It is a truth universally acknowledged that the average groom is not interested in planning his wedding. No offense, the story goes, but it’s just not his thing. All the dresses and all the pretty and matching colors and flowers and the squealing and who’s going to sit where, and yes, it all really matters (and it does), but they’re more than happy to let you  figure out all of that sh…uh, stuff.

If he doesn't care about this, it means he loves you.

But I’ve been running into a lot of grooms lately. Clients, potential clients, non-clients in the same room as clients and potential clients, TV characters, Macys. What can I say? It’s summer and they’re everywhere.

Some of them are there willingly. Some of them do it because you want them to be there.

Groom maintenance starts with these questions, and  be honest: Does he want to be involved, or do you want him to be involved? OR do you just want him to want to be involved? They’re different things. For instance, on Entourage this week, Sloane wanted Eric to look at these flower arrangements she liked, and he couldn’t have cared less. Why didn’t he care about the flowers? Because he didn’t. You know what he cared about? Marrying her. The #1 rule of Groom Maintenance is: Let him not care about what he doesn’t care about. Because what he really cares about is you. Priorities, people.

Don’t get me wrong -  at Silver Charm Events, I’m noticing that grooms are actively participating more these days. But I’m also noticing that the majority are only actively participating in the stuff they’re interested in. Chris is a musician, so he organized the three bands he and Sheila had at their wedding. Mike has to have a certain type of scotch, so he’s in charge of the bar. Or they’re like Devon and Peter, who had to take over most of the wedding planning because Sarah was in Japan and Theresa was in law school. And, of course, as more and more couples are paying for their own weddings, more and more grooms are making more and more decisions.

So, instead of telling him what you want him to do, ask him what he wants to do, and what he wants your wedding to look and feel like. It may prove difficult to get an answer.  If so, do what I do during wedding consultations – ask him what he doesn’t want. Because he definitely knows that. There is going to be at least one thing that he absolutely, positively does not want at your wedding, and you need to know what that is right now. Find out now, because you will find out later. Many a bride has been blindsided when their fiance suddenly pulled the brakes on one of their ideas – knowing is half the battle.

Groom maintenance continues by keeping him informed of the choices that you’re making. Eric, I’m looking at flower arrangements this week. Do you want to see any examples before I make a decision? No? Then move on, and be okay with the reply, “Whatever you want is fine”, because he means that. Eric, we need  to schedule a food tasting , do you want to come? Yes? Let me know when you’re available. On the other hand, if he really wants to be a part of every decision, let him. Less pressure on you. More compromise, but definitely less pressure, so enjoy it.

Don’t blindside him, either. Repeat: If he mentioned something, he cares about it. So, if he mentioned it…He expects it to happen. If there is some reason that it can’t, don’t let him find out when it doesn’t. Tell him beforehand and work it out.

Yes, Communication and Acceptance are the cornerstones of Groom Maintenance. Of marriage, too, by the way, so it’ll be good practice.

How’s your groom doing? What is it that he definitely does or doesn’t want at your wedding?

Oh, and Congrats and best wishes to our own Britt, who’s getting married tomorrow! Knock it out the box, kid.

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See you at the end of the aisle,

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14 Responses to “The Fine Art Of Groom Maintenance”

  1. Heather

    I agree that it's wise to involve my fiance in the stuff that interests him. However, this assumes that the stuff that does not interest him interests me. Or that he'll actually take charge and research the stuff that interests him.
    For instance, I didn't care what photographer we chose, but it was really important to him. But the only way we ended up choosing one was when I finally sat him down and basically forced him to look at the websites of photographers I'd found. I knew it was important to him, and I also knew that photographers (especially the good ones) tend to book fairly far in advance. So, I ended up taking charge of something that definitely interested him moreso than me.
    It's also his responsibility to figure out what he wants his groomsmen to wear, and he didn't decide on that until 65 days prior to the wedding. Again, that was after a lot of prodding on my part, but it's something I knew he'd be really fussy about, so I ended up making sure it would actually get done.
    Plus, I really don't care about flowers. However, he has declared that flowers provided visual interest when pictures are taken. But he's (again) unwilling to actually take charge and work with our florist, so that ends up on my plate, too.
    Basically, this boils down to the stereotype I've heard before: The groom takes care of the 20% of things that actually matter to him. The bride takes care of the 20% of things that matter to her. And the remaining 60% of things are also done by the bride, or they just don't get done. Which is completely unfair.

  2. olga

    I TOTAAAAAAAAAAALLY agreee. This is exactly how I structured my wedding planning. My fiance has no interest in being involved in flowers, linens, invitations, color schemes, or other little details. This all took a whole bunch of stress off of me and I freely and easily took care of it myself. Girls who want their fiance's to be involved in everything and anything are just creating more stress for themselves…let him care what he wants to care about and save yourself a headavhe.

  3. lizcharm

    @Heather – Hmm. Good points, all, and I can see that this can be really frustrating. Just from my experience, his reluctance/resistance/half-assedness may be coming from a couple of areas. For one, he might not have known where to start looking for this stuff, and since he didn't know where to start, he had a hard time getting started. For another, if (IF) he didn't have a definite deadline for when it all needed to get done, it would be very easy to put it off. As a groom told me a couple of days ago, "'Whenever' can mean a lot of things". Third of all, and this is where the harsh comes in, he probably knew that if he didn't take care of it, you would take care of it for him.
    This doesn't excuse his behavior, but it can be managed so it doesn't drive you nuts. Three Words: Deadlines, Timelines, Expectations. Set dates and times for when particular line items need to get finalized, and let him know that you expect him to stick to them, and it's off your plate. And then take it off your plate. It's hard, I know. Do it anyway. Tell him he's responsible for the appointments, he's responsible for the decisions, so if he doesn't do what he said he was going to do, then it's not getting done, and its on him. After all, he expects you to do what you to do what you took responsibility for, right? That's only fair.

  4. Valerie Serpa

    I completely agree with this article! My fiance and I talked about the planning process right after we got engaged and he told me the few things that he wanted and told me he completely trusted my decisions. His only request was to just keep him informed on what was going on. It has made the planning process so much easier! No stress (ok, maybe only a little stress here and there! :)
    Thank you for this article! Great read.

  5. Kate

    I'm with Heather. Groom involvement is fantastic, and mine has been really great, but 7 days out from our wedding, I've certainly come to resent the attitude that he only has to worry about things he's really interested in, while I am expected to manage EVERYTHING else. When we both look at each other and say, "I don't care," it becomes my responsibility to make the choices.

    And some things need to be taken care of whether we are personally interested in them or not- grooms should be held equally responsible for those aspects of planning. Finding chairs for everyone might not be glamorous, but if grandma has to stand during the ceremony because neither of us is interested in getting chairs, well, that's not being a good host.

  6. Liz Coopersmith

    @Kate There is a difference between being interested in something and taking responsibility for it, this is true. But if he’s supposed to be RESPONSIBLE for something, then part of that is letting him take responsibility for it. Give him a deadline, expect him to meet it and don’t give in and do it yourself if he doesn’t. It’s his responsibility. And if Grandma doesn’t have a chair then you walk up to him and say, HEY, grandma doesn’t have a chair…and let him take care of it. Because he said he would, right?

  7. Kate

    I do get that this post was really more about, "Ladies, don't drag your fiance to every goofy appointment you go to whether he's interested or not, because he'll really shine helping in ways he feels strongly about," And you've got good advice for couples who find one person is suffering from detatchment from the process thanks to detail overload. I think it's important, though, that the fellas feel like they're just as involved in the process as the ladies and to suggest that their only real responsibility is to do stuff they WANT to do sort of lets them off the hook easy.

    When all my female relatives applauded his "it's her day, whatever she wants is fine" attitude after our engagement and when the current cultural expectation is exactly as you described in the beginning of your post, how do we encourage our grooms not just to take an interest in the planning, but to realize that we really do need their help on the gnitty gritty too? (Without overloading them)

  8. Ana

    So funny, I almost wrote a blog today about the very same topic! I see a lot of this at Porter Valley Country Club when we have new grooms and brides come in. But lately we have seen a lot more guys caring a lot more about the details than they normally do. My husband didn't care about a thing except for the getaway car which he insisted be the next year's model of the Rolls Royce Phantom! What can I say, he's a car and electronics guy! But that was the one area I had input and the rest was up to me. I know how girls feel wanting their fiance to care about the details, but just because they aren't involved with every step doesn't mean they don't care about the wedding itself. They are two seperate things. Don't stress over it, just enjoy planning and getting your creative ideas out there. Then at the wedding you can see his excitement at the amazing party you helped plan with or without his every input. Congratulations to the newly engaged couples out there! Happy planning!

  9. Liz Coopersmith

    @Kate in orsder to encourage grooms to actively participate, and understand that you need help, just ask them for help. Don’t assume that they know you need help, tell them and figure out how they can help and when they are going to do whatever they’ve taken responsibility for. The thing of it is, you’ve never planned a wedding before, but neither has he, so odds are he’s clueless as to how complicated it can be,just as you were at the beginning of this. Don’t assumehe knows – tell him and ask for help.

  10. Wording Invitations

    My brother is getting married next year and yes, if he were to be told what to do, participation will be out the window.

    I agree that communication and acceptance is key on everybody's end. I like the idea of asking the groom what he does not want to do. I think some grooms may believe that the bride wants to be in charge of planning their wedding and that is just fine with them. Maybe secretively they want to be a 'small' part of it, but are afraid to say so. Every husband-to-be has something important to bring to the table to make their wedding day perfect. It is amazing what gets accomplished when we ask with love, kindness and a gentle, but swift kick in the pants!

    Thank you for posting the fine art of groom maintenance. I will share this site with my future sister-in-law, she will love it!!


  11. Cindy

    We still have 13 months to go but my fiance has voiced his request on a couple of things. When we were looking for a venue, he said he would like the ceremony and the reception in the same location. So when I put together a list of venues to look at, I kept this in mind. And yes, I liked and preferred doing the research to find the venues that fit his criteria. I was thrilled that he came with me to look at 90% of the venues before we settled on the perfect one . The other thing that he requested (and came as quite a surprise to me) was he wants a traditional wedding cake. I really wanted mini-bundt cakes – they're cute, don't need to be cut, and are small enough that they won't go to waste if someone just wants a bite. We could have easily ordered more mini-bundts for those who wanted a little more cake. BUT, he wants the traditional cake and I'm happy that he has some input on the wedding. I'm looking forward to seeing what else he likes…..

  12. Colleen

    Great post! Wish I would have read this 6 months ago as we're now less than 3 weeks out. But overall, we've been collaborating on the majority of the wedding–although in many cases I will come up with ideas, make decisions, and just get his okay. Sometimes I wonder whether he's really okay/happy with it, but I have to trust that if he weren't, he'd tell me.

  13. foodiefresh

    I mostly involved my groom in the things he is interested in…food, cake, tux choices, wording of his family's names. But there were a few times when I was just tired of having to make all the decisions, so I told him I wanted his input because I just couldn't figure it out. He was great about all of this stuff and even handled some tasks I delegated to him like getting the car arranged and sending out an Evite for our pub crawl we did in lieu of a Bachelor/Bachelorette party. My guy knows what he likes so I was careful to ask him if he wanted to be involved in some things that I was unsure of rather than just assuming he did or didn't want to be involved.

  14. FloridaBride

    Oh man. My groom is completely interested in what is going on. He wants to approve everything before it is finalized. He is also slow about doing things and doesn't like to internet search. At times it could feel like I was doing all the work, but he got the power to veto it. Now, we do it this way…if he doesn't like something I come up with like the cake topper or monogram font….then he is responsible for finding a replacement. After about 15mins of looking at fonts…he is willing to settle for what I picked out.