When it comes to weddings, everyone talks about the bride. Of course this is okay, she has a right to be in the spotlight on the big day. But a wedding is a celebration of a coupling—two becoming one—and is difficult (dare I say impossible) to pull off without a plus one for the bride. For the groom, planning the wedding might feel anywhere from overwhelming to unimportant, but as he looks to spend the rest of his life with his fiancée, this planning stage is an excellent opportunity to put being a life partner into practice. With the help of some friends who have married in the last year, I have pulled together a few tips that might help the groom in getting from her “Yes” to “I do.”

Offer to help—and mean it
From the beginning it is important as a groom to not relegate yourself to the sidelines, even if you might feel that is what your partner wants. Most brides want their fiancé to be involved, to help make decisions, to care about the details. Don’t assume the bride and company want to plan everything themselves. But when you offer your help, it needs to be sincere—this isn’t the time to put in half-effort.

Give your honest opinions but note that “I don’t care,” even with genuine intent, will not translate well. Sometimes your bride might ask your opinion so that she can talk through her own ideas and get some fresh input.

There are going to be times when the bride feels overwhelmed. These are opportunities to practice being a helpmate—listen, offer input after the emotions cool, affirm and listen (the importance of the latter cannot be overstated). Also, take it upon yourself to step up on her behalf. Some people might yield in areas that they care about simply because they do not want to confront someone. It is important for both of you to support each other—including occasionally sticking up for one another, even if it means saying something to an overbearing family member.

Focus on the important things
There are two sides to this: priorities and personality.

Early on you want to take care of the big things—the venue, the caterer and the photographer (most people I know cannot emphasize enough the importance of getting a photographer who is not only talented but also trustworthy). Get quotes from different vendors and feel free to negotiate within reason—and note that many vendors can be flexible, substituting items for others in a package to either help customize or lower costs. Plan ahead so you don’t have to stress and scramble later. When budgeting, start with the “musts” and work your way down to the “that would be nice” items.

Also, both you and your fiancée need to each decide the things that are important to yourselves. This helps you both understand the expectations of each other and to help meet those. Talk about what songs you want to hear. After our ceremony, my new wife and I exited the chapel to an upbeat song by my favorite band. It was a fun way to cap the formalities and allowed us and our wedding party to show some personality by dancing back down the aisle. Things like music, fashion, food and the drive away car are all opportunities to inject some personality into the festivities, and talking through how you express yourselves as a couple—with dashes of each individual personality combining—will help you both get the most out of it. Of course this is not about outshining one another, it is simply about blending your two personalities, just as your lives do together.

Enjoy
This is your wedding. It is not a big party to impress your friends. Keep that in mind as you plan; the reception is a celebration of the wedding—your wedding. Don’t feel too much pressure about what everyone else will think. It is easy to get stressed, so remember the point of it all.

Everyone will tell you it goes by fast. “It” can mean anything from the planning to the ceremony to your first anniversary. So relish the moments and remember what brought you here; you are getting married after all, enjoy your happily ever after step by step.
There are moments of the wedding festivities you will never forget—dancing the night away with friends, pre-wedding festivities, a blush-inducing toast and, above all, the way she looks when she walks down the aisle.

The memories don’t begin once the rings are exchanged. So turn registry shopping into an adventure. Throw a wink while addressing envelopes. And shirk convention here and there as you put the “your” in “your wedding.” Have. And hold.

Congratulations to Ches & Meagan Helmick and David & Christiann Listor, who were recently wed (the guys helped me with ideas for this), and all my love to my bride, Naomi.


By Drew Menard

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