Most how-tos read like recipes, deconstructing the Heston’s Feast that is a wedding into the main ingredients, dumbing it down for homely brides-to-be who just want to recreate a traditional dish. Catherine Yarnovich Risling’s Pretty Weddings for Practically Pennies is one such book: a series of craft projects, including place-card holders, boutonnieres, and confetti cones. Kelly Bare’s The DIY Wedding: Celebrate Your Day Your Way is another, giving lip-service to the personal touch with little personality between its covers.
Attempting to ‘encourage contemporary brides to feel good about their less-than-traditional wedding choices’, Ariel Meadow Stallings’ Offbeat Bride: Creative Alternatives for Independent Brides, on the other hand, is autobiographical. Stallings reflects upon events and decisions leading up to the proposal and the wedding, as well as married life. Like most autobiographies, it sometimes comes across as self-indulgent, patronising, and/or irrelevant in a Helen Garneresque kind of way. Nevertheless, her choice of approach works. Whilst a more traditional bride might buy into a Choose Your Own
AdventureWedding, someone looking to ‘walk off the beaten aisle’ never would. By writing about her own Burning Man/raver-inspired celebratory experience, Stallings offers inspiration, not aspiration, to her offbeat tribe.
Some of those offbeat tribe members who are also mustbethrifty types will appreciate reading about bypassing expensive floral arrangements by a) choosing a location graced with natural beauty and b) using ‘decorations…limited to what…dedicated friends could pool’ amongst other things such as ‘engagement lighters’ (instead of engagement rings) and ‘bridal beauty preparations [that] should…be only a smidge more than your typical beauty routine’. Since the book is a memoir, there’s a lot of sieving required, but the highly unusual cost-saving tips are worth the effort. Who would have thought that mismatched bed sheets would make such good tablecloths?
Yep, Stallings isn’t afraid to be pro ‘do whatever the frak you want for your wedding’. This might translate into forcing muglies onto guests, raver-style invitations, or simply ditching the so-called must haves such as car-hire, white wedding dresses, and a high-maintenance beauty regime. Offbeat Bride is probably already preaching to the converted, but it’s nice to know that there’s a book out there that will stand by your choices in the coming days of richer or poorer or the dreaded zombie apocalypse.
Title: Offbeat Bride: Creative Alternatives for Independent Brides
RRP: $24.99 (or free from your local library)