Musings from an offbeat groom

Guestpost by Caleb on Feb. 15th

Joy and Alec-100

Thanks to our darling Whitney Lee for uploading this photo to the Flickr pool. This isn't Caleb, but we just love this groom photo!

I know what my role in this is supposed to be. I'm supposed to stand around looking bored while she fawns over centerpieces. I'm supposed to hold her purse and trade sympathetic looks with the other grooms while we wait for our brides to pick out bridesmaid dresses. I'm supposed to wish I was at home, drinking a beer and watching football, while she drags me from one venue to another until something feels right.

Because this day is all about her. Her one chance to be a princess, the moment she has been planning since she was in diapers.

That's the great thing about marrying an offbeat bride. I get to be an offbeat groom. The wedding industrial complex offers a boxed wedding with all the fixings — the dress, the cake, the rings, the walk down the aisle, the bouquet toss, the tantrums, the tears, and, oh yes, the miserable groom. By shaking off all of that, by saying "screw it" to everything we don't like, we free ourselves from the roles assigned to us. And we get to invent our own roles. Mine has become offbeat groom, wedding planner extraordinaire.

Turns out I like thinking about readings for our ceremony. I like designing invitations. I like scouring Etsy for the perfect name cards. I like tasting food — she's with me on this one — and creating a menu. I like sewing her wedding dress by hand. Turns out I like my fiancée quite a bit.

Too many of the brides who want their day to be THEIR day, and are invested in the fairytale vision, have bought into the idea that this is the pinnacle of their achievements. Getting married is the best your parents can hope for you, so they're going to shell out to make it perfect. Of course, I say this with my tongue in my cheek because I know many women who want the poofy white dress AND the business suit/doctor's coat/firefighter's uniform. However, I can't help but get a bad taste in my mouth when Sarah gets asked "How did he propose?" "What's your dress look like?" "Can I see the ring?" And the expectation is her utmost excitement. Not to mention the awkward faces when there's no proposal story, her dress is olive green, and the engagement ring is her silver wedding band. The message: We haven't fallen in line. We have committed the mortal sin of refusing to let The Wedding Industry profit off our celebration of commitment.

I think how we plan our wedding says a lot about our future together. And I don't want to be on the sidelines. … I want to enjoy this time with my fiancée…

We might not be getting married in a Medieval castle, or having a potluck, or exchanging vows underwater (that's awesome if you are!), but my bride is offbeat by not being "a bride." She's a Ph.D. student who will be in class the day before our wedding and back two days after. She knows that this won't be the happiest day of her life. There will be many happier days ahead of us: adopting children, landing a tenure track job, receiving tenure, eating pancakes in our pajamas on a Sunday morning.

I think how we plan our wedding says a lot about our future together. And I don't want to be on the sidelines. I don't want to be bored. I don't want to be pitied. I don't want to wish for beer and football. I want to enjoy this time with my fiancée, and later my wife. I don't want everything to be about HER, or even about US. Our day has involved many compromises to ensure that everyone there is having a good time, and I hope that's how our life goes as well. Surrounded by family and friends, loving one another for who we are, working through things when we disagree, it won't matter if the centerpieces are perfect.

Even though they will be … I've got that one covered.

About Caleb

Caleb is a data analyst with an education in nonprofit organization. He is also the co-owner of a cooperatively operated cafe, which will be opening in Oakland in the next few months. Other than that, he enjoys cooking, baking, gardening, and hiking and he teaches math to incarcerated men once a week.