Getting your offbeat groom involved

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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.

Comments on Getting your offbeat groom involved

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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?

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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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