Let me begin by explaining that I don't like weddings. Whatever gene most women carry for white dresses and flowers and big rings, I don't have it. I've been to too many weddings, I've been bored by talk of tiaras and disgusted by both the chicken and the beef, and I see the billion dollar wedding industry as a scam.
That said, I will now count the ways in which Offbeatbride.com kicks ass.
I discovered it as a link on i09 (Gawker's sci-fi web cousin) about a geeky wedding. The featured bride and groom had Star Wars cake toppers and had their guests chant "so say we all" during the museum reception, overlooked by a real dinosaur skeleton. I instantly thought of my future hubby (yes, I have found my life-mate. And no, I still don't want a big wedding. And as long as KFC potato wedges are served, he's fine with that). Offbeat Bride (OBB) was the source site, and a bottomless blog of original, non-traditional, just-a-party-yet-a-blast wedding profiles.
Ariel Meadow Stallings is the original OBB. While planning her own wedding years ago, she chafed at the ideas and offerings for the holy wedding trinity: "timeless," "elegant," "unforgettable." Her first book (and eventually, the blog) Offbeat Bride: Taffeta-Free Alternatives for Independent Brides was born out of her own wedding plans. She quickly gained a following by espousing lifelong commitment, gay marriage, organic rings sans-blood diamonds, no stress parties, on a budget. The OBBs who create profiles and share their stories and photos do not take out loans for a 12-hour get together. They do not cave in to their family's wishes or insist that their bridesmaids wear the same unflattering dress.
Themes are the most popular types of weddings on OBB. Roaring 20s, renaissance, rockabilly, goth, ethnic fusion, gamer, geek, sci-fi, eco-friendly - it's all there. An interracial couple got married on Loving Day, the anniversary of the Supreme Court's 1967 ruling (see Loving vs. Virginia) that interracial marriage was legal. Another couple was the first to get married at the Jim Henson Co. lot with a muppet-themed wedding. They even had their own custom muppets made. (As someone who recently made a pilgrimage to see the touring muppet display, and begged to be allowed to take just one picture of the original Rolf, this just tickles me Mahna Mahna-pink!)
What impresses me most are the no-nonsense, independent attitudes of the blog contributors. Invitations that urge support of gay marriage (and the many gay-wedding profiles). Articles about dresses for wheelchair-bound brides (hey, wedding establishment - they exist!). A bride and groom married in a small, inexpensive library ceremony whose "family...just didn't understand why we weren't doing this huge, 200 guest shindig... We had to politely explain, again and again and AGAIN (people just didn't get it) that this was OUR DAY."
My personal favorite is from Gael Girl. Not just because her wedding cost under $100, that they walked each other down "aisle" (path in the woods) in Irish tradition, or that it was in a cave at sunrise. It's because she explains their desire to be married sooner rather than later because, "I'm disabled and Michael wanted to start taking care of me." That's love.
I have always been immune to the myth implanted into our cultural psyche that "a diamond is forever." I don't believe that an expression of love costs $4,470 ("the average spent on an engagement ring.") In fact, I'm confused and repulsed by that standard. We all know by now that a human being in Africa risked his life to dig that carbon-based nugget out of the ground, simply so you could display it on your finger. As you read this, another family's home was foreclosed... if only they had $4,470 to spare. It lifted my hopes for my gender when I read of one bride's diamond-less ring, "It cost $99. I love it." I'm going to frame this statement and teach it to my daughters: "when you talk exact carats, you're getting into the dick-size game." Amen, girlfriend.
At the end of the wedding day, the perfect cake is digested. The perfect flowers will droop and die. You will have seen another elderly relative do the chicken dance. Again. You will go home with one person. That needs to make you happy. Not a song list, or matching jewelry, or a dress you will never wear again. I will let OBB Krista8029 sum it up for me:
I've realized that all the tulle, champagne and twinkle lights that were so important last time may make the "perfect" wedding, but it doesn't make the perfect marriage. As much as I look forward to celebrating with family and friends, the thing I'm looking forward to the most is spending the rest of my life with my favorite person. And that's what it's all about.