Musings from an offbeat groom: I DON’T want to be on the sidelines, bored, or pitied

Guest post by Caleb
Groom Bot

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.

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Comments on Musings from an offbeat groom: I DON’T want to be on the sidelines, bored, or pitied

  1. Fabulous post! Thank you for sharing! I couldn’t belive the first Bridal Festival my finace and I went to. There were almost no other men to be seen! A lot of the vendors could not stop commenting on how “great it was” for him to “be there” and to “help out.”

    WTH?!? He is just as much a part of the big extravaganza we are planning as I am. We want this to be just as much of his big dream day as it is mine. Glad we are not alone. 🙂

    • A lot of bridal shop employees kept commenting on how strange it was that my fiancé was there with me. “He shouldn’t see the dress! It’s bad luck!” Um – I know he’s going to think I’m beautiful if I come to the wedding in a sack, but I still want his input, and he’ll be splitting the costs with me, so STFU 😀

      • I got the same reaction when my fiance went with me to get a dress. They were even appalled when he was the one who choose my dress. It was quite entertaining really.

  2. Yay for offbeat grooms!

    I really don’t know what I’d do if my guy wasn’t sharing the planning. I knew almost nothing about weddings coming into this whereas he had a lot of very definate ideas about what he did and didn’t want, and a lot more experience of all the different things that need planning.

    The one thing that does drive me mad though is that no matter how many times I tell people how much he’s doing I still get all the credit (and the blame) for our ideas!

    • Yea, i get the same thing. I’ve had to explain that we work together in our relationship. It drives me insane knowing that people still refer to it as “my day”. I wouldn’t be having a day if he wasn’t there.

  3. This is an awesome post! I’m glad my Fiancé is not the only one that wants to do these things. He’s proactive in this small wedding that we’re throwing. He forced me to find a dress! He even came with me. He got alot of dirty looks from other women in the shop. We didn’t care though. It sounded like we had the most fun in there.

  4. From one OffBeat Groom to another, you are dead on. I couldn’t agree more. My fiancée and I have been planning everything together for some time, and it drives me wild when we go to a wedding show or speak with vendors and I am basically ignored.

    It’s not ‘amazing she convinced me to come’ or ‘dragged me along’, I have free will, I did decide to pull myself from the sofa and spend a day planning our celebration with the person I am going to spend the rest of my life with.

    Always great to see what another OBG thinks, and is going through. All the best to you and your fiancée!

    • One of our requirements for vendors was that they spoke to us both equally. If they ignored him they were off the list.

      Luckily we didn’t have many bad experiences, although one woman did insist on addressing all her replies to me, even when he had asked the question!

  5. Caleb, I think you’re awesome and a terrific writer to boot – your last line made me laugh out loud 🙂

    Double yays for Offbeat Grooms because they deserve the recognition!

    Peace to all.

  6. I love this! When the planning began for our “dreaded wedding,” it was me going down a path that was super white, boring, and oh so alone. I realized that this was all wrong. We both know that the wedding is not the most important day, but if he had to have a wedding day we might as well enjoy it together by planning it to our silly tastes. Since the moment he’s come aboard, it’s been enjoyable and full of laughs. Mostly from us seeing our relatives faces scrunch up in confusion and terror. Congrats to you and your fiancée!

  7. We had a “traditional” wedding in the sense that I wore a white dress and him a tux and that we exchanged some-what traditional vows. However, the fact that our African themed wedding was not executed by myself only, seemed to be baffling to our family and friends. He picked the centerpieces (African masks) and the playlist. He had a strong opinion on the invites and the ceremony readings. He loved being involved as it was just as much HIS day as MY day. The only thing we didn’t discuss, was my “look” as he didn’t want to know, and the bridesmaid dresses as well as the flowers as he admitted those items were more in my realm of expertise. I got tired of hearing how it was MY day and how husbands to be are constantly assumed to be idiots or incapable of helping plan a very important day. Ugh.
    Oh. And the fact that we didn’t have vases filled with water on a mirrored base for centerpieces and an “untraditional” reception was also an issue for our extended families.

  8. Here’s to the Offbeat Grooms! We’re so happy you’re in the thick of the wedding planning with us!

  9. great post!
    my son is the groom-to-be and is doing most of the planning for the wedding – it just works better for them.
    I have never understood why men are viewed as incompetent in these matters. we all have our varied strengths, interests and opinions to contribute. it’s a day for BOTH partners. if there was no partner, there would be no wedding.

    • Three cheers for Offbeat Moms and soon-to-be Moms-in-Law! Us Offbeat Partners wouldn’t be the same without them.

  10. mmmm tenure and pancakes sounds awesome to me!
    Love hearing from an Offbeat Groom. If we didn’t love our Offbeat Grooms we wouldn’t be Brides at all!

  11. I give this my ‘Parliament sound of approval’. Goes something like “Ah-hear-hear,yahyah yah!”

  12. Wonderful post. My husband was definitely an offbeat groom. He was very much involved in everything that he wanted to help out with. He came up with ideas and suggestions. He asked for the things that were important to him. Our wedding was about what we wanted, and what we wanted was to celebrate with as many of the people that we love as we could, and have everyone enjoy themselves as much as possible. Good for the two of you, for choosing to honor your commitment in the way that makes the most sense for you 🙂

  13. Yay for Offbeat Grooms!

    My fiance has no interest in some parts of the wedding like flowers and decorations, but he’s been really helpful with a lot of the parts that are important to him. And he’s been good at helping me out if I find I need a second opinion on something and with attending meetings with vendors and speaking up and asking them stuff. So while I am doing more work towards the wedding than he has, it has NOT been a one woman show.

  14. nicely said, Caleb! While my FH is letting me do a lot of the planning, I haven’t done anything without running it past him – from the bridesmaid colours to my bouquet, I want him to have a say in everything so it’s definitely a day for both of us, because really, that’s what it should be! I suppose the only difference is that I had a ‘vision’ of the wedding ahead of time and all these billions of ideas from years spent perusing OBB, so a lot of the time he’s just going with the flow!
    He did, however, spend hours out in the shed with me a couple of weekends ago painting enamel flowers for my bouquet. It makes me so happy to know a little bit of him will be in there, since it’s not like he had any brooches to contribute 😉

    Hooray for Off Beat Grooms!

  15. I love it!

    I was always so offended when everyone talked about “my” day, and how it was going to be the happiest day of my life, etc, etc. We did things our way, and it turns out that it actually WAS one of the happiest days of my life. Not because I had the princess wedding, but because we acheived our goals of having all our family and friends together in a relaxed and fun setting, and the best part was that they were all there for the sole reason of celebrating our love and relationship. It was wonderful.

    • The “happiest day of your life” thing is one part of the wedding industry spiel we are actually aiming for.

      Except, in the immortal words of Homer Simpson: “Happiest day of your life SO FAR.” 😉

      (Also because we’re having a kick-ass party with all our friends and family, not because “OMG I’m a pretty princess and everyone is looking at me and it’s all about meeeee!”)

  16. You sound like a cool person, and I would therefore like to eat at your cafe when it opens. If you have good food that helps too! What’s it going to be called?

    • Sorry it took me over a month to come back and read the comments on this thing! Here’s our (totally non-existent) website: We’re currently serving coffee at Phat Beets Farmers Market on Saturdays in West Oakland if you want to try us out! We’re hoping to open this summer or fall, but there’s a little obstacle called funding. So support us and tell your friends! Thanks for your interest.

  17. This article was so awesome!

    I take my fiance along to the wedding expos because I do want him to have an input on the wedding. It’s our wedding day, not just mine and not just his.

    I love the fact that Caleb wants to be so involved, and it’s so nice to see that if they (and the normal brides) let them, then grooms can enjoy the experience.

  18. amen to all of this! To be honest, if Tallboy didn’t want to plan this wedding with me, we wouldn’t be having one. I *refuse* to participate in the “It’s Your Day” crap because that is not how I roll in my relationship. I don’t want it to be all about me, and in fact I think I’d die of embarrassment if it were!

    Plus, as I told my mom the other day, planning a wedding with hiim has SERIOUSLY reinforced why I’m marrying him in the first place–we are compromising, communicating, working together, sharing responsibilities, and each playing to our own strengths. To be honest, planning a wedding together thus far has actually been fun as hell 😛

  19. THIS: She knows that this won’t be the happiest day of her life. There will be many happier days ahead of us

    THANK YOU. This is the biggest thing that people need to remember when they’re in the thick of it. I never want to remember what the happiest day of my life is; my life with my partner should be so awesome that we can’t pinpoint the best part.

  20. I loved this post! My guy has helped me with all the planning so far. He is in charge of music because its his passion and favors because he had a more awesome idea for them then I could imagine. Food and vows are a joint effort and I am making decorations because I am crafty, but he helps me pick out all the colors and fabric!
    Oh and he is the only one I truly trust to be honest about clothes with me, which means he is the only one who has seen my dress because we picked it out together!

  21. When you said “eating pancakes in our pajamas” I actually teared up. Yes, the wedding day is special and awesome, but no, it isn’t the best day of a couple’s life…and I think if it is, you’re doing it wrong! Thank you for sharing your unique and RARE perspective. Cheers!

  22. I think I am tad jealous of how involved you are and some of the other offbeat grooms. It’s wonderful!!! If I had my way we’d just be getting married at the courthouse but he wants a “proper” ceremony. Yet when I ask opinions I often get the whatever you want dear attitude. sighhh. But I have figured out if I break things down and ask for his opinions in small doses he seems to get a bit more excited and has one. 🙂 I will definitely be sending this to him.

    And I totally agree with the happiest day ever sentiment. Hopefully we have a very long life together and I’d hate for one day at the beginning to be our happiest. I don’t want that kind of pressure!! 😛 I have been treating it like it’s just a big party. We might be at the center of the attention but ultimately it’s just another one of our many parties. 🙂

    • I totally agree on the “treat it as just another party” approach- so much less stressful. But- not to cause trouble, but if my guy were the one insisting on a wedding that took extra work, but not willing to actually take charge of that work himself, I’d tell him he could plan it or we could get married at the courthouse. Period. If he doesn’t care enough to put in the work, why should you do it for him? Very bad precedent in a relationship. At the very least he should take the lead and you “help out” as his supportive partner. I have been there, where I felt like I was being taken advantage of and didn’t speak up, and it led to serious resentment later (in a non-wedding context). Maybe he doesn’t see how unfair he’s being- why not spell it out for him and give him a chance to fix it? To quote another wedding book “a wedding is not a surprise party you throw for the groom”!
      (My apologies for the post to an old thread but this is a fascinating topic, and I loved the whole post! It deserves a bump.)

  23. “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.”

    This made me tear up. So, so right on!

  24. Yay! Someone else with no proposal story! People always looked at me like I was crazy when I said he didn’t do a big grand thing. It was more like, “Hey, I think we should get married.” And I was all, “Really? Yeah, that would be awesome.” It was perfect, because we barely stopped what we were doing, and didn’t rally celebrate until later.

    My husband was also an equal, and equally awesome, wedding planning partner. Thumbs up.

  25. Awesome post! I feel you on this. My mom often says the things I’m choosing to do aren’t “bridal” enough, and I actually for some unknown reason despise the thought of being a “bride” per se. Also, while my fiancee can’t help out too much with the wedding (being both thousands of miles away and somewhat colourblind) I know he’s just as excited as I am, actually *wants* to help, and does help as much as possible. Which is awesome.

    … and now I’m torn between having lovely purple tablecloths and going with the adventure of letting my half-colourblind husband-to-be pick tablecloths….

  26. I cannot <3 this enough! My offbeat groom had a totally equal part in the entire process. Including shopping for the dress, which caused many raised eyebrows and explanations until we went to a more offbeat shop and they didn't bat an eyelid yay!
    Wish I'd had a pound for every time I had to remind someone it was Our day not my day. Might have paid for the wedding 😉 lol

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