On being a special snowflake in a community full of them

Guest post by nyghtbeauty
Converse wedding party

It's an odd thing I've discovered in my time here on Offbeat Bride. We're all special snowflakes — most of us very used to being the lone weirdo or the odd girl out, the one people stared at as she did her own thing, or maybe whispered about behind her back. I've spent many years thinking that all my “differences” made me special. And now, having found this Community of Awesome, that idea is starting to break down.

I'm not so different here. Almost every idea I have, someone else here has had before me, and someone else will have again after me. Things I thought no one else in the world could come up with, I have found tutorials about here. Which is great — don't get me wrong. I'd never know how to do anything I thought of without some of this help available, and I'm grateful for it. I'm also extremely grateful for the support, encouragement, and safety that Offbeat Bride provides.

But I am suddenly feeling distinctly NOT special.

So how to be a special snowflake in a drift of other special snowflakes? I'm not entirely sure yet. There are a few things I am sure of, though:

It has all been done. Or at least thought of. There is nothing new under the sun.

And the wonderful people who have done all these things before me are AMAZING! In a lot of ways, I feel like I am not awesome enough to try to do it behind them.

But I think that's exactly the point. However I do any of these things, it will be awesome and special because it's MY version. And however anyone else has done/will do them, it is awesome and special because it's their version.

So maybe this is it: Yes, every snowflake is unique. But sometimes it's only by the tiniest tweak of its crystalline structure. They may look alike to the naked eye, and even under some magnification. Sometimes you have to look VERY closely to see the differences. And it's reasonable to think that all snowflakes that come from a certain source or set of conditions will be somewhat similar, while each being unique.

So I am still a special snowflake. And so is everybody else here. We (I) don't need to be completely different from everything & everyone around us. And I'd much rather be in a big, happy, supportive & loving drift filled with other special snowflakes than be just one special snowflake all alone.

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Comments on On being a special snowflake in a community full of them

  1. GOD I LOVE THIS POST. It’s been interesting for me to watch how people who identify themselves via their “otherness” cope with it when suddenly they’re in a place surrounded by folks remarkably similar to them. I’ve written about this a bit over here (SHEEPLE!), but it’s something that still surprises me sometimes…

    For instance, someone will leave a comment saying something like, “We’re wearing Converse at our wedding, and my parents think we’re crazy!” And I’ll reply with “Oh, you’re not crazy… lots of people wear Cons!” I’m trying to be reassuring (“…other people have overcome these same challenges!”) but sometimes the response is heartbreak: “Oh, I thought we were special. Now I feel unspecial.” I’m trying to reassure them that they’re not alone, but if you’ve developed your identity around a sense of alienation… it can be disconcerting to suddenly be part of a larger community.

    As always, my best solution is to focus on authenticity… which is basically exactly what NYGHTBEAUTY suggests, too. πŸ™‚

    • I needed to read this tonight. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

      Ten minutes before I stumbled upon this particular post, I was engaging in a war of words via text with my mom. The issue at hand was the fact that I want a rockabilly-inspired wedding. This perplexes my mom to no end. When she thinks of the 50s, she thinks of poodle skirts and the other traditional icons of the era. Explaining that I wanted the theme to be more edgy (polka dots, tattoo imagery, animal prints,cherries, etc), she didn’t take it very well.

      I have alwasy been the daughter that is “different.” I’m used to being the weird girl. Still, it’s so painful to see my parents still struggle with the fact that, athough they love me a great deal, they don’t understand me any more today than they did when I was born 35 years ago.

      So basically, I was feeling pretty down on myself when I happened upon this post. It’s absolutely exhilirating to find a site that celebrates “otherness.” Thank you for turning my frown into a smile tonight, and reminding me that I’m not alone. I can’t thank you enough!

      P.S. The entire wedding party is wearing Converse…

  2. Thanks for this post! I think some of us get wrapped up in wedding blogs and start to live on a different plane of existence than everyone else. Your mom might go WHAT? when you tell her Idea X that is all over the interwebs. Most of these sort of concerns about STUFF though and we have to remember that weddings are about People and Feelings.

  3. That’s my picture!!!! *bounces* I feel special!!!!!!

    I knew at 16 if I ever got married, I’d wear pink converse. And my husband agreed, if he could wear green ones. And we fought crabby grandmothers to wear our converse that day, and we got so many compliments. Everyone loved them. And that picture is the one that everyone says is their favorite. So, yeah, wearing converse may not be that unique any more, but, damn it was fun.

  4. Fantastic post. I’ve done the “oh… I thought I was original… damn it” on a few ideas.

    Ultimately I decided that its comforting to have so many people with like-minded-ness to bounce thoughts off of. Its kind of nice to have people that don’t recoil in horror when I say “We wont have flowers” or “We’re giving to charity instead of favors” or “Everyone is going to be barefoot in the sand!!!”… I LOVE everyone in the offbeat family (mush mush hug) so much. I’ve always been the weirdo, the odd man out… Its nice to talk to people that get me finally. XOXO

  5. Thank you for this post! As an “Offbeat Lite” Tribe member, it’s really easy to feel like nothing you’re doing is really very unique or special. To a lot of our friends and family, our wedding was very different. I had lots of comments like “Oh! That’s different!” and while I smiled and said “Yeah, well, we liked it” on the inside I was always thinking “a MILLION other people have done this. It’s not different.”

    As I continue to subscribe to the OBB feed in my reader 2+ years after my own wedding and pine for it to be featured, I think “well, my wedding was really just not Offbeat enough I guess.” (even though I know OBB gets a billion submissions and can’t possibly get to all of them)
    I have to remind myself that my wedding was special to ME. And my husband. Who am I trying to impress, anyway? As long as I’m happy with the result, I’m happy.

    • You already know this (I think? I hope!) but the methods we use to select weddings to feature has *very* little to do with whether people are “offbeat enough.” We weigh a LOT of different factors, and feature a LOT of Offbeat Lite weddings. You’re absolutely right that we get way more weddings than we could ever feature — our queue never has less than 200 weddings.

      For more information about how we select weddings to feature, be sure to read Why didn’t you feature my wedding?

      • Oh, I know! I was really just using it as an example of my Offbeat Lite-ishness feelings. Believe me- I don’t have hurty feelings! I completely understand. As a matter of fact, it’s a personal rule of mine not to get hurty feelings in regards to all things wedding-related.

    • Word! My fiancΓ© and I love movies and nerdy things, and wanted to do something fun for our engagement pics/Save The Dates, so we decided we’re going to do a movie poster, with a pic of us as the “stars.” And then about four days after we decided that, I saw a picture online of some random couple who did exactly that. And I pouted for like five seconds, because we weren’t original, but then I realized, of course someone did it before us – because it is FUCKING AWESOME. So whatevs, that just means there are two more awesome people in the world I didn’t know about before. And that, in itself, is fucking awesome too! Yay for good ideas becoming cool trends!

    • This! I’m honestly usually too shy to pipe up on here, being of the Offbeat Lite persuasion. I haven’t even worked up the nerve to post the pictures of our wedding, fearing that they’re not offbeat enough for anyone to care. Even though this place was absolutely critical and wonderful and instrumental in my planning process and I’m so so so grateful for it.

      I dunno. People are complicated. I had plenty of assorted regrets after the wedding (I totally forgot to make sure to introduce my cat-crazy aunt to my husband’s cat-crazy aunt! I failed to get a big group picture of everyone who showed up! I kinda botched the unity cocktail ceremony!), but I think it’s getting better. The other day I mentioned something awesome I was putting together for another wedding (yup, segueing into planning), and he asked if I wished we’d done that. My response was no! We did what we wanted to, and it was great.

      I guess it takes time. You make choices, and you do what you want to do, and maybe it’s awesome and maybe it fails and maybe if you’d obsessed a little bit more and had an extra ten years to plan you would have managed to be the Most Unique Snowflake In The World.

      Or maybe it’s totally okay that you’re not. It’s a kind of cool sort of peaceful place to arrive at.

  6. I love this post! At first it was a struggle to find my place in this community, because all my “original” ideas had been done before! But I keep reminding myself that even if each individual element has been done before, the combination of those elements will be truely unique to the two of us and our wedding. Also, it will be VERY different from anything my small-town midwestern family has ever seen. It doesn’t matter so much if my wedding is unique on the Interwebz, it’s way more important to us that our wedding be unique and memorable to our family and friends. And if all that takes is men wearing kilts and a decorate-your-own-sugar-cookie-bar instead of cake, then it’s a win!

  7. Yup, been there. We’ve had a long engagement and have seen our ideas (oh-so-special!) used by many people during that time. It’s cool, though, because no one from those weddings will be at our wedding. πŸ™‚

    (from Saturday, 7/7, at our domestic partnership paperwork signing)

  8. Repeat after me “we are all individuals” πŸ˜‰ I just like to say yay for this post. I felt a bit of this after finding OBB and seeing things that I though I was oh-so-original for coming up with. Now I replaced those feelings with it’s so awesome to finally find people who think like me and look at all the other cool ideas they have.

  9. You know, I read through this post and can’t help but feel lots of people here are missing the mark on something

    I spent some time away from this site, busy with work. I got to a point – I didn’t care if I was “offbeat” “offbeat lite” “different” or just plain “Run of the mill” .

    Yes, I want LOTR as my procession, but I also want a white dress. That’s what I want, plain and simple.

    I’ve given up trying to categorize or “label” myself. People here often throw around a lot of terms “Offbeat” “offbeat lite” “different” or “special snowflake.”

    Just learn one mantra – “I am.”
    Then repeat.

  10. We were all special to start with. I was told once that it’s very natural and usual to take a characteristic you are vilified for and turn it into a source of pride, but “being different” is the only identity with quite such a risk of loss. I mean, one doesn’t lose ones status as a member of an ethnic or religious minority just by meeting other people the same. I totally agree that it’s important at every stage of life to make sure that whatever you’re doing is what *you* want, whether it’s different to other people or not. Also, don’t think it’s too trivial a problem to bother a counsellor or therapist with; if your sense of difference or otherness is important to you, then it’s important, and worth talking over.

    I had an abusive childhood and was bullied at school, so my experience of this particular problem has been pretty intense, and I’m only just getting over my similarity-aversion. I am mainly doing so by forgetting about whether I am different or not, which in a conformity-obsessed culture is not encouraged, but it’s my only way forward.

    I’m not saying that everyone with this experience came to it from such a negative place, obviously. Best wishes to everyone dealing with it though; you’re all special people.

  11. It’s true it’s hard to create something truly “original” BUT I have taken great comfort in seeing all those Harry Potter or Princess Bride ideas because it give me the courage to push forward with my own ideas – original or not!

    It’s so nice to know these couples did what they wanted, theme music processional or not, and SURVIVED! They weren’t banished to some remote island! Their relatives didn’t run from the venue screaming (at least, I haven’t read anything about that yet). If that girl can wear a Skittles colored tutu dress, then damn it I can get away with wearing pink saddle shoes under my eggshell dress =)

    Much love to all!

      • OK I HAVE to laugh because as a gluten free bride I said “if you want cake it has to be in the parking lot!”

  12. This is a refreshing post to read. In fact, it’s actually comforting to know that other people have used the same ideas I have for a future wedding. For example, I told my man that I want a ruby wedding ring instead of a diamond. Well, it so turns out that Mark Zuckerberg’s wife has one! But who cares? At least I’m not alone in wanting to be non-traditional.

    On the other hand, a lot of the wonderful ideas I’ve seen on this website would be very foreign to most people I know as I’ve always grown up in a rather conservative Christian community who highly values tradition. While I really like a few of the traditions I’ve seen practiced at the weddings I’ve been to, I personally wouldn’t practice ALL of said traditions. To each their own!

  13. I think it’s also worth bearing in mind that this is often how other people, “normal” brides (and grooms) feel too.

    It’s not (always) that they’re conformist sheep who don’t know any better or wouldn’t dare step out of line. More often than not they like their ideas – they want a white dress and a floral bouquet and a white cake and whatever else. And just like us they like visiting wedding blogs and reading magazines that support and reaffirm those ideas because it feels nice to be part of something, to know there are other people like you. (And that their ideas worked on the day!)

  14. This is SOOOO awesome and a great antidote to a lot of media out there that says your wedding must be the most unique evah (by doing/buying xyz thing). I think about all of the Jewish/Catholic/Quaker weddings I’ve been to with the same format or same readings and every single one was just as special because of the love for the couple. Even if every damn thing in your wedding has been done before, your wedding still rocks.

    • What’s interesting* is that you’ve got some media saying “YOUR WEDDINGZ MUST BE THE MOST INTERESTSSTSTING AND YOONIQUE WEDDINGZ EVAH” and putting pressure on you from that angle, and a whole ‘nother set of media saying “YOO MUST FOLLOW TRADITION! TRADIDIDIDIDITIONNNN! IF YOU DARE TO HAVE ANYTHING OTHER THAN A WHITE DRESS AND ROSES YOU WILL DIIIIIEEE”.

      So you just can’t win.

      *and by interesting I mean sad

  15. I love this post! I might have it a teenie bit different than the majority of the offbeaters that commented – I live in such a small community that even though I see a ton of people making paper flowers and wearing non-white dresses, in my community, I’m sure to still get shocked reactions. I love that OffbeatBride exists so that I can switch back and forth between “being a weird-y” to “fitting in with other creative and inspiring people”!

  16. Thank you so much for this post – it’s very timely! Only last week I was fretting about this because I noticed that one of the tribesmaids wedding plans are very much like mine. I’m having wooden logs as my centrepieces, she’s having wooden logs as her centrepieces, I’m having yay flags, she’s having yay flags, I’m having a brooch bouquet, she’s having a brooch bouquet. I have a gemstone engagement ring, she has a gemstone engagement ring. My colours are purple and grey, I think hers are purple too. I was looking at her posts going “Oh my god, we’re having the same wedding, I’m not unique at all.”
    But that’s not really true. Even though we have some things the same, the way we are executing them is different and unique.
    And besides, great minds think alike! She and I will have two beautiful, unique, and wonderful weddings!

    • I’d see if you can reframe it even more: has she figured out any shortcuts in how she’s making her yay flags? Does she have any tips for smoothing the edges of the wooden logs? Any great sources on where to find purple fabric? Instead of viewing the similarities as an insult at your uniqueness, you’ve got an amazing opportunity to compare notes, inspire each other, and collaborate on ideas!

      • I totally would have, if I had noticed her wedding plans before I already had everything done! lol!
        Which reminds me that I have to post pictures of all my hard work!

  17. HEY HEY HEY I have not found anyone else, nobody, not even one other person, who has made Kang&Kodos toppers for a wedding tiramisu.

    If you also did this, please write in so we can be “cake” topper twinsies.

  18. I was always “that weird girl” until I went to college in a theatre program and everybody was weird – there was an adjustment to entering a community where I didn’t have to fight for my ideas. it’s the same here with OBBs and seeing other people bring great ideas to life, their own way.
    my dad used to say “you don’t have to reinvent the wheel” which was his way of saying even though they’re not original, wheels are good things and we use them to build other good things on – it’s the same with all great ideas whether they’re for your wedding or whatever. if it’s good and it works for you, use it and love it.
    being aware and authentic, you are creating something special for yourself and your partner with your wedding, your marriage, and your life. call me Captain Obvious, but I say do what makes you happy and you will be happy – and that happiness will be uniquely yours!

  19. I embrace my individuality and “snowflakeyness” as much as anyone else. But I never understood the point of doing something different just to be able to say that you did something different. I LOVE this site because people are being themselves, and expressing their love in the way that they want with no apologies. If the way you want to express your love is in a church with a white dress with the groom’s fam on one side, the bride’s on the other, and a big chicken dinner afterwords–I’m happy for you! If you are wearing a hot pink dress, converse shoes, and a top hat, that’s great too! If you are a woman marrying the man you love or a woman marrying the woman you love or a man marrying the man you love–I am so happy for you and am praying for your love to be legally recognized by US law every day! Anyway, my point is, I like this site because, to me, it embraces the fact that all love is unique, so don’t sweat it! There is no need to make sure all the details have never been done, because the love you have has never been done!

  20. Having spent many years drifting around more than one alternative/offbeat/freaky (insert your adjective here) subculture, I’ve seen this phenomenon before.

    I think it’s sort of natural. Heck, I vacillate between wanted ditch my wedding planning and wanting to make sure my wedding is the most fantastically produced weirdo wedding EVER!!!!

    The conclusion that I’ve come to is that if it reflects me and the fella and doesn’t look totally hideous, it will all be okay. That’s where I am today.

    One of the things that I love about the wider acceptance of offbeat weddings is that it cuts down (at least for me) on having to explain to folks why I’m doing what I’m doing. On the other hand, I can see why it would be extremely frustrating to find that your unicorn idea has actually been done before.

    Personally, I love this community because I’m not a snowflake here and that’s just fine by me. I hear everyday how different I am. It’s nice to just be me.

  21. This article is spot-on. I really started to feel non-original once I joined the Tribe, seeing everything I wanted to do already done. But I got over it, and you know what? On our wedding day, so many people commented on how original our wedding was! My guests weren’t trolling wedding sites or part of OBT, so they didn’t know that having the reception at a bowling ally hadn’t been done before.

  22. We’re all special snowflakes on here – else we wouldn’t be here ; )
    For me it was just nice to realise that I wasn’t the only person who was losing the wedding excitement in all the stress didn’t want to wear white, wanted sci-fi in the wedding but needed to not freak out the normals.

    Sad that I didn’t have a full on sci-fi fest, but it was great all the same, because it was mine. And I’ve seen some amazing ideas that other people have done/are doing on here. Keep up the awesomeness guys!

  23. Wow, this post could not have been more bang on and with more perfect timing if you tried. It might be the hundred other things I’m trying to get done this year, but just over the weekend I had a couple days where I said to myself ‘screw it, I’ll just pick colours and run with that. It’ll take me a week to plan’ – partly because I was getting discouraged by how every idea I come up with has already been done, and partly because I think my MIL is getting frustrated with my ‘brainstorm’ phase of the planning.

    This article reminded me that I FOUND offbeat bride (and the subsequent empire – which is awesome, as I am currently also expecting a first baby, and buying our first house not to mention the wedding) from a google search on steampunk weddings when we thought it would be awesome.

    Still feeling overwhelmed, but with this to heart, I shall perservere!!

  24. I actually don’t understand, even in the comments, everyones desire to have a completely ‘never-done-before’ wedding!

    All I want in my wedding is for it to be a beautiful, fun celebration with all my family & friends. This place, for me, is a great source of inspiration [yay flags? love it!]… and if I were to try and compete to be offbeat, I wouldn’t be staying true to how I picture the eventual day.

    Some of the elements of our wedding will be untraditional, and in fact two of my vendors are offbeat! But I’m not setting out to wow everyone with how wacky and different our wedding is. I want to wow them with how well it reflects us as a couple.


  26. I love this post! It’s right on – sometimes I just start thinking the stuff on here is just normal if that even makes sense? And then I will suggest this site to a friend or coworker who is getting married who I ‘thought’ might appreciate this place and I get the whole thanks but no thanks that place is weird response, I guess there is no accounting for tastes! πŸ˜‰

    • That’s good for me to hear — if we’re not “too weird” for someone, then we’ve lost our niche! πŸ™‚

    • Hahaha, I totally had that happen a while back! The fiance of a friend of mine was feeling sad about how snarky the forums on The Knot are, so I suggested she check out Offbeat Bride. She looked at it once, and told me it “scared her.” LOL. It’s easy to forget that not everyone is into the whole “offbeat” thing. πŸ˜‰

  27. I seem to fall right between traditional and offbeat. I am having a traditional Jewish ceremony but I am a bi-girl marrying a trans-man and my guest list is just over 40 people. (I can’t yet figure out if my grandmother is freaking out over who I am marrying or the size of the wedding, she likes a BIG shindig)

    Since my guestlist is so small we are having a brunch at a local restaurant, no dancing, few flowers and basically as pared down as one can get. My only real concession to my parents was getting a more expensive cake but my parents are paying for it so who am I to complain?

    I have been getting lots of ideas by looking around here and while I won’t be using many of them I am far more comfortable looking here than at more traditional sites, they just don’t seem to match my vision very well.

  28. This is exactly how I’ve been feeling lately. I got so depressed earlier this week when I saw photos from our venue, a barn, with almost the exact same decorations that we were considering. I felt like if they were the same then our wedding wouldn’t feel special to me. Which I know on one level is ridiculous, but if probably does have to do with this sense of identity that I’ve cultivated about wanting to be this loner or special person. I never thought about it like that, so thank you.

  29. Ha! I love this post, because it’s soooo true.

    A lot of the things we’re doing, our families think are incredibly odd (“You want costume accessories for the guests at your weekend-before-Halloween wedding?!?” “You want mini dessert squares instead of cake?!?” “You don’t have a best man/maid of honor?!?” Etc., etc.) But on Offbeat Bride, I actually tend to fall more into the Offbeat Lite category. It’s all about perspective.

    At first, I totally had a few moments of, “Awwww… and here I thought that was so cool and unique…” but, overall, it’s exciting to have a community that’s not exclusively about white tulle and ballrooms. πŸ˜€

  30. You know, I went through exactly this during my planning last year. It was such a huge shift in my thinking, I’d go as far as to call it a “journey” and when I had it all figured out in my head, I wrote this post: http://offbeatwed.com/2011/12/what-offbeat-means-to-me.

    You know what? In the three months following my wedding, a large number of my guests have commented on how ” wonderfully different” my Offbeat Lite wedding was. People were bowled over by the wacky photobooth idea (yes, I know, that’s not wacky at all, not even by the Knot’s standards!)and are still talking about my – GASP – short dress.

    It turns out, in my 3D life, I’m still that special little snowflake after all!!

  31. Gosh – this couldn’t have come at a better time. I have been totally feeling this way over the past couple of weeks. So weird to be a black sheep in a field of black sheep! Ha! Thank you for reminding me that all black sheep are special (of course, I know that but the reiteration is great!) and each is a little different. πŸ˜‰ xoxo

  32. I look at it as finally finding a place I belong. I like being part of this blizzard! We are all still special snowflakes but now we have amassed to be so large as to shut down whole cities if we all congregated in one, or a few. πŸ˜‰

  33. I know this is an older conversation, but I can relate so much to this. It’s not so much that I wanted to feel so very special, but, right around the time my partner and I started planning, I realized that a lot of the ideas that I so cherished (and thought were perfectly, uniquely “me”) were, in fact, kind of trendy right now. I mean, I was dreaming up this weird Halloween/punk/woodland/dark fairy tale/Medieval/sci-fi themed (and more) wedding, and it turns out, practically every cool idea I have has, in fact, already been done. Usually by a couple who seemed to have no budgetary limits and (as I saw it while discovering this) a much more photogenic, gorgeous bride than myself. I remember feeling despondent, like I could never measure up even in my own weird little wedding!
    It’s kind of nice to know that I’m not alone in feeling that way, and that it’s ok. The fact that someone else has had some of the same sources of inspiration and similar ideas to my own doesn’t make OUR wedding (because, not gonna lie, when I kick into insecurity mode, it is all about me and my worries over being a bride) any less special or authentic. It doesn’t make us lame copycats. Great post.

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