Reviewed by Shannon Hopkins

With my own wedding less than ten months away and fledgling plans for a wedding consultation business brewing in my head, I am grabbing any wedding book I can find – after all, even a wedding that is 90% planned has room for tweaking. Ariel Meadow Stallings’ Offbeat Bride: Creative Alternatives for Independent Brides caught my eye with its promise – right there on the cover! – for a departure from the often “fluffy” feel of mainstream wedding publications.

I immediately connected with Ariel’s attitude: clever, hilarious, and down-to-earth, more like my best friend than a wedding guru. She uses the story of her own wedding, to fellow “aging raver” Andreas, to illustrate a step-by-freaky step process in which they created a wedding day that was like their everyday life, only better.

Throwing an untraditional wedding, however, did not exempt Ariel and Andreas, or the many other offbeat couples who contributed anecdotes, from the universal issues confronting every engaged couple – whether your reception is in a church or a field, you will have to deal with pushy relatives; a metastasizing guest list; and moments of abject panic that the entire affair will crumble. Ariel addresses each of these issues with unabashed honesty and the reassurance that everything will turn out for the best.

I made an important discovery while reading Offbeat Bride: I am mostly not an offbeat bride. I do, however, considering some traditions to be in sorry need of updating or total disposal. The idea of tailoring a wedding celebration to represent who my fiancé and I truly are, then, is one that I firmly support. That is Ariel’s central message: create a wedding, commitment ceremony, or ritual hand-fasting that reflects your true selves, and what you and your partner want it to be. The day is an affirmation of you, and it should resonate with you.

Offbeat Bride is a must-read for any bride, be she a punk-rock chick or a princess, or any type of girl in between. It will offer excellent insight, great tips for handling the intangible aspects of wedding planning (and some tangible ones, depending on your “bridentity”), and a heartwarming story about two people who fell in love and made it official…their way.

(And check out Ariel’s blog, www.offbeatbride.com!)

Rating: 5/5

Shannon lives in Cleveland, Ohio with her fianc é and a room full of books that she peruses when she isn’t trolling Apartment Therapy for new decorating ideas. In her free time she enjoys maintaining her blog, The Writer’s Closet, planning her wedding, and baking tasty gluten-free treats.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Seal Press. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.