All for One

10/21/2009 1:51 PM

12/02/2009 1:15 PM

A question I’ve been asked often in recent months is about the groom’s role in the wedding planning. What does he think about the colors? Does he care about the venue?

Planning a wedding, for better or worse, is often left up to the bride. Girls, after all, are the ones who dream of that day their whole lives, right? And as a result, some grooms think it’s OK to simply sit on the sidelines.

But that’s not always the case. When one friend was planning her wedding a few years ago, she and her fiancé argued endlessly over their plans, from where to hold the reception to the shape and color of their cake. Each has a strong personality – and had strong opinions about the details of their big day.

I think more grooms, though, settle into the other extreme of delegating everything to their fiancées. And brides, for their part, seem to either complain about that – Why isn’t he helping? Doesn’t he care? – or relish the fact that the wedding is totally, completely in their hands.

I always wanted my wedding to be a joint effort, to strike a balance between those two sides. And from the beginning, Reese and I talked about our plans together. We have similar tastes, which helped us agree on many of those crucial first details, such as what time of year to marry, the importance of a big dance floor and the desire to extend invites to a large group of friends and family.

I knew from the get-go that he would want an active role in those decisions, and I was glad for the help as we navigated the early weeks. I found that there were certain things Reese cared about more than others, such as the menu and the band. So in the first couple days, as I called wedding planners and arranged meetings with photographers, he researched bands, watching video after video and e-mailing friends to see which wedding bands they’d seen and liked.

He’s taken complete ownership of some things – planning the honeymoon (location is still yet to be determined), for instance. And beyond that, he’s been supportive, tagging along to meetings with vendors, sitting patiently with my parents as we discuss budgets and guest lists, and simply listening as I agonize over each decision.

He has also been more opinionated on some things than I expected, even ruling out a few choices for being “too girly” – but that’s been a welcome surprise. Decisiveness can be key in wedding planning, and all too often, I waver on big decisions. On other things, he’s played the voice of reason, assuring me, in typical guy fashion, that the small details don’t really matter, and that whatever appetizers or decorations we chose would work just fine.

I like to think of wedding planning as practice for marriage. Arguments are inevitable, as this is probably the most stressful time many couples have been through. But the way you handle those conversations – ruling things out, talking about money, setting expectations for the event and each other – is a good indicator of how you’ll handle tougher talks in the years to come.

Every couple is different, of course, and for some brides, leaving wedding-related decisions up to their fiancés is worrisome at best, infuriating at worst. Ideally, though, planning should be a joint process. Because while the groom probably won’t care about the type of flowers or the style of bridesmaid dresses, the event is just as much about him as it is the bride.

Now just a few months into our planning, Reese and I have found that balance, those little ways to make our wedding special for both of us. More importantly, we’ve learned more about each other – and that at the end of the day, we’re in it together.

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