A Bride or a Rose
I'm confused by the “trends” that have been emerging with Offbeat Bride. To me, it feels like the concept behind the book and the site are supposed to be “Offbeat = Personally Expressive,” but lately it's been more of “Offbeat = Red Dress, Birdcage Veil, & Sneakers.”

The message seems like it's getting lost. Instead of people getting swept up in mainstream insanity and wedding ideals, they're doing the exact same thing with the “Offbeat Wedding,” like they're trying to fit into the trends. -Anonymous

Hoo-boy! This is something I think about a LOT actually, and it's way bigger than Offbeat Bride and wedding trends, although that's a part of it. Please, allow me to put on my sociologist hat and pontificate for a moment …

Subcultures can often fall victim to their own uniforms. When I first started going to raves, I clearly remember my first moment of looking around and thinking “Everyone looks so different … in the exact same way!” At the time I thought it was awesome, like a badge so that you could recognize your peers on the street thanks to their phat pants and baby-doll tees.

But as I've gotten older, it's something that's worried me more and more about my beloved subcultures. The first year I went to Burning Man (1999) it was this fabulous chaos of survivalists and club kids, anarchists and gun freaks, aging hippies and SF dot com yuppies. By the last year I went (2003) I was starting to recognize what one friend termed “the Burniform.” The fake dreads, the big boots, the guyliner. The Burniform has since evolved, but there's still a lot of uniformity considering it's an event dedicated to radical self-expression.

127116033 785135230a m alternative wedding ideas from Offbeat Wed (formerly Offbeat Bride)The same thing happened with hula hoopers, another one of my favorite little subcultures. Within a few years of hooping increasing in popularity, it went from this goofy thing that we did in the park with friends… to hearing people say things like, “Oh, I'm not really into hula hooping — I look terrible in booty shorts and fuzzy legwarmers!” I kept trying to tell people, “No no no — hula hooping is fun for everyone! Not just hot chicks in short shorts!” Suddenly, it wasn't fun for everyone … many everyones seemed to feel like they didn't get to be in on the fun.

This is all to say, dear anonymous, you're not the first to notice (and be a little concerned by) the distinct Offbeat Bride trends. I mean, that's why I was able to recognizably dress up as an Offbeat Bride for Halloween, right?

I'm an Offbeat Bride for Halloween!

Some of this is just larger wedding trends: birdcage veils are popular in weddings all over the place. Offbeat Brides don't exist in a complete vacuum, and some things (like cupcakes, converse, and bikes) show up in the context of Martha Stewart weddings. Which certainly does NOT mean there's anything wrong with them — it just means that some trends are much larger than Offbeat Bride.

Some of it too is just the nature of things when you have a community sharing ideas and being inspired by each other. With any cultural niche, there's bound to be some micro-conformity — especially if part of your subculture revolves around defining yourself in reaction to dominant cultural influences (ie, Wedding Industrial Complex). When you're pushing against some larger institution, people seem to need more of a visual reassurance that even though they're weird, they're weird together. Hence, trends popping up in the offbeat wedding world. It's sort of a visual badge: “We might be strange, but at least amongst each other we feel safe.”

That said, some of this is definitely my fault: my red wedding dress obsession probably got the best of me, and despite my own hippie/raver/burner leanings, a lot of offbeatwed.com readers (and therefore photo and wedding submissions) seem to fall towards the rockabilly, goth, and punk side of the spectrum. I totally recognize that those aesthetics aren't everyone's scene, and I'll step up my efforts to bubble up more weddings the likes of which you've never seen before.

[related-post align=”right”]Because you're right, dear anonymous reader: Offbeat Bride is about encouraging everyone to find their own personal expression, and the LAST thing I want to do is inadvertently enforce some sort of offbeat cultural homogeneity.

So while I love that we're all inspired and learning from each other, I encourage each you to see through the styles and gowns and decor and find inspiration in each other's spirits and creativity.

This might mean pausing for a second when your first reflex is to blurt “WHERE'D YOU GET THAT BAD-ASS DRESS!?” and instead consider asking, “Where'd you get that bad-ass attitude?” Because inevitably, that's the more interesting story.

…Because there's more to learn from each other than just how to dress and throw a party.

… And because I truly and genuinely believe that the best offbeat communities can share attitudes and enthusiasm and inspiration without having to wear any sort of offbeat uniform.

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Comments on The fallacy of offbeat trends

  1. If people are upset that brides on there all seem to be the same [ie, red dress/birdcage/etc..] – don’t get pouty and leave looking for more “diversity”. BE THAT DIVERSE BRIDE.

    We read Offbeat Bride and join the Tribe because of that reason – there are women/men like us who want the same things for their weddings and we can find support there when society/friends/our families just don’t understand. But these same amazing people will love you if you want your ringbearer to be your llama, if you want the big poofy white dress, or if you think birdcage veils are dumb.

    Yes, there are trends in Offbeat Weddings, but does that make it wrong? No. My wedding is offbeat to my family because I don’t want punch and sandwiches cut into triangles. I just want different foods than the normal tradition of weddings. and I get support about dealing with that from my girls on Offbeat Bride Tribe. Don’t knock us down, join us and make us better. Give your ideas that aren’t the offbeat trend of the month. Sitting around and bitching doesn’t help the situation any.

    It’s like these people are saying – now the offbeat are not offbeat enough? Apparently our weddings are a contest now.

  2. I think that the very vast diversity of Offbeat Brides is much more apparent in the Offbeat Bride Tribe. On any give day you can see photos and hear stories from weddings ranging from fairly normal but with a red dress, to hippies barefoot in the woods, to a halloween costume extravaganza, quiet courthouse ceremony with with a small restaurant dinner and more. Of course, Ariel and the Mods can only showcase a small number of these on the main blog, so I think unless you are part of the Tribe, the diversity of what is offbeat might get lost.

  3. I love this post. And I feel kind of guilty admitting that when spending time on OBTribe, I’ve had thoughts ranging from “I guess EVERYONE is doing peacock feathers?” to “Wow, sure are a lot of strapless sparkly dresses from David’s Bridal, and weddings with all the traditional trimmings…how is this all offbeat, exactly?”

    I think it also goes back to the advice that your wedding is not a competition. We shouldn’t be worried about trying to increase the offbeat factor by changing from a red to purple dress if red is truly our fave, and we ALSO shouldn’t forgo the Converses under the dress if that fits our personality perfectly, just to move away from the “trends” in offbeat brides.

    The most awesome advice I am taking from this post is:

    “This might mean pausing for a second when your first reflex is to blurt WHERE YOU GET THAT BAD-ASS DRESS!? and instead consider asking, Where did you get that bad-ass attitude? Because inevitably, that’s the more interesting story.”

  4. Who is to say whether or not “personal expression” can’t include a choice to be part of a sub-cultural (or cultural) tradition? Going against the grain for the sake of doing so seems as silly as going with it because everyone does.

    As someone who doesn’t feel terribly creative, I’m not one to necessarily upset traditions with my wild, visionary ideas. Instead I know that a traditional wedding didn’t feel right and seeing the other people who are more visionary, lets me broaden my horizons. In every culture there will be the creators and instigators and then there will be people like me, cobbling together a lot of different ideas and putting them together in a way that pleases me. Even if it’s been done before.

    The difference between OBB and these larger cultural traditions is that (IMHO) there isn’t a lot of heavy pressure to wear red (or blue, or prom dresses or sneakers). You are seeing people who do these things but it’s without the social pressure.

    I hope this made sense. I re-wrote it until I couldn’t tell anymore.

  5. I love your sociologist hat, Ariel.

    I thought this issue was addressed indirectly (but happily) in the post from a week or so ago about the backpacking wilderness wedding. I was happy to see that as an example of a totally mellow, personal, straightforward offbeat wedding – just as offbeat as the theatrical, technicolor, kick-trash weddings we’ve seen in other posts.

    No wedding is better than another, I say! (Well … I’ve been to some lame ones, true, but I desist.) Everyone’s just as married at the end of the day.

  6. I started reading this blog, ironically, at a time in my life that was spearheaded by newly-found singledom. While I’m still nowhere close to exchanging vows, I still love reading this blog because I see weddings as an outlet for couples to express their creativity. This blog has given me SO many ideas for things to do if I ever do get married. To be honest I would much rather see 5 or 10 brides in red dresses than 89435787524895 brides in the same white dress. My Facebook feed is full of people getting married, and I can’t help but notice how they all look the same. Even if there is an “offbeat bride uniform” it’s nowhere near as cliche as the Standard American White Wedding. 🙂

  7. So funny you posted this today because I submitted our wedding for offbeat porn earlier today but was hesitant to do so because I wondered if it was “offbeat enough”. I then remembered that weddings aren’t a competitive sport. I think you’re doing a great job and I love seeing *variety* in wedding porn. I think there are plenty of offbeat brides who are doing some similar things because they rock (cupcakes FTW!) but are also doing their own thing. But, I hope, and I think they are, doing it because they WANT to, not because as an offbeat bride they are obligated to be offbeat.

  8. Er, as an offbeat bride they are not obligated to do anything (including being offbeat?).

  9. I went through the phase of wondering if I was “offbeat enough”, but then reminded myself that my dress may be ivory, but if my wedding was traditional, people wouldn’t always be saying,”Oh, that’s different, isn’t it?” I realized that I didn’t need to have a red, or green or any other colored dress in order to learn from OBB, because all that mattered is that we had a wedding that was a reflection of us, and not a reflection of what was expected of us. I think the diversity of the offbeat bride definitely comes through better on the Tribe, where there is a whole spectrum of offbeatness. However, the variety in the bride profiles shows that quite well. Keep it up!

  10. I’ve been thinking about this recently – for example: A couple years ago converses worn by the wedding party would have weird, but neat to see. A year later that has become a huge trend, and it’s kinda par for the course and boring all of a sudden.

    I understand that these things happen in our modern day society, especially with the internet involved, but it just worries me a little that I’ll come up with some great, really expressive, really personal ideas for my wedding, and within a few months people will be ripping it off, and a year later it will be in Martha, and a few months after that every vendor from here to eternity will be offering it for a steep markup.

    It kinda saddens me that an expression of me and my boys own personal love could be exploited and commercialized.

    But I guess the only way to avoid that entirely would be to elope. Or at least keep the pictures off the internet.

    I definitely agree with your sentiment, Arial. I want a unique an creative wedding because I am unique and creative. When we look at an offbeat wedding we should see more than cute ideas and outfits – we should look to the uniqueness of the individuals who created it in the first place.

  11. Lots of food for thought here. (I’m going to be a bit long-winded.)

    I feel like “being offbeat” is being free to express who you are. For me, that means taffeta. And colored crinoline. And a choreographed waltz. But you’d better believe that I’ll be joining the tribe as soon as the ink is dry on my invitations.

    I battled a lot with this same issue when I was in college. I’m an English teacher, so that meant that I was a bit of a bystander of the English major crowd. I didn’t wear organic clothes, I’ve never considered being a vegetarian, and clove cigarettes make me cough. For a few semesters I felt out of place, as if I wasn’t original enough or bohemian enough or whatever enough to belong. Then I realized, it was about the literature, not my wardrobe and my unique perspective.

    It’s about the joining of you and your partner. I tell my students all the time- it’s not just the words, it’s what you bring to them. OBT brides and all of you too, you bring it.

  12. I have to say the same thing as others have posted, I put up just a few of my wedding pictures in the flickr pool and was hesitant at that. My wedding was quite traditional to the outside eye but believe me, to my family it was STRANGE. Without OBB and the tribe I don’t know if I would have gone through with the Civil ceremony and the black bridesmaids dresses and the gold wedding dress and the little skull details even though these aren’t wildly offbeat. There were a number of “black dresses? it is going to look like a funeral” comments. What I am trying to say is that I am a bit miffed at anyone saying that the point of OBB is to do “Your own thing” and that better not be another person’s thing.

  13. I don’t think you’ve encouraged ANY type of homogeneity. If there are trends on OBB, is that necessarily a bad thing? I don’t see any discussions apologizing for not conforming to ANY trend–offbeat or WIC. I see white dresses as well as black, blue, green and purple; I see flowers and decorations and desserts from every corner of the imagination; I see shoes from sky high heels to flip flops. So the red dress/birdcage/sneakers may be a great combo that appeals to many, I really doubt that any of the OBBs are ditching what they personally wanted in order to fit in with the OBB crowd.

  14. “Offbeat Bride is about encouraging everyone to find their own personal expression[…]”

    Thanks for the awesome post. One area I’ve noticed this personally in is wedding budgets, and it’s been weighing on me for a while. Spending $20K+ does not equal unnecessary opulence, and I’ve noticed a lot of hostility towards the idea of spending more than $X. Our wedding is more traditional than most of the weddings on here, but I joined OBT because I liked how people put THEMSELVES in their wedding, no matter what they felt passionate about. For us, the perfect location came with a hefty price tag, as did the great caterer who is doing our food. But we’re doing that because we want to, not because Plantinum Weddings tells me I have to. I didn’t think being “offbeat” meant you have to spend under a certain amount of money (although I’ve most certainly seen some great inexpensive weddings).

  15. I’m over on the OBBT too, and I had the same issue as anonymous and Christa!

    I’m not punk or goth or rockabilly, and I’m also not wearing a big white dress and walking down the aisle. I’ve stopped reading hanging out at the OBBT as much, and until recently I’d TOTALLY stopped reading the blog.

    I’m glad you’re going to step up the diversity, though! That makes me happy.

  16. Offbeat Bride has encouraged me on so many levels, coming as I do from a family of neo-Puritans. I believe Ariel has done a superb job of highlighting beautiful, unique weddings, and, more importantly, the people who made them. Trends are trends, and people will end up wearing similar things, but who cares? As long as it makes you happy, and it’s an expression of what makes you tick, it doesn’t really matter if someone else wears or trends it.

  17. I love this post, Ariel! I admit I’ve also had my worries about my pseudo-offbeat wedding/party/glorified ho-down.

    I agree with all the other comments and also wanted to add this (from my Communications undergraduate degree): The medium is the message. The problem with trying to embody offbeat weddings within the scope of a blog is that unfortunately blogs are visual media. I agree wholeheartedly with Ariel that reading the book is a completely different experience. Since blogland is a visual culture it’s only natural that what ends up happening is content progresses toward brighter, more saturated weddings that are easily identified as offbeat by their visual markers.

    It’ll be hard for me to express visually the off-beat wonder that is going to be the “group hug” we make our guests do. It’s just not going to translate well in a picture. But that is where a thousand words is actually much better than a picture. And Ariel’s book actually supplements her blog very well. They are not carbon copies of the other. I’m glad I found the site AFTER the book because having read the book, absorbing the advice, I really felt like I wanted to see OBBs in action.

    So I think the moral of this overly long post is that so many of us (the blogs included, and not just Ariel, but all of the wedding blogs) is we end up feeling like “OMG THE PICTURES!” and a lot of the time we forget about “OMG do you remember when…”

    The other moral of the story is go buy Ariel’s book.

    *This commenter is not a paid sponsor of OBB the book or any other Ariel Meadow Stallings products. 🙂

  18. I think people should think twice before they start to insult an trend. It’s kind of hurtful to people who may be doing that. Like…maybe someone who wanted Chuck Taylor’s might now feel like it was lame, because it’s “played out” or “boring”.

    OBB & The Tribe are places where we get to pick whatever we want, not for the level of trendy it is, but because we just like it.

    Plus, when you look at a persons super hot wedding porn, it’s kind of hard to NOT SAY omg, I want that too. Because before we came here who had ever even SEEN a red dressed birdcaged veiled bride?

  19. I think that a unique wedding is based on the couple. I have seen weddings on this website that I think are so “normal” and “uninteresting,” but others I am envious of.
    A wedding is truly unique when it reflects the couples personality, although I wore a big white dress and my husband wore a tux, it was because we wanted to be us in a more fanciful way. IDK, I just think that the site has focused less on individualism lately.

  20. I’ve been in the same boat as anonymous. There are a ton of amazing girls planning amazing weddings, but at some point they all just started running together for me. The blog post have also started running together to me. For a while I felt that the site basically fell into three types of posts: Punk/rockabilly wedding porn mixed in with vegetarian green wedding profiles, and sponsored vendor posts for photographers that would have charged 1/3 of our total budget.

    I’m really happy that you are evaluating this Ariel! I love your writing, and even married girls want a reason to keep checking in :).

  21. As someone who often chooses what brides to profile, and sees all the profiles submitted for choosing, I have to say one of the issues with diversity is not in what we post but in the choice of content submitted. This community attracts people who like similar things, to a great degree. Therefore, the profiles submitted tend to be along those lines. If you want more diversity ladies… give us more diverse content!

  22. Wow, a lot of negative comments came out of this post!

    I grew up sort of floating around different social groups- the punk kids, the girls that could be referred to as the “plastics”, the band kids, ravers, goth, hillbilly, latin, black, etc. I was both bothered and envious at an early age at the sort of uniformity of these groups. Bothered because, as someone who never appeared outwardly to belong to any of these groups, I was sort of treated like I could not possibly be a part of them, and envious because, at that age, it seems so comforting to have a “crowd”. I know my wedding, as others on here have said, probably looks super boring from the outside. I’m getting married in a Catholic church, for crying out loud. (I was going to say “for Christ’s sake but that may have confused my meaning.) But like many others on OBT, every day I hear something along the lines of “you’re not doing that at your wedding? But you have to!” And, to keep being a chorus, there are probably things that, if I didn’t have OBT as a reference point of other people who successfully fit their weddings to their wishes, I would have already caved on a few really big ones.

    My wedding might be “so normal and uninteresting” to people who are getting married on a dogsled on the Iditarod or having a witch doctor perform their vows underwater, but at least on OBT, and I would hope in the world of non-traditional weddings at large, we can happily have a sounding block of people who are supportive of people having the wedding they want, keeping it to themselves if its not the wedding they’d want for themselves. I wouldn’t wear a red dress or have my guests dress up in costumes at my wedding, and I wouldn’t go 100% traditional either, but what does it bother me if that is what someone else does, and shares the details? We, as a couple, are making choices in planning this thing that will make it 100% ours… we are certainly not here to impress offbeat people of the future or wrack our brains for the most outstandingly different thing we could do just for the sake of doing it or shock value.

  23. Ariel, I don’t think you have anything to apologize for. I see a wide variety of people and their weddings showcased on this site. Also, in case I’m horribly mistaken, these real weddings are submitted to you… you’re not fabricating weddings on a soundstage in the desert and then uploading the photos to your blog in order to create some “standard” we’re supposed to conform to.

    People who think Offbeat Bride isn’t weird or unique enough need to stop taking themselves so damn seriously!

  24. I’m a little pissed off at the “boring” comments, the idea that certain things are boring because they’ve been seen before.

    Um, it’s not my chucks or my dress being red that makes my wedding interesting, and it’s not my dress being white that makes it boring.

    My wedding will be interesting because it will be a personally meaningful expression of me, of my fiance, and of the merging of our families. That’s unique. That’s never going to happen again. If Chucks express that or if a full-on traditional ceremony expresses that, who the fuck cares?

    That said, I’d like to ditto the people who’ve mentioned the OBBTribe being more diverse than the blog. I’d love to see that reflected more on the blog, with some white dress weddings and some cheap weddings and some nature weddings and some 300 people weddings and some religious weddings. There’s a ton of style diversity out there to draw on.

    I don’t read OBB because I want to say, “Wow, I’ve never seen that beautiful thing before!” I read OBB because I want to say, “Oh thank god I’m not the only one out there figuring out how to make this tradition of marriage personally meaningful.”

    Honestly, the crazy totally unique never-seen-it-before weddings bore me much more than the ones where I’ve seen it before and you can tell everyone’s having a great time. I want everyone to have a great time at my wedding, and THAT should not be unique!

  25. Just looking at the profile posted immediatly before this and thinking… What if, instead of asking what made your wedding offbeat, you asked what made it unique to your relationship/family/style/attitude?

  26. Ariel,

    Thank you so much for this post. I feel like this a lot in the OBBT. I think the goth/rockabilly stuff totally rocks and it’s really cute … but it’s so not me. I will be wearing a white dress, and I find myself apologizing for that amongst my fellow OBBT ladies … like I’ve sold out or something.

    Why does “offbeat” have to be a certain thing? I was actually thinking about this very topic yesterday and it reminded me of my friend Derek in high school. Derek tried extremely hard to be “weird.” One day he said something completely off the wall yet predictable because it was Derek. I looked at him and said “Man, you’ve become so ‘out there’ that you’re predictable … exactly the thing you don’t want to be!”

    That’s the last thing I want to see happen to OBB. I wouldn’t want barefoot tree-hugging indie music listening dirty hippie brides like me feeling alienated because we’re not wearing a red dress or incorporating skulls into our big days.

    Granted, there is a lot of sharing and idea stealing that happens in OBBT … and therefore a lot of trends pop up. And that’s ok. It does become a problem when we start identifying and defining “offbeat” by one certain look or trend.

    I think the sheer fact that you brought this up is the reason that will not happen to OBB. You, and most of us, are conscious of the fact that communities as amazing as this one don’t just happen. They are not static. They are dynamic, living, breathing things that need tended to constantly. Thanks for not being a hands-off online community creator 🙂


  27. I have a question, how often do you turn down bride profiles? I have seen some great weddings from brides that said they never made it on your site posted on others. Just curious, I am a huge fan of the site, but I wonder how many weddings dont make it? Like a couple girls above have wedding links and they look so awesome!

    Alexandra-your wedding looked f’ing amazing! OMg, jealous.

  28. Anony, I never “turn down” any bride profiles … but I do have an enormous backlog of OVER EIGHTY PROFILES. Even if I did a profile every single day for the next 2 months, I still wouldn’t be caught up … and it would turn this site into a wedding database.

  29. I’m hoping that there will come a point when ALL weddings are considered offbeat. I think that a wedding should be what the couple wants and not what the wedding industry says it should be. Wear a sparkly prom dress! Throw a rubber chicken! Do what YOU want!

    And I felt the same way as some of the other brides – I felt like I wasn’t offbeat enough in some ways. I wore an ivory dress, my bridesmaids wore matching black dresses, my guy didn’t wear a hot kilt, he wore a hot suit, our ceremony was fairly traditional… But there were aspects of my wedding that were most definitly unique to me and my guy: fake ‘staches, bouncy castle, lobster toss, photos on a large tugboat with a cartoon-y face, candy in my hair, candy EVERYWHERE, etc.

    Am I offbeat enough for OBB? I think so. Am I as offbeat as other brides? No way! But that’s okay, because our wedding was perfect, even if I didn’t wear a red dress, birdcage veil or was profiled on the website. 😉 I did what was right for me and my hubby and it was perfect for us. 🙂

  30. Holy crap, I got a blog written about me! 😀

    I just want to go on record and say that I wasn’t trying to insult anyone, or say that the “trend” stuff WASN’T totally expressive of the people doing it. I was finishing up the OBB survey, and just added it in as food for thought. It was seriously just an observation, and I especially didn’t want Ariel to think that she wasn’t doing a good job posting diversity! I just always found the irony of things like that, how subcultures all start as a knock against mainstream society, but always end up with a uniform of their own in the end. I just thought it’d be a good thing to think about, along with the whole “your wedding is not a contest” thing. I think we need to remind ourselves every so often that it’s the couples that make the wedding, and people shouldn’t be grasping at every “off-beat” thing we see in an effort to have a crazy enough wedding to “fit in.”

    It’s not the “trends” themselves that can be a problem, it’s that dangerous train of thought where seeing something over and over can make us feel like we HAVE to do it that way, or we won’t be part of the community anymore. Any time a group gets big enough, there are always going to be people on the fringes that no longer fit in. We just need to be aware of it and stop ourselves! 🙂

  31. I would guess that I am going to have one of the more traditional weddings of your readership. My fiance and I are plenty offbeat in our own hugely nerdy way, but we’re just not that detail oriented. Simplicity, both in the aesthetics and the planning, is very important to us. As a consequence, wedding planning hasn’t even approached stressful, and everything is unfolding very naturally.

    Our quirks don’t generally manifest themselves very loudly–they’re very intimate. So we would be dishonest to ourselves if we suddenly needed them to become a statement of some kind. So it’s been easy to resist the pressure to out-quirk myself just to do it, and it’s still fun to see people’s ideas. I think more traditional brides can learn a lot from this site, and I’ve seen some insanely creative and beautiful DIY work on “traditional” wedding style blogs. I think in general brides could benefit from broadening the sources from which they get ideas and ignore the labels for a second.

  32. Ariel….

    …why *don’t* you have a wedding database?

    That might seem like a strange question, because I know you have a vision for your blog that doesn’t encompass this idea. But I think its one worth considering.

    Why not have a form for all the newly married OBBs (or OBGs!) to fill out that gets checked for spelling errors and spam bots by either a program or an intern or someone else helping out…and have that be another part of the site. Or the OBT.

    WHY NOT have a giant repository that shows every OBB who wants to share? WHY NOT have this kind of verbose/visual catalog/time capsule?

    Wedding porn you can shuffle through and get inspiration from.

    I’m more than willing to devote some time in helping with that; I edit/futz with data all day at work, its second nature – and I’d rather do it with data I care about :D.

  33. Wow, some of the comments after this exceedingly poinient blog are quite hurtful.

    I agree with what most people have said generally; weddings are about the couple, reflecting their tastes and relationship and that everyone should do what they want without fear of being judged that they’re not “out there” enough.
    However, shame on those people that have said that some people’s weddings are trying too hard to be different and are just becoming “boring”! If you don’t want to see “another red wedding” dress or “*groan* another punk wedding”, don’t look at the pictures! Please remember that everyone’s tastes are different and just because you’re “bored” with a particular trend, there’s no need to insult the people that choose to use it. The whole point in this blog and community is to rejoice in everyone’s ideas and choices, not to deride them – I think a lot of us have already had that from people in the ‘real world’ which is why we come here. Check your negative attitude at the door in future, please!

  34. I love this post!
    I recently cut my long gorgeous hair into a pixie crop to the horror of every woman I know who all shrieked “you can’t have short hair for your wedding!” A google search on ‘short hair bride’ led me to Offbeat Bride and I am SO happy to have found this site as looking at other peoples weddings has made me realize that mine is fine, it’s not mental at all. Our offbeat issue is not the dress or the hair or the detail – it’s the ceremony.
    I live in Ireland and the weddings here are phenomenal – hugely expensive hotels, big white dresses, morning suits, and of course being good Catholic Ireland, a big church affair. In fact the law here makes it extremely difficult to NOT do a church wedding. It wasn’t what we wanted – we were both brought up Catholics but are now heathen/non-believing/agnostic/whatever. We have a 2 year old son and because of huge social pressure we got him baptized after he was born. I really regret doing that – it was against all of our own beliefs, and we really didn’t want to do the same for our wedding. So we’ve rented a country house, we’re having a humanitarian ceremony in the conservatory and have complied a very personal service that I know I’ll cry all the way through, and having a big party afterwards. (because of our shitty laws though we’ve gotta get legally married in the reg office beforehand)
    And yes, I have a red dress, but when I bought it I had never heard of or seen anyone wear one. I wanted a 50’s style prom dress and had planned on a pastel colour, but when I tried on the red I knew it was for me. After purchasing it I was really worried that I was going to look like a freak. Then I saw the gorgeous photos on here.
    So what OBB has taught me is not that a red dress is cooler than a white one. It’s that the dress doesn’t matter a fuck. I’m going to stand before all my friends and family and marry my lover in a beautiful meaningful personal ceremony and I’m going to laugh and cry and be so damn happy and mean every single last word.

  35. I understand that when it comes to things like weddings, people are pretty quick to feel emotional, and in this instance judged. But I would recommend that everyone go back and re-read the comments, if they feel like they’ve been hurt by them. It seems to me that everyone here has been pretty level headed, but honest.

    I’ve noticed that a few people reacted to me calling chucks “boring” – without actually calling me out – which I guess could be construed as being polite. I’m sorry if that hurts anyone, but I don’t mean that if you had chucks at your wedding, your wedding was boring – or that if you want them for your wedding you’re boring. I think it’s an great choice – adorable and practical, and frankly, I’m considering it for my own wedding.

    I just mean it’s something we’ve all seen before at this point. It’s not exactly a new idea. But Weddings aren’t exactly an exciting new idea. They are by definition old and ancient and traditional.

    Which was kinda my point, if you read my whole comment. We should be looking to the uniqueness of the individuals, not the trappings of the wedding. That’s what’s important.

    Your wedding isn’t your shoes. Boring or not.

  36. “why *don’t* you have a wedding database?”

    Because I’m a writer, not a database engineer. 🙂 Also, I think the OBT sort of serves this purpose … each bride gets her own profile page on which to feature her wedding.

  37. I just have to say that I’ve never felt pressured in ANY way by OBB/OBBT. The only thing I’ve ever felt was unconditional support to do what was right for me and to make choices that were right for US for our wedding. If you just look at the blog posts where someone is asking for opinions on a choice they are considering for any aspect of their wedding day (apparel, ceremony, guest lists, recycling, etc.) you will for sure see other Offbeat Brides saying “Yeah, that idea rocks, don’t worry about what other people will think” or “If that’s the _____(insert choice here) you want, go for it!”

    I’ve never seen any comment that says “Your white dress/whatever else is boring to me” or “That’s not cool enough for you to post here”.

    I just have to observe that perhaps people exert this “pressure to conform” on themselves because in my opinion and experience everything about OBB/OBBT is focused on supporting our decisions and giving us a place to try out/think through creative ideas WITHOUT the fear of being judged.

  38. I was one of the folks that requested more diversity in the featured weddings. That’s because I’m culling elements of different weddings that I love to make the wedding that represents me and my honey.

    The fact that the tribe is called the tribe, means that we should all expect *some* similarities. It’s a tribe, after all. The hard part, and what I think Ariel (and each of us) is struggling with, is when do those similarities become conformity? And when do those similarities (or conformity) make themselves meaningless?

    And I don’t think there’s an easy answer to that question. Any time there is a good idea out there, it risks becoming a trend. That’s not a bad thing.

    The bad thing is when you check your own self at the door and pick a trend (birdcage, Chucks, victory rolls) just because it’s cool, not because it’s you.

    So, I think we all *should* struggle with this, because if we don’t then that’s when we start having problems.

  39. “I just have to observe that perhaps people exert this “pressure to conform” on themselves because in my opinion and experience everything about OBB/OBBT is focused on supporting our decisions and giving us a place to try out/think through creative ideas WITHOUT the fear of being judged.”

    Oooh, I really like this! I think this was the point I wanted to make, but didn’t know how. It’s not that we have to worry about pressuring other people, because like you said, everyone at OBB and OBT are nothing but awesome. It’s that we have to make sure to put ourselves in check. 🙂

  40. What makes it offbeat to me is that when I look at other wedding sites and the dresses, they all look the same. And here, I like some dresses and I dislike some and some I LOVE, but all create an actual opinion. I am getting married at a wedding mill, in an offwhite dress and with a fair amount of tradition in it. But I think its offbeat as its ours and it isn’t constrained by obligation but an expression of who we are.
    Having OBB or OBBT be responsible for not inundating us with the same thing sounds unreasonable. Chucks are comfy. Birdcage veils are pretty. I will be married in one but not the other. When people imply by showing me images of that I am going to be pressured into thinking I need something “offbeat”tm, that insults my intelligence and capacity for independent thought. People join tribes, adhere to a dress code, and if they stay in the tribe, they adapt and individualize. Sorry, long post.

  41. I don’t feel there is a uniform per-say on here. Yes, there are tons of girls who want red dresses, or birdacge veils, or even a peacock extravaganza. But in a place with so many memebers coming from so many similar sub-cultures, can you really be that shocked that they have similar tastes? And I’ll be honest, I’ve yet to see a red dress/bird cage veil/peacock extravaganza done in the exact same way.
    The ideas behind the pieces may be the same, but every bride (and groom!) here has wildly different weddings. That’s what I love about this place.
    Yes, we’re different, and yes, we do tend to fall in lust over the same john fluevog shoes, but everyone here has a beautiful story behind their wedding. From the uber-low key to the most over-the-top masquerade ball.
    The OBBT are a welcoming group of individuals. I’ve yet to see anyone put down someone else for not conforming to some imaginary uniform.

  42. I also felt to begin with like my wedding was not “offbeat” enough for OBB. Was the dress too formal? Was my hair too traditional? Am I boring? etc, etc. Then I thought “screw it!” All the wedding porn I’ve looked at(and there’s been alot!), the only real trend I’ve seen is beautiful women getting dressed up in amazing clothes with their gorgeous grooms for what will hopefully be the best damn party they ever threw!

    I think to show your wedding pictures on a site such as OBB is incredibly brave, you’re saying, “Hey! Check out what we did, we shared our celebration of love with our families , and now we want to share it with you.”
    Who cares if some have the same colour dress, or hat or inkiness. These brides have shared a piece of themselves and put it out there for the world to see and ALL in a diverse way. I worked in the traditional wedding industry in the UK for years, and know for certain that every wedding I’ve seen on OBB is completely out there. So was mine offbeat enough? Maybe not for some, but my entire family were shocked and awed by my beautiful black wedding dress with matching hat and birdcage veil, our snake wedding rings too.

    OF COURSE it’s all about the dress! What little girl/woman/whatever doesn’t dream about her wedding day and imagine what the day will be? The ideal may change as that little girl grows older but the dream is still the same. That’s what the wedding porn is for surely? To inspire and encourage everyone to go for that dream day in whatever fabulous way will make it their own forever. This is a bridal/ wedding site afterall. No matter how offbeat.

  43. This post made me think of that Monty Python movie where everyone in the crowd chants, “We are all unique!” and one lone voice replies, “I’m not.”

    I remember growing up we were different because we had to be. We chose to wear Chuck Taylor’s because they were the only shoes my family could afford to buy that didn’t say Prowings on the side, this was in the age of Air Jordan. Then we were alternative thrift store shoppers because once again it was the only way we could afford to show a sense of style and uniqueness. Then along came the “vintage” shops where the used clothing is just as pricey as new clothes, and that defeats the purpose, and the selling of the alternative uniform from shops like Hot Topic.

    Now that I’m older I have really stopped caring about looking off beat or alternative. I like to wear what I’m comfortable in, and occasionally I like to do it up with a suit and tie and some shiny dress shoes.

    You are totally right Ariel, offbeat is all the attitude. Sometimes I still get looks from people that say “I can’t believe you just said or did what you just said or did.”

    That’s offbeat. Sticking up for what’s right, for what is true to you. You don’t have to look different or tell everyone how different and cool you are. Just be different.

  44. whoa. why are so many people complaining?! do what you want to do and if you dont like the stuff on this site then dont read it. It is what it is and it shouldnt have to change or cater to YOU

  45. I just ran across this (how did I miss it?) and love it ALL. I can’t remember the last time I read every comment. Everyone had something interesting and thought-provoking to say, so I don’t feel the need to say much myself.

    But I do want to tell Ariel that I too think she’s doing a great job, and that she’s a great writer. (Buy the book, kids!) And I think everyone over at OBT is awesome. If you only knew how boring I am, and how nice everyone is – you couldn’t think it’s not working. I’m totally not offbeat, except that I don’t like “have-to’s” – that’s pretty much it. And that’s why OBB, and the Tribe are awesome – because there are NO “have-to’s”. I’m so impressed with so many of these women and their creative, funky minds. I’m in awe of the bravery that’s required for a lot of brides who have to deal with parents/family/etc who don’t understand or even worse, are hurtful. These are amazing women – and men! – and so what if a lot of them like peacock feathers? Uh, peacock feathers are pretty, duh!

    I love this place. Think about it, it’s a wedding site – but it makes you THINK! Would you ever get that at . . .that other bridal site? (The Knot, cough, cough). Nope. 🙂

  46. I also might be late to this post but I just wanted to add my two cents…

    Ask Yourself … do I want “Peakock feathers” because everyone else on OBB has “peacock feathers” or did I come on here and say; hey, “peacock feathers” I love that – that’s so me (or that so my FH), I want “peacock feathers” too!
    As long as you see something and are inspired by it and feel that it expresses who you are or what you’re wanting for YOUR wedding – that’s what I think it means to be an OBB! Do stuff because you want to do it not because – that’s how weddings are supposed to be .. or that’s what I need to do to be a “good little OBB”! Conformity is doing stuff because you’re supposed to and not because you want to.
    Anyone who has a problem with something looking too tradition, or it not being off beat enough, or being too off beat are forgetting that it’s not about what you think is right for their wedding, it’s what they think is right for their wedding. If you don’t like it move onto the next wedding to get your inspiration and stop judging everyone else – there’s really no need!!!
    Ariel did a great thing when she started all this – so why do we fight, just enjoy all the wonderful things this site and her book have to offer!!!!!!

  47. I just discovered this site yesterday, and spent my whole day drooling over photos of genuinely beautiful weddings where people look happy, rather than the posed romantic faces seen on all the other terrible website. I understand that there can be a touch of overlap in some of the trends here but I feel this website allows people to realise that they can embrace their individuality on a day which is overloaded with tradition. I got engaged on christmas day and I automatically thought of all the things that typically come with weddings and thought “great”! Then my mind started to rebel. I hate beading, I hate gross white wedding shoes and natural makeup and I don’t want a day that was designed by my mom. By seeing this website yesterday…. I was set free. You know what, I’m gonna wear my converse with my white dress. Because now I know that other people have, and haven’t exploded because they didn’t conform.
    Rant over. I feel better already….

  48. Whoo! How did I miss this post? It’s so GOOD. And to think some people say they don’t come here for your writing. (who are those people? Nutters, or so say I).

    Anyway, I love this. I’ve also been thinking about/concerned about this very issue, and your Anon commenter summed it up so well. To me offbeat-ness is about who you are and rocking out with yourself, not about one particular aesthetic. I mean, I’m not really punk or goth or any one offbeat aesthetic, but I adore the philosophy, and I’m sure as heck not any WIC asthetic.

    But also, what you said about pushback to the WIC makes sense to me too. Every so often I have someone say/comment to me that “it shouldn’t matter what the WIC does, you should never think about it, you should just do your own thing.” And while this might be true (and I’m not totally sure that it is) I find it to be relatively imposable. The cultural noise about weddings loud even when you are not engaged, and it’s deafening when you are. I think some conscious pushback is always necessary, whether that comes in the form of blogging sass or a red dress and converse. So, I think this has helped me understand more of what is going on…


    Thanks Ariel. I for one come here for your writing. Always have.

  49. I’m completely late to this party–ironically, I’ve become so busy with my wedding planning that I haven’t had time to read OBB!–but in getting caught up, this post jumped out at me. I LOVE the attitude on here, overall, but the one thing that has bugged me is that OBBs can sometimes tend to hate on beautiful, romantic elements…I recall a crack about “at least I’m not barfing pink flowers…”.

    Well, here’s the thing. I AM, thank you very much. You shouldn’t have girly-girl elements if that’s not you, but pink roses and lace are 110% me, and anyone who attends my distinctly off-kilter Victorian tea party wedding is going to say, “Gods, that totally is her!” LOL

    So, to each bride her own; NOTHING is boring or lame or whatever if you’re doing it because it’s you, and not because you feel pressure to be more traditional OR more offbeat or anything else.

    A Victorian Frou-Frou Bride

  50. Being someone who is the first to point out and abhor co-opted rebellion I have to say… ah shit, bird cage veil and peacock feathers aren’t my own original idea? whateves. Nothing exists in a vacuum, and what i think is most important is that you allow for collaboration and change within your ideas. Everyone being different together (a’la urban outfitters or hot topic) can be yucky, but so can stressing about being entirely ‘original’. no one is. while i love independent thought, it is never entirely independent. so let’s consider this example: that a song played live for an audience may not hold the original creativity, energy, emotion and ideas that manifested it coming into being, and is in fact the vessel for them at best or the product of them at worst; but if it is sincere it will resonate and allow for independent interpretation for those who listen. My point: marriage is a symbol of your love for your partner, as well as a cultural and social commitment to that person… make it a sincere expression of your coupling, aware of all the influences and baggage that come with the symbol but not allowing them to re-define your interpretation.
    off beat, traditional, whatever.

  51. Oh, I love this!

    Here’s the thing. To me, being an Offbeat bride means that you are doing what you want because you want it, not because someone else, whether in Media or in your circle of family/friends say it’s “how it should be”. If I hear “oh, that’s not traditional” one more time….and yet to many of the brides whose weddings are featured on this site, my wedding will seem very traditional.

    So, who do I listen to? My Mother? you guys? Nope. Just myself and my man. That’s it! I really thought I was being so original using peacock feathers in all my decor, bouquets, etc…because I had never seen it before, I just really love peacock feathers. Then I stumble on this site and realize, LOTS of people are using them…so, maybe I am not so original, but if I were to abandon the idea, then i would still be conforming in a way, and I would be looking for something that has not been done just to basically say I did it first. My wedding is not about bragging rights, it’s about declaring to those I love that this is the man I want to be with, live with, raise a family with, etc. So no matter what I do with my wedding style, the outcome is still the same.

    Just enjoy your wedding, and do whatever means the most to you, no matter how traditional or offbeat it is.

    Much love and peace to all!

  52. As a red dress, possibly bird cage veil wearing bride, i feel I must throw in my two cents. I think maybe some people adopt a counter culture because they aren’t comfortable in their own skin, but for most of us, this is hardly the case.

    There will always be “trends” amongst people… no matter how “different” they may be. Why? Because we are all human beings! We feed off of the world around us, are influenced by it whether we like it or not. I myself have wanted to wear a red wedding dress since I was 15 years old. Why? Because I look f’ing amazing in red! I am sure that this is the case for a lot of other red dress brides as well.

    I am so sick of people complaining that different is not different anymore. Who cares? Do what YOU want. Other people will do what THEY want.. and the world will go on.

  53. I don’t care what people do at their wedding or with anything else in life, as long as it’s authentic, and it’s because it’s what they love. For example, I found the “tree unity” idea from this website, and I’m probably going to do it at my wedding. I’ll change up the readings and whatever, but I’m still copying it. However I can say with 100% certainty I’m doing it because it’s so us, and I think it’s lovely.
    There are so many things I find cute on here, like the steampunk weddings. I think they are flippin’ amazing. However, if I went out and had myself a steampunk wedding, it just wouldn’t be me.
    I just think it’s “cool” to be authentic, and think about your guests too, but don’t forget to do what YOU like.

  54. I gotta remember this. I need to take the time, just like with the traditions I’m examining so closely, to think about the things I adorn my life with. I do like things for real reasons! I’m not a hipster jerk just because the real world aligns with my world and retro cute funk is “in” and I’m able to buy the things I dream about. Poof.

  55. I’ve already been to three weddings since late September that were outside with hay bales, mason jars, tennis shoes, purple and orange, etc. It’s funny because I mostly blame sites like Pinterest instead of offbeat where people discuss the meaning behind their choices. It’s like a new set of “do it yourself” standards are in place now if you want to be considered “non-traditional.” I don’t mind though. To each their own, right? Each couple still had things that were unique to them like their vows and overall attitude. It was clear who was comfortable with their wedding and chose it cause they love it and who wanted to be different. It’s a sign of some deep insecurities if you MUST be special and 100% different at all times, especially when this is an event for your closest friends and family. Who hopefully love you for you and not, you know, how “not like other people you are.” Having a wedding you love and ending up happily married is way more important than being the first/only person to do something.

  56. i really needed this just now, so thank you.

    i bought a dress over two years ago now. i love it so much…it was exactly what i was looking for. simple, and understated but still a little dramatic; kind of traditional in cut and style but a little unexpected in that it’s a pale grey-blue color with a directional gold shimmer. thanks to life being life (unpredictable, that is), we’ve had to put our wedding off twice now, our original date being nearly a year ago and our backup date fast-approaching in december and now unattainable. now we’re thinking it’ll be at least TWO years before we can actually get married.

    so a couple days ago i was in line at joann fabric, picking up some stuff for a craft project for my 3-year-old son, and what do i see on the magazine rack there at the checkout but the current issue of the knot, with a model in an unembellished (like mine) grey-blue (like mine) wedding gown. true, it was a ball gown rather than a drop-waist A-line (like mine), but still, i mentally threw a little hissy fit. “oh, great, i finally find something really different that’s so ME and now it’s on the cover of the knot before i actually get a chance to pull it off. now EVERY bride is going to be doing it.” and the next day i brought it up with my other half that maybe i should pick my gown up from storage at the bridal salon and sell it, since we’re not getting married any time soon anyway and may as well recoup some of the money now while we could probaby use it on the stuff that’s caused us to put the wedding off.

    you know what? fuck it. i’m keeping it. i will never find another dress that’s so perfectly suited to me and our vision of expressing our union publicly, whether every other bride on the planet is wearing the same color or not. it’s stupid and it’s superficial, but so what?

    if i do wind up having to sell it because we need the money, then so be it. but right now we don’t need to, so i’m not going to let the “waaaaaaaah i thought of it first!!!” get in the way of what i really like.

  57. I don’t think anyone wanting a traditional wedding ends up on the OBB site. What makes us all Offbeat was the feeling that something about our wedding didn’t conform and we looked for a place to belong.

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