Surviving as offbeat in mainstream online communities

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Surviving as offbeat in mainstream online communities
You're Kinda Weird But I Kinda Like You card by Jago Illustration
Is it just me, or is it difficult being an Offbeat Bride on more traditional websites? While I love to talk about planning weddings, why are the communities on these websites as a whole so judgmental? What I think is the worst thing is if you are new to the world of weddings and you may have a legitimate concern or “offbeat” situation that may allow you to NOT follow the traditional norms of etiquette when it comes to wedding planning. Or if you legitimately DON'T KNOW what's considered rude or not rude when planning weddings.

Say for a random example if you were forced to invite a very estranged family member to your wedding who live 14+ hours away, who didn't bother to RSVP, and you decide that maybe it's not worth following up with a call because of whatever personal situations you've got going on. I find it unsettling how people can be so quick to be so rude and call you crazy and all types of things, especially if you're seeking genuine advice for your situation and circumstances. Because, as we know, there is no true cookie-cutter way to go about handling wedding planning issues. Is it just me that's met with this…hostility, if I even dare to ask about something that seems too offbeat, taboo, and “rude?” Thoughts?
– Offbeat0518

Whooo boy, has this ever been an issue that we've seen time and time again. Though being offbeat in mainstream circles is a hell of a lot easier than it used to be, it's still no picnic. Most couples come into wedding planning having either no background in weddings or only seeing traditional weddings. Pair that with instant Expectations and Must-Haves and I can't even really blame people for going a little militant. They just don't know any better, really.

But you do. You, and all the readers in alternative communities, know that weddings evolve, weddings are cultural, and weddings are but one moment. They aren't going to define your relationships with your family and friends, and if they do, those relationships are precarious anyway. I think your mindset is dead-on: “there is no true cookie-cutter way to go about handling wedding planning issues.”

Now, are there times when you do need a dose of reality in terms of what guests may expect? Absolutely. Sometimes you want to know how “things are done” just so you understand if you get any push-back when you decide to follow a different course. But you are so right: some of these more traditional communities can be BRUTAL — ego-demolishingly brutal.

So what should I do to survive as offbeat in mainstream online communities?

The best advice? Avoid those communities as much as possible. Couples have been planning weddings without them for centuries. They are not required and neither are we. If you have planning issues to solve, try to see if you can get it solved elsewhere first. Search Offbeat Bride (and other safe spaces you trust), ask trusted friends, or even find a helpful wedding planner who can give you a quick tip.

We've even got our own manifesto on “wedding etiquette advice”:

Embrace your “tacky”

Your wedding will be tacky. So will everyone else's. It's human nature to find fault and guests will find something. By making your own paths, people may not like your choices. Does it matter? Hell naw. Whatever decisions you make outside of the mainstream bubble may ruffle some feathers, but as long as you're following your heart, making sure to think about guests' comfort, and using common sense, you should be fine.

Find your goal words

One tip we hear all the time from Offbeat Bride readers is their goal of how they want the wedding to feel. Make sure you have these words in your mind whenever you're encountering rude or counterproductive judgment or suggestions from those forums. Maybe it's “comfortable, great food, no pressure,” or “nerdy fun, great style, leave happy.” Find your own goals and keep focused on that. If you're hearing suggestions that counter it (say, “you have to have formal chairs!” when you wanted comfort), you know what to do next…

Enforce a no-internet rule when you encounter the rudes

As soon as you feel your blood pressure start to rise or a sense of dread that everything you're doing is wrong, step away from the keyboard. Go out and do something not at all wedding-related to get your head space back. They'll get into your mind, into your soul, and make you forget who you are. Find that trigger and go do something that reminds you who you are.

More resources to help you vent:

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Comments on Surviving as offbeat in mainstream online communities

  1. I have avoided wedding forums so far. It’s early in the planning so if I do need online help I’m going here, Bridechilla podcast Facebook group, Practical wedding or Budget Wedding. These places seem to have less judgmental additudes and better advice.


  2. Mobile comments sections, they have a mind of their own. As I was saying, I’m glad I have friends and family I can talk to about berlesque fans and people in animal costumes without raised eyebrows.

  3. Just going to put my two cents in to remind people there is a ‘secret’ Bride Tribe for OBB on Facebook. (I’m sure Ariel would be happy to give tips on how to find it) who have been SUPER helpful with all my nigly etiquette questions.

    • Oh oh, I would like to be part of this! I JUST got engaged and have been coming up with all sorts of things I want to ask or discuss, and feeling mournful that the Forums are gone. The blog doesn’t seem like quite the right venue since it relies on a post being in line with what you are thinking about.

  4. Here are my personal guidelines that I stick to:

    THE CEREMONY: Is where you & your betrothed get married. This is the part that is all about you both. Is it true to your ideals and beliefs as a couple? THEN WHO CARES WHAT ANYONE ELSE THINKS? It’s your ceremony so rock it.

    THE RECEPTION: Is for your guests, as a thank you. It is a party to celebrate YOUR GUESTS and as such, they should not be asked to cater, to provide entertainment, to pay for their own drinks, to give you cash in exchange for a dance/kiss/high five, or be asked to do anything other than enjoy themselves.

    If you follow these basics, literally everything else is window dressing and listening to the ‘mainstream’ opinions of others on message boards can be crazy-making.

    • I agree with the ceremony comments but it has been the hardest one to get through. My parents go to church every sunday and want us to get married in the church. My fiance’s family is not religious at all and make fun of religion. We decided to just do a simple ceremony at our reception site and include a little of both sides. No matter how many times I have told my mom that this is what is happening, she keeps telling people that I haven’t made up my mind yet. I think she is still holding out hope that I will change my mind.

    • It’s always interesting to me to hear different philosophies on different wedding events and who they’re for. My husband and I were of the mind that the whole day, both ceremony and reception, were a celebration of us and our relationship. Our ceremony contained a ton of inside jokes and readings from movies we love which we knew not everyone would “get” but they would get the fact that we were laughing our asses off and having a great time. We planned both events for us and while we took our guests needs into account (seating, feeding and watering, access to bathrooms, etc) we did not view our reception as a thank you to them. Our reception was a party to celebrate us and the fact that we just got married.

      Neither philosophy is right or wrong, they’re just different and I think the great thing about alternative sites is that any viewpoint can be expressed without fear of being ripped apart for it.

  5. LOVE THIS! I avoided the mainstream wedding pages, but I found in person, the advice I got was a bit judgmental about how not-offbeat my wedding was going to be. With the exception of my SIL & MIL who found the few things I did which were a bit quacky nearly horrifying (YOU MEAN YOU ARE HAVING RIBBON AND CANDY AS YOUR BOUQUETS WHAT). Nearly everyone else would make bitchy comments about “brides who made their bridesmaids wear the same dress” or “Women who change their name after they get married” ect ect. Basically you need to do what’s best for YOU. Also just because you want something different than a friend or relative for your own wedding, doesn’t make it wrong. You can talk about what you want to do differently without putting anyone else down.

    Also if there’s someone in your life who criticizes and questions everything you’re doing, just stop telling them about it.

    • We stopped sharing things with my MIL because she would make comments every time. Things on the list of things that she did not “get”: letting my sister/MOH pick her own dress, open bar, games as centerpieces, non-religious ceremony, groom in suit instead of tux, no best man (after the first choice bailed). These things aren’t even that “offbeat” but they were mind-blowing for her. She needed to see everything together to get it. She did have a “ah-ha” moment when she saw our invitations (“oh you are having a casual wedding” – game board centerpieces did not tip her off on this fact, apparently). Our wedding did not fit my MIL’s cookie cutter idea of what weddings are like (apparently everyone in her small town has the same wedding with different colours and maybe slightly different décor) but she still talks about how nice (but “different”) it was three years later.

  6. I was completely and utterly torn apart and my wedding ripped to shreds on a mainstream website. It was completely brutal and the worst part about it was that I hadn’t even posted a question! I had responded to a few other questions and in doing so had revealed just enough about my wedding to invite some of the snarkiest, rudest, most judgmental comments I have ever seen in my life. I was told that I was cheap, tacky, rude, childish, making a mockery of my marriage, etc.

    After I got over the righteous anger that filled my blood upon reading these things and calmed the hell down, you know what I felt worst about? Two… no, three things.

    The first was that the original poster’s thread had gotten hijacked by people bashing my wedding. The second was that I allowed myself, even if was only for a brief moment, to think that these internet strangers may be right and my wedding would suck. The third was simply feeling bad for the posters themselves. Because their lives must be pretty small and empty if they have to get their kicks by tearing down the weddings of complete strangers.

  7. I just didn’t find traditional communities/sites at all helpful when I was planning my wedding. They did seem super judgey – and waaaay too interested in telling me that I needed to spend ALL MY MONEY on things like tablecloths. (I got plastic ones, and yet still somehow got married successfully).

    Side note: I pretty much 100% need to buy a print of that card at the top of this post. Love.

  8. Confession: for a few weeks I was a Meanie Mean on a wedding website.

    How I got to be there is stereotypical didn’t-have-great-self-esteem and desire-to-fit-into-a-community issues that I won’t go into here, but how I got out was the realization of how little our snark on other brides mattered. So a stranger who lives half a world away from you is doing something you think is tacky. So . . . what. We weren’t going to their wedding. Even if we were invited to a “tacky” wedding, we could always decline. We were getting way too worked up about things that had little to no bearing on our lives. You just gotta trust that if someone’s mature enough to make the decision to get married, they’re mature enough to own their wedding decisions and the consequences of them.

  9. As awful as it is that others have come across the same problem, it’s also super refreshing. I signed up on a mainstream site and the second I went into their forums, I regretted it. After logging off and staying away from the toxic nature of some of it, I’m much happier and the planning is going better than ever.

  10. I’ve never commented in mainstream wedding forums but I did come across a lot of judgey comments while looking for ideas. OBB now has some good ideas about memorializing people who have passed away but at the time OBB did not have many ideas. So I went down the path of searching for ideas elsewhere. The comments were so very negative and judgey! “That’s morbid”, “weddings are for the living”, “how depressing”, “that could upset a grieving guest”. One person suggested that no pictures of deceased people should be at your wedding at all (so no pictures of my mother or either of my grandfathers – three people who are extremely important to me). We did end up picking a few things but none of them were “in your face” (their names were included in the ceremony and their pictures were at a table with candles off to the side at the reception). We did a couple other things that were less obvious – I had pictures of my mom and grandfathers in my bouquet, flowers from my mom’s garden were in the bouquets/boutonnieres (my something blue), I wore my mom’s wedding ring (my something old), and I carried an object similar to an object my mom carried at her wedding (my something borrowed – from my SIL). Deciding to memorialize someone at your wedding is very personal and is definitely a situation where the couple the planning knows what will work best for them. For example, I would not feel right to save a chair for someone but for others that’s what is right for them.

  11. What I find frustrating is people being oblivious to the special needs of our wedding. We’re a same-sex couple who can’t get legally married in our Anglican church, and are in limbo over whether we can have the blessing we had arranged because our vicar is leaving and the new one might not allow it. There are a lot of “why don’t you just…” comments that expose all the things the majority of brides in the group take for granted because they can get married however they want.

    It’s also hard, even in a winter brides group, to get anyone to tell me how to keep warm. They laugh and say they never wore their coat, when I know that I will be in serious pain if I don’t find a decent jacket and gloves. In the end, I never get an answer, because Raynaud’s doesn’t apply to them.

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