Wedding Planning, the Man's Guide
Ladies, read no further. This one is for the gents.
Wanting to kick off the first day of your marriage isn't just a concern for the fairer sex. It's one shared by the now grownup boys who saw yard scraps as weapons and bio class as a time to pick up the ladies.
Guys, let's be honest. The differences between men and women was clear as soon as we picked up a stick and pretended it was an M-a16. Our pre-teen fantasy lives did not revolve around princesses, lacy dresses or tiaras. We were busy scheming ways to create explosives from the solvents on our dads' workbenches and testing how high model rockets could go with frogs inside. As teens, we were too preoccupied with getting the girls from algebra to second base to think about marriage.
But something strange happened along the way. After years of free agency, you found a girl-no, make that a woman- who made you think that you could settle down and run to no other bases but hers.
And if you've moved past the days when your adult preoccupations involved beer-drenched softball games you may still not want to think about things like tulle, crinolines, nosegays and gold embossing.
Don't know what those words mean- Don't worry, Sparky. You will soon. With the commitment to marriage comes a sudden and jarring shift in your expanding vocabulary of fashion, catering and party-planning terms.
Along with your new $10 words, you'll also find that your priorities will be expected to shift toward The Big Day. That will involve a significant time commitment on your part. You'll increasingly come to be seen as half of a single unit. And in the course of first-time meetings with extended friends and family, it might seem that you have become little more than a grinning, hand-shaking automaton.
This is the path you must tread if you and your bride-to-be intend to have something more than a quickie hitching by the justice of the peace.
That said, part of the secret to making wedding planning less of a nightmare and more of a collaboration is to do something men have always been known for doing well'asserting yourself.
Sure, it would be easy to back up, palms and white flag raised. But that is the path of a lazy, lazy man, and it's a huge mistake.
As soon as you surrender opinions, one of two things will happen. First, your fianc'e could go solo, which could result in a wedding that looks like it was planned either by a Bratz doll or by one of Manhattan's finest socialites, featuring the most expensive high-end dresses, crudit's, and musicians available'leaving you to discover a way to extricate yourself from bone-crushing debt.
If that doesn't happen, she could default to someone else for help. If you're lucky, it will be a professional wedding planner who bears you no grudge. If you are unlucky, it will be the bride's mother. She's liable to seize control because her daughter, who had such promise, is marrying you instead of going to law school like everyone hoped. And this new woman will probably bear you a grudge, one you could pay for the rest of your life.
The confident groom-to-be will instead step in and offer help. The trick here is that you must mean it. Sure, the women in your life will scoff, but now is the first chance to prove to your future bride (and mother-in-law) that you will not only make a top-notch husband, but a supportive partner and'potentially'a great father.
Since you're reading this, you've taken the first step-flipping through bridal magazines. Reading articles is good, but don't forget to check out the ads. You'll find retailers from Macy's at the malls to the Enchanted Owl in Greenville offering goodies for the bridal registry. Study these things. You will need this knowledge when you mention in conversation how you can't wait to cruise the aisles at Everything but the Kitchen Sink in Hockessin to help fill the registry. Bonus points if you silently dog-ear the page of something you like. When she finds out it was you that did it, you'll become that much more charming a prince.
This might also be a good time to broach the subject of a budget. Weddings, even at their most economical, are expensive. So pin down who will pay for all this marital festivity.
At this point you might see your beloved's eyes glaze over as she slips into childhood wedding fantasies fed by fashion dolls and Disney princess worship. As such, it's your job to keep her feet on the ground financially and logistically without being a party pooper.
First, establish up front that you want to help her investigate reception halls, caterers or bakeries, so appointments to visit those sites should be made on days you're both free. This lays the groundwork so you can be there to monitor costs.
If yours will be a wedding held in a house of worship, step up as the go-to guy for booking the officiant, scheduling the venue and investigating costs. This is also a good time for you to offer, rather than wait to be asked, to attend any church-required pre-marital counseling.
Next, put your years in the AV club to work by helping pick a photographer or videographer. (And you thought those nerdy decades would never help you with the ladies.) The key is to first pin down what you and your fianc'e are looking for, then search out the best'and most affordable'candidates for the job. Conduct interviews of your finalists together.
Your responsibilities on the fashion front will are simple. Rent or buy a decent tux that fits correctly and make sure everyone that needs one has one. When it comes to men's formal wear, you should keep in mind that its purpose is two-fold: to make you and your groomsmen presentable, and ensure that you don't overshadow what the women are wearing. Classic, rather than trendy, styles always work best, so investigate the looks of fashionable male movie icons such as Humphrey Bogart, Cary Grant and Sean Connery (early James Bond period, not 'The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen'-era). You want to look lean, clean and sharp, and you want your descendants looking at your wedding photos long after you're gone to say the same.
Finally, even when swamped by decisions and overwhelmed by a looming wedding date, remember the reasons you and your intended chose each other'the shared love and respect that brought you together. Even in the most difficult days of planning, those things will keep you focused on why you're doing this in the first place.