Saturday, May 9, 2009

book review: offbeat bride by ariel meadow stallings

As a bride-to-be, I'm doing the requisite reading (or skimming) of bridal books and magazines. So far, I've found it more sociologically fascinating than actually helpful, and I've enjoyed reading novels about weddings more than wedding handbooks, but Offbeat Bride was fabulous. It's more of a memoir than a wedding planning book, although I did get quite a few great tips from it. As it is more of a memoir of the author's journey planning an unconventional wedding, I would recommend it to those of you not planning a wedding.

The book is certainly geared at those of us brides-to-be who may not embrace the ubiquitous white dress (I'm wearing blue because it's my favorite color and makes my eyes shine) or getting married in a church (I'm getting married in a library) or having someone walk you down the aisle (nomadreaderboy likes this idea far more than I do, and he may elect to have his parents walk him down the aisle.) Regardless of what traditions you embrace, subvert or create, you'll find ideas. For those of you not getting married, it's still a fascinating, thoughtful glance at wedding culture.

Ariel Meadow Stallings, who is funny, interviewed tons of people, mostly her friends, and the results were surprising, at least to me. She's a former raver, club kid, crazy kid (I don't think she'd mind these descriptions) who was with her now-husband for seven years when they decided to get engaged. She's a fun and funky feminist who welcomes the traditions she chooses and doesn't judge those who view them differently. Even traditions based in the sexist patriarchy and capitalism can have meaning for modern, feminist brides and grooms. The big picture: your wedding is your wedding. Do what you want, compromise when it's prudent, and relax enough to enjoy yourself. After reading this book, I'm mostly convinced all of us are offbeat brides (or grooms) in some ways. Sure, some weddings are more traditional than others, but it doesn't make them less offbeat.

Hearing from a large cross-section of theoretically similarly like-minded brides was fascinating, and I think I would have enjoyed this book even if I read it when I wasn't planning a wedding. Weddings should be deeply personal, and ritual is rich with meaning. Finding the right combination is a choice each couple must make themselves. The book is a few years old, but the Offbeat Bride lives on at

Rating: 4.5 stars (out of 5)

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