This post is totally hetero groom-centric. While sometimes same-sex relationships have similar imbalances, it seems like this is one of those issues that comes up more with the whole boy/girl partnership thang — clearly, offbeat hets aren't exempt from wrestling with traditional gender role issues! That said, many of these tips would work with an uninvolved partner of either gender.
1. Talk to him
It's a common misconception that the bride plans the wedding and it is the role of the groom to just show up wearing a suit. If your guy hasn't participated in the planning yet, it could be that he has no idea that he's even allowed to! So the first step is to come right out and say, "I'd like us to plan our wedding together." If you're lucky that'll be all it takes to get him to enthusiastically climb aboard the crazy wedding planning train! If not, no worries, keep reading…
2. Support & encourage his ideas
You can't ask him to be involved and then shoot down all of his ideas. He's gonna get frustrated with that pretty quickly and then you've blown your chance to have him as your partner in planning.
Offbeat Bride reader, Kathleen, put it well when she said, "Give him support and encouragement. When James comes to me with an idea I usually just tell him that if it is important to him and if he thinks it will make our day better, then let's go for it! Which is why I am having a graveyard/tombstone wedding cake — despite the fact that our wedding is nowhere near Halloween."
3. Relax Your Inner Control Freak
Once you've mastered being supportive of your groom's ideas, then you gotta be willing to go along with those ideas even if they didn't fit your overall wedding concept.
I pulled this piece of advice from another reader, Emi, and her wedding planning update called "Advice from the partner of an uninvolved groom:"
Or… keep your mind open to the fact that he might just think up something that makes it even more than perfect. That guy I married is a musician, so I asked him to be in charge of the music. And then he decided that he was going to make our first dance song a surprise! Uh… talk about giving up control!Trevor and I have very different tastes … I don't want to relinquish control completely on any one aspect because I just plain don't trust him to choose something I will also like, or that will 'go' with the rest of the wedding. My advice to myself, and to people like me, is that you just have to let go of the idea that everything will be perfect.
When that moment finally arrived and we were standing up there ready to get our dance on, I heard the first chords of Pavement's "We Dance" and my heart felt like it was going to burst with elation — it was the most perfect song for us and I would have never thought of it myself. Plus Aaron gets bonus points for including the word "castration" in our wedding celebration.
4. Give him special projects that cater to his interests
Offbeat Bride has seen everything from Grooms making the wedding dress, carving the bride's wedding ring, to creating his own Star Wars cufflinks. So we know that guys can get into the spirit of offbeat wedding planning — but as was the case with all these things, the guys were either playing off their strengths or doing things that involve their own interests. So ask your partner to do the same!
Is your groom good with words? Ask him to write his own vows or heck, why not the entire ceremony!? Is he a graphic designer? Why doesn't he graphically design your wedding invitations?
On top of being a musician, Aaron is also a pretty good artist, so when my mother insisted on including personalized, hand-drawn maps of our wedding locations, I left that up to Mr. Artsy-Farsty. And to my delight (and surprise) he really took the idea and ran with it, spending hours on it and going way above and beyond my expectations. And it was also something that he was super proud of when all was completed.
5. Ask him for help
One of the commenters on Ariel's original post about this topic made an interesting point:
The problem with [the groom only taking on projects he's interested in] is that it means that he gets to work on only the things he cares about, where I have to work on both the things I care about (the trampoline) and the things I could care less about (place cards).
First of all, I love that in the same sentence mentions "trampoline" AND "place cards" — that's an offbeat bride for ya. But also, yeah, right-on sister!
You're both in this together, so the bride shouldn't be the only one doing all the boring/hard stuff. Fortunately for you, one of the reasons that people get married is so that they have a partner in life to help them out when they need it! And what better time to play that card then right now!?
Offbeat Bride reader Kate gave a perfect example of what you can do in this situation:
I made him call all the prospective venues for me — admittedly in part because I hate making phone calls. Having him involved in booking the venue allowed me to learn that he really likes chair covers, and that he didn't really care about having a steak dinner (which I expected him to want)… He may not have suddenly developed an interest in table linen colors, but he expressed opinions he wouldn't have thought of if we had just been talking about venues.
6. Include something special in the wedding FOR HIM
Aaron admitted to me during the planning process that he had no interest in any of the wedding details… until I said that I had arranged for him to be brought to the wedding ceremony on a canoe. All of a sudden the ceremony changed in his mind from a boring and formalized ritual that he'd seen played out hundreds of times, to something personal and unique to our relationship.
Other examples of great moments in groom history: The groom ziplining into the wedding, the couple that got married at a train station because of the groom's love of steam trains, and the many musician grooms that have gotten to perform at their own weddings! The groom should be just as excited about the wedding as you are.
7. Look at porn together!
The few times that I've actually seen Aaron get all excited about a wedding idea was from showing him an Offbeat Bride post. (The most recent cause of wedding-related excitement being the View-Finder wedding invitations.) Show him some things that you find exciting/funny/unique/etc., or check out all the offbeat groom posts together and see if anything resonates or inspires him. As Offbeat Bride (and my buddy) Ragani put it:
Show him the porn! Then, sit down and let him tell you what he envisions. Takes notes, and don't shoot anything down at that stage. Once you have some ideas of what he wants, see if you can figure out what are the most important to him, and why.
Also looking at wedding porn together will accomplish a few things:
- help him see that you're thinking outside the traditional wedding box which may get him to be more interested in the planning
- give you a better idea of what he's into
- get the inspirational juices flowing like, you know, the other kind of porn.
8. Don't overload him with wedding crap
So get this: apparently the moment someone gets home not the best time to ask questions about the wedding. I had to learn this the hard way, and then constantly be reminded of this fact. Yikes.
It might be a freaking fantastic idea to set up a specific time to talk about wedding stuff. For example, wait until he's settled for at least an hour or two before you bombard him with questions and ideas. That way it gives him a moment to decompress without giving him more things to deal with, which might put him off wedding planning in general. Or you may have to do what we did which was to designate a day for "wedding time," like every Wednesday at dinner time.
9. If all else fails…
You could always try to get him to dye his hair to match your color scheme.