About the Author: Nilblogger*, a happily engaged groom eagerly waiting his marriage, is rounding out Life in Labels’ wedding-themed post collection with some much needed male perspective. Current/future brides and grooms should read and take notes. Thanks for your wisdom, Nilblogger! This is certainly a good response/foil to the female annonymous post from Bridezilla.
I’d like to provide a (somewhat biased) account of what it means to have the labels “fiancé” and “groom,” as well as the buildup to them. A somewhat harsh sounding word (why does it make me think of gloom?), it’s full of subtle complexities that are not always apparent on the surface.
I served as the Best Man for my older brother’s wedding almost three years ago. I’ll never forget how nervous my brother looked as I waited with him before he got married, and I remember asking him if he was nervous. He simply shook his head and said, “This is all for her [his wife].” It’s a very easy thing to say and understand conceptually, but until you actually go through the marriage process, you learn that some people don’t even care about the groom. This can be both comical and upsetting.
In its ideal context, marriage is a union of two people equally committed to make the other person happy and become the best version s/he can be. It takes two people to make a marriage – no one person can make it happen by him/herself. As marriage can increasingly become a big business, I think many people in the industry are forgetting that there is also a man involved in the process. And not to toot my own or any other man’s horn, but a lot of work goes into getting a woman to marry you! It’s a long process that played out, for me at least, as follows (“You” will refer to the future groom below):
1. Incite the interest of your future bride-to-be. This is first step, and nothing can move forward without this. No matter how you do it, she must have some interest in you before you stand a chance. I (sometimes unsuccessfully) used humor, coupled with respect, to garner the interest of my bride-to-be.
2. Pursue your bride-to-be. Although it isn’t totally true across the board, most women like to be pursued and like to have men “make the first move.” Sometimes steps one and two can be reversed (continued pursuit of a woman increases her interest), but in my case, I was interested in my bride-to-be long before she was interested in me. Once I felt reasonably confident she was interested in me, I had to pursue her. This consisted of asking her out, and then continuing to court her. The ball was in my court to continue my budding relationship with my bride-to-be, not the other way around.
3. Maintain a serious relationship with your bride-to-be. Once the dates began to flow with my bride-to-be, I needed to go through my first big relationship change: Move from “fun” to “serious.” Having fun is great, but my bride-to-be needed to know I was in this for the long haul. I was (and still am) caring and loving toward my bride-to-be so she would know I could be the best spouse for her and best father of her children. You can’t marry a woman if she doesn’t want to marry you, so this was a crucial step in the process.
4. Pre-engagement preparations.
- Ask for your bride-to-be’s hand in marriage. Call me old-fashioned, but I believe this is a sign of respect out of your bride-to-be’s family. Your bride-to-be is special, and it’s very humbling to ask permission in a very vulnerable position.
- Buy the rock. Some couples go shopping together for ideas (we did), and some don’t. But this is a HUGE step in the process. For some men, it may be the biggest single purchase they make at one time up to that point in their lives. When done properly, this step involves a lot of research, and every husband-to-be should be able to rattle off “The Four C’s” by the end (For anyone who doesn’t know, they’re color, cut, clarity, and carat).
5. Ask your-bride to be to marry you. When you are asking your bride-to-be to marry you, you, presumably, care about her immensely. Thus, you will likely put tremendous effort into planning your proposal to her. It could be the only time you ask a woman to marry you, so you want to put care and effort into it. I won’t go into the exact details of my proposal, but I planned it out for several months beforehand. Hopefully when you do have your plan in place and execute, you have done enough in the previous steps for her to say yes!
I hope I’ve shown that, up until the moment she says yes, much of the burden is on the man. It is a lot of work, but its work that is done lovingly to get the prize of your future wife at the end. However, engagement is another big shift in the relationship. The most serious issues a couple may encounter during courtship are where to go to dinner or what movie to watch. Engagement is inherently serious, as you’re now planning the rest of your lives together. Another shift can occur, as the man goes from exerting tremendous effort to win his woman to taking a back seat in the preparation process. Sometimes the man reaches the back seat sooner than he expects.
Case in point: The first meeting my fiancée and I had with our reception venue coordinator was when the first “red light” went off. During the meeting, this female coordinator’s eyes and attention were fixated on my fiancée’s, and I’ve never seen focus like that before. I literally felt like I was not even in the room during this meeting. This coordinator also used the expression “Team Bride,” which has become a running joke in our upcoming wedding. The coordinator expressed that we were all on “Team Bride” and she would do anything and everything to make sure all of my fiancée’s needs were met. At one point, the coordinator made another comment about how she would pamper my fiancée and, being the smart aleck I normally am, I added, “Yes, because we are all on Team Bride.” The coordinator seemed taken aback and said she would “take care of me” by getting me an alcoholic beverage of my choosing at the reception. As an avid member of Team Bride, I was obviously flattered by this. Picking out food and flowers is much the same, as the man’s opinion is not given as much weight.
I’m not saying men should help pick the bride’s dress or should be experts on flowers. As for the dress, I would argue it’s much better for the man to be kept in the dark and be surprised on the wedding day. I am only suggesting a shift in attitude in recognition of the man’s status in the relationship and the impending marriage. That’s the important thing to remember: the wedding day is equally the groom’s day. To get to this place, it requires give-and-take: the bride may have run details by the groom to keep him in the loop, and the groom should take an active and aggressive interest in things like linens and flowers if he really wants to be considered an equal party. Marriage takes two people, and the planning of it should, too.
My fiancée has been wonderful in making sure I feel involved in the wedding preparation process and has gone out of her way to make sure our vendors and helpers know I am involved. So for all you ladies out there, if your man wants to be involved and you want him to be involved, you’ll have to help him out, because most people will be looking at you during the preparation. Leave some room for your groom…
So instead of Team Bride, why not Team Couple?