Don’t Miss Your Own Wedding, Man

by Brett & Kate McKay on June 10, 2009 · 17 comments

in Marriage, Relationships & Family


Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Mike Arnot, the founder of, the leading wedding-related website for grooms, the best man and groomsmen. Recently featured in The New York Times and now on AoM, Mike and the guys at are finding the manly stuff in weddings, all from a guy’s perspective.

“Mike, these wedding invitations are cut all crooked,” my then-fiancée (now awesome wife) said, with a healthy dose of disgust directed my way.

I immediately got that cold sweat one gets when they realize they’ve screwed something up, royally -  something to which they should’ve been paying closer attention.

As you undoubtedly have no idea, ordinarily when things like wedding invitations are found to be defective, the prospective bride simply returns the offending items to the quaint paperie from whence they came, like she’d return a pair of high heels to a shoe store. No muss, no fuss.  Except here, there was no store. No owner to chastise.

Only me, and I was guilty as charged.

You see, as part of my wedding duties back in the day, I was tasked with cutting our homemade wedding invitations with a tabletop paper cutter – literally hewing perfection out of pink, purple and silver sheets of (expensive) paper. Our wedding invitations were cut “all crooked” because of my lack of attention to detail with the cutter. Because “you didn’t hold the cardboard square with the blade,” as my fiancée put it.

Like most men, I was not particularly interested in wedding planning, let alone invitation making. And I let it show. I now know that my wife saw my lack of interest in wedding planning as a lack of interest in the marriage. In many ways, because of my approach to the whole thing, I almost missed my own wedding. I’ve been seeking redemption for the crooked invitations and my general lack of interest in the events leading up to my wedding for several years now.

I offer the following advice in hopes that you can avoid my fate!

The Bride’s Big Day

It’s pretty easy for men to blame our lack of interest in weddings on the fact that weddings are typically frilly, overly pink, and bride-focused. After all, it’s the bride’s “Big Day.” It’s even called the “bridal” industry. My own wedding photographer referred to my groomsmen and I as “props” to showcase the bride. (We were well-dressed props!) However, bride-centrism is really no excuse. After all, if you’re diving in head-first with someone that you’re planning on spending the rest of your life with, and that person is really interested in throwing a great wedding to celebrate your…you know...commitment, get interested. (My dad recently told me that he couldn’t stand watching Family Ties with my mom, but did it precisely because she loved it. All those years, and he manned-up, just for her.)

A Rite of Passage

Despite bride-centrism, weddings are a rite of passage for men – they are one of the defining elements of manhood. (Indeed, some guys love weddings so much they have more than one in their lifetimes!) In some religions, marriage is one of the sacraments, and the wedding is the public manifestation of that sacrament. The wedding is the capstone on the culmination of trying to find a compatible mate. We’ve rejected some ladies in favor of others, and been on the receiving end of rejection. Once you’ve found The One, the wedding is meant to publicly declare to your friends and family that you’ve committed to this person. If you’re going to be spending all that money anyway (the average wedding comes in at $38,000) you may as well go out with a bang, and not a whimper.

So here are some tips that will help you avoid some of the painful parts of wedding planning, and quite possibly eek some fun out of your part of this rite of passage.

First, figure out your duties

As a prospective groom, there are plenty of things that you’re expected to take care of, many of which will be familiar to you if you’ve ever attended a wedding. This means relatively easy tasks like picking a best man and groomsmen and choosing a venue for your wedding reception. In fact, there’s a whole grocery list of groom’s duties that are on your plate, and many of them are time consuming. Familiarize yourself with the list by clicking on the link. (We’ve found that nothing snaps a guy to attention like the prospect of making a wedding speech in front of a couple of hundred friends and family.)

Make sure you handle your best man and groomsmen

The easiest way to make sure you’re doing your part is to handle your best man and groomsmen. That means making sure they know what they’re expected to do, and when. Above all, make sure your wingman knows his best man duties. (Turns out he has a lot on his plate, too.) That includes getting fitted for a suit or tux, springing to attend the wedding and possibly even making a wedding toast. All too often, grooms will delegate these tasks to their bride, as if she doesn’t have enough things on her to-do list already. “Hello, dog house! It’s nice to be here.”

Take charge of some of the things that are fun to plan

Other than your typical duties, you can also take on wedding planning duties that will actually be of interest to you. Here are some examples:

Handle the Wedding Transportation

My favorite wedding to attend as a groomsman was when the groom arranged for each groomsman to have matching BMWs. Now that was a fun weekend, particularly the parts involving small stretches of blacktop. Antique cars? Benzes? Horse and Carriage? Vintage Trans-Am? If you’re a groom and take charge of the wedding cars, you’ll have free reign.

Figure out what to wear

What’s the point of reading Esquire, GQ or the Art of Manliness if, on your own wedding day, you’re wearing whatever your fiancée thought would look good? If you think you and the boys would look awesome in new midnight blue suits a la JFK, do you really want to be relegated to a cheap, poly-blend rental? We suggest that you learn about the options when it comes to wedding tuxedos and attire. You might not really understand the distinctions between white-tie and black-tie, or the point of a cummerbund, but you’ll be happy to have figured out what makes you look like James Bond, rather than a medium-sized, black and white penguin wearing ill-fitting drapes.

Plan the Honeymoon

I don’t know about you, but I work for the weekend and for vacations. And nothing gets me more pumped than planning a killer vacation – be it with the boys or with my wife. I planned our honeymoon – soup to nuts – and made sure we combined a tropical beach with some classic golf courses nearby. Sure, I made sure to plan some spa treatments, but my wife and I played leisurely rounds of golf every day. (To add some excitement, I didn’t let my wife in on any of the details until our wedding day). Take charge of the honeymoon. It’s the least stressful part of wedding planning, and it gives you an opportunity to bust out some romance and really shine.

Plan the Floral Arrangements

Just kidding. Don’t do that.

There are plenty of interesting things to make the wedding planning process painless. The guys at know that wedding flowers, invitations and dresses don’t hold our interest. Indeed, if you’re asked to cut wedding invitations or tie some bows, it may not seem manly.

But as I learned the hard way, cutting pink, purple and silver paper, and getting involved with wedding planning really is manning-up. Follow these tips, and you won’t miss your own wedding.

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

1 NFL Betting June 10, 2009 at 9:20 am

I can’t believe you missed the most obvious place for a guy’s touch: the food! For a groom this might be the most tangible bennie of the ceremony/reception. Voicing my gustatory opinion was about the only say I had, other than campaigning for better seat placement for some on my side of the wedding.

2 Justice Marshall June 10, 2009 at 10:46 am

I wrote my wife’s vows!
She was getting stressed out about it, so I did it for her.
She loved them. I was the Hero.

3 Steve C. June 10, 2009 at 12:07 pm

My wife and I got the wedding, reception and rehearsal dinner for less than $10K. $38K sounds high to me…

I agree that it is entirely too easy to get caught up in the details of stuff that will not matter in a month. On the day of the wedding, just be present to what is happening and let the details be. You are joining your entire life to a woman. Be present mentally as well as physically. Take time to think about your vows. Mean every word of them when you say them. Make them count. Look into her eyes when you say them. It is by those vows that you will live.

Once that is done, enjoy your new life.

4 Nathanael Snow June 10, 2009 at 1:28 pm

One thing that may be just old fashioned but many people miss is whose party the wedding is.
People today think it is the bride’s party, and that’s too bad. It encourages new couples to break apart from support structures and venture too far out on their own.
Traditionally, the wedding was the Bride’s mother’s party.
In some cultures it was the groom’s father’s party.
The groom’s job was to get a house and make it ready for his bride. Today, that might translate more into making sure that the new family is well provided for.

5 BD June 10, 2009 at 3:26 pm

Well said, Steve C! It would be a great tragedy to become so pre-occupied with (or nervous about!) attaining “the perfect wedding” that you miss the joy and delight – and importance – of the moment.

If I may pick a nit, I wish more attention was paid to the fact that a wedding does not have to cost the earth or require going into debt; your wedding is just one day vs. – hopefully – a lifetime of marriage. Ultimately, glitz and glamour cannot substitute for nor create true commitment to your mate.

6 Simon June 10, 2009 at 6:43 pm

You forgot the most important part:

1. Marriage contract
2. Divorce papers.

There’s more than a 50% chances that they will come in handy within a couple of years.

7 Trent June 10, 2009 at 10:51 pm

The “half of all marriages end in divorce” line is a myth (though sadly, it’s no longer as false as it once was). Be that as it may…

Groom Groove has some really bad advice about formal wear; any business that profits from selling or renting formal wear has even worse information. If you don’t want to look at your wedding pictures ten years after The Big Day and be embarrassed by your clownish attire, hie thee on over to The Black Tie Guide. Read it, follow the guidelines, and look like a million bucks!

8 Beat Attitude June 11, 2009 at 3:26 am

I’m a wedding supplier (I play in a Scottish ceilidh band, as you can tell from my own blog…plug plug!) and I think this post is spot on, and very practical.

It amazes me how often guys just take a back seat at their wedding and let the woman arrange it all. They just jump into the tux and turn up, and focus on getting drunk as soon as possible. It’s quite unmanly and disrespectful of the institution and your wife-to-be. And it’s a bad way to start.

Recently, I posted about how one shop in Glasgow closed down on the advice of police after receiving death threats from brides who couldn’t get their dresses on time.

Guys, if your fiancee is getting that anxious about it, you maybe need to move in and take a little ownership (and therefore responsibility) for the day. It’s OK to let her have her way on things that aren’t important to you, but show that you’re invested in it because she is, and it spreads the burden immensely. Women can get carried away with how important certain aspects are, and you need to be an anchor, or reality check every so often. Remember that your bride will be looking for confirmation that she’s picked a winner, so try to court her a little, and calm her fears. Don’t wander off, or go stand with your buddies all night either. Definitely don’t flirt with the bridesmaids. Your place is by her side: that’s the statement of your wedding that you want to reinforce.

9 Glenny June 11, 2009 at 4:02 am

Nice post. I hadn’t thought about wedding limos (or at least alternatives to limos, like the article says.) I’m getting married in july so that’s on my list.

10 Dave June 11, 2009 at 4:10 am

I like some of the points the author makes, but I’m not a fan of that all too common tone of the guy always being wrong, and the way to man up is to kowtow to a woman’s wishes. I mean if you still feel like your making up for crooked invitation cutting a few years later, that to me sounds like you’re whipped.

11 Simon June 11, 2009 at 10:48 am

It may or may not be a myth that the divorce rate is 50%. That’s not the point. Divorce is just a word and 50% is just a number. They are indicators of visible trends, which are usually just the tip of the iceberg.

The truth is that most marriages after some time (months-years) just become living arrangements. I have countless examples among my own internal and extended circle of acquaintances of couples who didn’t get a divorce just because it was either economically unsound (usually for the woman), because one of the two had issues (fear of loneliness, loss, whatever) or because there were young kids involved and it was too stressful for everyone.

Frankly, all the married people I know ended just like this. It doesn’t sound much different from a full-fledged divorce. And most certainly it is much more hypocritical.

I am from Europe, by the way.. so I’m not used to the usual all-American, puritanical rhetoric about marriage… or everything else, for that matters. Excuse me if some of my comments sound a bit cynical or vitriolic. It’s that this blog often sports a 50s, Frank Capra-ish attitude that most people here would find amusing.

12 Phililp June 12, 2009 at 2:36 pm

This advice would have come in handy if the woman I wanted to marry hadn’t walked out on me suddenly.

13 Philippine girls October 10, 2009 at 2:25 am

Sharing with the task of planning and preparing for the wedding really makes the man so sweet.
@Philip: Hope you’ll find a new love. Someone you’ll marry soon.

14 Phillip October 21, 2009 at 5:29 pm

Phillipinne Girls,

Why would I possibly want to end my life at such a young age, marriage is for men who have given up and are ready to settle.

15 Philippine girls November 20, 2009 at 5:07 am

Hi Philip! You are right! Enjoy life while you are still young but it’s much enjoyable when you celebrate with your special someone.
That’s only my opinion and I respect your opinion on it. ;)

16 tony May 27, 2013 at 4:32 am

I already stressed out when I thought about my wedding day that was getting closer. I became afraid and nervous when I thought that I had to stand in front all guests. I became nervous when I had to face many people. I hope all these tips can help me to solve all my problems.

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