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So I was looking around your website, and I feel like sort of a poser even being here.

I'm wearing a white dress and I have my bridesmaids wearing pink and although we're not getting married in a church, our ceremony looks pretty traditional.

Do you have any suggestions for how I can make my wedding more offbeat?


I actually don't, Jessica — because I don't think your wedding needs to be more offbeat. It just needs to be honest and authentic, and if what you want is a white dress and a more traditional ceremony, I think that's fucking awesome.

I've run into this a lot in talking to people about their weddings — the dirty flip-side of “my wedding is too weird” is “my wedding isn't weird enough.” Both sentiments make me sad because your wedding is not a contest.

There's this bridal machismo that can sneak into your mind, and it's not especially healthy. I've seen this happen with DIY/crafty brides, who get down on themselves for not hand-making every last piece of wedding detritus. I've seen this from feminist brides who feel like if they let someone walk them down the aisle, they need to defend their choice. I've seen it with green/eco-brides who agonize over the fact that they're using a non-organic unity candle.

As your resident alt-lifestyle consultant, please allow me to state this clearly: brides do not need more ways to feel bad about our weddings.

I didn't write Offbeat Bride as a judgment — I've gone to traditional weddings that were beautiful expressions of the couple's backgrounds and beliefs. I wrote the book to act as a cheerleader for those wrestling with making nontraditional decisions about their wedding — not as an admonishment of those who chose otherwise.

In this way, I guess maybe my book and this website are mis-titled. Maybe it shouldn't be Offbeat Bride, but Authentic Bride. I kept this in mind while I was working on the book: Engaged women don't need another voice telling them they're failing. It doesn't matter if it's a voice of tradition telling them they're wrong for wanting to have their wedding in the round, or a voice of nontradition telling them they're wrong for wanting to wear a white dress — brides need encouragement and support.

If you check out the Real Offbeat Weddings I feature, you'll see that I make a point to showcase a variety of wedding styles, from white dress church weddings all the way to kaleidoscopic freak-fest weddings.

There's nothing to prove here. Having a weird wedding just for the sake of making a statement is just as inauthentic as forcing yourself into a traditional ceremony to keep your parents happy. Your wedding should reflect the reality of you and your partner's life together. If you're using your wedding to prove a point about anything other than your commitment to each other, it's worth taking a step back to reconsider your motivations.

Your wedding is not a race, and there's no need to win — the only prize you need is the commitment of your partner (aww) and you get that regardless of how far you choose to walk off the beaten aisle.

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Comments on Your wedding is not a contest

  1. SO well said. Thanks so much for voicing the conflict I feel…I want some traditional elements, some offbeat, and it’s easy to feel rejected by the extremists in both directions.

  2. Thank you, I love all the profiles and brides on your site. They are all so beautiful with fantastic weddings. I was feeling sad the other day that mine won’t be quite as untraditional. But after reading this I realized that at least it really is a reflection of me and the boyfriend… and that’s as much as I could ever want. Thanks again for your words and this site!

  3. Bravo. This blog was fantastic. I wish more people would apply what you said in their every day life. People need to stop trying so hard to be “different” -isn’t that worse than being average?

  4. Sam, I couldn’t agree more. In fact, I am now inspired to write out this big long story about this silly but still relevant AHA moment I had about this issue in high school.

    I was in high school from ’89-’93, which as you can imagine, was the apex of “alternative” culture in the Northwest. My high school definitely skewed toward alternative being vastly preferable to preppy or normal, which was seen as way too ’80s. I remember one classmate telling me all about how she very carefully put this sticker on her binder crooked because, well, she didn’t want it to look too normal. I, meanwhile, was a freak from a weird hippie family and I was desperate to be mainstream, so while all my suburban classmates tried to be alternative by listening to grunge, I was madly trying to be more normal by listening to Top 40. (I still have a soft spot for New Jack Swing.)

    … And then there was Lindsey. She rode horses and was from a wealthy family. She shopped at J. Crew and Banana Republic, and oddly she seemed the most at peace with herself. In 1990, I realized that of everyone at our school, she might actually be the most authentic, because while most of us were desperately trying to be something we weren’t — Lindsey was just being herself. She was what most of us would consider preppy, but she didn’t waste her time pretending to be anything else — which most of us around her spent all our time doing. She was comfortable with who she was, which when you’re 15 is fucking MIND BLOWING.

    I guess, if you want to get high school about it … I’d take an authentic prep over a poser any day.

  5. Great post!! I agree, weddings should be truly about the couple and their lives and life together, however they may be. Authenticity rocks.

    Love the pic.

  6. What if your wedding is a contest¿

    I watched this British comedy flick that was a sort of mockumentary of the bridal industry and it really made me laugh and also made me think of all of the offbeat brides out there who maybe could use a laugh.

    The movie is called “Confetti” and the basic plot is couples in a competition to have the most “original” wedding. The prize is a new house to start their lives in. It comes highly recommended and that is all I will say about it.

    Oh, except to warn that there is loads of nudity, but no sexy. So if nekkid people riding tandem bicycles isn’t your kind of thing I would suggest you stay away.

    Love always~

  7. Yay! These are words to comfort me when I’m fretting that I’m under some kind of massive (and completely self-imposed) obligation to “impress” people…

  8. Those are definately words of comfort. I often find myself comparing my wedding ideas to others. I’m a very alternative person, I imagined having something like a zombie themed wedding, but it never felt right because I want my wedding to resemble how I view love, and I view love in a traditional way, so we’re having a traditional wedding in the sense, but we’re adding a lot of our own touches to it. For example, my fiance’s father is writing out our ceremony for us, he’s a religious philosopher.

  9. I flirted with the idea of having a Discordian wedding…and concluded that the best way to do that is to elope in comforatble shoes then go eat sushi afterwards.

    I’m soooo tired of the wedding thing; the planning, the stressing, the fears that I’m not doing it right…and for what?

    It occurs to me that the whole point of staging a “wedding” is to satisfy some personal need for ritual/ceremony/theatrics. That’s fine, I get that, but why does the exchanging of vows and the chosen “ritual” to seal the deal always have to be comprised of the same elements? Why does it seem that even “offbeat” weddings are the same thing in different shapes and colours?

    Think about it: You have a bride, a dress, a cake, rings, flowers and a bunch of maids/ushers. What about the whoopee-cushions and the official taco-fights? If making the wedding “offbeat” is supposed to mean that it’s somehow more personalized and therefore, more authentic, why do the same *type* of elements keep repeating themselves, even if the exact theme doesn’t? Does that mean these things are universals that apply to the majority of the population? Or is it something else?

    If one *really* wants to rewrite the rules here, isn’t it safe to say that the only element that *really* should remain universal is the actual exchanging of vows? I mean, everything else is just play-time, right?

    Aside from the required legal crap, I think I’m going to marry my fiance by making him a beaded, KandE bracelet and dancing with him to funky house music all night long…in comforatble shoes.

    People are welcome to join us.

    • I love that idea! KandE bracelet…..hehehe

      Me n my fiance just wanna show up be married and hang out …..bbq, funky music, ppl in comfy clothes…just a house type party in which we just happen to exchange vows….none of the money spent on stuff no one really wants to take home…cept some munchies! =) oh but the cake….GOTTA HAVE! I freakin LUV cake! lol
      You could do a cake to look like turntables! That would not suck! =)

  10. You said this last nite, too, and I thought it was perfect.

    My best friend (the bride) is actually getting married for the SECOND time. Her first time was quiet, totally private and a bit of a shotgun (she was 7 months pregnant and really young). She feels like this time is the “real” wedding (THE guy) and wants the big party. Her husband-to-be has never been married and he’s quite a traditionalist. They are butting heads over how “out there” he is willing to go.

    So they compromise A LOT. The wedding itself is pretty traditional in form, but she is adding little touches here and there to be true to her “offbeat” nature. Her 14 year old son is walking her down the aisle instead of her dad. While she’ll be walking down the aisle to the wedding march or the canon (still in debate), the bridesmaids and groomsmen will be walking down to a rock song performed by the Section Quartet (string quartet friends of mine) on cd. The minister is someone’s mom and will be incorporating elements of Catholicism, Christianity and Buddhism.

    My friend has always done things her own way. She’s been an amazing single mom and has gone back to school to get her degree.

    I think being an Offbeat Bride just means not buying into someone else’s idea of the perfect wedding…but discovering for yourself what is meaningful and beautiful for the both of you.

    Thank you SO MUCH, Ariel, for writing this book and being so awesome.

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