Reader survey results: 2011

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membericons alternative wedding ideas from Offbeat Wed (formerly Offbeat Bride)Holy crap you guys, I have been putting off writing this post. The reader survey? It's hard.

It's hard to set up (survey piping/logic is not my strong suit), hard to digest, and even harder to figure out what to say about it. Someone could write a dissertation on this shit, there's soooo much data. The former sociology undergrad in me gets all excited, and then I start reading the 30,000 words of feedback and get all overwhelmed.

BUT! I want to share some interesting findings. So put on your demographer hat and let's do this.

Basic demographics

No surprise that 97.7% of you are women, but it's fascinating that here on Offbeat Bride, you're as likely to be male as you are to identify as “neither/both” when it comes to gender. I like that genderqueer readers are as common as men! I like chewing over gender issues, and I hope that those of you who are in that neither/both category feel affirmed and comfortable here. (Also, site recommendation for those who are into neither/both gender stuff: Genderfork.)

Friends, I forget how many of you are younger than me. I have this weird age thing where I just sorta assume everyone is my age-ish, and I forget that more than half of you are in your mid-20s. My writing on Offbeat Bride has been criticized for feeling like a scolding from a big sister, and you know what? Totally. My writing has always been condescending, and it was extra insufferable when I was writing “how to be an awesome raver” articles when I was 22! (You know, when many of you were in MIDDLE SCHOOL OMG.) This is all to say, my writing style has always leaned toward the patronizing, but yeah, hi there: I'm a decade older than you and sometimes that means I am like an irritating big sister. Sorry about that.

While yes, the vast majority of you are Caucasian, I love that waaay more of you identify as “Mixed Race” than any non-white racial group. Yay for the melting pot! Welcome to the future of race in countries like the US, UK, and Australia. We just talked a lot about race, so I'm not sure what else there is to say — other than to link this comment on Racialicious, which made me feel really good.

15% of you identify as gay, lesbian, transgender, or otherwise queer. That's a higher percentage that the usual 10% number that's tossed around as the US LGBT population, which is good — we're always looking to keep our LGBT coverage disproportionately high. It kills me how few states have legalized gay marriage, but we'll keep featuring all the commitment ceremonies, civil unions, and other non-legal unions we can. I hope to see the numbers keep tipping towards more and more of them being legal. (Also, y'all are reading So You're EnGAYged, right?)

Phases and Identities

Wedding planning status (plus Offbeat Wives)
Predictably, half of you are engaged, with another almost 20% in the aspirational/considering it phase.

bestdescribes alternative wedding ideas from Offbeat Wed (formerly Offbeat Bride)

This year, I was especially curious about those of you who are married and stick around: 18% of you identify as “Offbeat Wives.” Here's why y'all say you still read:

whystillread alternative wedding ideas from Offbeat Wed (formerly Offbeat Bride)

A lot of you stick around because you like the Offbeat thang, but you're not yet planning a family, so you lurk with weddings. I called to make an appointment with my hairdresser the other day, and when I gave my name to the receptionist, she was like “OMG, Ariel: I'm so embarrassed. I read your websites but I'm totally single and not a parent. What's wrong with me!?” I was like “Meh, you're not alone. Offbeat Home might make you feel way less creepy.”

Part of what I'm trying to do with the Offbeat Empire is expand the warm and fuzzy feelings, empowering writing, community, and inspiration to other life phases … and Home might actually be the most inclusive of all. It'll be interesting to see how that goes.

You all know this is where I get a serious sociology woody. I know over half of you identify as Offbeat Lite and don't really see yourself as part of a subculture which is totally cool. You know we loves y'all, and we love hearing how you assert your independence from a “scene.” But for the other 50%, you know I loooooove hearing how y'all describe yourselves.
subcultures alternative wedding ideas from Offbeat Wed (formerly Offbeat Bride)

There are the biggies, but of course my favorites are the OTHERS. That's where I learn the most. TEACH ME, FREAKY LADIES: Alternative, Anarchist, Anime, Athlete, BDSM, Belly Dancing Ninja!, Birder, Bookoholic, Burlesque, Cat Lady, Tattooed Lady, Cultural fusion; Eco-friendly (not necessarily hippie), DnD geek, Eco, Feminist, Fannish, kinky, Fat/body-accepting, Foodie, Geek, Gothic/Lolita, Harry Potter [side note: I always suspected he was a fan], Hip Hop, Historical Buff, Indie, Interracial family, Librarian, Metal, Otaku, Pagan, Pin-up/cabaret, Pirate, Plus size, SCA, Scene, Science geek, Star wars Geek, Theater Geek, Vegan, Victorian, ZOMBIES. [Deep breath!]biker chick, bohemian, browncoat, comic book geek, computer nerd, derby girl, dorky, ex-goth, ex-hippieish-stoner, hooper, metalhead, swing dancer, urban homesteader, and finally, just plain weird.

If you want to loose a week of your time, start Googling the ones you don't know. Fuck: start googling the ones you DO know.

Also, I'm always interested how many people say they don't like labels. Is it just because I love sociology and Becker's theories, that I think self-identified labels can be some of the most fascinating personal development tools? I'm DYING to talk some labeling theory and identity development. Anyone else? In the meantime, I'll just dork out on some more survey data.

Fuck me: I've now addressed, like, five questions out of 50. There's no way to cover it all! Lemme pick one more bit of interestingness…

Content you want
45% of you want more stuff relevant to Offbeat Wives. I'm thinking Offbeat Home might fill that niche, but I've been trying to write more general relationship advice/ramblings here.

45% of you also want more DIY content — so we now have Whitney Lee as our DIY editor so we'll have at least one post a week about DIY.

35% of you want more wedding profiles, which is insaaane. We do five a week, and I don't see it increasing. I like bride profiles, but I think curation is key. With wedding porn it IS possible to have too much of a good thing.

A sizable chunk of you also said you wanted more MEATY posts to balance out the inspiration.

We also got some more granular feedback about content: more photos in wedding profiles (we're doing it!), include budget info in wedding profiles (totally not doing it: I don't want to wade into the emotional minefield of making people talk about how they spend their money), more posts from me (aww jeez, guys. When you talk sweet like that I'll do anything for y'all), and then a million suggestions that contrasted with each other. Basically, anything that you want more of, assume there's someone who gave vehement feedback that GOD, could we just stop posting about that stupid fucking thing already? Enough!

This is all to say, as we've said before: Offbeat Bride can never be everyone's perfect website. And as always, we're ok with that. Thanks to those of you who stumble around with us, doing our thing. You make the ride awesome.

PS: Although the reader survey is done, we're always open to feedback via email.

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Comments on Reader survey results: 2011

  1. Ha, I love that you suggested balancing OffBeat Bride with A Practical Wedding. It’s my daily M.O.

    Also? This shit is fascinating. It’s really awesome to see so many different people/interests/labels etc. all come together on one community and be totally awesome to each other. Really.

  2. the anthropologist that is me is now bouncing around ridonkulously happy. πŸ˜€ subcultures and online identity-making/curating/presenting? sooooooooooo my thing. *spaz*

    Also, really happy to see there’s no push to get the offbeat wives outta here – i might still be a way off getting past the wedding, but it’s really REALLY nice to know that if i still feel the need for the Tribe after the fact? i can still come to the Tribe! yay! i love you guys!

  3. Keep on keepin’ on, my dear! Nothing’s perfect, but we wouldn’t be here if we didn’t like it that way!

  4. cannot wait for offbeat home!!!! as much as i love being a part of this community, there are only a few subjects i have continued interest in with regards to weddings… (but i ALWAYS recommend it to budding brides! ^.^)
    can’t wait til feb 28th!!!!

  5. Yeah Ariel! One thing the survey did tell you is that you have one hell of a rocking site! And I’m a serious stats geek so to see an OBB post with charts and graphs — I’m all warm and fuzzy inside.

  6. Aww, Ariel! I LOVE the way you write. Mainly because the “older sister” attitude totally reminds me of my sisters. And that’s kinda reassuring to hear online.

    Plus I think it’s completely suitable for the site. Weddings are high drama and make us brides really take a look at ourselves, our lives, and the people in them. There’s lots of doubt, worry, tears, laughter, rage, and love. So it’s nice to hear, no matter your age, a wise voice come in and say, “HEY! Listen!”, and give you advice chalk full of encouragement, reassurance, rational thought and brain food to mull over ourselves.

    And honestly? Sometimes we need to be scolded!

    I wouldn’t change a thing about OBB. I love it!

  7. I have to say I started reading on this site because my sister-in-love (rather than in law, cause though she and my brother in law haven’t married, shes my sister through and through) was on a wedding kick. but if there is something this site and offbeat mama has shown is there is a niche for everyone. a place where you can shine for you are and people who can appreciate is WORLDWIDE!! viva la offbeat world!! πŸ™‚

  8. Ariel, I love this! like seriously love this, because you see i’m writing this paper on self labeling and sub cultures right now….. πŸ™‚ Its awesome amazing interesting stuff! I am on the side of “let me label me but dont you label me without confirming with me”

  9. As an Offbeat Wife, I’m honestly still here because a.) Offbeat Mama will never be for me – we’re not planning to ever have kids and b.) Offbeat Home should be super cool, but I’ll be honest: beyond only the most superficial enjoyment of decorating (which I don’t really do at the moment as we’re fairly settled into our apartment), I don’t really care about home stuff.

    So yeah…I’ll check it out. Definitely! If the content there is something that appeals to me I’ll become a regular. But…we’ll have to see.

    • I’m also hoping that offbeat home will have articles about home LIFE also. More about creating a home, managing a home, organization, cooking maybe? Things like that πŸ™‚

      • Yeah…I’m not that interested in that stuff either (I mean, insofar as I have to do it, sure)…but not in any deep way – there’s a reason my husband manages more of our home life than I do: I just don’t…think about it. (This is why when we all voted on the next offbeat site I picked something I really do care about: professional life. Not to say that my personal preferences should be the end all and be all, and of course I realize that Offbeat Home won as a clear majority and that’s cool).

        But hey. I’ll end up reading it anyway, and will hope to see offbeat lifestyle articles that are more about, well, lifestyle and not just home life and home management.

  10. I do have to say that I never really cared for the label “Offbeat Lite” – it sort of implies that if you don’t identify with any subculture that you’re somehow less offbeat than those who do (which is what I get from the ‘Lite’).

      • People I have sent to this site always go “PORN?!? Whaaaa?” but personally I think it is hysterical and totally explains what it is.

      • I think I’d prefer “Just Plain Weird”…

        Actually, let me clarify, because I don’t think my original comment was entirely clear (and I can only hope that someone is still reading this).

        I feel like two different things are currently defined by “Offbeat Lite”: on one end, you’ve got what was noted as Ariel’s origin of the term, which was “offbeat people who do not belong to any particular subculture”, and on the other, you’ve got posts like “The Battle Cry of Offbeat Lite” in which it is implied that Offbeat Lite is a segment of being “offbeat” in which people keep many more normal or traditional elements (like a white dress, or a church wedding, or whatever) but have offbeat personalities and also incorporate offbeat things. This fits very well considering the choice of the word “Lite”.

        I feel, basically, that these two things are different and by lumping them together, it’s confusing – it implies that if you do not belong to any subculture, that you are planning a generally traditional event (or are a generally normal person) who has a few quirks – which is absolutely not true for a lot of people. I’m a damn sight weirder than “Offbeat Lite” implies, which is why I happily continue label-less (I’m very satisfied with “Just Plain Weird”).

        I have no issue with “Offbeat Lite” as a term to describe people who feel like their plans (or lifestyle) is fairly normal with a few quirks, but do not think it is fitting as a term for “anyone who doesn’t identify with a particular subculture” alongside that.

        I just feel it is not suitable for *both* sets of people, because they aren’t necessarily the same subset.

        So I’d rather see two terms: “Offbeat Lite” *and* “Just Plain Weird”.

        Does that make sense?

        • I identify as offbeat lite because I don’t stick to one label and I’m not ‘hard core’ into any one subculture.
          So when ‘Battle Cry of the Offbeat Lite’ was posted I didn’t see where they were coming from at all. I’ve been a self labeled ‘den mother for misfits/fly paper for freaks’ for years.

          • Jessica – What a total crack up – “den mother for misfits”. I’m so that for my group of friends too. I’m not with any particular subculture (other than Channa’s previously defined just plain weird) but have a lot of friends who are. They all seem to gravitate to me as the “mother” influence in our group. Makes for some very interesting dinner parties and conversations – especialy when I seat my 85 year old opera buddy next to my 30 year old heavily tattooed Wiccan friend (and they get along famously btw). I’ll have to tell them I’ve given myself a new title and steal your name!

    • I love the term Offbeat Lite! I’m Offbeat Lite for sure, and proud of it. I love all the Offbeat brides here and in the tribe, but some of it’s just not ‘me’ as a person, and that’s totally cool, who I am probably isn’t to everyone else’s tastes either. I’m happy with who I am and just doing my thing. My Mr and I, we’re happy with who we are and we’re just doing our thing.

  11. “I love that waaay more of you identify as “Mixed Race” than any non-white racial group.”

    I find this comment really, really troubling. I mean, why is it so great that the percentage of readers who identify as Black, Latin@, Indigenous, or Asian is dwindling? Exactly how is that any kind of progress? Has the percentage of white OBBs decreased?

    Also, though you didn’t say it but I find many people assume it to be true: being mixed race doesn’t mean being white and something else. My fiance is Filipino, and I’m Black. Our children, should we have them, will be mixed race. They’ll also be Asian. They’ll also be Black. These things aren’t mutually exclusive.

    • Interesting! For me, more people identifying as “mixed race” implies that more of us are learning about just how nuanced race can be in a heterogeneous society … it feels like progress toward increased understanding that race is can be difficult to pin down to single identities. Since the US census started allowing people to identify as “mixed race” instead of a single checkbox, it’s been fascinating to see the discussions that have emerged … I’m thinking here of organizations like the Mavin Foundation.

      That said, I’m definitely NOT an expert on racial theories, and if my enthusiasm toward what I see as an interesting shift in racial identity in the 21st century is misguided, let me know.

      • I like it whenever “mixed race” is presented as an option. I am the product of two parents, each of whom is very much a product of their own race/ethnicity. Since one parent raised me with little involvement from the other, I identify with that parent’s culture, but I look more like the other parent and am visually identifiable with that parent’s race. So why should I have to chose one over the other?

        • No one here is saying you have to choose. Like I said, being of ethnically or racially mixed heritage while also acknowledging those backgrounds are not mutually exclusive.

  12. yay! I’m so excited for offbeat home!! And I think that one of the reasons that people have a problem with labels is that being label-less IS their label (sort of). I think that people think of labels as being what you get called in 8th grade and you have to conform to. In real life, we don’t usually have to describe ourselves. For me that’s really hard, because I feel like I have to explain all my life experience and where they’ve led me. Other people, of course, can just write “urban farmer/burner” and be done with it. Some subcultures, such as punk, nerd, raver have smartly summarized themselves into a label. Some people though, like me, are terrified of having to call themselves something.

  13. This is not on topic of this post, but I just discovered this blog and have to say how excited I am to read past posts and meet this community…can no longer take the artificial snark of other wedding sites.

  14. My plan, as of now, is to migrate over to Offbeat Home once it launches, and just “check in” every now and then at Offbeat Bride. However, in the meantime, yeah, I feel like I need to stay connected! πŸ™‚

  15. I just want to say that I think it is awesome that you included Browncoats as one kind of offbeat. That is all. =D

  16. Thought I might address something directly…. something which makes my husband’s eyes roll when I rant and pout about it.
    The thing about wanting more wedding profiles…. might be about how some weddings make a feature one way or another several times.
    Like… of yeah, i saw that wedding in a monday montage… and then in a profile preview… and then in another thing and then again and then theres the whole profile, but I’ve already seen all of that.
    And then I’m all like :
    >.< *pout* I was soooo looking forward to having my sox rokt by new and amazingly creative content, but alas- that is not on the menu today.
    Please forgive me, I am trying to be as positive and constructive about it as possible. But, this get's discussed sometimes on the tribe that its like one wedding gets brought up over and over and over.
    Which brings me to a different point, but one that's not entirely seperate- the …. uh…. headlining?…. updates seem to stick around forever. They're called " top posts of the week " or something like that, but sometimes that goes on for way more than a week. My husband brought that detail to my attention! He was all like:
    O.o what the what? Why do they call those " top posts of the week" when that one was posted like…. last month?

    So…. I thought maybe that would clarify….

    • Featured posts are updated every week. Every once and a while, I’ll let a particularly useful/relevant post stay featured for two weeks (the checklist post was up for a few weeks recently because we had such a huge flood of newly engaged readers coming in) but it’s very rare.

    • It’s not about them being difficult — it’s about editorial variety. As it stands, one third of our content is bride profiles. In the interest of having a well-rounded editorial offering, I’m not interested in having it be more than that.

  17. Now i feel better about hanging around here 4 months post wedding! Fortunately my little sister recently got engaged so i’ll have a valid excuse for still visiting for the next 12 months!

  18. I am in absolute heaven!! I too am a sociology graduate, trapped in a mundane 9-5 and I have been salivating over the sociology and demographics!!
    I love offbeat bride and now I love the reader survey even more!! So thank you for enhancing my lunch time web browsing even further!!

    Love it!!

  19. What’s always interesting about OBB’s subculture categories is that there seems to be a lot more room for overlap in categories like “DIY/Crafts” and “Academia Nerd” than the sort of rigid counter-cultural identities that I sometimes think of subcultures being. Maybe subcultures are becoming less identity-defining and more “aspects of lifestyle” if that makes sense? Because it seems like being into crafts or being a nerd is something you can be passionate about without it forming your whole identity – in fact you could be a retro DIYer-gamer-academianerd without much trouble I think, and possibly even still identify as Offbeat Lite at the same time. Maybe it’s all sort of part of one big overlapping subculture…

  20. You said that readers were interested in budget content but you wouldn’t do it. Your reasoning makes sense, and I understand why you don’t want to even wade into that territory.

    Perhaps there could be more features on budgeting issues, if you DO want to do more on budget weddings and addressing that reader interest. Perhaps have a feature on $15K wedding in Region X one month, and a 5K wedding in another, or maybe how real couples saved money. I understand that this is still going in the direction of money issues, but I’m sure I’m not the only one that looks as OBB wedding porn through the same “if only” lens as traditional wedding porn.

    Or perhaps have articles on how couples skirted around the usual obstacles that have them conform to typical weddings with typical budgets: public land liquor bans, no cash bars allowed, all inclusive bundles that have you charge for items you don’t care for instead of the ones you do (top dollar so your mother’s friend’s husband can have his drink of choice while the bulk of your beer drinking friends are stuck with two options), noise restrictions, liquor laws, bans on taking leftovers home/to donate, lack of roomy private homes in your social network, facilities that don’t recycle, etc. Sure they won’t pertain to every state, and every reader, but it might help a few readers out.

  21. “While the vast majority of you are Caucasian…”

    I think this is actually a very cool thing. The not-so-vast majority of Americans (largest OBB Demo) are caucasion, and the very, very vast majority of those featured and targeted by the WIC are Caucasian. So when I read that so many of the OBBs are white, I think:
    -The WIC may ‘cater’ to us (I’m White) in norming predominantly Caucasian-related traditions and expectaions, AND put white women in a disproportionate amount of ads, BUT
    -they do not cater to most of us. They are alienating those of us who may look like that, or were raised like that, but who don’t want all the same thing

    I think it’s a great statement as to the diversity within the majority race.

    Also, I am horrible at race relations and studies, and I am probably pretty ignorant and offensive and politically incorrect. But what I do know is that White chicks don’t want the same things as each other. Whether this offbeatness of ours is rooted in part of the privilege of middle class (where you can’t compete financially, so you compete through creativity and tastemaking) or just a different strokes for different folks…. I would never view the predominance of white readers as a failing in diversity.

  22. Random thoughts about the reader survey (which I look forward to every year).
    I’ve never felt you to be condescending Ariel.
    Data and analysis is why I watch your Chartbeat web page between reader surveys more often than I’m sure is healthy.
    And I agree with you that “curation is key” for all parts of Offbeat Bride.
    I’ve never looked at ‘A Practical Wedding’ before, but I may give it a try now.

  23. I’m really happy to be a part of a wedding community that is open, accepting and celebratory of people who don’t wish to live within standard gender definitions. πŸ˜€

  24. I love this! I was just having my own identity crisis the other day as I was conversing with myself and came to realize I don’t “belong” to any “group”. Somehow reading this makes that a little more okay. Thank you! πŸ™‚

  25. Ariel, I also assume that everyone is my age (34). I think that sounding like an older sister is part of the nature of the beast. When you are older than a lot of the people you interact with, the extra knowledge in your brain just kind of comes out.

    Also, I did my undergrad in Sociology! I find data fascinating, but daunting to explore exactly what it all means – especially when you have a shit ton of it. To this day how I go about my life is tinged by a sociological prospective.

  26. I’m saddened that I’ve been visiting this site daily for the last 2 months and the content for lgbt has dwindled. Posting a link to So you’re enGAYged seems like you’re trying to send us away. Is the site focussing more on straight weddings now? I’m just looking for an honest answer. I don’t want to look forward to something that isn’t going to happen anymore.

    • Jenny, WOW. I wish you’d included your email address so that I could reply personally. Our focus on LGBT content has NOT shifted — we simply haven’t been getting many submissions! We can’t feature weddings and guestposts we don’t receive! The LGBT submissions we receive area always bubbled up to the top. And in fact, we have three LGBT posts coming up, including our first groom/groom gay wedding. But if it’s feeling so slim that you’re questioning the focus of the site (…really, now?! You REALLY think a site published by a woman with a lesbian mother AND mother-in-law is going to start excluding LGBT content?!) we’ll step up our efforts to recruit LGBT content.

      Please contact me directly if you’ve got specific suggestions for the kind of LGBT content you’d like to see!

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