Getting your offbeat groom involved

February 4 | offbeatbride
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That's my friend Derek with his wife. He was totally involved in planning their wedding.

My darling fiance and I are going to be building our wedding from the ground up, and as a fellow obsessive planner, I'm enthralled to inject our personalities into every aspect of the ceremony. The only problem is this: I can't get him to offer much input, as his response tends to be "It's your day, and as long as we're married at the end, you can do whatever you want." That's sweet, I guess, but it's not MY day, it's OUR DAY! How can I get him involved in the planning without making him feel forced or out of his element? -Jess

This is an awesome opportunity for the two of you to sit down and reconstruct the whole "This is the bride's special daaaaaay, and the groom is just an accessory" bullshit. Your marriage is about the two of you, and your wedding should be about the two of you, too. Many men are raised to believe that weddings simply are a woman's place — that they owe it to their fiances and everyone else to just sit quietly and nod. That they have no right to have opinions.

That's bullshit: you're setting up dynamics for your marriage with your wedding, and each partner needs to ask themselves "Do I want quietly nodding to be the dynamic of this relationship?"

Then again, you can't make your fiance care about certain aspects of the wedding that may not interest him…
Groomsmen w/ faux SwordsThis is actually something I cover in my book. I think the key is this: rather than dividing responsibilities laterally (ie, "We both make all decisions … why doesn't he care about all of them?"), divide them vertically (ie, "We each make the decisions about the things we care about").

Check in with your fiance: what aspects of the wedding matter to him? The music? Puppets? Does he really want to include a sword in the ceremony? Have him pick out the corners of the wedding that he has opinions on — and be ready to be surprised when all of a sudden you learn he has strong opinions about unexpected things.

Then, rather than roping him into parts that don't interest him ("Come on: which flowers do you like better? The peonies or the hydrangeas? Can't you tell the difference?! FUCKING HELL WHICH ONES DO YOU LIKE BETTER!?") just let him be completely in charge of the things that matter to him. He wants to integrate your dog in the ceremony? Awesome! He wants to hand-make the chuppah from rebar? Awesome!

I interviewed several grooms for the book who were happy to manage their corners of the wedding, especially since it meant they could skip discussions about the stuff they simply didn't care about.

  1. Of course, once he allows himself to have an opinion on one thing, he might find out he has an opinion on a whole lot! I had planned to just do all the stuff I didn't think my husband would care about, like centerpieces and invites and other decorations, but it ended up being very much a team effort (well, design-wise, not construction-wise. *ahem*). By that time he had already picked out the food and the cake and cupcakes with minimal input from me and, you know, didn't keel over and die.
    Man. We spend so much time on OBT bitching about how other people try to inject their opinions into our day and there are so many guys who think they shouldn't have their own at their own wedding. I can't imagine how boring a wedding day would be for me if my partner planned the entire thing.

    1 agrees
  2. My husband and I did everything together except choosing my dress. That was hard for me – I really wanted to show him, but I also wanted him to have a surprise when I walked down the aisle. He made the first mock centrepiece (i suck at arranging flower), we both designed our chocolate bar golden-ticket invitations, we created the candy buffet together – heck we even did arts and crafts together (we spent HOURS making topiary candy trees.) I couldn't have imagined it any other way and neither could he! We do everything together anyway, so planning a wedding was no different. And he did surprise me with something on the wedding day too – he plucked his monobrow! ha!

  3. What if your FH is just the opposite and overly involved to the point where you can't even bounce ideas off him without him knocking it down? I love him dearly but sometimes I wish he would just elope me.

  4. No, my boy pretends to smile and nod and not pay attention with a glazed over look about everything, until I set down and talk about it in depth… then he gets heated about if I should have henna (he says no), who will do the readings (natasha will or she won't be in the wedding), my dress, his tux, the invitations (which I got in on a football day so no arguements), and everything.

    He's a groomzilla. I mean it.. he's like whoa. His best man even took a man card from him because he is such a grumpy groom. And it's not that he doesn't want to have the wedding or hates it… it's just who he is. On the up note though, he did buy out one store on all the gold ornaments they had because he thought we needed them.

  5. I try try and TRY to get my fiance involved – the only time he gets excited is when he realizes that other guys are envious of the fact that I'm not puking up pink flowers all over our reception. Then he gets VERY excited and starts showing off with how much I think of him and what he wants for the wedding – haha. Men = children? Perhaps when trying to one-up each other. But really, that's the only input I get – man-pride.

  6. My husband was the same way. He would even say 'I don't want to have wedding – I just want to be married'. So, yes I did do a lot of stuff by myself but most of the time he would give his honest opinion on something I would throw out.

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  7. I'm not getting married (at least, no time soon), but most guys I've dated and been friends with tend to care about two things – food and music. If the food is good, and the music is good, they couldn't care less about the rest. Maybe getting their input on those things will help them get interested in other things? Just an idea….

    1 agrees
  8. When we got engaged, I told my fiance that he could be undecided about spots (see if you can spot the Coupling reference) about lots of things, but he had to have opinions on the important stuff. I didn't want to hear that he didn't care where we got married, or when, or make me pick out the rings we'd be wearing for the rest of our lives.
    As a result he doesn't really care what the flowers look like, and he wants nothing to do with the invitations or the cake. But he's picked out his own ring, and we've had plenty of discussions about place, time, who, etc. etc.

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  9. Yeah, FH is in charge of food and music (with my input, especially on the latter), and he agreed that he's not going to dig his heels in resistance to things that I really want because I'm doing way more work than he is. But we're still getting each other's input and taking it seriously if someone really wants/doesn't want something. It seems to be working.

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  10. When we started talking about getting married, my FH basically told me that he wouldn't do a wedding if it was only going to be "my day" and I was going to get really self-centered. From the start, we've emphasized how important it is that we set the precedent for our marriage with our wedding. So we split up who was in charge of what, with each getting editorial power before decision are finalized. He does music and invites. I do decorations and scheduling. We do food together because we both are enthusiastic. And he's the one who came up with the framework for our wedding that has helped make every decision. "We want it to feel like a basement show. We're not on display and all of our guests are as important as we are to making it memorable."

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  11. I hope that's how our planning will go. I know my fiance cares about a lot of "girly"-er stuff so I think he will have strong opinions. Thanks for the tips though of splitting up decisions. That means less for me to worry about too!

  12. At first we did this sort of 'i take care of this and u take care of that without actually going over it'. we really weren't getting anywhere. felt like we both weren't on the same page if ya know what I mean. So… we got a huge pice of paper and brainstormed ideas, thing we had to do, wanted to do, and needed to do. the one rule was that we couldnt comment on any of the other's opinions or ideas and we pretended that this was very first beginning of planning.
    That way we both got heard and found that we had similar ideas about things but because we never sought the others 'defnition' of aspects we kept butting heads. for example while i wanted chairs at the ceremony but he kept saying but not too much, and i felt like he wasn't hearing me … but in the end when we gave each a number it was the same bloody number!!!
    So we had all these ideas down and chose which ones we really wanted to do and then split up the not so fun ones. Agreed to let the other be autonomous in their 'projects' unless they ask for help/advice.
    I hope that helps…
    my mum laughs at our planning, she thinks fh has way too much say in all this… (I think she thought that she would be doing alot of what fh is doing so i am making sure she is involved in my side of things.)

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  13. Cantankerous Drummer Husband said 'as long as I turn up on the right day with a ring and a piece of paper and my Cannibal Corse shirt, I don't really care what we do." But it was a lie. A LIE!

    We did exactly what Ariel said, I think. We're both really creative, and we always figure if we have to do anything in life it had better be fun. So boy howdy did we have fun planning the wedding.

    He designed the wedding rings and had them made as a surprise to me. He walked past the cake shop and saw the cupcake tower in the window and said 'we're having one of them!' He decided on the invitations – medieval scrolls sealed with wax. He decided what he wanted to wear. He chose his sword. He planned the honeymoon as another surprise. We chose the venue, the music, the photographer together. The way we tend to work is he decides something and I make it happen – the perfect wedding planning team.

    In the end it was totally us. You couldn't look at our wedding and say 'oh, CDH did it all' or 'Oh, Steff did it all'. It was 'omigod, that's so THEM'.

    I think I got really lucky.

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  14. We're getting married this coming October.

    I have indeed been very surprised about his opinions, once I finally coaxed him into admitting he has any. HE is the one who strongly wants me in a white dress (I was thinking sapphire blue) and who is absolutely insistent on a more traditional cake. I'm a bit irked that it's such a huge damn deal to him what *I'M* wearing — he's not the one who has to stomach the seven hells of gown shopping — but we're making a strong effort to communicate WHY each of us feels a certain way about something and coming to agreements and compromises where we have differing opinions.

    I am still annoyed that he doesn't believe a non-white dress is "weddingy" enough. Even after me showing off bride profiles from this site. *sigh*

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  15. I've been surprised at how strong his opinions are about things I never even thought he would care about.(Clothing!!?? This is someone who just gets up and throws on whatever is on the floor next to his side of the bed!)
    But he has some very firm ideas and they clearly mean a lot to me. For example, he won't look at my dress until the wedding day, though I have tried a few times to show it to him. Furthermore, I am not allowed to see what he is wearing 'til the big day. He won't even tell me what color it is or anything…

    It's working well, and when I ask for help on something important that I can't do alone, he has really come through. Especially in the "getting addresses form our slack friends so we can send invitations" department.

    Since I can be a bit of a micro-managing control freak I've had to back off and let him share his ideas. He has some really good ones when I chill out and take the time to hear them.

    He pointed out that I ask for his opinion and then shoot it down (which was true)-so I have made a huge effort to really listen to what he is saying and take his ideas seriously.
    And, funny as it is, some of the stuff that I had the strongest negative reaction to intitially is stuff that in the end we are going with-and they're his ideas.
    So that's really cool.

    It also helps that since I am doing more than he is around some big areas he takes the time, several times a week, to hug me and say "Thank you for doing so much hard work on the wedding."
    I know he means it. And it's awesome feeling appreciated:-)

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  16. The problem with this completely logical advice 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 (placecards.) I haven't come up with a fair way to divide that stuff.

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  17. Keylimegirl…I have to agree. Even though I wrote #10 – once I read your comment, I'm realizing that he actually hasn't once offered to call tent vendors! Or get pricing on flatware rentals. Hmmm…Maybe we just need to say something about how it's not equitable. No point in suffering in silence.

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  18. but at the same time, if he cares about X and she cares about Y who is responsible for Z? (if Z is "necessary" anyway, ie, finding an officiant). often the Z falls to the bride, which isn't really fair either.

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  19. I have the opposite problem! My other half has got bored with me talking about
    it and, since we don't even have a house let alone money to get married, he's requested that I stop bloody talking about it. Even though it was his idea to get married in the first place.
    Git.
    Still, he'll change his tune when he realises his opinion has now become pretty much irrelevant! Bmwhahaha!

  20. Our essential inequity was having a wedding in the first place. Gernith really wanted to elope to Vegas, and before we were engaged we had a lot of jokey fake-arguments where I played the girl dreaming of her special daaaaaay. But then when it became reality, and he was like, okay, let's elope… then I was forced to admit that actually, I HAD been dreaming of my wedding day since I was a little girl. I didn't want some big Princess-fest, but I had been dreaming of my small, laid-back, DIY wedding for literally decades.

    He was kind of shocked, but immediately proclaimed that I obviously wanted a wedding more than he didn't want one, so we should have one. He had a great time at our wedding, and got everything that was important to him; but still, when you boil it down, we had a wedding because I wanted one, and I'm the girl. I'm not sure how to reconcile that.

    As far as the planning itself, Gernith cared about: his clothes (including NOT wearing a "man flower"), getting to sit during the ceremony (we used the bench from outside our front door), that the ceremony itself wasn't religious or overly sappy (I wrote it, the friend who introduced us performed it), the music (we DJ'd off our iTunes), having the ceremony videotaped (I couldn't have cared less), that there was something he could eat on the menu (he has a lot of dietary restrictions), NOT having a first dance (I shared both his aversion and lack of rhythm), and the cake.

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  21. Isidri: "when you boil it down, we had a wedding because I wanted one, and I'm the girl. I'm not sure how to reconcile that."

    I think that your wedding was a perfect example of compromise. Isn't that how you want your marriage to work? You being the girl had nothing to do with the fact that you were the one who wanted an actual wedding. I keep trying to elope and he wants a wedding. And he's the quiet one! lol.

    You're both going to come upon situations that you would approach in opposite ways. Those differences are probably some of the reasons he's your partner and I'd guess he feels the same. Be happy when you can both find satisfaction.

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  22. Thanks Ariel for your great advice and great blog, and everyone for your insightful comments!

    We live in California but are getting married at his parents' house in central NY, so we are super lucky that his parents (who are awesome) are VERY eager and involved in the planning of our very DIY wedding. I can tend to be a little micro-manage-y, so I'm actually surprising myself at how much I am leaving to them, but it's been such a load off.

    We decided together on the few things we both really care about (he's got strong feelings about the photography, I'm obsessed with the invitations, and we're both having custom clothes made) and divided those as you suggested. The rest: delegated! I feel lucky to have realized early that I don't have to have a specific kind of flower or tablecloth to make my day, or more importantly, my marriage, special and wonderful. And in the end, as good friends and this fabulous blog remind me, the marriage, not the wedding, is the important part.

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  23. I'm having difficulty getting much input from my fiance as well. We've decided we want a winter wedding after I finish college. That will likely put our shindig in early 2012 or, more likely, late 2012/early 2013. We've been engaged almost a year already, and we still don't have a date or month set! And I've barely managed to get much planning done with him. So far all we have is a season, a tentative guest list (but no addresses for anyone yet), and a small facet of decorations planned out. (I'm making quilled snowflakes. Very pretty! And the fiance loves them too! We can't guarantee snow where we live, so we'll be stringing up our own!)

    Whenever I try to work on some wedding plans with him, he usually says something along the lines of, "It's sooo far away! I don't want to think about it." I know that he's right; the wedding is quite a long way off, so we don't need everything planned out to a T right now. But at the same time, I can't sit down and plan everything at one shot while I'm having to study for school, and I don't want to just sit on my hands for the next 3 1/2 years and have halls and venues and service providers book up. And I'm just so excited that even though I can't marry him right this minute (which we would both love, but know we can't do for many reasons), I can't stop thinking about our wedding and how we can make our special day wonderful. Our wedding isn't just about me. I want his input and need his help. I'm just not sure how to get those things without coming off as naggy or irritating him to the point of frustration.

    Anyone have any advice for this type of situation?

  24. my man is in charge of the cakes. and by cakes i mean designing the 2 tierd video game wedding cake, organising the 150 mini banana caremel tarts, and the 12 or so cakes he has decided he wantes to be our centerpieces. We both have a say in all the music and most other things except my dress. and i still ask him for his opinion on general things. but a lot of the time he isnt interested in talking too much about the wedding as he is trying to study and i bug him a lot.

    but he does listen to all my ideas.

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  25. I love that my fiance is involved in the whole thing…sometimes we disagree, but those conversations can be so illuminating because we find out more about each other's tastes, assumptions about weddings, etc etc. But there is nothing wrong with not loving party planning! My mom and a host of other people don't enjoy it one bit.

  26. While I do ask his opinion on other stuff, and hes really good about helping where he can, his projects included picking out the outfits for the groomsman and the all out bash that will be the day after the reception.

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