While tradition would have you think that wedding planning falls on the bride and her parents (that is, mom organizes, dad pays), the twenty-first century groom, cultured and intelligent as he is, can and should have input as well. For this post, I decided to interview a very close dbd friend, Brian Leahy. His expertise on the subject will be quickly apparent. Here are a few of his tips and suggestions for how to be the proper groom, (so pay close attention, gentlemen).
db: Brian, how about we start start with a short bio? What exactly is “The Groom Says” is? And who is 2Es?
BL: I established a blog, The Groom Says, within two months of my engagement with 2Es in June 2009. At the time I was hoping to paint a picture of the struggles of wedding planning from the groom’s perspective, beginning with a home invaded by a swarm of bridal magazines. But what started as an opportunity to vent, spoof and satirize the wedding industry quickly transformed into something else entirely: a record of our own trials and tribulations, a wedding planning how-to, a sounding board for ideas, a resource for grooms, and — in the past year or so — a hub for groom activism. The one consistent component has been a main character named 2Es (the code name for my incredibly patient and understanding wife, Joanna), who got the nickname when she explained the difference between fiance with 1E and fiancee with 2Es.
A bride once told me that she enjoyed reading The Groom Says on her lunch breaks. She said it was a welcomed departure from the multitude of bridal blogs she was subscribed to at the time. It reminded her that she need not take all this wedding business too seriously. So when 2Es and I tied the knot in October of 2010, we tried our best to keep that in mind.
db: So B, it’s been a little over a year now since you officially tied the knot. Things still in marital bliss mode?
BL: It’s wonderful, David. I’m married to my best friend. I do all the cooking and cleaning; she pays all the bills. We are the poster children for normal domesticity.
db: Yeah? Glad to hear that – you and 2Es had it together since the beginning – but do you think because you were so involved in the wedding, it’s contributed to the current state of bliss?
BL: Without a doubt. You know, aside from a lighter workload, most brides I’ve met don’t see the benefit in getting their groom involved in wedding planning. But the real bonus has nothing to do with the wedding at all. It’s about teaming up as a couple and going through this process together — a process that can, at times, get quite ugly. 2Es and I have been running a photography business together for 6 years now, and (moreover) we designed and organized an 80-person event from scratch. We’re closer now than we’ve ever been, and it’s because we know how to work together … in good times and in bad.
db: I know that you’re starting up some other writing projects so “The Groom Says” is taking a bit of a hiatus – but before you sail off into the writer’s sunshine that’s certainly on your horizon – now that you’ve had a year to think – can you give my readers a little recap of why you’re glad you were so involved in the planning of your wedding?
BL: I’ve been to weddings where the grooms have had little to no involvement, and I’ve been to those where the opposite is true. The clear difference between the two is that the latter is a reflection of the couple. The former, no surprise, is more a reflection of the bride and her individual taste. Several of our guests approached us after our wedding and told us how much it felt like “us,” and how refreshing that was. I think that’s a testament to the months that we spent crafting an event that was part her and part me.
db: What did you dig your heels in about?
BL: Food. I was adamant that our guests, 75% of whom were traveling great distances, eat and drink very, very well. (I can’t stand weddings where guests don’t feel taken care of.) So I pushed for a larger menu with more hearty items and a fully stocked open bar, even if that meant shelling out some extra dough. I also had no intention of wearing a tux. That was not up for discussion.
db: Are you glad you didn’t?
BL: Absolutely. Like any partnership, it thrived when we were able to bounce ideas off one another without judgment. She wanted a venue with lots of windows, and I wanted a venue in a neighborhood where guests were unlikely to get mugged; thankfully, we found a location that met both our needs! But if she was adamant about a certain decision, then I let her take the reigns on that issue (and vice versa). And when it came time to make brew selections for the reception, she knew I would be more than happy to take that on.
db: In retrospect, are there things you feel you should maybe have acquiesced?
BL: No overstepping groom boundaries or anything of that sort … but I should have left her to-do list alone. (Sigh.) Rather than visiting a venue or making calls or doing anything productive, I spent 4 hours one afternoon revamping our planning to-do list. I included everything imaginable. I categorized and color-coded. And, as it turns out, I never looked at that spreadsheet ever again.
I made it up to her months later when I assembled and gifted her a Wedding Weekend Notebook, complete with contact information and vendor contracts and all the other crucial documents. Groom Points restored.
db: How did you get your groomsmen involved? Were they on board or would they have rather just swilled down that swell brew you had hanging around?
BL: Patrick and Ulises were both in the Chicago area throughout planning (while we were alternating between LA and NY), so we only asked that they help us find appropriate groomsmen attire. Still, they were a big help when it came to organizing and funding the bachelor party, and Patrick (Joanna’s brother) was kind enough to emcee our rehearsal dinner and select the music for the evening.
As for the Best Man, I put Justin to work immediately. He was always checking in, asking if there was anything he could take off my hands and getting me out of the house occasionally to do “guy things.” On the day of the wedding, he was at my side continually, making sure that I was hydrated, that I was on-time, and that I peed before the ceremony. I couldn’t have asked for a better Goose to my Maverick. (I know Christina appreciates a good Top Gun reference.)
The high point with my boys was on the morning-of, when we (plus my father and soon-to-be father-in-law) took over the patio at Pacifico in Cobble Hill and eased the nerves with a couple rounds of shots. Honestly, it was the perfect way to kick off the most important day of my life.
db: Pardon me for being cliché and asking, but do you see anything trending on the horizon for the 2012 groom?
BL: I’ve heard that open-backed wedding dresses are gonna be a hit in 2012, but I’m thinking the open-backed tuxedos will really steal the show.
db: Boutonnière or pocket square?
BL: I think it depends on the groom’s attire. My suit was very cold (navy blue pants, navy jacket, navy vest with a white shirt and cream tie), so I needed a boutonniere to soften the look a bit. But if it complements the outfit, I think the pocket square is the stronger statement. Just make sure you choose the perfect fold and execute it well. Personally, I’m a Cagney fan.
db: One last question – I’m still craving that Coolhaus Bacon Ice Cream you had the night of your wedding – think you can sling me a pint or two Eastward?
BL: I can do you one better! Why don’t you and the whole dbd crew join the misses and I for Christmas? Coolhaus’ newest ice cream sammie truck is in my hometown of Miami, Florida! Nothing says holidays like Bananas Foster ice cream on Red Velvet cookies in the sweltering 90 degree heat.
db: Deal B! Be careful with what you put out there – I’m thinking Christina has Bart working on tickets as we speak! Thanks for all your good insight.
The Secret Ingredient: Many hands make light work.