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Like many Seattleites, Ariel Meadow Stallings is unconventionally conventional. A former raver who grew up in the bucolic setting of Bainbridge Island, she published the book “Offbeat Bride: Creative Alternatives for Independent Brides” in 2007. Part memoir and part how-to, the tome details the quest to have a wedding that didn’t include a white princess dress and a waltz down a church aisle.

The success of the book spawned a website,, a popular wedding blog that Stallings says garners a million readers a month.

With all the interest she found in nontraditional weddings, Stallings, 39, was surprised to learn Seattle ranked first in the nation for kids living in a nuclear family, beating out conservative bastions Colorado Springs and Salt Lake City.

“It’s definitely weird to me,” she said of the distinction for Seattle, where three-quarters of all children live with married parents. “It really speaks to this disconnect between how we identify as progressive and liberals and then the life we actually lead being more conservative — not in a political sense, but in a lifestyle sense — than we might expect.

“The city that is so dedicated to progressive politics, and a liberal social view, and marriage equality and even communal living — that doesn’t translate into how we are raising families,” she added.

In many ways, Stallings is an example of this dichotomy. Now part of a nuclear family with her 5-year-old and her husband, Andreas Fetz, a yoga instructor, she’s the daughter of “well-grounded hippies,” themselves a prototypical nuclear family — albeit a lefty, progressive one (her mother was a midwife, and her father worked for King County Metro).

“It does not get much more quintessential than dad working for public transportation, mom as a midwife, living in the woods of Bainbridge Island in a log cabin they built themselves in the mid-70s,” she said. “They were living the dream, to be sure.”

And she’s certainly no stranger to nontraditional families. After her parents divorced, her mother remarried, and she and her wife briefly ran a commune on the same property where Stallings grew up.

Much of her work for Offbeat Empire LLC, her media network that includes the blogs Offbeat Home and Life and Offbeat Bride, deals with these dueling identities.

“It’s people who identify outside of the mainstream but who are doing in some ways some of the most mainstream things you can do, which is creating a home, committing to a partner and starting a family,” she said.

While there seems to be some connection between high income and nuclear families, legal marriage makes sense when having kids. One couple she knew had a commitment ceremony, but when they got pregnant, had a courthouse wedding and made it official.

“There was definitely a level of legality that sort of shifted when a baby came into the picture,” she said. “There are a lot of ways society is set up to favor parents, to make things easier for parents who are married.”

In fact, some of her readers, many of whom are in Seattle, turned out to be more conventionally minded than she anticipated.

She stopped one of her blogs, Offbeat Families, in part because her readers wanted more traditional topics than she did, preferring posts about attachment parenting, a practice that is “contradictory to second-wave feminism where you go to work, you have the job, you leave your kid at day care.”

Added Stallings: “Posts I was really excited about were, like, ‘Being a mother isn’t the most interesting thing about me,’ but what my readers wanted were posts about attachment parenting, about breast-feeding, and natural childbirth.” In other words, unconventionally conventional.

Tricia Romano: or on Twitter @tromano