Many of you who read me probably follow me on Twitter (or otherwise know me “in real life,”), and therefore may know that I am getting married this year.  The past couple of months since getting engaged have been a whirlwind, and I am vascillating between being super excited to plan a wedding, and being completely overwhelmed with all it entails (especially the price tag – even a “budget wedding” is expensive!), however, more than anything, I love connecting with other brides with similar values on internet communities.

What’s that, you say?  Jen is connecting with like minds on Internet communities!  Shocking, I tell you!

Ahem. 🙂

Anyway, a friend had recommended Offbeat Bride to me when I first got engaged.  I quickly became addicted to the blog, and Ariel’s candid and sane approach to the sacrament.  Though, I will admit, the post that truly “hooked” me on the site wasn’t something written by Ariel, but rather “channamasala” (as she’s known on the Offbeat Bride Tribe), regarding the overuse of the term “Bridezilla.” Wow, does that hit home.  Go on, go read it.  I think EVERYONE should read that post, and really think about what it means.

Admittedly, I don’t know how “offbeat” I am.  We’re doing the wedding more for our families than ourselves (however, we figure, if we’re going to do it, we’ll do it our way – hence why we’re getting married at a vineyard, in a town neither of us currently or previously live(d) in, and where no one in either of our families have ever lived), as we would be just as happy to go to the courthouse, splurge on a great honeymoon, and just throw a casual party to celebrate after the fact.  However, in doing this, I’m finding even doing the wedding “our way,” there are a lot of traditional elements.  We’re doing our best to not succumb to the dreaded “Wedding Industrial Complex,” and I think we’re doing a pretty good job of it, but on the surface, it’s not terribly “offbeat.”  I think our attitudes about the wedding are probably more offbeat than the actual wedding itself.  Of course, Ariel stresses that it’s more about attitudes than aesthetics anyway, when it comes to referring to oneself as an “offbeat bride.”

It wasn’t long after discovering Offbeat Bride that I was introduced to A Practical Wedding.  Offbeat Bride is a website I would recommend to any woman I know who is engaged.  A Practical Wedding is a website I would recommend to any woman, period.  Meg’s take on not only the wedding planning process, but also on what marriage means to her, is so refreshing.  Go on – go read her posts tagged “Reclaiming Wife,” and you’ll see what I mean.

Good stuff, huh?  These are things my fiance and I have discussed in depth, but not in so many words.  We currently live together, so what is “changing” in our lives, other than solidifying our commitment?  Making each other legal next-of-kins?  But, does this – and SHOULD this – change the way we interact with one another?  He doesn’t think so.  I’m inclined to agree.  However, it will change other people’s perceptions – and, as a result, expectations – of us as a couple.  It’s perhaps why Meg’s blog resonates so much with me, particularly her posts on feminism and the institution of marriage. A recent guest post by Sarah sums it up especially well.  Though I can’t relate to the deeper issues that she addresses regarding sexuality (having been in nothing but heteronormative relationships myself), I can relate to her struggles regarding her prior views of feminism and marriage being mutually exclusive.  Though I’ve never felt that they ARE mutually exclusive, I do feel pretty strongly about the messages women receive from society in general (i.e., The Knot, The Nest, and The Bump), the choices they often feel forced to make (i.e., whether to change your name, whether to stay at home with the kids, etc.), and the pigeonholes they’re often forced into once they get married (you know, those expectations and perceptions I was talking about).

It’s given me a lot to think about.  It’s also comforting to know that many other women are struggling with the same issues that I am, and there is a place I can go to discuss it.  In fact, there are multiple places.