a big nerd-y wedding and while my sport obsessed family thinks it weird, those who really get me and my better half know that it is absolutely perfect for us! And I am having chair covers and I'm totally okay with it; because let's face it, I am OCD, and those banquet chairs just don't match!!!

  19. So true! Though I hate chair covers and identikit bridesmaids. I wish people would get life and particularly events like weddings are all about choice and personal feelings. It's quite sad really.
    My maid of honor has always been mostly mainstream and I thought she'd go for the must have wedding. But she's struggling with alot of the expectations and what she and her fiancé want. Whilst I was trying on a bridesmaid dress for her in her mum's shop one of the older employees said: 'make sure none of your bridesmaids get pregnant.' then all eyes were on me because my wedding
    is 8 months before. I was fuming. I'll keep pointing her this way and being the best wedding idea cheerleader I can.

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