Grooming the Groom

I’m working on a new cheat sheet, and I’m realising that although we spend many hours and dollars on bridal hair and makeup, and hardly even spend any attention on the grooming of the groom.

So, guys, if you have a moment…
If you don’t already own one fantastic suit, now’s the time to think about buying  one – it’s a handy asset for future job interviews, funerals, and any time you decide to make the effort to look swish!

When the clothing budget is tight, it’s better to hire an expensive suit than buy a cheap nasty one. Trust me when I tell you that a well-fitted suit is worth any effort it may take to track it down. It’s important to get the fit right, ESPECIALLY if you almost never wear suits in your real life!  To be blunt, a poorly fitted or badly made suit will do one of two things: show off any unsightly bits by squeezing them into hideous lumps, make you look like the Hunchback, or Hulk on a bad day, or make you look like you’re playing dressups in someone else’s clothes.

Not a good look for a wedding, not for any time.

A well-fitting suit will be fairly comfortable, and allow a full range of motion, both buttoned and unbuttoned. I’m told that you should be able to fit one [and only one!] finger between your neck and your shirt collar when it’s buttoned up and the arms of the shirt should not creep up when you stretch your arms. An experienced tailor will be able to recommend styles and fabric that will help disguise any possible flaws you may perhaps be sporting, and highlight all the really great bits of your sun-bronzed-god-bod [cough, cough]

Match the tie and shirt carefully, taking into consideration the bridesmaids colour scheme, and don’t be afraid to ask for more opinions if you really haven’t got a clue.

Your suit should arrive freshly pressed and neatly folded or hung in a garment bag. So, even if you try it on, put it back neatly to keep it looking sharp until you come to put it on for real. On the day, whenever you take your jacket off, hand it back on the hanger, or the back of a kitchen chair.  There’s nothing worse than a suit that looks like it’s been living on the bedroom floor for a month.

Speaking of taking off your jacket… I have no idea why we persist in wearing three-piece suits for beach weddings, but, if that’s what you’re up for, you probably don’t need me to tell you that massive sweat patches are deeply unsexy, and very hard to get rid of once they’ve saturated the area under your armpits. Unfortunately, sweat creates its own cycle of hell: you can’t remove your jacket because the sweat patches will be visible, but the jacket is making you hotter and hotter. Pretty soon, you’re standing around in your own personal mini-sauna. The key here is prevention: Roll on deodorant is more effective than spray. Apply industrial strength antiperspirant before you dress and throw a can of spray anti-perspirant into the back of the car in case a top up is required later in the day. If you already know you’re a hydrant strength sweater, it’s worth remembering that  a dark shirt will hide sweat patches better than a light or white shirt.

It only takes a moment of error to end up with stains and marks on shirts and suits, so try to put off dressing into your suit until the last possible moment. Beware of the clinging power of generously powdered grannies, and don’t let anyone talk you into holding the baby until after your formal photos are done!

Unless you’re going for a specific effect, the rule is that black shoes go with navy, gray and black suits. Tan shoes work with navy suits but rarely with black. Socks should match your shoe colour, unless you’re wearing something cheeky. White shoes or socks are dodgy, unless you’re Elvis. And even then…

Sneakers don’t ever work with morning coats, but can bring a stuffy suit back into the zone. Whatever shoes you choose, make sure they’re clean, and if they’re brand-new for the occasion, make sure you break them in by wearing them around the house. You won’t look good if you’re wincing in pain and oozing a trail of blister juice onto the honeymoon suite sheets.

Spend some time and money on your hair,  and your hands – if your job means you have perma-stained hands, surprise your bride by getting them scrubbed back to lily-white by at the local manicurist. Your hands will be on show once that shiny new ring is on your finger, so a manly-manicure is a great investment. Your wedding photos will be around for a long, long time, so get a decent cut and style.  And do it a week or two before the wedding, so if it goes horribly wrong you’ll  have time to get it cut again or let it grow out slightly.

Having gone to all that effort, don’t ruin it at the last moment by adding in unsightly bulges. And I don’t just mean not putting a frog down the front of your pants for the look of it. [Yes. Indeed. There’s not much I haven’t seen!].

You shouldn’t need your wallet, camera, or even your car keys, once you’re all dressed up and ready to go, so resist the reflex urge to stuff them in your pockets. Even if you keep your mobile phone handy for last-minute messages, once you turn it off and give it to your mum to keep in her purse until the shouting is over. The same goes for sunglasses – If they’re not on your face [and during the ceremony, you bet they won’t be!] they shouldn’t be in your pocket either!

Comfort yourself with the thought that all this fuss in only a fraction of the effort your bride will be putting in to look her best for your wedding day. And remember that it will be worth it all to see the look on her face when she gets her first look at you, waiting at the top of the aisle!


The Groom’s Countdown

Is it naive of me to think that the reason there aren’t many wedding planning checklists for grooms is because the wedding industry has finally realised that the bride AND the groom are both working on their wedding plans together?

I ‘d love to think so. The cynical part of me thinks it’s because grooms are so often overlooked, as if their opinions don’t matter for 90% of the planning process. Ugh. So, next on my list of things to do will be to write a swag of couple biased [and not solely bridal] wedding planning tools.

But in the meanwhile, here’s some of the important stuff a groom can be working on with his bride, towards planning their wedding:

I’m gonna go ahead and assume that, since you’re reading this, you have at least a little bit of interest in the process. This may come as a surprise to others who may be assuming that, since you’re ‘just the groom’  that you won’t.
Make it clear to your bride and to both of your families about how much [or little] involvement you intend to have in your wedding plans.  See this post for some of the conversations you should plan to have with your bride, before either of you start making any firm plans for your wedding day.

6 – 12 months before the wedding:

  • If she hasn’t already, you should pop ‘The Question’
  • Make plans for your parents to meet hers, if they haven’t already
  • Although it may seem too soon, you should make a start finding your Celebrant, photographer, video techs, caterer, and venue. In particular, try to be part of the interviews with your potential Celebrants and photographers – they’re going to be very present at your wedding, so it’s important that you feel comfortable working with them, even if you don’t particularly mind what their end product is like!
  • If you’re planning to have live entertainment, spend some time out and about listening to what’s on offer locally
  • Work on the guest list
  • Visit ceremony and reception venues and make reservations
  • Begin researching, daydreaming and talking with your bride about your honeymoon options

6-9  months before the wedding:

  • Choose your best man and groomsmen. Begin the process of arranging your wedding day attire. Whether you’re planning to hire or buy, you’ll have more options if you start sooner than later
  • Confirm bookings of photographer, video tech, musicians, DJ/entertainment etc
  • Research options & order wedding stationery: invitations, thankyou cards, menus etc

4-6 months before the wedding:

  • Finalise the guest list and send out invitations and RSVPs
  • Research accommodation options for out-of-town guests
  • Arrange transportation for the bridal party and for any out-of-town VIP guests
  • Attend any required marriage preparation classes
  • Book honeymoon. Check passports etc are up to date if required & gather all necessary travel documents

2-3 months before the wedding:

  • If you haven’t already, get those invitations in the mail!
  • Apply for your marriage licence
  • Make sure to take time out for each other in the midst of all the wedding preparations
  • Finalise details of groom & groomsmen’s attire
  • Choose your wedding rings
  • Confirm details of ceremony and reception music
  • Confirm and pay deposits for any hire arrangements
  • Book accommodation for the wedding night
  • Confirm ceremony details and rehearsal time with Celebrant/minister

2-4 weeks to go:

  • Get a haircut now rather than just before the wedding. If you have ‘mechanic’s hands’ consider having a manicure to remove stains and tidy nails for the wedding
  • Begin to write thankyou notes as gifts arrive
  • Research insurance policy and will changes needed for after the wedding
  • Arrange accommodation for your ‘last night of singleness’ if you won’t be at home
  • Final fitting of suits. Make sure you and the groomsmen have appropriate shoes and socks, too!
  • Confirm details with all wedding vendors – florist, photographer, venue, etc
  • Confirm details of honeymoon transport and accommodation
  • Write toasts, speeches, and final draft of vows

Final week:

  • Organise for full and final payments for delivery on or before the rehearsal. If there are vendors who will need to be paid ‘on the day’ arrange for your best man to handle payments, so that you’re not worrying about money during your wedding celebrations
  • Make arrangements for transporting gifts from the venue after the reception
  • Collect and prepare all wedding clothing and accessories
  • Make sure you have picked up the marriage licence and the rings
  • Pack for the honeymoon
  • Attend the rehearsal
  • Make time to meet with out of town guests who may be arriving early
  • Make time to do some ‘non-wedding’ stuff with your bride

She said YES! …now what?

So, you’ve found the woman you want to spend the rest of your life with, [even better, she feels the same about you] and somewhere on the horizon, there’s going to be a wedding. While the bride-to-be is busy gathering a notebook [or shoebox] full of ideas, pages torn from magazines, samples, and scraps, the groom may feel totally out of his depth, or even wonder whether there’s any room for him in the wedding planning scenario. If you listen to the old wives talk about the bloke’s role in the wedding planning, you’d be excused for thinking it’s not that different from the old-fashioned view of a man’s role in the marriage – i.e. just say yes and hand over your credit card.

But, just because people say it should be that way, doesn’t make it so.
Even though it’s true that the wedding industry is hugely biased towards the bride, the groom is a vital part of the wedding, and guys, your opinions and ideas are important, too!

So what’s a guy to do?

First steps: One of the most important things to do in planning your wedding is to spend some time talking about just what it is that you’re both agreeing to! There’s no doubt that you want to end the day married, but there are a kazillion variables along the way, and it’s worth taking time to discuss how you each see your wedding day taking shape. Even if your bride has planned her wedding day since long before she met you, your opinions have just as much weight in the planning process.

What about things that you feel strongly about for your wedding day – anything that you’d really like, or hate, to see happen? Start daydreaming about the moment you’re standing, waiting for your bride to appear in the doorway – what does that actually look like to you? How formal or casual do you want your wedding to be – if you’re totally uncomfortable in a suit and tie, a full formal black tie affair is probably not for you. If you’d like to get married in the cathedral, you probably won’t be wearing shorts and jandals.
How many guests do you want to invite [and/or How many do you “kind of have to” invite?]. The size of the guest list will influence the budget [or vice versa] but also effects other variables, such as venue and ‘feel’ – a wedding with 40 guests will have a totally different atmosphere to a wedding with 140 guests.
Are there any  cultural or religious preferences to take into account? This may influence your options for ceremony venue, celebrant, time and date of the ceremony, even the menu. Be aware that sometimes what’s irrelevant to one set of inlaws-to-be might be a huge deal to the other side!
What kind of budget can you allow for, and is there anyone else who may contribute some of the cost? If you have a strictly limited budget, you should decide, as soon as possible, on the things that you’re not willing to compromise on, and work your event around those key things.

At this early stage in the planning process, anything is possible, so make sure you make your preferences known! Don’t leave it until the morning of the wedding to voice your opinions – that’s just not fair. There may be lots of minor details that you really don’t care either way about. That’s okay, someone will care passionately about them – so if you don’t have a preference, let them know that, too.

Here’s a wee tip, though – once you’ve politely pointed out that you don’t mind either way, when your bride to be [or her mother, or the wedding planner…] shows you something and asks for your opinion, the phrase that pays is NOT “I already told you, I don’t care”. If you can get in the habit of saying something positive, not just neutral, you’ll save yourself a dozen headaches. A simple, genuine “That looks great!” will serve you well, whether the question is about placement of the silver sparkles on the tables, or if her bum looks big in that dress.

Wedding planning is great practice for future years of interaction with both sides of your families, for decision-making, for how you both behave in a crisis and how you deal with stress. Remember that you’re both on the same team, and keep in mind that the goal of this whole frustrating process is that you get to take her home at the end of the night, for the rest of your lives, keep talking to one another, and you’ll be fine!

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