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.

Mustache Groom

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.

Ashley & Matt12

I pulled this piece of advice from another reader, Emi, and her wedding planning update called “Advice from the partner of an uninvolved groom:”

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.

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!

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!

Photo by Megan Finley
Photo by Megan Finley

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-Fartsy. 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.

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Comments on 9 ways to get your groom involved

  1. Offbeat Brides readers might not need this advice, but from watching my friends get married:

    If neither the bride nor the groom cares about something, either forget it or delegate it! This helped me and my spouse with our wedding planning SOOO much, because I was never in a situation where I was like, “I don’t care about this at all, but since I have to do it then you have to do it!”

    The rehearsal dinner? Delegated! Decorations? Delegated! The Readings? Delegated to the Readers! and so on. Of course, this list will be different for each couple (we’re extremely lazy), and it requires a lot of trust, but not a single person let us down.

  2. I've been doing pretty well getting my groom involved. Like it was mentioned in the article, if it was something he wanted, we went with it. He wanted a Legend of Zelda themed cake topper – done, I made one! He wanted breakfast served instead of a dinner – done! His ideas are fun and out there and make the day really about us.

    I also try to make sure there are some days when I do not talk to him about the wedding, just to give him a break. I think about it all the time, but I try to find at least one day a week where I just keep my mouth shut about the wedding and talk about other things. Surprisingly, those are the days when he brings up something about the wedding, and it really makes me feel like he's just as invested in it as I am!

  3. I would also add that it's essential to either correct or don't patronize vendors who jokingly tell the groom it's all about the bride. Seriously, half the vendors we visited told my fiance this while he was expressing his opinion about something and it made both of us so angry. They were just joking but they were perpetuating the idea that grooms aren't SUPPOSED to be involved and most guys are raised believing that. So we either firmly corrected them or in the worst cases, we chose to patronize another business.

    • We ran into this, too. It was especially annoying because my spouse did most of the initial planning (calling up vendors, etc) because he was on summer break from grad school and I was working a lot. Then, when we go to meet with them, if they talked to just me without trying to include the groom, we'd cross them off our list!

    • As a wedding planner, I see this happening a lot with my couples.

      When brides are trying their hardest to get their grooms involved in the planning and then are met with hostility or blatant disregard for their ideas and interests, it automatically can discourage a groom, despite all the encouragement previously given to be an active member of the planning process. I have noticed that if you introduce your groom as your “partner in the planning process” or you are consistent in asking your groom what he thinks throughout the walk-through with some vendors, they do pick up on the hints that you are planning as a team, not as a bride on her own.

      It might take a while before vendors start to automatically include grooms in the planning, but with the large majority of couples trying to do it together, I think it will make a difference sooner than later.

    • I totally agree, I haven’t had too much of this issue with vendors quite yet, but my friends and family keep making those jokes. “Oh well it’s all about what SHE wants!” I’ve never been one of those girls to dream about my wedding day, so this seems absurd to me. It’s what “WE” want. I even had to correct my fiance right after we got engaged…. he told me that the day should be all about me. I know he just says this because that’s what society has told him, but I let him know it’s allowed to be about him too.

  4. I would agree with femmeknitzi about the vendors. That really irritates me to no end.
    I've had great luck with getting FH involved. If I think of an idea I always run it by him first to make sure he likes it and vice versa. Asking for help is also a great way to get them into it. FH has done so much already to help out and it's because I asked him for the help. Sometimes they just don't know what you need because, lets face it, they aren't mind readers.

  5. For me the advice is not yet needed, mostly because with us, my boyfriend and I, there is nothing I decide without him or vice versa. Maybe I make a few more phonecalls than he does, but mostly we are in it together. Can it change, sure since there is a year between now and our small and intimate day. But I will keep this post of advice in mind if things will shift.

  6. I was really struggling with involving my FH, because it seemed that as hard as I tried – he just didn't care. I've done my best to think about every detail from his perspective (most of which involves saving money… haha) but here's a good example: We're using models of WWII bomber planes as our centerpieces, because we're having a WWII era wedding. FH is an aero engineer, who loves airplanes, and I didn't want to pay for a florist. So, it's a good compromise – no expensive flowers that he will hate, and really cool models that people can take home/reflect his interest. For our bridal party table, I was going to order 2 bombers – and he informs me that he'd rather have models of the modern helicopters that he actually works on every day. Not vintage airplanes. So, no worries, I ordered 2 GIANT Blackhawk helicopter models for our table – when I could have said "no… I want to stick with vintage". By getting him what he wanted, I put him in a super good mood about the reception, and he's pumped that he has 2 new toys to put on his desk at work… it's a little thing, but little things go a long way. 🙂

  7. One thing I have found works with my H2B is designating a wedding restaurant. There is this little Mexican food place right down the street that we love to go to. Every time we go it seems we talk about wedding stuff. This works well because 1) we don’t talk about wedding stuff at any other restaurant and 2) if he doesn’t feel like talking about wedding stuff, he can opt to eat somewhere else. He gets to make that call. Of course we talk about wedding stuff at other times (never after 10 pm), but at least I know if he suggests Nino’s, he’s in the mood to talk wedding for a little bit.

  8. Maybe I just hit the jackpot, but since my FH asked me to get married, and we both decided on getting weddinged, we just assume that the other person is really excited about their tasks. Of course, we split them up between each other. Some stuff I’m really pumped about, like finding the venue and designing the save the dates, and other stuff he’s taken full control over, like flowers (and fake flowers)! Add to this that our craft nights make for super fun quality time together. If one person doesn’t care about the wedding enough to be involved, it seems to me that a conversation needs to happen… that or eloping. Eloping is good, too.

  9. When we started talking about getting married and I would say my ideas he would just agree and go along with it. He gave me little input. He thought weddings are just for the bride and didn't know much about them. He has still never been to a wedding! So, I asked him what he wanted, or how he thought about certain things. I talked to him about traditions and about OBB. I tried to come up with ideas that emphasized his talents and interests as well as my own. Now he is really excited and comes up with all kinds of ideas. Mostly really great and creative ideas!

  10. Part of the reason that I love my FH is that he is a tried and true feminist. When we first got engaged, we declared our mutual hatred of the concept that it's the "bride's big day" and emphasized how much we wanted our wedding to be about the two of us together. Wonderful sentiments and I know that he meant them on a theoretical level. But here's where it got hard – he hates logistics and is totally unorganized. It shouldn't be a surprise to me – he hires an accountant to do his taxes, he lets mail pile up to become unruly messes, he needs to be reminded that an empty milk carton goes in the recycling and not back in the fridge. What he didn't realize was just how much logistical organization goes into planning even a backyard, laid back wedding. I have ended up doing the bulk of the really boring stuff as a result.

    The one fight we've had in this whole process (we're getting married in two months) was about the fact that we had defaulted to a traditional groom gives way to bride/bride goes a little crazy experience. I was doing a whole lot of work without much fun and he was getting to do a lot of the creative stuff. And even with those things, he was the idea man while I was the one to make it all happen. Ultimately I don't think that was his intention and once I pointed it out to him, he understood that was the impact of his behavior. Since then he's really stepped up his game and been great.

    For us the lesson learned was that communication is really key, that it's okay to rely on our individual strengths even if sometimes they are a bit too close to traditional roles, and that it really needs to be fun for both people involved.

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