Why we’re retiring the term “Offbeat Lite”

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Original photo by takomabibelot, used by Creative Commons license.
Original photo by takomabibelot, used by Creative Commons license.

Over the years, much digital ink has been spilled on the phrase “Offbeat Lite,” the term I jokingly started using back in 2007:

Over the years, there’s also been a significant amount of reader friction over the term, which I’ve always been fine with… but interestingly, over the last year, my editors and I have just organically stopped using it. Not because some readers didn’t like it (because, trust: there’s ALWAYS something our beloved readers don’t like), but because it stopped being useful.

See, we’ve always been committed to allowing readers to self-identify. We only ever categorized posts as “offbeat lite” if the author identified that way. But here’s what’s interesting about allowing people to self-identify: there’s been this weird, like, grade inflation? Where suddenly people are like, “Well, I’m not a polyamorous transgender Whovian marrying a buskin-identified amputee, so my wedding must be offbeat lite!” My editors look at many of these weddings being like, “Uh, wtf? This wedding has almost no hallmarks of cultural or religion traditions… why is it tagged ‘offbeat lite’?”

Basically, offbeat-ness as a concept is so relative that “offbeat lite” has stopped meaning much of anything.

The phrase has slowly lost its editorial value as a taxonomical term. When it comes to weddings that involve more cultural or religious traditions, we have more specific tags like our Christian or Jewish archives. When it comes to weddings that aren’t super geeky or themey or colorful, we have archives like simple weddings and small weddings.

For me, this decision is strictly editorial: the term “offbeat lite” was taxonomically useful for five years or so… enough so that I defended the use of the phrase in the face of reader complaints. Here in 2014, the term’s gotten so watered down that it’s lost most of its editorial value. So, almost three years after I wrote a post called Why we continue to use the term “Offbeat Lite” even though some people hate it, I guess today’s post boils down to Why we stopped using the term Offbeat Lite even though we don’t care that you hate it. ¯_(ツ)_/¯

That said, for those of you who’ve always been uncomfortable with it: REJOICE! My editorial reasonings don’t really matter: the moral of the story is that my editors will no longer be using of the term Offbeat Lite. (Although as always, we allow readers to identify however they want — if you find the term useful, by all means call yourself Offbeat Lite! Or Offbeat Dark! Or whatever else you want! 🙂 )

Comments on Why we’re retiring the term “Offbeat Lite”

  1. You mean you want us to define our weddings on their own terms instead of placing them in the dichotomous categories of “Offbeat Heavy” and “Offbeat Lite”?!? HOW WILL WE COPE?!?


  2. Honestly, while sometimes I personally identify as “Offbeat Lite” in many ways, I am beginning to feel, especially as mainstream and offbeat collide in multifaceted, messy ways, that even if you’re 99% mainstream (as if that’s even remotely quantifiable), you can also be 100% offbeat. Offbeat itself is a term of moderation – it doesn’t mean completely divorced from the beat (musician alert, I’ve spent way too much time actually analyzing beats), but just a little removed from the expectation. And that’s really how most of us are – perhaps the only difference is the degree to which we embrace and honor the parts of ourselves that deviate from the norm.

    But yeah, I feel like there’s no way to quantify offbeat-ness, lite or otherwise, and if that means offbeat-ness is diverse….well, duh?

  3. When I first became an Offbeat Tribesmaid, I identified with the term “Offbeat Lite”, likely because I was unsure and more than a little scared. The weddings I had seen featured on OBB were so awesomely far out and I felt more than a tad vanilla in comparison.
    Then the more I participated in OBB, the less I compared myself and the wedding that we were planning. Instead of comparing, I drew inspiration, asked for advice and opinions, and even gave advice!
    OBB gave me the freedom to pick and choose, to build our wedding from scratch in a way that fit us like a glove. And thats what I see as being “Offbeat”: feeling free to explore your own identity, drawing on the experiences of others that you relate to, and respectfully leaving be the experiences that you don’t relate to. Our wedding was perfect. For us. And I don’t identify as “Offbeat Lite” anymore because I can now see that “Offbeat” is such a large umbrella where all sorts of people can meet and interact and draw inspiration from each other.

    • I identified with the term “Offbeat Lite”, likely because I was unsure and more than a little scared

      I think this sums up why a lot of people self-identified this way. For some, “Offbeat Lite” seemed to be shorthand “I don’t know if I belong here, so I’ll hedge my bets before anyone can say I’m too traditional!” It started to feel like a defense mechanism that some folks would use against feeling alienated.

      …when the reality is, as we we’ve said over, and over, and over again: if you identify as an Offbeat Bride, then you are one. None of us care how wild your wedding is — we just care that you’re being thoughtful and intentional about it.

      I think it’s telling that when it comes to articles (not wedding profiles, but ARTICLES), there’s a lot of crossover between the “offbeat lite” archive and our feeling competitive and insecurity archive.

  4. I identify as Offbeat Lite, probably because of that intimidation factor: I’m simply not as exotic and exciting as most of the people I see on the Tribe. Nowhere close. We’re white cisgender heterosexual people (incidentally, I’d never heard the term ‘cis’ before OBB) having a non-themed Fall wedding in which he wears a suit and I wear an ivory gown, and that involves a civil ceremony, a cocktail hour, and a sit-down meal. Pretty standard by comparison. My hair isn’t even an exciting colour.

    I do feel like there’s a bit of a camaraderie between those who identify as Offbeat Lite, because in introductions there’s sort of a sense of “I’m not alone!” Sort of like finding out someone else is left-handed: “They know the struggle!” Even though ultimately, it doesn’t mean anything. We all like seeing the offbeatest of the offbeat, and we all get along just dandy. It doesn’t affect our Tribesmate-y relationships, nor does it make any Offbeat Lite wedding less special and lovely.

    Mostly, I see when it affects someone’s perception of their own wedding in the context of OBB, and that makes me sad. I’m totally going to submit my own wedding for consideration, because I’d be so excited to see it pop up on the homepage. But every so often, I see someone say, “Well, here’s some day-of porn, I’m not going to submit it because OBB wouldn’t ever post it, but here are some pictures for you.” And that’s sad. Perhaps retiring the phrase will help ease that perception a little, though I’m a little sorry to see “Offbeat Lite” go.

  5. If I had to identify our wedding it would likely be Off-beat lite. Whether my wedding was going to be off-beat or not wasn’t what attracted me to this community. What grabbed my attention was that I felt like I might fit in here more than in the princess Barbie world of some of the other wedding websites. I never cared about the term off-beat because honestly, I hadn’t gotten so entranced in the site yet to even know it existed. Nor would I have cared even if I did know it existed. I just love that this community is creative, support of outside the box ideas and that while we are all different and unique in our own ways, we all respect that about each other and support each other along the way. It’s like my real life group of friends, some may be tattooed from head to foot while I have not one, others may have fabulously multi-colored hair, while I stick with my naturally golden hue. But all of us are creative, fun-loving, sometimes geeky in our own way and not one of us would dream of judging someone for being different from the norm.

    So keep the term or don’t keep the term…just stay the same supportive, non-judgmental, completely creative and wonderful bunch you are. 🙂

  6. I’m one of the happy ones. I didn’t think the term was necessary. But I think it helped new readers figure out their place here if they were more mainstream. Plus the taxonomical explanation appealed to my biological ocd side.
    It doesn’t mean anything anymore, there’s weddings on here that are 100% traditional yet the people involved obviously posted their wedding because they like the blog, then you have the super geeky weddings with the traditional set up but everything has a genius geeky twist. These are offbeat lite weddings but not really the same at all. And certainly not useful for people using the tags to find weddings like theirs.

  7. I’ve always had super mixed feelings about the term “Offbeat Lite”. It’s like being “sort of” into something. Like, I’m “sort of” into anime, or Dr Who, or bondage, or whatever. Does it interest you? GOOD! WELCOME! Does it not interest you, but something else does? GOOD! WELCOME!

    My wedding, if I had to classify it, was nerdtastical, but overall pretty traditional. No religion, but we didn’t venture too, too far from “The Script” of how wedding operate. But, then I look around at the seemingly more Offbeat Weddings, for instance the Throuple Wedding, or the Jewish-Hindu weddings, or the Burlesque/Performance weddings, I’m caught that they all still read “wedding” the same ways that mine did. There was the ceremony, and then the party.

    I think retiring Offbeat Lite is a good move because I never thought it had much weight as I never quite figured out where the line in the sand was between OB and OBL. It felt like a definition without a difference, if that makes sense.

  8. “Why we stopped using the term Offbeat Lite even though we don’t care that you hate it.”
    LOL! This should have been the title for this post.

  9. Not that I’m in any way suggesting that you change the name, but I think rather than really being offbeat – i.e., differing from mainstream – most offbeat readers are just consciously making choices, which sometimes lands them right on the beat and sometimes off of it. It’s the difference between a bride who has her father walk her down the aisle because “that’s what people do” and one who has her father walk her down the aisle because, despite all of her feminist objections, she really wanted to share that moment with her father. It’s also so very relative – off of what beat? Your parents’ beat? Your religion’s beat? The current popular wedding trends’ beat?

    Basically to say, I approve. Anyone who wants to think carefully about their choices and be open to understanding others’ choices is in the right place in the offbeat communities.

    • SO MUCH THIS. Our wedding (next weekend. OMG.) will be pretty darn traditional, but it’s so so so authentic. And even though I’m not a polyamorous transgender Whovian marrying a buskin-identified amputee I still feel at home here. 🙂

  10. I have to admit, I’m very happy to hear this term is being phased out. When I first found Offbeat Bride and joined the Tribe, I felt very at home. I was in a place where my 25-person non-religious wedding that cut out a bunch of traditions that hold no meaning to me was accepted and understood.

    But as I had a sizable budget, chose an ivory gown, opted for fresh flowers, and did minimal DIY, I started to feel more and more offbeat lite… And I felt like that was bad. I wasn’t one of the cool kids after all. If this term didn’t exist, I don’t think I ever would have considered these choices inferior or less-than, but its presence created a way for me to feel insecure about myself and my wedding.

    I know OBB is constantly fighting against that, and I have read all the articles you linked to above, but it was still hard to shake that feeling that my wedding somehow wasn’t Enough. I’ll feel a lot more confident submitting under a “small wedding” tag and not having to waffle about if I’m offbeat or *just* offbeat lite.

    And from a publishing standpoint, I wholeheartedly agree with your reasons; my conflict about what I should self-identify as based on wearing a white dress shows just how relative the term is, and it doesn’t place me into any well-defined category that’s helpful to readers looking for a specific type of wedding.

    • I’m so 100% with you on all of your points, especially this:

      …it was still hard to shake that feeling that my wedding somehow wasn’t Enough…

      How desperately DESPERATELY I wish that retiring the term “offbeat lite” would be the silver bullet that would finally fix this. Sadly, I suspect the reality is this: wedding planning is a stressful and anxious time, and those feelings of inadequacy are baked-in at a deep cultural level.

      In almost 8 years of trying to help brides avoid feeling inadequate, all I can say is that there’s only so much any website can do when pushing against massive cultural, familial, and financial pressures. If I thought retiring offbeat lite would help, I would have done it years ago. I hope it does, but I’m not holding my breath… I’m betting that 2016 Tribesmaids who’ve never heard of “ofbeat lite” will still wrestle with feeling like their wedding isn’t Enough.

  11. Interesting. I never had strong feelings either way about the term “Offbeat lite”.

    My best friend and I both avidly followed Offbeat Bride whilst planning our own weddings. My wedding was held at the zoo, hers a park. I remember us commenting to each other about how we often thought that we were very strange, offbeat girls planning offbeat weddings (I got married in front of a bunch of kudu, zebras, and giraffes, and had zoo animals at my cocktail hour, and instead of numbering the guests tables, they were all named after a place in sci-fi or fantasy works my husband and I liked, ie Hogwarts, Panem, Sunnydale, etc), but then we’d look at someone’s all-out Firefly themed wedding on Offbeat Bride and think “gosh, I feel so ‘normal’!”

    To be clear, Firefly is awesome, and I’m of course completely in favor of people having (or not having) whatever wedding theme their heart desires.

    I know there’s also been talk on the site before of how the point of Offbeat Bride, is really being an “authentic bride”, and having a wedding that reflects who you really are, which I love!

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