E's Reviews > Offbeat Bride: Taffeta-Free Alternatives for Independent Brides

Offbeat Bride by Ariel Meadow Stallings
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May 07, 09

bookshelves: biographies
Read in April, 2009

Stallings is right. The Wedding Industrial Complex is stifling and repelling brides (and grooms) everywhere, and they are desperately in need of alternative options and communities to encourage their nonconformity. Naturally, one autobiographical book by one woman can never represent nor satisfy the millions of different nonconformists, but Stallings tries her best to cover all possible topics from the point of view of the quintessential woman determined to celebrate her marriage the way she and her partner want to, and not sheerly because tradition or the Industry dictates it. Considering the magnitude of the task before her, she does an incredible job, and provided me with much-needed advice and solace.

Brides who want to forego only one or two traditions will probably find her too radical when she writes about her disgust with the diamond industry, marriage inequality, cosmetic salons, fathers giving the brides away, and cake-smashing. Brides (like me) who like almost none of the modern white wedding traditions will find her sometimes too conservative when she admits she just HAD to have a gift registry and was talked into having her makeup done by a Hollywood professional.

For the most part, however, she tries vigorously to offer and support two opposing offbeat views on every possible topic. She discusses both her reasons for keeping her name and the plight of feminist brides who change theirs. She points out that for some, "dressed up" can mean wildly painted toenails, and for others, it can mean just remembering to cut your toenails. And she hits something universal when she shares that the guest list was certainly the biggest monster to slay in the battle that was her wedding planning. Through it all she advocates independence, communication, and self-empowerment.

It would be wonderful to have a book less centered around the bride's (and a straight bride, at that) perspective, but this book is essentially the autobiography of a straight woman and one meant to offset effects of the Wedding Industrial Complex, which ultimately targets straight brides more than anyone else involved in a marriage.

Readers wanting to see more conservative, more radical, less heteronormative, or simply more weddings will find her celebrating it all on her website. Both the website and the book make great support systems, if not shields against all the people wanting to offer to "help" you with your wedding.


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