The Offbeat Bride book was first released in December of 2006, with a second edition in January of 2010. The wedding it described happened in 2004, and I wrote the bulk of the book ten years ago. The fact that people still buy the book at all is only because of this here website, but somehow people do continue to buy it… and sometimes review it on Amazon.
A negative review came in a couple months ago that blew my mind in the best possible way. In it, the author rehashes the most common complaint about the book (that it's a memoir and NOT a planning guide — which is a legit complaint and something that's frustrated me ever since 2006 when my publisher decided to give the book a misleading subtitle). But this reviewer also files a new complaint, one I've never heard before:
It's boring and in many ways obvious and outdated.
“Boring and obvious”!
THIS IS AMAZING YOU GUYS. Well, the part about being outdated feels a little silly. Of course the book comes off as dated — it was written a decade ago, and I've always been clear that I wanted my wedding to feel dated, so it's no surprise that the book about that wedding would feel equally dated.
But the assertion that the book feels boring and obvious is truly remarkable, and genuinely wonderful. If the core lesson of the book (which is that your wedding should feel like an authentic expression of who you and your partner are) feels obvious, that means the world of wedding planning has dramatically shifted in the last decade!
In 2005, my literary agent was like, “There are almost no books out there about nontraditional wedding planning — the Anti-Bride Guide seems to be the only well-known one, and it's not especially nontraditional.” Ten years later, I would argue there's a glut of nontraditional wedding books (and even more blogs) dedicated to every corner of the nontraditional wedding world. It used to be that “nontraditional” was a niche, but now every subniche has a dedicated voice cheerleading its readers onward. The topic has been sliced and diced a ton of times, and new voices just keep coming. It's rad.
My original work here DOES seem to be done. For the most part, even if folks think Offbeat Bride is tasteless and tacky, everyone knows that having an offbeat and authentic wedding is an option. We have engaged readers who have been following the site since they were in middle school. Gay and Lesbian couples can get married in the majority of US states. The lessons have permeated the wedding world so much that even The Knot writes about it, and non-white wedding dresses are now totally standard.
So, is my work here done? Is that it? Time to just fold it all up, and call it quits? Offbeat Bride's mission has been completed, see y'all later?
There is still so much work to be done. Stuff like helping vendors understand that gender-essentialism isn't effective marketing. Stuff like ensuring that people who aren't represented on other websites are always featured here — couples with disabilities, couples who aren't young white slender people in their 20s, couples who make decisions that some of us are quite sure we'd never make, but who made them with intent and accountability.
I love that marriage equality has crept across the United States in the time that Offbeat Bride has been around, to the degree that sometimes people are like, “PSSHT: What's offbeat about this lesbian wedding?!” Marriage equality still has a long way to go — when will gender-neutral contracts become the standard for wedding vendors? When will wedding websites stop saying BRIDE'S NAME: / GROOM'S NAME: and just have MY NAME: / PARTNER'S NAME:? Lots of US states have made progress, but the wedding industry has still got a long way to go when it comes to catching up.
And will my work ever be done when it comes to trying to convince people to communicate constructively online? I'm continually amazed by people who leave rude comments (…comments that I agree with!), and when their rudeness is moderated, huff “…WHAT?! IT'S JUST AN OPINION.” Yep, an opinion that I agree with, but an opinion that you presented so rudely that no one's going to listen. I don't know that THAT work will ever be done.
But my book is still boring and obvious, which is rad
I'm not being sarcastic or facetious when I say that I LOVE that my eight-year-old book about a wedding that happened over a decade ago now feels dated — it should feel dated! I love that a book about a wedding where people pooped in buckets filled with sawdust is now like “Pshht: no duh you can do that at your wedding.” This is what progress looks like… it looks boring and obvious, and that's fucking awesome.
That said, there's still a lot of work to be done. Can't wait to roll up my sleeves with y'all.