So, after last week’s really rather bridal post, I promised something quite different this week. Ladies and gentleman, meet The Boy (The Boy, meet the ladies and gentleman). He’s the JD to my Elliot, the Castle to my Beckett, the Rory to my Amy. Or, more accurately, he’s the Christopher to my Carrie-Ann (because those are our names).
Here’s the first part of his occasional series, A Groom’s Guide to a Wedding, please enjoy. But not more than my posts, yeah?
To a woman, a wedding – and everything it involves – is a joyous time of debate, discussion, looking at pretty things, trying on pretty things and cooing over flowers. To a man, it is probably the most perplexing thing you can go through. In fact, I’ve spent most of the last four months sporting a baffled expression as I tried to answer questions I cannot possibly know, and have an opinion on things I genuinely have no opinion on.
So I thought I would use this opportunity to share with my fellow man what I’ve discovered, so that you can also navigate the minefield that is getting married.
1. The proposal
This, dear sir, is the one thing you have absolute control over. If you’re a straight man, then your loving partner will – most likely – not be proposing to you. This is your job. And as a result, there is an unnecessary amount of pressure on you doing it. All I will say as advice is you should do what is true to you and your loved one. If you’re artistic, then be artistic. If you share a love of football, or climbing things, or watching films… do something that involves that. I know this is rich coming from a man who made his girlfriend a magazine to propose, but extravagant proposals only work if A: You like showing off and B: Your partner likes such things. One of my favourite proposal stories involves a nervous man, who was planning to propose on holiday, bottling it entirely and doing it in the kitchen before they left. That’s a lot more sweet and genuine than doing it in a posh restaurant or a strange country.
2. The Wedding
Now that you’ve proposed, that’s it for you. You’re done. It’s over to the bride-to-be. If you thought a wedding was a bit like that 21st birthday party you threw, only with a bit at the beginning where you tell the woman you love you love her, and a few speeches thrown in… well you’re sorta right. Only this will cost you a wee bit more than the £300 you spent on booze and burgers… think a house deposit or a particularly pricey car.
3. Flowers, dresses and ‘centrepieces’
I am not going to lie to you, I have no idea what my other half expects me to say when she shows me a picture of dresses, flowers, weird things to hold flowers in or bows to stick on chairs that no-one is going to notice. But I have mastered a few phrases such as:
“Yes, that does look nice.”
“Oh, I think Fran would look just smashing in that.”
“Yes, I can see that working.”
“Erm, yes, actually, I quite like that.”
The key here is authenticity. If it sounds like you’ve really thought about it, you’re unlikely to be asked any follow-up questions and you can go back to reading the paper.
4. The Best Man (Men)
Ah, I did say that the proposal is all you’d have to do, but I was wrong. You also have to pick a best man. Or woman (I nearly picked a woman). Or even men or women (I actually have picked men). This is that time in your life when you are suddenly forced to rank your friends, even though you’ve never had to do that before and don’t actually want to. This was by far the worst thing I’ve had to do about this entire process. I have lots of best men and women and they are all invited and I hope they can all come, and there’s a good chance I had considered all of them for the role.
One friend told me to think about the jobs the best man (or woman) would have to perform, and how good they are at giving speeches and organising Stag Dos. But that’s bollocks. The main event is the marriage itself. And when you are standing in front of your family and loved ones, feeling nervous and shakey, you want to make sure your best friend is the one standing beside you. If he or she is shy… so what. The speech might be a bit rusty, but that’s just dressing. It’s not important. Go with your heart.
5. The Guest List
This is the bit where you list everyone you want to invite to the wedding. And then realise you can’t invite them all because you have to add girlfriends and boyfriends you don’t know, and there are people annoyed with you because you’ve not invited that long-lost cousin you never knew you had. There’s nothing quite like the feeling of gratitude you get when you invite someone to eat the food you’ve paid for, and dance to the band you’ve paid for, in the expensive venue you paid for, and that person can’t stop bitching because you couldn’t invite their kids.
6. Wedding Favours
These are little tiny gifts that you give to everyone that you’ve invited to your wedding – because apparently throwing a party with free food, drink and music isn’t a gift enough. Don’t fight it men. I know it doesn’t make sense, but there’s little you can do.
7. Don’t Tell The Bride/Say Yes To The Dress/I’ve Found The Gown
These are programmes where incredibly entitled middle-class people scream at each other and cry a lot over things that don’t really matter. There’s a good chance your fiancée will watch these a lot. Try buying a Game Boy or a DS to help pass the time when the shows are on. WHICH IS ALL THE TIME.
*Note from the bride: Don’t forget Say Yes to the Dress: Atlanta. It’s the best one*
8. The budget
This is a construct to help keep your wedding costs under control. It will not work.
9. Wedding rings
That’s right guys, you will probably have to buy and wear a wedding ring. I know it’s tempting you just go for the cheapest option, but remember you’ve got to wear this for eternity. So I’d do what I have done, which was to go out and find the cheapest option.
10. The Stag Do
This is a night out – or even a weekend – organised by your best man (or men, or woman, or women). It’s where all your friends get unnecessarily drunk and act like complete dick heads. You can’t organise the Stag Do yourself, but you can make some stipulations. So if you don’t want strippers, say so. The most important thing here is budgets. I’ve been invited to Stag Dos that cost hundreds of pounds, and although that’s reasonable for some of your more affluent buddies, there will be some that just can’t afford to spend that much on watching the people they care about forget who they are and act like lecherous knob heads. Try and keep the costs down. When it comes to spending time with your pals, it’s the people that matter the most, not which country you’re throwing up in.
And I’m done for now. Stay tuned for future instalments of A Groom’s Guide to a Wedding.