I'm a frustrated groom who feels pushed out of planning my wedding

June 30 2015 | Guest post by Ryan
Tea-themed place setting
Photo by Lindsey McDaniel Williams, LifeExposed Photography

It's funny how my future in-laws offering to contribute to my wedding ends up with me, the groom-to-be, feeling pushed out of the wedding planning equation. I will be lucky if I know even 20 percent of the people at our wedding. You know what? That makes me the weird creepy guy sitting in the corner that nobody knows at my own wedding.

Well, I can tell you that I did NOT want to be "that guy," or that groom rather… yet here I am. I feel like it's time to sink ever so slowly into the background of my own wedding.

But how will I be in the background at my own wedding?

I have intentionally kept my side of the guest list very short, so that we could afford the wedding we want to have. My future in-laws, however, keep adding people to the guest list on their own, to the point where my fiancée had to ask who some of these people even are! It is important for me to mention that I absolutely love my future in-laws, and I think most of this is coming from their excitement and the fact that they are very proud.

I should be honored, not annoyed.

But when your in-laws-to-be hijack your wedding plans, and then your wedding coordinator says "you, my friend, don't get a vote," it really feels like it's time to take on that age-old groom position of "just tell me when to be there and how much to write the check for."

Okay, so what to do about this situation and what have I learned?

First, talk to your partner openly and honestly about your concerns and how you are feeling.

I thought I had done that when I mentioned it on the car ride home from her parent’s house, but I definitely was not clear about it.

Secondly, Do NOT assume that your partner automatically agrees with whatever their parents decide.

I found out from talking to my fiancée openly (imagine that!) that she fully supports me and that it's very important to her that it is “our day.” She was also not cool with the wedding coordinator telling me that “I don’t get a vote.”

Advice for the partners of a frustrated spouse-to-be

I suggest that you make sure your other half knows that you support them as much as they support you and that you do value and appreciate their thoughts and input. Also, it is a lot easier for you to talk to your own parents, to try bring them back to healthy compromise, than it is for their future in-law.

Relationships are a partnership, and so obviously is marriage. So why shouldn’t the actual act of getting married also function like a partnership? It can set the tone of your future together to some extent as well.

  1. That is how my cousins wedding. Her now ex-husband ended up being in the corner pretty much all evening after the actual wedding. The only time he came out was to eat the dinner, cut the cake, first dance, and the garter throw. Everyone at the wedding, besides his aunt and uncle and his groomsmen (other than her brother, my cousin, who was one of the groomsman) were all my family, her cousins from my uncles side, her friends (get the picture). He had some family issues with his sister and his mother (his father died) and some other family members, so they did not come. Which is unfortunate. So out of a wedding of about 200 people, only five people were his "people." So, what a 3% ratio. But this is an extreme situation. So in this case, he really was a stranger at his own wedding.

    2 agree
  2. I hope you have that coordinator a stern talking-to. That's completely unfair and unprofessional. Her job is to give the couple the wedding they want, not to belittle groom.

    I get that you have to be respectful of the wishes of in-laws if they are contributing financially and that that can be a tricky balancing act sometimes. But it's your wedding too, and you deserve to have your voice heard!

    27 agree
  3. Yay – Ryan made the main blog! You know when you posted about this in the Tribe section of OBB that it really resonated with a lot of us, and we quickly jumped to your defense! SO, so good that you communicated openly with your future wife and that you're on the same page!

    10 agree
    • I came here to say exactly this! Dang it, clevelandkat, you are too quick. -shakes fist-

      It's awesome having a few men on the Tribe. I wish more would join the party. 🙂

      3 agree
    • You were all awesome and offered some really great suggestions and support !!!
      Thank you so much from me and my beautiful bride-to-be !!!!

      1 agrees
  4. In the spirit of 'start as you mean to continue' I simply told my FMI that I will welcome all family guests that I've met. That this is my FH and my day (and we are self financed) and the people around us helping celebrate our marriage are going to be close friends and family. We are keeping it small, around 60 guests, and most will be my FH's family. That's fine, but as I say, I insist that I will have met them at least once before the day. So I've enlisted my FMI to host the engagement party, and in particular, invite those family members that I've not yet met. We are friends with the folks catering and the photographer, the ladies will be doing their own hair and make-up, the dj is a friend, etc. No one attending will be a stranger, but maybe a newly met friend or family member. And honestly, in order to have the wedding we want to have, I have no problem being the bad guy. I don't know you, you're not coming. Easypeasy…

    9 agree
    • This is a great idea and I think a lot of this is my anxiety about all these strangers that are apparently "invited" to the wedding. When you don't know more people than you do know at your wedding there is a serious problem…

      Some of the stories I'm hearing about some of these characters doesn't make me feel warm and fuzzy about them being there either.
      I realize that it was a long time ago, but people tend to regress when they get with buddies that they haven't seen in a long time, especially when there is a group of them.

      Thanks for the input !!

  5. Oh man I support you all the way. Loads of my friends have also just got engaged and when they ask me for planning tips my first command is 'Sit down with him and say 'you have an opinion, I want to hear it, even if your opinion is I don't care, I want to hear it. You matter in this wedding so keep talking to me.'

    I've been trying so hard to involve not just my groom but his parents. I've even instated a 'no one who hasn't met the groom' rule on my family invites as we're got much the same issue as you (to give you an idea 2/3 of the guests are mine, and he's okay with that but asked that he not have to be introduced to any more of my gargantuan family on his wedding day) And seriously, *** that co-ordinator. Anyone else 'doesn't get a vote' as far as I'm concerned.

    10 agree
  6. Go Ryan, hopefully your experience will encourage other grooms to speak up. There's not many other posts like this one on the Internet.

    10 agree
  7. I love this post and will forward it to my FH. He's been mostly backburner by choice but when he takes initiative over something, I have been careful to encourage him and shut those up who don't seem to think he matters.

    A groom is not a wedding accessory. He's pretty damn important! While I don't know anyone who would dispute the "it's really the bride's day" notion because, even for us, I've been the ideas lady for most of it, I don't think that means it still isn't "our" day.

    I may bring up the "we need to do this sort of thing" because he doesn't understand much about weddings or etiquette but if he's offered suggestions, I've tried to take them into account and help prioritize things. We didn't hire vendors who didn't listen to him. Our coordinator realized he was very in charge of food and drink (including our linens) and I was impressed with how well she did at not making it a "joke" or a "cute moment". It just was the way it was. I appreciated that.

    5 agree
  8. This is exactly how my damn wedding was. I cut my side to 15, my now husband didn't invite friends because we were trying to keep it so small. His mother invited enough that our small celebration turned into last minute stocking up alcohol, scrambling food, just… not fun. Then, the people who could make it from my side, was more like 7… and i spent my wedding essentially alone because my sisters were cleaning up after the drunk mob who lit one person on fire, and 3 tables. My fluff and i cured this grump with a weekend away, and a month of breathing space from my mil so we wouldn't say anything we regret…

    3 agree
  9. As a bride I'm really feeling how much society and culture seems to think this is a BRIDE'S day with the groom on the side. I also think my fiance doesn't see this and is really frustrated. From people asking both him and I if we're getting married in my home town, to even this website which is offbeat BRIDE not offbeat couple, to asking for suggestions on working with my fiance which tend to involve managing him as if I am slightly more in charge of this than he is (I wish I was!!! Unfortunately he doesn't see it the way the rest of the world does and sees himself as an equal, shockingly, in his wedding) it is very frustrating.

    Frankly it's just as frustrating as all the assumptions about the rest of our lives ("am I taking his name?" no "is he taking my name…", etc)! We're finding it a really frustrating thing to try to explain that actually this is both of our weddings and in fact I think HE is much more tied to the idea of the wedding than I am!

    I've gone through my life rebelling against the notion that all women should get married and am sort of frustrated that now I am getting married, whereas he seems to have lived his life sort of neutrally therefore he has way less emotion wrapped up in fighting against the institution of marriage than I do.

    1 agrees
  10. I would have fired the coordinator on the spot. Who the fuck does she think she is? I mean, really, don't bite the hand that feeds you.

    That said, I am equally frustrated by the emphasis on “the Bride's day”. I desperately wanted to elope, and the only reason why we're having a wedding is because my FH wanted to be the center of attention for a day (he's the youngest child, what can I say?) and be surrounded by family. The only reason why I appear to have done more planning is that I have DIY abilities and he is all thumbs. Plus I am trying to manage my anxiety about the wedding, and as a result many of our decisions have been based on my needs.

    I sort of blew up at my FMIL on the subject (in the midst of a “discussion” about my anxiety about various aspects of the wedding / planning) because I was just so sick of hearing that it was my Special Day (TM) when in reality I don't want any of it. It's a large part of the reason why I excluded my FILs from the planning process (that, and they're kind of awful). If I had to hear any more bride-centric rhetoric I was going to lose my mind. And once I finally got it through to my FMIL, her input actually became useful instead of assumptions recycled from her daughters' bride-centric weddings.

    6 agree
    • My thoughts exactly the same about rude wedding coordinator. Since my new husband is also named Ryan, I am appalled and defensive for you grooms.

      Talk to your fiance. Keep breathing.

      1 agrees
  11. This is such a great article, I wish there were more grooms on here! You've bought up a great issue too – the whole 'bride's day' bullshit. As the bride to be, what really got up my nose (among many things) was that my partner's Aunt (who sort of took on the role of Mother of the groom) gets all in MY face about what we should or shouldn't be doing etc. I had her calling me, getting shitty because I wasn't answering her calls and so on.. This pissed me right off because I already had my mum to deal with, and now I also had his Aunt trying to push me to do things her way as well! WTF? The best way to get around this was simple – I deal with my family and put the foot down, he deals with his family and puts the foot down. It seemed to work for us, phew!

    1 agrees
  12. If my wedding coordinator told either of us we don't get a vote, I'd fire her. It's your wedding- YOU BOTH get 100% of the votes. Speaking as someone who is in the very early planning stages, but whose mother has already tried to hijack the guest list, announcement cards may be a good out. If they're proud and excited but not footing the bill for feeding and entertaining all of those long-lost relatives, then you can send an announcement instead of an invite. OR, they (the in-laws) can host a family reunion shortly before or after the wedding, and all of those long-lost relatives can attend that instead of a day with such significance for YOU.
    My general rule of thumb on guests is that if I haven't seen them, emailed with them, exchanged physical mail with them, or talked to them on the phone in 4+ years, they aren't invited to my wedding. I can love them dearly, but I only want my current community of support and love there, not people with whom I share genetics and nothing else.

    3 agree
    • That was exactly my point, our wedding was starting to feel more like a reunion for the FIL's old drinking buddies… again, I don't know any of them .

      My fiancé has actually made that exact same recommendation to her parents, that they have a party at their house after. I don't think that a wedding is a place to "catch-up" with old buddies. That's what reunions ( not unions ) are for, or have a post-wedding party, I'm totally fine with that.

      3 agree
  13. When your wedding coordinator says "you, my friend, don't get a vote," then your next sentence should be along the lines of "then you, my friend, don't get a check.". Not cool, man, so not cool.

    18 agree
    • She's not actually getting a check. She's a friend/client of my fiancé. She needs $300 for an assistant, that's it.
      This attitude is pretty rampant from vendors to venues though, most will talk to the groom to humor him, but will look to the bride for answers or decisions…
      But me and my wife-to-be don't really play the gender role game, so we are both involved and both make decisions together.. How would it be fair for me to sit back while she stresses trying to make this all happen ?

      I'm glad we have the relationship we do and I'm glad to have such an awesome best friend/future wife, but some people are just stuck in the past I guess…

      2 agree
      • My husband and I split up our vendors. We were planning our wedding from another state, so once we'd decided who to hire a lot of the minutiae was discussed over email. I dealt with the day-of coordinator and the officiant/DJ (ours was a husband-wife team that came as a package). He handled the venue and the caterers. Those vendors only had his contact information, so they had to defer to him. It made my life less stressful and it helped him stay a part of the planning process.

        Even when we had in-person meetings, I made sure that I wasn't the only one answering questions. We took turns answering questions and would do things like look at each other and say, "Right honey?" or "What do you think?" to make sure we were both actively involved in the conversation. It helped get the point across, I think.

        4 agree
      • This attitude IS way too rampant across vendors. As we planned our wedding from another state, we had way too many vendors refusing to send contracts to my fiance without talking to me first. We had vendors blatantly talk down to him before finishing conversations with, "do you want me to just email this to your bride?"

        My husband is an intelligent, compassionate, and infinitely patient man. I've rarely seen him so annoyed as he was dealing with these people. If only we could fire every vendor who does that…if only. :\

        2 agree
  14. Very simply you need to sit everyone down and say: "If I don't get a vote, then I don't get married."

    If fiance and future in-laws don't fire the wedding planner, then break it off entirely because that's not a family you want to marry into.

    2 agree
    • I understand what you're saying, but I'm not quite sure it needs to go to that extreme.

      I have to wonder if you read the whole story and the responses and follow-ups, if you had, you would have seen that my fiancé is fully backing me on this one and we have made strides to correct this problem and get things back on track ..

      No need to "go get milk" just yet …

      Thank you for your input !
      Ryan

      1 agrees
  15. Hi guys, read what you've said. I too have a similar situation although with a controlling mother in-law. So, Im the groom and my to-be wife has the idea of the "our wedding" idea as I do; However, my in-law has been pushing the traditional wedding since the day I asked my lady to add the suffix Mrs. to her name. We're not traditional. Our wedding is on October 31st, just an example. Anyways, we have many life events to share together as a married couple– but her family has not been welcoming, her mother made her have a bridal shower, shunned out the wedding shower so there would be no men, and she can put ideas in the back of her head. Essentially my in-law has taken the "we and our" factor out of it. I know the cliche is men do not want to go, but I do like sharing these events with my love, have the opportunity to show ourselves and be free from the oppressive lifestyle that demands normalcy. Truly be open to ourselves and friends , you know? Today my in-law attempted to use the "its not traditional" mark to keep me out of our future baby shower. I told her I was going. Didn't like that too much but it felt awesome because I've let her family run all over me-from running task every day, to being talked negatively about, to letting her make 50-60 percent of all wedding decisions, everything. And my point is that in our wedding I've become a mere shadow, heavily belittled into just standing on stage and saying "I do". Nothing wrong with the "I do's" of course. Where did the "we" go? I want more of that, so what would you advise my dear readers? Be more courageous is the answer but how to go about it whilst keeping good damily ties: ie no eloping.

  16. God I feel this – my future husband is inviting his entire step family and all his battle of nation friends to the wedding, which'll be about eighty percent of the guests and out of my twenty there'll only be about five percent i've seen more than once since i was a baby. And Im actually okay with not knowing his side, indeed im really looking forward to meeting them all, but i hate the idea of Me inviting people i really cant say i know, related or not. But I can't start leaving people out unless i want to open up an entire bloodfued, and i think that would be worse for my anxiety and everything else, if only cause it sounds longer lasting. Other things i have input in but the guest list is pretty out of my hands. So much of me just wishes we could elope.

  17. Ughhh this. I am so sorry you're having this problem. Its amazing how much society and wedding culture has affected us. I have no issue calling it "our day" but for some reason I keep catching myself on "my wedding".

    FH and I have been working really hard to make sure that our 100 person guest list is evenly split. It was hard to limit when it was just our friends and family. My mum tried to add a bunch of people and threw a fit when I said she only got 6. It's amazing how much parents want to make this day about them!

    I'm glad you and your FS were able to hash it out and hopefully make it work for you.

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