Walking on egg-shells: the challenges of serving many communities

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Head Wound

When I wrote my book in 2005, I didn't have a philosophy about weddings. I had planned exactly one wedding (mine!) and avoided most wedding media (including websites, magazines, tv shows, and books) while doing so. Offbeat Bride: the book, was just me sharing my story, corroborating with a hundred or so other brides, and then trying to encourage folks to figure out what they wanted to do.

When I first launched this website, I still didn't have a philosophy. I was just promoting the book, doing my thing. I ranted and bitched a fair amount before realizing that I didn't like the kind of attention that sort of writing attracted, and shifted to a more tolerant, “go you, whatever you may do” philosophy. By mid-2007, Offbeat Bride was dedicated to tolerant support of pretty much everything and everyone.

And now here we are many years later. Despite the site having grown exponentially (1 million of you read every month!), we still focus on supporting non-traditional niches. These days, we cater to a LOT of different niches, and that's where the editorial challenge comes in: everyone wants us to cater to their niche, and when we don't, sometimes y'all get upset. See, when you're dedicated to niches, you can't make everyone happy all the time… because if we did that, we wouldn't be about the niches any more. We'd be USA Today.

We've received complaints from members of almost every niche community you can imagine (and some you've never heard of), telling us that we're being insensitive because we didn't acknowledge their needs. We suggested having a drink, when some of you don't drink. We've written about honeymooning in regions with political turmoil, where some of you won't go. We've featured pictures of smoking brides, and when some of you think that it's a bad example for younger readers. We referred to a vegan wedding as “cruelty-free,” and some of you like meat and don't appreciate the insinuations that you're cruel, thankyouverymuch. We've offended environmentalists by referring to a non-green-enough-for-their-tastes wedding as “eco.” Once, an advertiser told us she was uncomfortable with our talk of genital excretions — but that ended up being a misunderstanding about the word “squee.”

I've gotten frequent enough complaints about the swearing on Offbeat Bride that I have a form letter response, thanking the writer for the feedback but informing them that swearing has been a part of Offbeat Bride's language since 2006 when I included the phrase “ass-fucking” in the book, and while I totally respect that the profanity isn't going to feel right for everyone, it's just part of how I do things.

Then there's what I call the reverse discrimination fallacy, where brides on the more traditional end of the spectrum complain that they feel excluded or demonized for being “too normal.” We've edited wedding profiles to exclude lines like, “I didn't want a stuffy traditional wedding,” knowing that somewhere an Offbeat Lite bride was going to think to herself, “Oh, so now my wedding is STUFFY!? Fuck you, offbeater-than-thou bride.” (Speaking of Offbeat Lite: not everyone likes that term, nor does everyone like the phrase “Wedding porn.”)

The feedback we receive from readers is almost always tremendously educational — even when we don't capitulate to the requests. I've learned a huge amount about gender identity from readers of Offbeat Bride. I had no idea that people who followed the Paleo diet saw it as an identity to the point where they would be offended by vegans. I've learned boat-loads about the range of recovery community opinions — some of you are positively mortified when we make even lighthearted suggests to have a drink, others joke about how one glass of wine would turn into the whole vineyard. The “offbeat couples of color” tag issue was one with strong and articulate opinions on both side of the fence. The only thing we could all agree on is that we should let folks self-identify.

The challenge for me editorially with all this feedback is that I simply can't make everyone happy. While we work our tails off to keep Offbeat Bride an inclusive, supportive environment where folks of all backgrounds, genders, niches, and tastes can hopefully feel comfortable, ultimately, this is OFFBEAT Bride, and you WILL see things here that you don't like. In serving another niche, sometimes we won't perfectly serve yours — and we hope that can be ok for everyone.

If every post was written to cater to everybody's tastes, we'd be doing something wrong. We're not USA Today, after all — and that's part of why y'all read the site. For us, “Offbeat” ultimately just means being authentic to your identity, and for Megan that can mean cracking SNL jokes that people don't always get and/or like. For me, it means sometimes using language that strikes some people as crude and gross. For one intern, it sometimes means having strong opinions about websites that some wedding photographers might find insulting. Other writers might have suggestions for wedding undies, but also be ok with you not wearing underwear at all to your wedding.

I want to encourage all our readers to be critical thinkers — we're not the arbiters of taste, nor are we going to be able to cater to all readers at all times. We LOVE getting feedback from our readers about how our posts make you feel, even if I can't always promise that we'll be able to make all of you feel good about every single post on the site. We're ok with that, and we hope you can be too.

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Comments on Walking on egg-shells: the challenges of serving many communities

  1. I sort of subscribe to the 80/20 rule when I think about OBB and reading about weddings in general–if I like, or can understand, or am simply interested in 80% of the stuff on the site, the site is good for me. That means that 20% of the site I may not like, I may not care about, and I may even disagree with or be offended by.

    What’s important is that I find most of the content valuable for one reason or another and that I have a safe space to offer a disagreeing or controversial opinion as long as I do it politely.

    *That* is what I value about OffbeatBride–it’s diverse enough to teach me about all kinds of new stuff, rather than pigeonholing me into a certain kind of “acceptable” offbeat- or traditional-ness, and tolerant enough that I feel safe to say when I don’t like or understand something, and either get further information or an agreement to disagree.

    Good on ya, guys. Thanks for providing the space.

  2. And that is just the thing.. you can’t make everyone happy all at the same time. Life happens, people move on.. It is called being Tolerant of those who you may not get, understand or even like. Hey, we love you, even though there have been things that I for one would not be all that in too, but thats ok. The only thing you can do is to be you. And that should be good enough..

  3. I’m glad that you made this post, and I’m glad that offbeat bride exists, and I’m glad that you’re sticking to your guns and doing what you do best. You’re absolutely right, not everything on the site is going to appeal to everyone on the site, and that’s okay.

    I think this is one of those times we agree to disagree, and find a way to put our opinions up in an adult and mature way. The whole point of offbeat bride is to be a community for the offbeat brides, right? So if a person feels excluded from one part of the website, then obviously you’re doing something right, because it’s all about being different.
    I’m from Vancouver Canada, so I happen to get frustrated that none of the ads I see are relevant, but I still love the posts, the ideas (aaand inspiration :P) and particularly reading about how different people approach the wedding tradition in such amazingly different ways.
    I think that this site is a celebration of humanity. The thing we all have in common here is that we’re getting married. Beyond that, all the different things that make this community so colorful are what make this site worthwhile. Although I can’t always find what I’m looking for here (like a response to my question in a forum for example) I can rarely find what I’m looking for elsewhere.

    Anyways, keep up the kick-ass job Ariel. We love the site and have become obsessed with the rest of the empire as well, for all the porn it’s worth! xox WestcoastBex

    • I could NOT agree more! You perfectly articulated all my thoughts while reading this. I’ve been anti-marriage/wedding since my first wedding, and because of the alternatives from the mainstream commercial-fest I’ve seen from this website, I’ve allowed myself to fall madly in love and desire a marriage again. Not that he didn’t have any small part in that process 🙂
      THANK YOU!

  4. Any site that will use a form letter to defend their right to use the term ass-fucking, or similarly colorful language is alright in my book! Keep on keepin on OBB, and WORK ON YOUR SENSE OF HUMOR PEOPLE! 😀

  5. This is probably the one of the best things I’ve read in the Offbeat empire. I’ve sometimes felt outside the fence because my particular Offbeat-ness doesn’t have a handle (ie, steampunk, rockabilly, hippie, goth, or other self identifying term). But for me the authenticity comes not with belonging to a specific niche, but in being true to myself and also in enjoying, or simply learning about other ways things can be done. It’s more than an aesthetic romp in counterculture, and I love that. There is a strong element of self exploration, encouragement of growth, and stretching one’s comfort zone within your Offbeat world. I just want to say how much I appreciate the result of so much eggshell-treading on your part!

    • I so agree. I’ve never found anything on OB that offends me – though I’ve found plenty outside my personal range of experience. And that’s a good thing! I’m not a bride nor even close to being engaged but I come back to this site all the time because it constantly opens my eyes to different views and cultures that I really, truly appreciate.

    • I’m also on board with this. Maybe it’s just that I am extremely hard to offend, or very laid back. But when you try to give everyone the appropriate nod towards their identity, it can be so difficult.

      For what it’s worth, I know that this site tries its best to be as acknowledging and respectful of identity as they can be. No one can be perfect, and certainly not a webgroup. It is the internet and a certain amount of wank and waaaaaah is to be expected.

      We should be so grateful there is something trying to cater to the many varied niches in the world, rather than be limited by what’s going to make a majority smirk and nod.

  6. I moderate a large forum on the internet. THIS. ALL OF THIS. I love my forum dearly but some of the things that offend them make me 0_o

    For the record, I and Altared Visions are proud to be fans of any wedding blog that includes the term “ass-fucking”.

  7. Ariel- You’re awesome and all of your sites are awesome. If people don’t like them, they have the option not to read them… why is this so hard for people to understand? When I come upon a site I don’t like, disagree with, or if I got offended by a site, I would just choose to ignore it and move on to find another one. Lighten up people… nobody is forcing you to be here and read/view.

  8. I really liked this post. I think a lot of people, especially people planning stressful events like weddings, take things way too seriously. When you read a post, just take away from it the ideas that you like and leave out the ideas that you don’t. For instance, I love the way a lot of outdoor barbecue weddings are executed but my partner and I are vegan. Does that mean that the people who have meat at their weddings are evil and they are not the kind of people who I should draw inspiration from? Fuck no, it just means I serve seitan instead of pork. There are things on this site I don’t always agree with but that happens everywhere I go. Hell, there are lots of things on vegan and vegetarian websites I don’t agree with, but that doesn’t mean I need to get offended and go on a twelve paragraph rant. If there’s a way I can provide constructive criticism I do so and then I move on.

  9. I feel like Offbeat’s not a niche community, it’s a tolerant community. And tolerance means being accepting of things you don’t agree with, not asking everyone to change their opinion to agree with you. Part of being human is growing, and you can’t grow if you’re never exposed to anything new!

    For what it’s worth, the people of Offbeat are doing a damn fine job (oops I said a swear) and providing a great service.

    • Ha, I knew someone was going to say that! In all seriousness, though: Is there such thing as “an avid USA Today reader”? I only ever see people read USA Today in hotels!

      I can’t wait until this comment offends someone!

  10. I love seeing all the different ways people choose to express their love for each other. It’s nice to come over here after reading some other blog sites (that rhyme with shredding me) where everyone is so very mainstream. I like to know there are others who choose to walk “off the beaten aisle” no matter if that’s the same path I chose or not!

  11. This post actually pissed me off. I’m assuming that most of the people who read this site are people who have been treated badly at one point or another for a lifestyle choice they have either made or had thrusted upon them by the WAY they were made.
    To then turn around and insist that other people are ‘offending them’ is just rude and inconsiderate. Tolerance people. Jeez. I personally don’t want to be a vegan, or follow a paleo diet, or marry someone of my same sex, or get a sex change, or be a super crunchy mom, or practice non-violence. You get the picture. But I will absolutely defend your right to do those things. Then to turn around and be offended because someone else has made a different choice is hypocritical. People need to get over themselves and get off their high-horse.

    • Agreed. I know why the post was written…but what upsets me is that it even had to be written! Can’t we all just be happy that OBB is even HERE?

    • While I definitely appreciate your fervor, I think the issue here is that members of niche communities often feel marginalized — and so there’s some EXTRA sensitivity when they find themselves feeling marginalized on a site where they thought they were included. I totally get it, actually. I may not always like it, but I totally get it.

  12. I’m sorry for all the nonsense that prompted this, but I very much enjoyed perusing your old bitching and ranting posts. Note to self: Explore the archives much more fully later.

  13. Pretty much concur with all of this. People need to stop being so dingdang sensitive.

    But just wanted to add that the “squee” portion of this made me LOL.

  14. Hands down, my favourite thing about OBB since I first followed a link down the rabbit hole and found myself here is the insistence on tolerance. There will always be things people don’t like, the line of “tacky” is always somewhere, and the real point is to be open to whatever floats our individual boats and not be offended if we prefer different waters to one another. I think we’re all richer for being exposed to varying viewpoints, and I’m glad to see stuff I love as well as stuff I’m less partial to here and elsewhere. Part of self discovery is learning where the boundaries of our tastes/preferences are and we can’t do that if we like everything we see. Thank you, Ariel and all, for giving us a place that supports us and encourages us to grow at the same time.

    I love it!

  15. Ever since the first day I found this blog, I have LOVED it! I don’t like every post I see on here. OH FREAKIN WELL. Everyone is entitled to their own unique fantabulous damn wedding day! My first wedding was Offbeat Lite. If I ever marry again, my next wedding will definitely be Offbeat full-on! Hell, I can’t decide whether to fantasize about a 20’s speakeasy wedding or wearing Jedi robes! All I know is that this blog will be where I come to troll for inspiration!

    Rock on Ariel!!

  16. I gots nothing better to say than, YOU’RE SUCH A BADASS ARIEL!!! Just even trying to imagine the task of moderating such a diverse community makes my head hurt, and you do it with such aplomb. I admire you.

  17. Oh Ariel, I am sorry that people keep bitching at you because you would *dare* to have an awesome and all-inclusive website to celebrate a vast range of diversity. I can only hope that when people are writing to correct you on the usage of a term or to enlighten you as to what a particular subculture is all about, that they are doing so in a polite and respectful manner.

    I love your site. I love your book. I may not identify with a lot of the bride profiles or shop at the vendors, but I can appreciate the posts for their own loveliness. Thank you for all that you do.

  18. My friend Lucy and I were discussing recently the irony of fellow alternatives/offbeats being some of the most intolerant people we’ve ever met. I speculate that it’s because our offbeatness is born of passion. Sometimes we believe in something so strongly that we think everyone else should too, and we cross the line from justifying our choices into evangelism and judgment. I used to be more that way until I had kids; I hated feeling judged by other moms and resolved to treat them as I wanted to be treated. That philosophy seeped into everything else too. My former La Leche League leader summed it up by saying, “Take what you need and leave the rest.” Focus on what we have in common and just let the differences be, respect that we’re all in different places and stages. I am not normally an Offbeat Bride follower, but I love that I can find these links through the other empire sites too. I highly admire the no-drama commenting policy and I’m so glad you wrote this; very well said, and a unique insight into your perspective.

  19. Apparently I’m pretty hard to offend. I’ve read the majority of stuff on here and never been offended by any of it. I’ve seen stuff I don’t like, but I just skip it, or occasionally google it and get even more confused.

    My philosophy is pretty much that you’re never going to find another person who exactly shares all your opinions, thoughts and feelings, so you’ll always disagree with someone about something. If anything it just makes like more interesting.

  20. I love you and your website, thanks for being yourself and allowing all of us to be ourselves in this space. As a survivor of the wedding industry, I was so pleased to find this site. I wish I knew of you years ago when I was deep in the Debutante Ball Wedding Industry of the Deep South.

    My husband and I could not handle the pressures of planning, and when my sister/MOH got knocked up with a due date of our supposed wedding date and wouldn’t be able to make it, and then our venue fell through, we did a “fuck it” flash-mob wedding in January at the Getty in Los Angeles with just our closets siblings and friends. It was amazing and we don’t regret a thing.

    However we still need you. We are now planning a reception party for our families and friends; it’s easier now that we’re married, but still it is pressure. Every time I come here, I get more ideas and inspiration, and validation that we’re Doing It Right, even if it’s going to be a BBQ in our new back yard and we’re pretty much doing it all ourselves, and people have said: “you’re already married, what’s the point?” (Yeeeah…. you’re off the list.)

    Cheers to you, you’re wonderful for helping out offbeat brides and vendors alike. xoxox

  21. If I was in love with everything I saw on Offbeat Bride, I’d be quickly bored to tears.

  22. All I have to say to the people who complain about swearing is: Shit. Piss. Fuck. Cunt. Cocksucker. Motherfucker. Tits. (Thanks, George Carlin)

  23. I’m a grad student & teaching assistant in Women & Gender Studies, and the absolute hardest thing (and most important thing) that I end up trying to communicate to undergrads is that we need to genuinely try to take care of each other. It’s hard to do that when everyone is only thinking of themselves.

    There’s a great term, the “Race to Innocence” (Razack & Fellows) that refers to when we use our own marginalization to answer questions about the places where we are possibly complicit in the oppression of others… when we recognize the places where we are subordinated but not the places where we are positioned as dominant.

    I would never want to silence anyone… However, not only does it gets really tedious when it feels like everyone needs everything catered to their own interests only, but it’s super problematic.

    There are bound to be clashes on OBB (for example: food politics can be classist, as well as can clash with cultural and religious expectations) – but I really take comfort in knowing there’s a resource that’s 80% for me (thanks Sarah!), and that is open to these kinds of conversations without allowing a free-for-all of claims to subordination.

    (Note: We are not talking about oppression here with these complaints on OBB – I think that to blanketly imply so would be stretching the word ‘oppression’ to the point of meaninglessness – I’m just drawing a parallel with discussions about systematic oppressions and how they intersect.)

  24. I have nothing but respect for people that stick to their guns and remain true to themselves. When my wife and I were planning our wedding, we checked out OBB all the time… we may not have liked everything we saw (some of it was WAY too much for us), but what in the hell would be the point of looking at a blog that didn’t challenge us, or expand our vision, or provide new insights or ideas.

    I mean, isn’t that the whole point of blogging and reading blogs? Or reading anything, for that matter? People who spend their whole lives poring over material that doesn’t challenge them are wasteful. I’ve learned more about what I do believe by reading about things I don’t believe.

    Also, I know people probably hate the wedding porn thing, but I betcha they’ve clicked it. I sure as hell did.

    Of course, I’m a guy. A Groom Kong.

  25. I do have to say I love what the first lady said. 80/20 (not just for healthcare anymore!!) 80% of what I see on here I love love love. Actually I’d go more like 95/5 instead. And someone else said be true to yourself. So here I am like the only one saying this. I hate the f word. I grew up not saying the f word and I never do. I don’t like it and thats my thing. I also don’t like the “r” word (ugh, ‘retarded’, had to explain or else people would think I meant rotund or something!) I don’t like it for the same reasons the term “thats so gay” is a derogatory term as well. It’s been misused and abused as something ugly. I had friends who were mentally and physically challenged growing up and it killed me hearing them being taunted. Then as the term grew popular I heard it elsewhere to describe people, situations, outfits, cars you name it. Anything different or considered ugly.
    But like my dislike of the ‘f’ word, that is a part of me, always will be. Just because I don’t like the use of the f word won’t make me stop reading. Because I love OBB and ALL it stands for good ideas, awesome articles and I guess four lettered bombs.

    • If only more people refrained from writing a person or idea off completely just because they disagreed with a portion of what that person stood for.

      I really appreciated your comment!

  26. For the record, I think you do an amazing job and truly inspired me with my wedding. Keep up the good work!

  27. Part of why I love offbeat bride is because there are so may different people and experiences being shared in the posts and in the comments. This is the one place where I can read the comments and NOT feel like I’m watching a daytime soap opera. This has been a haven for me when I normally feel like most places try to be so “everyone-friendly”, overly politically correct – in other words, very bland. I like seeing things I know nothing about, I like being a little bit offended, but in an educational sense. I dig you all!

    • The funny thing is I think OBB actually has more success with being ‘everyone friendly’.

      It may not be perfectly politically correct and they aren’t trying to make everything right for everyone but the fact that they’re willing to include anything and aren’t going to put anyone down for their choices (I’ve seen some constructive critisism but that’s different) works much better than trying to identify and avoid potentially offensive words whilst effectively saying “your lifestyle is not something we want to be associated with and you really need to hide it if you want anyone else to accept you on your wedding day”, which is pretty much the message I get from most wedding resources.

  28. Although I don’t usually identify with any of the niches that are being profiled in Wedding porn for weeks at a time (that’s what I get for being Offbeat Lite and an Academic Feminist/Anthropologist) I feel that my views on relationships and weddings/marriages are best reflected on Offbeat Bride over any other wedding blog. I read other wedding blogs and although I like them, the tone is a little smothering and all about the COUPLE that you are, not the individuals that you are. So yay for the tone being perfect regardless of the niche!

  29. Hate to say it, but people like to rant on the internet. I’m sure some of the complaints were genuine, but by and large I notice folks just like to get all self-righteous and indignant. If you can disarm them by not getting defensive and attempt a real conversation, I notice they quickly disappear. Which indicates to me it was mostly about the entertainment value for them, and having someone acknowledge them, and never really about the subject of their rant.

    • With Offbeat readers, it’s mostly about acknowledgement. Thankfully we don’t have a ton of ranters… it’s more along the lines of “How COULD you?” As I mentioned up-thread, I think it comes down to members of marginalized groups being extra sensitive because they’re caught off-guard by feeling marginalized HERE, of all places. A lot of these emails come with complaints about “I thought Offbeat meant…[fill in the blank about what it means to them],” which is honestly great market research for me. I wasn’t just paying lip service when I said I appreciate all the feedback — it’s really educational for me to hear how people relate to the sites and the content. I don’t always (or even often) do what’s requested, but it’s always interesting.

  30. I can understand why some of the men and women who read Offbeat Bride are a little annoyed right now with the post. I 100% understand where Ariel is coming from though, so I see both sides of the issue. I’m very laid back on things, but even I become very frustrated with the way our culture (speaking of American culture, regardless of heritage), has become. When did we become so spineless? Such bleeding-hearts?

    I consider myself one of those nasty, NPR supporting, pro-homeless shelter building, evil Liberals, and even I cringe when I see other Liberals feel a need to bend just a little bit backward to “accommodate” the needs of more conservative social groups that, quite frankly, already have the market cornered. But, deep down, I know I do this all the time, even if I hate myself a bit for doing so (NOT suggesting Ariel does!! Not ‘assuming’ anything of any nature either! I just want to completely clear on that!). It would go against my good conscious if I completely disregarded another human being’s feelings on a matter.

    Maybe it’s the two-edged sword of being a Liberal: on one hand, we are pro-people, on the other, we are, well, pro-people. However, because I am one of those evil, pro-people kind of Liberals, naturally I want to embrace everyone, even hope to help them understand other social groups around them. Unfortunately, a closed mind is a closed mind, and very little can be done until they choose to open the little door inside their mind, or board it up (the “My Son is Gay” post on Offbeat Mama comes to mind here).

    Notice Ariel is not being apologetic here. It’s not as though she is apologizing for the language, the content, or how more conservative brides with dreams of a white wedding are dismayed with the flashes of patent leather and hot pink dresses. She’s just saying that she does recognize and acknowledge their viewpoint, like a good Liberal should (remember, Liberals are for the people, even people they may feel run counter-culture to their own ethics and values. It’s what sets us apart from conservatives who, lets face it, typically only help their own).

    I’m not trying to start an argument on Liberal verses Conservative here. I am just making a point that Ariel is an outspoken Liberal, and as one, I understand her dilemma here. She is being a genuinely good, well-meaning Liberal by showing she does see the flip side of the coin, regardless of whether she agrees or disagrees on their viewpoint.

    • Super interesting comment. I am definitely a liberal (although conservative by my family’s standards), but for me the issues people have with Offbeat Bride aren’t an issue of conservative/liberal. I’ve gotten equal complaints from both sides of the spectrum. Some more conservative readers find Offbeat Bride too out there — too much swearing, and those tacky nerds and weird gothic people. But then progressive at times find us too conservative — we’re just another heteronormative wedding blog full of middle class couples having “weddings white people like,” with a boringly-trendy colorful twist.

      That said, while I may be a good liberal, I’m also an entrepreneur. Being tolerant is more than about good values — it’s good business. Why would I want to turn away a portion of my market by making them feel excluded/marginalized? (Who sounds like a Conservative now, hmmmmm? ;))

  31. Like many others, I stumbled across Offbeat Bride when [major wedding website] started to feel like its’ business model was making me feel inadequate so that I would buy more stuff. This blog caught my interest because the emphasis on common sense and rational thought felt so liberating. (Is it sad that published common sense is liberating?)

    However, since I decided to stick around the blog, one of the most interesting parts of being here has been the exposure to lifestyles, choices and sexuality that are _totally_ different than mine. I consider myself a fairly liberal, queer friendly kinda girl. I have friends and family of a variety of kinds of queer, and I’ve heard their unique (and also perfectly normal) challenges and problems.

    The post on jealousy in a polyamourous relationship got me started watching the BDSM/polyamory group. I’ve seen exactly one poly relationship, and it didn’t begin or end well for the girl I knew who was in it. She felt abused, miserable, and degraded by the whole process and since then, I haven’t thought much about polyamory other than seeing her so miserable for so long. Reading that group was the first time I’ve ever seen people explain how and why they’re making the choices that they are, in a way that is respectful of all parties, and makes perfect sense. I’ll have a lot more respect and understanding for poly folks if I come across any than I would have based on my previous experience. (I do like to think that I am generally respectful of nearly everyone I meet, but respect for someone in spite of their beliefs is different than respect for someone that also includes respecting the logic of their beliefs)

    So- these niche groups also serve another useful purpose: education. I’m happy to have been schooled. I think it’s nearly certain that I would never have come across the frank discussions I’ve read here in another setting.

  32. This post made me squee.

    I like how this relates to wedding planning too. It seems it’s impossible to please everyone. The moral of the story is ignore the haters and do what YOU want.

  33. I think it’s also worth bearing in mind that it’s possible to gain a lot from reading Offbeat Bride without ever actually seeing a single thing you would use.

    Correct me if I’m wrong but I think Offbeat Bride isn’t so much about offering affirmation or ideas for any particular lifestyles as offering an alternative to mainstream wedding culture which seems to be largely about ways to hide who you are in order to conform to who you “should be” on your wedding day.

    This is the only wedding site I visit on a regular basis and I never buy the magazines etc. so I sometimes forget just how rare it is to see a bride in a non-white dress (or in some cases a non-white bride!), or even an informal wedding or a non-religious ceremony.

    When I do dip back into the mainstream it really brings home how easy it would be to feel like you are the only person in the world who ever tried to do anything differently and that can get very intimidating very quickly.

    Even if they’re not doing the exact same things seeing other couples break away from the mainstream and make it work is incredibly reassuring.

    (Case in point: Other Wedding Site’s “Do Something Different” tip of the day – ‘why not rent a vintage car instead of a limo?’)

  34. If it wasn’t for this website site at all, I do no think I would have gotten some kickass ideas for my wedding or if there was not going to be a wedding at all. For the most part, keep doing what you are doing as a writer Ariel and owner of Offbeat empire. Hell my fiance’s is happy about this website and likes some of the ideas other offbeat brides have share with me. Hell it has also give me a place to vent and bitch since I do not have a lot of close friends.

    So keep bitching, writing, and ranting…we still love you!

  35. I’m probably a little more “traditional” than most of the brides on this site, but I find that even the most outrageous and crazy offbeat weddings (while I might not want them for myself) still offer great insipiration. I often find little nuggets of ideas or advice I can use even if the wedding itself wouldn’t suit me. (Same goes for some traditional and stuffy weddings.)

  36. You know, one of the things I love about Offbeat Bride is that USUALLY, disagreements, feelings of being offended, etc. become constructive and interesting discussions instead of degenerating into silliness. So, even when people ARE offended – a good conversation can happen. It’s the culture promoted by the moderators that allows so many of those productive, DIFFICULT conversations to happen.

    That’s why the site promotes something way better than “tolerance.” Tolerance implies a hierarchy – I have the right and the power to “tolerate” something I consider lesser, inferior. This site, and the groups, don’t tolerate. They are diverse groups that at their core engage, accept, promote that diversity. Learn from each other as equal participants.

    And provide some kick-ass ideas too!

  37. This is a wonderful, well-written post and the philosophy translates to pretty much every community on the internet. The person who created the community/website makes the rules and if you don’t like it, either suck it up, or go somewhere else.

  38. Having bacon for breakfast, I can’t say the “cruelty free” comments ever offended me. This is a strong passion for some people, and it’s food, it doesn’t hurt me if they want to eat something else. As for swearing, I curse like a sailor, so I can’t say it bugs me. Being offbeat light doesn’t make me feel disconnected from these ballsy brides, personally. I cheer them on, and they inspire me to put my foot down on things I really wanted (like my red shoes. I can compromise with the best of them, but I’m not wearing white shoes and that’s final, thanks OBB!). What I’m trying to say is that, I fell in love with this website for it’s diversity and fluidity. While other wedding sites have strict rules, OBB has this freeing sense where I can unwind. Instead of comments like “OMG, you CAN’T do that, it’s not tradition!!” or “Well MY wedding went like this, so your marriage is less worthy of lasting than mine” there’s encouragement. I love it.
    And anyone who has a problem with it is completely missing the point of this site. And I’ll drink to that.

  39. Ariel, I think you’re doing a great job. This is the most supportive, welcoming forum on all the nets. I bet an overwhelming majority of people here feel that support and love here.

    Keep up the good work.

  40. So, all I have to say is, thank you for linking to the old-school bitchy rant tagged posts, because reading them is putting a smile on my face 🙂

  41. So many of our offbeatness seem to be traditional for us. Propose to him – done by my fmil in the 70’s. Wear a non white prom dress – done by my Gran in the 50’s. So our offbeat wedding plans turn out to be somewhat traditional but I really don’t need the rant 😉

    Labels really freak me out and the expectations around the label. The offbeat emprire made me realise that I’m normal and that I can rock my universe my own way.

  42. Ariel:
    I’m always reader, never the writer, but just wanted to let you know, you’re doing amazing job. There’s a Polish proverb: “a person who satisfied everyone is yet to be born”. You got pretty close to it. OBB is a burst of a fresh air in the white/ivory vanilla wedding world. It doesn’t mean, that white/ivory vanilla is bad. Live and let live. And since I’m repeating what was said before, I won’t be offended, if you won’t publish my comment 🙂

  43. people need to chillax, and lets face it no matter what is written it is bound to insult someone somewhere, and are those the readers you really want anyways?

  44. I’m glad you made this post. Lately I’ve been feeling excluded from the site because I’m a small town gal, and I feel that most everything on this site caters to those living in big cities. Rationally, I know that most readers live in or near big cities, but I could still feel tinges of bitterness whenever a post would direct me to a vendor or a store or a service not available in the middle of Nowhere!
    I feel better having read this post, although I still wish that there would be more content for brides struggling with planning a wedding when you have no resources nearby!

    • Jerilyn, I think I’ve got your solution right here. Those are a few of our favorite online-only vendors. They’re happy to ship their awesomeness to you, wherever you may be!

  45. If you try to please everyone, you’ll end up pleasing no one. IMHO, you’re doing a great job of following your mission statement–featuring Wedding Stuff that’s not your usual Wedding Stuff, with couples who aren’t your usual wedding couples, God bless ’em. Some of the weddings you feature are so outside my zone that I can’t do anything but blink and say, “Well, if it makes them happy . . .” But that’s all offset by the sheer awesomeness of other weddings. Keep on doing what works for you, and your readers can decide what they like for themselves.

  46. One of the things I love most about Offbeat Bride is the way it teaches me tolerance. I’ll admit, I’m not always so good at it. But if I can see a wedding on here that I totally don’t get it, and yet I still feel and appreciate all the love emanating from it, I hope that teaches me to be more tolerant out here in the real world. Thanks for that!!! 🙂

  47. I’m pretty much with everyone else here (though truthfully I didn’t read ALL 70+ comments) … the bottom line is that in reading your book, I learned that what I want to do is OK, because its what I want to do. I learned that it doesn’t matter if I’m offbeat or traditional or somewhere in the middle, or somewhere way outside the lines on either end of the spectrum. OBB has taught me to embrace myself for who I AM, and my fiancé for who he IS, and our wedding for what it will BE. it was one of the best books I’ve read, for so much more than just wedding planning tips/advice. Keep doing what you’re doing, Ariel and OBB. Naysayers are clearly on the wrong website and unfortunately, missing the point COMPLETELY. Their loss.

  48. I personally have never been offended by anything on any of the OBT sites or on the tribe (except for one instance where a member ripped into another, which was against the code of conduct).
    I love knowledge, perspective and education so I just drink it all in. The staff, the tribe members, the commentors; all their different backgrounds, jobs and opinions. I love it, I really do. Its fascinating to me, the way that others think and their unique and interesting lifestyles. I don’t find Ariel crude, I find her expressive and have always felt like she is a friend I’ve never met. I feel close to Ang as the OBT manager, because she is there for every single one of us. Am I offended that she’s offbeat lite? No, because its her. Is she offended by my black wedding dress? No, because i have the right to my own opinions and choices. And thats the way it should be.

    There are many things I see on here that I don’t like, or fully understand. But I’m okay with that, and don’t feel the need to complain about it. I know offbeat is one of those terms like ‘nice’; you never know the extent of its meaning. So I just think of the OBT empire as just a place for people who know who they are. And want to share it with everyone, wether they are apart of a subculture or not. Everything I do is just.. me. Why would I be offended by people doing the same thing?

  49. I have to mention that when I said I didn’t like the term “Offbeat Lite” (and I did say so rather publicly), it’s not that I don’t like it *at all*.

    It’s just that it’s used to cover two subgroups on the site, and those subgroups don’t really line up. At first it was said to define “people who are offbeat but don’t belong to any subculture”, but then it evolved to also mean “people who are offbeat but also have some more traditional elements than a lot of out-there folks on OBB”.

    And those two groups are absolutely not the same, though there may be some overlap…so I don’t really get why they are both “Offbeat Lite”. You can not belong to a subculture and still not be “Lite”.

    So it’s not that I don’t “like” the term – I just think it’s poorly defined and attempts to group people in a way that doesn’t fit, and would be better served by two terms. “Offbeat Lite” for those who are offbeat but also have a lot of more normal elements in their wedding planning, and something else – “Just Plain Weird” maybe – for those of us who don’t belong to a subculture but are not “Lite”.

  50. I’ll cop to being “one of the offended”, but I use “offended” loosely in that I was never offended, I just saw something that rubbed a raw spot. I sent an email to OBB after one of the posts during Vegan week here, in response to the use of “cruelty free” as a Vegan signifier. I said that to the Paleo community (and possibly the omni community), “cruelty-free” comes across as a harsh judgment. I had always seen OBB as a site that tried to take this sort of input into account.. I suggested the use of other non-loaded, diet-and-philosophy describing language that doesn’t come with such emotional baggage. It wasn’t because I hate Vegans or Veganism (I’m paleo and one of my best friends is a vegan, even!) but out of a genuine desire to level the emotional playing field when it came to writing about various lifestyle choices.

    To the people who read this article and felt upset: I am very, very sorry that it has upset you.. but, I hope you know that this article is exactly WHY so many of us of the offbeat/weird walks of life flock here. Because we know there’s an open ear listening to our concerns, and melding them at least somewhat into future, inclusive, informative posts.

    To Ariel and the Offbeat empire specifically:

    I sent that email and didn’t get a response, but I noticed after that I didn’t see the same loaded language. That was worth so much more to me, that I could tell that someone read the mail and actually listened to it, even if they didn’t agree, more than any response did. And this post just reaffirms that. This post and everything about your site is why I keep coming here. Minority of the minority, or majority of the minority, I am welcome here and you have made that abundantly clear time and time again. The OB empire makes the conscientious effort to be inclusive and is never outright exclusive.. that alone gets it mad props from me. Not everything is going to be “for me”, but this is an organization that’s all ears and genuinely cares what “me” is to every “me” out there (I hope that makes sense). The OBE is doing a fabulous job and I can’t wait to see where it continues to go!

    • Thanks for the thoughtful comment. And yep, we mean it when we say that while we don’t have time to respond to all the emails we receive, we do read and appreciate every single one.

      So, while we may disagree on this particular issue (editorially the bride self-identified as cruelty-free, and I’m not going to edit that; and personally, even as an omnivore, I DO think killing animals is cruel) I’m still beyond glad that Offbeat Bride is able to be supportive and inclusive of folks, regardless of whether we all agree.

  51. I love this post because it brings up interesting issues that I never really thought about as occurring on OBB. 1st I would like to say that Ariel, you are a freakin’ superhero. For me you really truly rank up above witchblade. 2nd, I love OBB, & I say that not really me myself fitting entirely in to any one niche. I mean I am a drinking, cigar smoking, meat eatting (I love meat, I have actually ordered stake letting the waiter know I like there to be moo in my cow) indie something or other rocker. That’s me. I’m not green. I’m not vegan. I’m not dry. However, I do respect all those areas & all who are. Vegan is cruelty free – just ask the cow! I know words can hurt, (mostly when they are being screamed at you from friends or family!!!) but no one posts things about their off beat shin dig trying to hurt anyone else on the forum. No wedding that isn’t your own is going to be 100% perfect for you. If you liked everything about so & so’s steampunk wedding except for the fact that they had booze (they didn’t force you to drink), then take ideas from the parts that could work for you & leave behind the parts that don’t! Sometimes it’s nice to see things through other peoples eyes.

  52. The single most beautiful thing about OBB (well Offbeat …. ) is this: here people of all backgrounds, cultures, and lifestyles can come together and be MATURE ENOUGH to ignore the stuff they don’t like. And then consequently, support the stuff they do like!
    I’ve learned the hard way that not everyone is mature, no matter their age.

  53. I must say… It took me six months of being engaged, reviewing the “normal ass-fucking” of mainstream wedding sites and my picking through *that* crap to finally find OBB! I am certainly an Offbeat bride and truly love the stories, inspirations, and ideas that this site brings forth. You make me laugh, you make me gasp, you make me feel like me, and I love reading you!! Thank you.

  54. The first time I saw the OBB website I saw the “Wedding Porn” section and I thought “that’s about right!”

    You guys are great! Keep up the amazing work!

  55. If you tried to please absolutely everyone all the time, you would end up not saying a whole lot. A post on reception music would end up like this:

    Like music? Or not? That’s cool too. Just, you know, do what you want.

    Who would read a blog like that? No one. I remember there was a post (or several) about songs that wouldn’t make you barf, or that hadn’t been heard a million times. A lot of those songs, I didn’t really care for. But so what? There were a few that I really liked, but had never heard before. If the post had just said “do what you will” I would not have been exposed to new bits of awesome.

    What I’m trying to say here, Offbeaters, is don’t ever change.

    • Like music? Or not? That’s cool too. Just, you know, do what you want.

      Honestly, sometimes that’s what it feels like our posts can turn into. When Megan writes about favors, she’s learned the hard way that she has to include a disclaimer: “I’m not saying you HAVE to have favors. But if you’re into them, here are some ideas.” Otherwise, we get snarky comments telling us that we were pressuring people into having favors.

      Coco’s post about underwear started off by saying you could choose to not even WEAR undies on your wedding day if you didn’t want to … and we then got an comment from someone who was like “Am I a prude because I don’t want to free-ball it on my wedding day?” Repeat after me: I’m ok. You’re ok. You can wear underwear or not wear underwear. IT’S ALL OK!

      These examples make it sound like I’m kidding. I’m totally not.

      • I don’t envy your jobs at all. I couldn’t handle all that.

        Sometimes it seems like people are just looking something to get angry about. If I want to be mad at the internet, I go to *ahem* a mainstream wedding site, which tells me I can be daring and wear ivory. I have a few minutes of “fuck everyone!” mindset, then I come back to my happy place. Namely, here.

  56. This post makes me laugh (Not in a laugh-at-you way but in a just natural LOL way). There have been times where I have found something crass on the website (aka the DILF stuff)or things I just plain disagree with, but then someone will mention something they were offended/upset with in the comments that I could care less about and I think, “WHA? THAT bothered you?! Who are you random commenter?” I think it goes with the everyone has their own lil’ pet peeves. If we think of the OBB websites as a community or even a big house full of people, no one can get along all of the time And that is what makes it fun!

  57. As many others have said, I’m so glad you all are the way you are. Sometimes the posts aren’t to my taste, but if I wanted a site to cater to me, I’d just create my own. You all offer OPTIONS and new ideas and projects, and overall a safe-feeling community where we won’t be chastised for thinking a little differently. I know I’d go crazy through this process if I didn’t have you all here to vent and get ideas from. We love you all!!!

  58. You know, I think the only post on Offbeat Bride that ever offended me was one making fun of some sparkly pink tiara placecard holders. Because when I first saw the picture my fist thought was “Cute! I wonder if they come in blue or purple?” and then it turned out the post was mocking them for being so Knot-ey. So for a long time, I didn’t read the blog at all, despite being an avid user of the forums. But the attitude seems to have changed to being far more “Offbeat is awesome” and a lot less “Traditional is annoying” (as evidenced by something as simple as the change in the motto). Since I’ve started reading again, I’ve loved the site and the attitude. And the profanity 🙂

    • Specifically I think it was the “Your Wedding is not a Contest” post that got me reading again. Because I needed to be told that you didn’t actually think I should feel bad for liking rhinestones and tiaras. These kinds of posts popping up occasionally I think really do a lot to counter any unintended offense or alienation that may have appeared elsewhere.

    • I think the only post on Offbeat Bride that ever offended me was one making fun of some sparkly pink tiara placecard holders.


      Unless my memory is failing me, this must have been a post on the Tribe, not the main blog. I don’t remember EVER doing a post like that on the main blog.

  59. People are too sensitive really. Todays culture of being personally offended by everything and everything needing to be PC has really been a annoyance to me for my entire 23 years. Part of the reason I liked OBB to begin with is that there is no telling others how they should or shouldn’t do things.

  60. I just wanted to add that I thought the picture of the egg was adorable.

    Seriously though, while I dont personally identify with a lot of opinions on this site, I can still admire the people and the strength it takes to stand up and be proud of their choices.

  61. I really like this post (and hope you’re still reading comments on it).

    On the photographer website post, she speaks the truth. And, while sometimes truths like “Dear vendors, please make your sites not suck!” often come out when we’ve reached our breaking point, it can be helpful, too (on that same note – Venue sites – please show me pictures of your site so I can see if it’s worth my time to visit. I don’t care about pictures of the cake, flowers, or people. I want to see the venue.)

    On calling it wedding porn, I don’t think there’s a better term. Really, for this site, it’s actually real, awesome weddings, but when you apply the term to sites that do “stylized shoots” and high-budget weddings, it can affect you like porn porn – as in giving you impossible expectations that lead to shame and disappointment. Initially I didn’t really react to the term at all – positive or negative. But one day when I was working on my wrinkles looking at some crazy creative beautiful but really not us (or our people) and probably not even something I aspire to be but is awesome for them weddings, I realized the wisdom of the term wedding porn. Sometimes it’s inspiring and good but sometimes you have to realize when it’s damaging. (Again, OBB leans away from the damaging stuff so I’m not talking about you, I’m talking about ones that don’t make me happy for the happy couple but rather make me feel bad for being lame.)

    Finally, as far as pleasing everyone, everyone shouldn’t expect to be pleased all the time. Yeah, some things are wrong like say, if you glorified a wedding where the entertainment was kitten kicking. I’d send you a nasty-gram. But in general, we’re all people. If this site is the best weddingy site for you, excellent. If nothing about it fits you, find one that does. Or, if you’re like me, I identify a little with a lot of different sites and I need a number of them to fill my needs. Yeah, there are definitely some posts that don’t fit me. If I want I read them and mull it over some and maybe learn something and accept another viewpoint. Or maybe I just skip it. No big deal.

    Thank you for all you do. It is a labor of love and it’s really hard to have a job that is this personal day in and day out. While rewarding, I’m sure there are days it weighs on you. Thank you.

  62. I just wrote this whole thing about how great and eye-opening this site is and then I accidentally deleted it. The highlights:

    -Star Wars wedding: not for me, but awesome!!
    -Don’t love the name wedding porn, but if I click on it I’ll see all kinds of wedding pretties!
    -Thanks for the education. Never heard of steampunk before.
    -Live and let live, people!

  63. i just really feel left out since no one seems to be considering my feelings…by refusing to BE a bride. honestly. so ruuude.

    ::teasing:: i do find the idea of judging those not offbeat enough, funny.

  64. I must learn more about Paleo diet! OMG amazing wedding menu! Totally pumped and excited about this idea. Thank you. Loved the article, too!

  65. Thank you for posting this since it gives readers a chance to have a different perspective, assuming they are willing to read it. And quite frankly I like having a website that the most censorship I have to give is following your no-drama comment policy. And I can Totally respect that!

  66. Phew. I know how you feel, Ariel! So some extent, anyway…
    For instance, I would really like to advertise as being gay-friendly. I don’t care who my brides are marrying – a groom, bride, or otherwise. But then I’m terrified to take flack from butch brides wanting suits or men who want dresses, just because of the logistics of my business model. Nobody can serve EVERYBODY. But I love OBB because you seem to have found the balance with catering to awesome people who have the tolerance to see past just the differences.
    PS – DEVASTATED I’m not seeing you in Vegas this week!

  67. I’m confused. If people feel excluded here for being “normal”, why can’t they just go to the myriad of other wedding websites that encourage that sort of wedding? What I love about this website is that I feel like it’s a safe haven for those of us who would be harshly criticised almost anywhere else for Not Wedding-ing Right.

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