Offbeat Bride In L.A.

Heathervescent mentioned Ariel Meadow Stalling’s appearance at LA Angst in her weekend events post two days ago. But she didn’t know that the other reason Ariel is here is for a reading from her book, Offbeat Bride. Specifically, it’s a reading and “stand up wedding advice” at Tangier Lounge in Los Feliz at 7:30PM on Saturday. Hey, I’m going. You all should too, on your way up to that blogger party.

I had some questions for Ms. Stallings that I asked in a brief email interview last week. How big a movement is offbeat bride-ism, anyways? Modern Bride may be printing the term “bridechilla” (the anti-Bridezilla, the “chill” bride), but even a chill bride isn’t an offbeat one. So read on behind the cut for the questions I sent up to the spokewoman for non-prissy weddings last week, and her answers – including her comments about Burner culture weddings, and what she sees as the upcoming non-magazine bridal trends.

Before I get to the actual email interview, let me just reiterate: I’m getting married next year. And, like any red-blooded woman in a capitalist country, the moment I got engaged, I started reading bridal websites and buying wedding books. But something wasn’t quite right about all the media I was consuming. In fact, everything I read made me feel a little icky, like I was trying to fit my round peg identity into a square hole wedding. It wasn’t that necessarily wanted a goth wedding, because even though my fiance and I met at Bar Sinister, our families wouldn’t be comfortable at a goth wedding. It was more that I wanted a wedding which was less about all the trappings and rituals and consumerism in mainstream wedding culture, and more about us, our friends, our family, and what we wanted to celebrate and share with them.

Then I got the bright idea to punch “alternative bride” into Google, and discovered the wide wonderful world of independent and offbeat brides. I immediately deleted all the wedding shows off the TIVO and settled in to surf the forums on IndieBride.com. I also bought a copy of Offbeat Bride, and subscribed to the corresponding blog. I loved that there was actually a voice for brides like me, who wanted their weddings to be an expression of who they were, instead of a collage of ideas from magazines and Martha Stewart. And that it was written by a former raver web geek from Seattle made me even happier.

Q: Do you feel that there’s a growing movement of offbeat brides OUTSIDE the Pacific Northwest cities? Weddings are a big, stupid, status deal in L.A. especially, and I’m curious as to what your take has been from your readers across America.

A: This is absolutely not a Pacific Northwest thing, or even a Left Coast phenomenon. I interviewed 60 couples from all over North America and the UK for the book, and since it published I’ve gotten tremendous response from across the country — and I don’t just mean New York when I say that. There are Colorado brides getting married in the mountains, Canadian brides planning rockabilly loft weddings in Toronto, and fetish goth weddings in London.

I met with a “wedding co-op” that formed in Washington DC and got a completely different flavor from the nontraditional brides there than I did from the types I met in Brooklyn, which differed from the “Magical Mystery Wedding Tour” brides I met in San Francisco, and the scuba bride I spoke to in Florida. Each region has its own flavor, but there are wonderful people having nontraditional weddings everywhere. Don’t go thinking the flyover states are full of people in white chapels. Check out this amazing Kentucky wedding

Q: In your book, you emphasized how much less expensive it was to choose more offbeat options –

A: Actually, point of clarification here: Offbeat weddings can be just as expensive and over-the-top indulgent as traditional weddings. Our wedding was less expensive because we did it potluck style, and delegated so much work to willing friends. Offbeat doesn’t necessarily equal cheap. Think of the outlandish theme weddings — just cuz it ain’t normal don’t mean that shit’s cheap!

Q: …do you feel that there are many brides who choose to be offbeat despite having the means to be more traditional? Do you believe that many brides who can afford the favors, cheesy live bands, name-dropping florists, designer dresses and all the other trappings of a mainstream wedding are choosing to be more offbeat out of their own personal beliefs and aesthetics instead of out of financial necessity?

A: Absolutely. All of you have to do is look at Burning Man brides to get a taste of this. Burners, on the whole, are a pretty affluent subculture — but many of them chose to have rugged desert weddings rather than spend their money on the usual trappings.

Q: Do you think that the offbeat bride trend has grown since you wrote your book?

I only wrote the book last year, so it’s hard to say for sure.

Q: And do you think that the tech developments of the last couple years – Web 2.0 stuff like Flickr, forums, blogs, RSS, etc – has made a big difference?

The web has certainly made a huge difference (forums and ebay have both been helping brides for almost a decade), and think we’re starting to see some ways that Web 2.0 having an impact as well. Tons of brides use blogger.com and blogspot for their “wedsites”, and certainly Flickr makes it so amazingly easy to collect the hundreds and hundreds of wedding shots that guests take. I’m such a geek — while I’d never gloat over my gown or wedding flowers, I’m grossly proud to say that I was personally invited by a Flickr founder to use Flickr for our wedding pictures. Heather Champ and Derek Powazek were one of the first geek weddings I saw on Flickr, and ours went up a week later.

I love the discussion in this thread. Like this quote: ” i’m starting to really dig [Flickr]. at first i didn’t really get it, but now i think it’s the coolest thing since sliced bread!” HA! Anyway, I’d give my firstborn to Flickr.

Q: What do you see coming up in the next year for major trends in offbeat bride weddings? Do you think eco-fabulous is going to play a major part? Do you think women will ever learn to shun strip mall chain stores for their dresses? (The thought of going to a David’s Bridal makes me throw up in my mouth a little).

Dude, forget David’s Bridal: TARGET now has a wedding dress line.

My predicted trends:

  • Indie-designer custom-made wedding dresses. If you’re going to drop a $500 on a dress, you might as well have it custom-made for you by a designer with vision. Fuck buying it off the rack — custom made fits better and you’re paying an artisan to make you something one of a kind. I’m in love with designers like Wai-Ching.com and FancyPonyLand.com.
  • Eco weddings, definitely. Although I worry about the “greener than thou” machismo that can become a part of eco-weddings. Remember that step one is REDUCE, then reuse and recycle.
  • Classic, simpler weddings. I think even traditional types are starting to get turned off by wedding excess, and while not everyone will become an offbeat bride, I think (hope?) we’re starting to back away from the insane over-the-top expensive weddings. If you’re going to go traditional, go for simple, classical styling.
  • 2 Replies to “Offbeat Bride In L.A.”

    1. Awesome to see this great trend. I got married five and a half years ago and our theme was “not fussy.” Bought a dress at David’s, hubby got a nice suit at Nordstrom, and it was all about family and friends and celebration. We got engaged in August and married in November, so in some ways it made it easier to plan and put together. We got married at the Los Angeles Police Revolver and Athletic Club — you should check it out — GORGEOUS gardens. And they stop shooting before you get married (I’m serious). So Jillian, go with your gut and get married the way you want to, not the way you are “supposed to.” And congrats!

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