Image: One Love Photo

UPDATE!

I have expanded this blog into a website that deals with similar themes (Balance, Beauty, Balls!), but addresses life beyond wedding planning. Click HERE to check it out. See you soon!

Monday, August 23, 2010

#69: The Testicular Perspective: Men & Wedding Planning

                 I was wondering how I could incorporate Jack Black into this blog. Score!

Wedding planning is a riveting female-dominated sport if I ever saw one. But where the dudes be at? Why aren't men excited about wedding planning? Where are their wedding planning blogs?

It turns out that grooms do indeed have a voice in the wedding blogging community, albeit a soft whisper compared to us ladies. I found this out when the funny and fabulous Bret of All Things 'Zilla wrote a guest post over at One Cat Per Person (home to one of my favorite bloggerettes, Angie), about his participation in the wedding blog community. Bret also shares his desire for more equal representation from grooms in the blogosphere (like this thoughtful and hilarious one).

Of course, many men are heavily involved in the planning and do their share of heavy lifting throughout the process. (Hooray! Seriously.) But that's not without first hearing the rather overdone half-joke "All you have to do is show up" advice from his friends and relatives. Unfortunately, the "planning" done by the rest of the male population involves little more than visiting a venue, choosing the menu, trying on a tux, renting a limousine, and keeping a close eye on the budget. This leaves all the tedious research, logistical details, the gathering of 150 addresses onto a spreadsheet, the up-all-night-alone-finishing-centerpieces work to his partner. Boo. Lame I tell you.

How did this phenomenon begin? I refuse to blame it on the general disinterest that most men have in centerpieces-- that would be too easy. Throwing a fun party for your peeps and planning an incredible day with the love of your life aren't exactly gender-specific activities. And when a wedding is described in this manner, you'd think that men and women would be equally excited about the celebration, equally obsessed with making it kick some major butt, equally interested in making the whole sha-bang look aesthetically rad, and more or less equally turned off by the logistics and the amount of cash dropped in hosting it. But as you know, that's not what typically happens. So what's the dealio?

I stumbled upon a possible answer to this conundrum when browsing a few online groom resources.  While I was happy to find that such resources do exist, I was totally turned off by what I was seeing on some of those sites: detailed articles on etiquette, how-to guides about preparing speeches, instructions on being an A+ groom...basically a long list of rules and expectations piled one on top of the other. Wow. Fun.

And in that instant I saw with fresh eyes the similar pressure that women experience from the wedding industry, except turned up a million notches. We are taught what to wear, how to act, what to want, what to purchase, how much to spend, and how to feel...and not just on a few obscure wedding websites like the groom-geared ones I found, but in countless bridal magazines, advertisements, and films as well. It becomes clear that the source of the bridezilla stereotype lies not in the X chromosome; rather, it is the result of stress in a woman's pursuit of wedding day perfection - a standard that is defined,  enforced, and perpetuated by the a blend of the wedding industry's evil genius and our surrender to it.

It was at this point that I imagined a role reversal; what if men were the targeted victims of the wedding industry? What if women were the mere bystanders? And what if my now-hubby were feeling stressed and pressured by what the magazines and blogs were asking of him? What would I do if my guy were strung out and worried that his $8k tuxedo made his butt look big and that this, combined with the fact that the roses were the wrong shade of pink, would ruin the wedding photos?

Well. I'll tell you what I'd do. I'd rebel. I'd be all "What the eff are you reading those magazines and blogs for?". And then I'd joke about eloping in Vegas and having a romantic candlelight KFC dinner to follow. But if my dear Brian paid no mind to my plea for simplicity and sanity throughout our wedding planning, I just might pull away from the stress and the mess and let him micromanage his little heart away. I'd be content with handling just the fun stuff, like picking out my dress and attending the cake tasting appointment.

Now, this is not to say that the above response is the most supportive way of handling your partner's stress. I mean, why not get to the root of the issue (i.e.- unreasonable societal expectations and his sense of self-worth being wrapped up in these expectations), instead of teasing him and then withdrawing from the planning process? I'll tell you why not: because it's easier to joke about KFC in Vegas than it is to get to the root of things.

Then, of course, there's the idea that the wedding day is "for the bride" - that' it's "her day". Well. If I were a man who believed such nonsense, and I were marrying a woman who believed in such nonsense, would you blame me if I was uninvolved and unexcited about the planning? (Again, not the most loving response, but I'll leave that topic for another post.)

So. I don't know if I've really figured anything out here. My hypotheses are merely a shot in the dark until I can conduct my Brave Groom interviews in the upcoming weeks. (Woo-hoo! Are you not excited about this??)

Until then, how about bringing up this topic with your partner? After he spills his guts, consider sharing your findings with the blog, yes? Now off you go, my little detectives!

PS. My 69th post has the word testicular in it. Go figure.

Photo Credit (Click for more freaking hilarious Jack Black photos. You're welcome.)

21 comments:

  1. Something interesting about our recent wedding: I (the female half) freaked out beforehand with stress. Boy did not. However, before the ceremony the groomswomen and a few others said "Whatever, groom, we know best" and hijacked the music, etc., and Boy became very stressed and unhappy. Meanwhile I was off hanging out with my friends, who did my hair, and told me not to worry about a thing. They fed me m&ms and bourbon. I was happy and not stressed. Nothing like a little reverse gender inequality.

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  2. M&m's and bourbon? Genius. Hijacking the fun stuff that you actually *want* to oversee? Not so much. ;)

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  3. My fiance is an engineer. That means that he's a nerd and he likes to look at data. Every single wedding decision comes complete with him heading to the computer to put together a spread sheet on cost, ease, timelines, etc. He's made charts. Colored charts. I love that.

    So while he couldn't care less about what the flowers look like, he does care about cost and how much said DIY project will cause me to lose my freaking mind. He's the financial side and sometimes when I come up with an idea, I have to pitch it to him complete with prices. He's also designing our save the dates and has some very cool ideas about table numbers and seating charts. Compared to what my friend have experienced with their husbands during wedding planning, my man is a big weirdo because he cares. But we're doing these things together, which is all I really cared about. And we are big weirdos, that's part of why we're marrying each other.

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  4. @ Jamie - Ha! Love it! Especially the bit about having to pitch ideas to him complete with prices.

    But you bring up a great point- couples often compliment each other, and work is divided up according to their strengths. Making everything even by cutting the pie down in the middle isn't always necessary when it comes to big projects or household chores. What's more important is that people get to play to their strengths, that they are able to count on their partner to fill in with things they're not great at (or too exhausted to do), and both people feel supported and cared for throughout the process.

    In short, teamwork isn't always "fair" on paper but it should at least *feel* fair for both parties.

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  5. i think men are excited, it's just that society says they can't so they don't show it. there is no, say yes to the wedding outfit show for guys. and all other wedding planning shows completely dismiss the groom and focus on the women.

    i feel lucky josh was invested in the design of the wedding. he created our logo and specially selected typefaces so that we would have a cohesive brand. but that's the graphic designer in him. i think both of us brought our talents to the table- my somewhat-crafty-abilities and his love of clean, simple design. together we churned out a fantastic day!

    i think it's hard for men to blog in wedding world. bret is one of my favorite bloggers and his writing style is witty and thoughtful. i actually wrote him an email one day and said, "People need to know about All Things Zilla. We must tell the world." (or something like that.) But. He is the only groom blogger I read. Both by happenstance and by choice. (I have enough trouble keeping up with the blogs I subscribe to already.) Yipes!

    And p.s. Yes! I am Filipina!

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  6. First off, thank you for the shout-out, I am humbled and tickled. Humicled? Anyway, what a lovely surprise to see my name in your post. I am stoked to have found your blog - you have a wonderful voice. Blogging voice, I mean, although I'm guessing your singing voice is good too.

    And yeah, the whole thing is pretty fascinating. I think for some couples, it's sort of built into the relationship - with me and Jessica, for instance, if I had told her I wasn't into planning the wedding, she would have started to question whether she actually knew me as well as she thought she did. I think she might have had a little fear in the back of my mind that I'd go the typical groom route, but of course she knew I really would be excited about the whole thing. And of course I was, and am still, and will continue to be.

    It's also interesting how even the best, most kick-ass wedding blogs can even fall into old habits - The Broke-Ass Bride, which I totally love and read daily, recently had a post about getting the groom involved and it suggested having them only do the things they liked to do. And my thought was: sure, that sounds nice. But that's more like a band-aid than a real solution. If grooms only do the fun things, guess who's left with all the shit? Yeah. The bride. Back to square one.

    Also, to Angie: you are like the coolest person ever. Just FYI.

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  7. PS - I'm not sure if you were being f'reals or not but I give a good interview, btw. There may be jokes though. Lots of jokes.

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  8. I haven't had any issues with my mister being a typical or atypical groom. He's just my mister, and we're planning a wedding. I didn't fret "oh noes! what if our tastes clash?!" because I figured if he showed up feeling good and I showed up feeling good, then it would by default be cohesive (our theme is: us, gettin' married). Turns out, he wanted to wear a zoot suit while I, who hadn't told him yet, was swooning for 40s/50s dresses. Win. Other details basically go like this: "Hey, do you want X?" and if yes, "How do you want X?" We haven't had to compromise on anything, because I figure if he wants something badly, he should have it on his damn wedding day. He feels the same about me. And as if by some reward for our sensibilities, the things we want have been, so far, exactly the same.

    It seems wonderfully unfair, like we're cheating at this whole wedding planning thing, but it also reinforces that we're already looking in the same direction on even the minor things (like zoot suits! seriously...he even has fedora and wing tips now and boy does he know how pretty looks...yum).

    In conclusion: I love this guy.

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  9. @ Angie - Good point. My little bro and I always joke about what the male equivalent would be of "Say Yes To The Dress". The best I could come up with is "Don't Say No To The Bro." It would be a reality show about how grooms could incorporate fun, silly and highly personalized elements into a wedding.

    PS. I'm a Filipina who married a White graphic designer, too! (Not sure if your guy is actually White but I thought it'd make our similarity that much more impressive.)

    @ Bret - Humicled. Yes. I thought you were making a joke about testicles given the title of this post. I read more closely and it turns out you weren't. But it was still a fine joke.

    And yeah, that idea of having the groom take care of the aspects of the wedding that he's interested in...I actually had that same advice in mind when a friend complained to me that her guy was doing ZERO planning. Like in an anti-wedding kind of way. (He wanted to elope.) But I could see how that's sort of infantilizing the groom; it's the kind of "deal" you make with a child who doesn't want to do chores or brush his teeth. But then again, isn't it kind of childish to refuse to help your fiancee plan a wedding, especially when she's totally stressed out?

    PS. How do you type an accent mark over the "e" in fiancee? Anybody? Anybody??

    @ Erika - Now THAT'S the kind of story I like to hear! When you read something like that you wonder why any guy wouldn't take advantage of having complete(ish) control over what kind of party he and his lady throw.

    Love this: "Our theme is: us, gettin' married." Amen!

    PS. Your theme in terms of style is too cool for school and you're certainly welcome to sharing it on the blog when all is said and done if you so choose. :)

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  10. @ Bret - Yes, I was f'reals about interviewing dudes!! Would you mind if I threw some interview q's your way?

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  12. I'd love to (try to) answer some q's. Give me yer best shot!

    You're right that in dire circumstances, maybe we have to view ANYTHING the groom might do as a bonus, especially if he's acting childish and being a poopy-pants about the whole thing. Sigh. It just sort of ruffled my feathers a bit to think about the groom going to cake tastings (for example) while the bride sits at home cutting things from the budget all night to get it down to $10,000.

    Grooms should stop being poopy-pants, is what I'm saying here.

    (PS - sorry about the deleted comment - I was logged in in my google account and I don't like that photo but it looks like it stayed up there. Whoopsies!)

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  13. Bret, I'm just glad I was able to read the phrases "poopy-pants" and "whoopsies" today.

    And I'll be contacting you about an interview soon. :)

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  14. I think that bit about the wedding being treated like the 'bride's special day' right at the end makes a lot of sense.

    Typically great post babe xx

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Babbling about weddings is so much more fun when people babble back. :)

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