Jason here! As you probably gathered from some of Becca's recent posts, we've started getting down to the nuts-and-bolts decision-making. You could say we're moving out of the "honeymoon phase" of wedding planning (har har). Becca's done a ton of thinking and narrowing down options, and now I'm beginning to get a little more "engaged" in the process (sorry, I just can't help all these marriage puns). I must say, it's an interesting experience. As she stated, I want to be actively involved in things...maybe not the finer details of centerpieces & napkin rings, but I do care about how this event is gonna look & feel. My creative, artsy brain wants to have input. I just don't yet have as clear a picture of what I want as Becca does.
In the process of brainstorming, I realized something interesting yet totally obvious. Here it is: unlike women, we men don't grow up surrounded by a culture that encourages us to imagine ourselves as a "groom" and fantasize about our vision for "our special day". The cultural norm for grooms contains no drama, no agonizing over decisions, no peaks & valleys of emotion. At most, we're expected conform to a tried-and-true formula: don a sharp tux, get a good shave & haircut, and let the women handle all the planning details. You never hear of "groomzillas", and guys don't swap gossip about how so-and-so's best man was demoted to groomsman for refusing to wear a matching cummerbund.
The same cultural forces that drive many women towards "obsess-over-wedding-details-to-the-point-of-insanity" also nudge most men towards the "hands-off" mindset. For starters, there's a ubiquitous cultural stereotype to fall back on (which most of the grooms I've known have subscribed to). Plus, the lack of substantive groom-centric resources out there makes it challenging for a man to find a community of guys to share thoughts & advice with. Also, speaking frankly, it can be a little intimidating if the bride's mother takes a very active role in the plans (which is often the case), and it's tempting for a guy to just back off & let his fiancee and her mom hash things out. But the same way Becca takes an honest look at all the components of being a bride and tries to make them truly her own, I want to apply the same approach to being a groom. If the wedding is going to be a true collaboration, I should approach the trappings of my role with the same thoughtfulness that she's applied to hers.
Unfortunately, there aren't a lot of resources out there for a groom who wants to get this in-depth with planning. In an attempt to do some basic research, I made my first foray into TheKnot.com. I must say, I'm beginning to understand all the negative stuff I've heard about it. The gender bias there is laughable! A search for the word "Groom" brings up lots of articles, but they all center around three themes:
1) Tuxedos (shopping, tailoring & fit, fashion tips)
2) Groomsmen (bachelor parties, coordinating day-of stuff with your groom's party)
3) Toasts (how to give a good reception speech)
...aaaand that's it. As if there's nothing else a man should be concerned about regarding his own wedding. There's no advice for men on how to collaborate with your fiancee, how to jointly come to decisions or work through conflicting opinions. And certainly no resources for how to create a non-tuxedo "groom style" that suits your aesthetic and personal tastes. Web searches for "groom blogs" only bring up two or three active sites (Temple of Groom looks good), but for the most part, it looks like I'm left to my own devices. So I guess I've just gotta jump in and start tackling things on the checklist.
For starters, let's talk apparel (which is the only thing TheKnot.com acknowledges is important for a groom to consider). Tuxes aren't inherently boring - the standard penguin suit can be really classy and beautiful if done right. But luckily, I've got my outfit already. It's my nicest suit...and I do mean NICE. It was a recent "investment", and a good one. It looks effing SHARP. I feel like a million bucks in it, plus, Becca loves how it looks. It's lightweight wool, solid black, single-breasted, exceedingly well-tailored, and it looks SO much better on me than a tuxedo does. Plus, I save us some money by not renting an outfit. And anyway, a tux would be way too stuffy for our laid-back outdoor setting. It's a very logical decision, and at the same time it completely bucks the traditional concept of what a groom is supposed to wear. I guess I'm lucky that guys generally have a simpler, less-strict set of expectations than women, so breaking with tradition isn't such a big deal. Still, it's just one of many decisions that I'm considering more closely than most grooms typically do.
Also luckily for me, I've got a fiancee with a blog full of people willing to share their thoughts & ideas. I've just begun looking around for good groom-blogs and resources to spur some thinking, but I'd appreciate any suggestions you friendly readers might have, either for resources or for things your fiances found most helpful during your planning process. I know Becca just solicited you for input last week and was thrilled by the response, so if you're still feeling comment-y, feel free to share your thoughts. Thanks everyone!