In May 2013, I proposed to my girlfriend of five years after a romantic dinner backed by the sparkling waterfront backdrop of Manhattan’s Seaport pier. We basked in our new, shiny engagement bliss for a few days and then began talking specifics about our ideal wedding. I happen to have a professional background in event planning and private dining, so I was especially excited to help in every aspect of our big day. But I am a rarity. Most guys don’t want to do much, which is a shame because there are lots of fun, non-frilly things you can get involved in the planning process that will help de-stress your ladylove and guarantee that your wedding day represents the two of you as couple. Here are ten awesome things you can help do:
1. Build a wedding website
This is a wonderful way to demonstrate sincere involvement while providing a custom way for your guests to RSVP, get directions, learn details about your wedding, and more. My personal passion is web design, so I used my wedding as an excuse to build a beautiful, robust website for our big day. Plus, when you spend seemingly countless hours pouring your heart and soul into a project like this, you naturally become invested in your wedding on a whole new level. The end result is something heartfelt, handmade, and representative of you as a couple.
2. Live it up like Tom Ford
Sure, when the big day comes, all eyes will be on your beautiful bride. But you can certainly distract some secondary attention with a show-stopping, non-traditional suit that fits like perfection and demonstrates your unique personality. For instance, my wedding will take place in a dock-side venue surrounded by yachts and sailboats. I saw this as an opportunity to break free of the black tux, white shirt, and black tie norms with bold, preppy attire better suited for our nautical theme. I’m still piecing together the exact look but there’s a good chance bright green pants and boat shoes are involved. Bounce ideas off your bride-to-be and, if you’ve picked the right girl, she will gladly let you be you (within reason).
3. You have an excuse to watch wedding reality shows
Show your bride-to-be you care by sitting in on a few episodes of her favorite dress-picking or wedding-judging television show. You will be hooked beyond denial before you know it! My fiancée and I started off watching “Say Yes to the Dress” almost immediately after getting engaged. Our interest dithered when she bought her own dress and didn’t care to look at other people shopping for one ever again. We then became particularly addicted to “Four Weddings” which follows four brides-to-be as they attend each other’s ceremony and reception and compete for a dream honeymoon. And I have to admit, it’s kind of fun.
4. Be a cowboy: Take the reigns on projects that actually interest you
You will be less likely to get pulled into painful tasks (like picking linens and boutonnière styles) that you would rather not think about. Perhaps you are a geeky kid at heart — offer to build cool table numbers out of Legos. Or maybe you have carpentry skills and you can whittle place cards out of wood, or maybe, just maybe you’re the manliest of men and have a real talent for assembling bathroom gift baskets (real men like potpourri, okay?). Whatever it is that you like, find a use for it in the party-planning process and take control and get it done.
5. Exercise the left and right sides of your brain
Let’s face it, the expenses can get out of control quickly and it becomes increasingly difficult to say no to your partner’s adorable little face. A great way to stay active and involved in the wedding planning process is to outline a preliminary budget and constantly seek out creative ways to make each item possible for less. This will keep you busy with research, haggling, shopping, and bargain hunting which will help give your girl her dream wedding for less.
6. Think outside of the Pottery Barn
It’s every man’s nightmare to walk around Crate & Barrel with that price gun, zapping ridiculous pillows and spice racks all day. And the worst part of it is that the result from this embarrassing experience is yet another unimaginative wedding registry. You can do better with services such as simpleregistry.com or zankyou.com — which allows you to put any item from anywhere on one wedding registry. And there is a new personalized registry movement that allows a young couple starting their life together to buy a house, go on a dream honeymoon, or start a business (which is what we opted for) instead of getting a mound of toasters and punch bowls. Your beloved family and friends can contribute toward real experiences and goals that are more meaningful to the two of you than napkins rings.
7. Pump up the volume
Music is everything when it comes to your wedding reception. Tunes are the driving force behind your entire evening. The mood, ambiance, flow, and atmosphere rely heavily on what’s coming from those speakers. Plus, remember how fun it used to be to make your high school crush a mixed tape or CD? The wedding planning phase gives you a brilliant excuse to go catch live sets of potential DJ’s, bands, and performers — and tons of fun date nights that will let you and your fiancée blow off some wedding-planning steam, all in the name of research, of course.
8. Unleash your inner foodie
Weighing in on flower petal width and strategic seating chart manipulation can sure work up an appetite, and while planning a wedding there are plenty of opportunities to sample a wide variety of chefs and bakers — all competing for your business. Take your time and take advantage before committing. Stuff your face with anything and everything they hand you, which will be a constant reminder of how lucky you are to be planning a wedding.
9. The boys are back in town
As your wedding day approaches, it’s hard not to get excited about getting your entire crew back together again for your big day. Some of your friends have stayed close, others have lost touch, but when the big day comes, your bros will be right there beside you as if no time has passed at all. Cherish it, because it’s a rare occasion, as we grow older.
10. You’re marrying your dream girl
It’s okay to admit you want to get married. We won’t tell anyone. But no matter how much you’re looking forward to tying the knot, it doesn’t even come close to your bride’s anticipation. Take pride and ownership in making her vision come to life. Remember, she was picturing this day long before she met you. It’s our duty as upstanding fiancé’s to make it everything she hoped for and more. It’s a fun, rewarding process leading up to a day you will never forget and never be able to recreate.
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