Grooms advice & Fashion

Grooms in Cornwall and Devon

Grooms & relationships

Grooms & relationships

The highs and lows of wedding planning are well documented for brides, but what's it like for grooms?

Here, three grooms share their experiences of the pre-wedding period

The stress associated with wedding planning isn't exactly groundbreaking news. The pressure experienced is the reason why the term 'bridezilla' became popularised, and why we've all heard woeful tales of family rifts, broken friendships and even weddings being called off ' but what, dare I ask, is the groom's role in all of this?

Often cast as the dispassionate, indifferent antithesis to his fiancés obsessive 'other', grooms, for whatever reason, struggle to shake off the stigma of being the party that simply shows up on the day, having thoroughly enjoyed his stag do, attended a few suit fittings, and made some enquiries about the entertainment or caterer.

In fact, such is their accepted lack of involvement that it spawned the long-standing TV series, Don't Tell the Bride, where the reality of grooms planning the entire event largely seems to induce a wild self-indulging of their whimsies (and budget), more often than not resulting with a near grief-stricken response from their bride-to-be.

Typecasting and highly watchable television aside, there's a real issue with relationships here, since the power balance automatically tips toward the women as they assume control (by default or desire) and men are commonly relegated to the back bench ' meaning that brides are at the risk of being overwhelmed by the pressure, with the men powerless to help (and blamed in the process). Frustrations can flare, arguments can ensue and what should be planning for the happiest day of your life descends into an uncomfortable night of not talking or wedmin point scoring.

Women have a greater tendency to talk and vent their issues ' but what about the menfolk and their pre-marital marginalised voices? We talk to some grooms ' both happily wed and nearly wed ' about their experiences of the proverbial emotional rollercoaster of wedding planning to discover what they really think as they bravely step forward to share their stories.

Ryan and Kirsten
Opting for an intimate affair with 50 guests (minus the bridesmaids or groomsmen), Ryan and Kirsten had less than a year to remotely plan their day from London.

'In the early stages we had talked a lot about who we would want there and where we would get married,' Ryan explains. 'For the most part I left it to Kirstin but when she was having trouble finding a venue or photographer I would help out and she would always run things past me. I also happily took the task of finding my outfit ' this turned out to be the best job and I ended up choosing my suit which I had made bespoke.'

'The biggest stresses were planning a wedding so far away and, as usual for most people, financial. We were able to get down in the February before the wedding for Kirsten's birthday week away although it turned into a full-on wedmin trip. Once we got the finances sorted out and set our budget the rest was relatively stress-free.'

With regards to the division of labour, Ryan was satisfied with Kirsten taking the lion's share, but was mindful with the decision-making ' assertively stepping in especially regarding cash flow. 'I was quite happy getting my fiancé to take over but when she started to despair at not finding something we needed I would get stuck in and help out ' I even joined the world of Pinterest. Luckily we were on the same page with lots of things but I had to reel her in occasionally due to budget restraints ('no Kirstin: the dogs do not need flower collars!')'

'The only small conflicts we had about the day were regarding charger plates (why do you need a plate for your plate?) and the chairs ' the venue included them but they were not to Kirsten's taste. She decided to hire them anyway, which turned out to be an excellent idea as on the day the chairs and the charger plates really brought everything together.'

Sadly, a family bereavement just months before the wedding heightened emotions and the sense of strain, but also allowed Ryan and Kirsten to reconnect and rely on each other's much-needed support in a different way.

'The biggest complication during the planning period was my dad, John, passing away from cancer just four months before the wedding,' says Ryan. 'When we planned it so quickly we had hoped he would be able to make it but unfortunately that was not to be ' this obviously was devastating to me but thankfully I always had a shoulder to cry on.'

'As a result of this and the fact Kirsten's parents are divorced we decided to opt out of a traditional top table and go for a sweetheart table with just the two of us. This was lovely as it gave us time to chat and enjoy the day in each other's company,' he says of the couple's dedicated art of adaptation and focus on drawing on the positives rather than dwelling on the negatives. 'After everything we went through with dad, the wedding was something positive to look forward to and be excited for, which really helped on the darker days. Since the wedding we've just had the most fun we've ever had and feel complete as a couple.'

'My advice to other grooms would be relax,' he adds while in the throes of newly-wed bliss. 'Everyone you invite is rooting for you and are there because they love you. With regards to the emotional side of things: never be afraid to talk to your fiancée ' she's going to be your wife shortly and the wedding is only the beginning of your adventure together.'


Simon and Lu
Simon and Lu are currently in the midst of planning their wedding, and already Simon is conscious that there's a long way to go before the checklist is complete.

'The venue is booked but there are still many things left to sort. It's a barn, and we looked at so many barns they all started to look the same, which is 100% the wrong thing to say when asked 'what do you think of this venue'™' he laughs.

Candidly referring to himself as, 'a spare part, which I'm more than happy with. I just want to get married and if I'm honest I don't really care about the style of text used for place names!' Simon's laissez-faire approach admittedly has its drawbacks.

'Sometimes it's placed a little strain on us ' mostly due to budgets and having to rein in certain ideas and not being able to do everything, but I've been happy with the jobs I've been given: the bar list and the music!' he says.

Finding themselves arguing the minutiae such as the centrepieces has prompted the couple to stop and reflect. 'We took a step back and realised how stupid it was', concedes Simon. 'It's just been upsetting not being able to do everything we want due to budgets ' I'd like to give her the wedding of her dreams, but she dreams big,' he says of the constant need for negotiation and compromise.

With regard to regrets, he's not sure he'd let the parents be so involved before adding that 'honestly, we'd probably keep it the same, maybe just would've planned a little better and created timelines to get certain things sorted by.'

'Everything becomes very expensive very quickly, just prioritise what's important to you and your partner ' it's your day after all and you only get one!' he says by word of advice. 'And don't take things so seriously. Just think, what's the most important thing ' getting married to the love of your life or what stationery you had'

Andy and Lucy
'Lucy and I had two weddings: one in April and one in December in the different countries we're from, to allow as many family and friends to celebrate with us without them having to travel too far,' explains Andy of their 'lovefest party' in Australia followed by a winter wedding in Cornwall. 'They brought their own challenges as they were completely different, with opposite styles, people, outfits, themes…so we ended up planning two weddings in a year.'

'We had a pretty even split of who did what, although in reality this meant we both ended up doing everything ' we talked through most elements of the wedding and came to a decision together. We hadn't intended on doing that and it took a lot longer, but just evolved that way. It felt like a team effort,' he says of their collaborative approach.

'I felt we played to our strengths and the end results showed that. There were some things Lucy or I didn't mind so much about (for example, she was happy to leave music planning to me, and I left bridesmaids' outfits to her). I wouldn't say it affected our relationship, other than showing us we could work together and trusted each other's decision-making.'

'There were lots of complications, due to marrying in two different places, the legal parts, and having to consider lots of other people and their preferences. Getting married in a church, but me not being religious, was something we discussed a lot, and ended up compromising on (we got married in a church in Cornwall). People talk about the wedding day being your day, but it's actually about lots more people than the two of you. If it was just about us two, we would have got married in a small ceremony, but instead we wanted to celebrate with all our loved ones, so we did want to consider them!'

'I wasn't very stressed until right before the wedding, then a few last-minute stresses came into play…I do remember panic-buying bow ties the day before the wedding as I couldn't find the one I'd been planning to wear!'

'We probably didn't need to both plan most elements together; we could probably have split the tasks, and also made decisions a bit quicker. Plus, I wish I'd eaten more cheese at the first wedding, and tried the dessert at the second!' he laughs while drawing attention to the fact that many couples fail to take stock and mindfully enjoy their day due to the stresses and time-wasting so often involved.

When asked what the trickiest element for him was, Andy pinpoints people-pleasing as the primary culprit. 'Trying to juggle the wants and desires of other people, especially in regards to where and how we would get married,' he reveals. 'It caused a few arguments but we were pretty united as a team, so it honestly didn't feel that stressful. Probably the most stressful part was cleaning up afterwards with hangovers!'

'Keep it all in perspective and encourage your fiancée to do the same,' he says by wise word of encouragement to other grooms. 'Try and stay relaxed about the whole affair and keep the lines of communication with your fiancée open; it's a team effort after all. Try not to stress about the details, at the end of the day it's a party with all your best friends, and you will definitely enjoy it!'

Follow these top tips for brides and grooms to help them successfully engage in the planning process and happily share the load…

DELEGATE ' Whether between yourselves or appointing trusted members of friends and family, be prepared to loosen the reins and assign roles to the best person for the job based on their individual strengths, experience and interests (and always invite them to be frank about their opinions before accepting the task).

DISCUSS ' Keep referring back to each other for regular updates and brief analyses, and to double check you're both on board with everything ' especially changes or how to best tackle new challenges.

DEBATE ' Keep the lines of communication constantly open between you and everyone else involved, and if things change or are no longer feasible ' debate the issue to find a resolution together rather than ignoring/forcing the issue.

DITCH ' Be prepared to drop things that simply don't work, are too expensive, cause too much stress…and then move on.

DEFER ' If you can't or don't want to do something (even if you originally agreed), or your to do list becomes unachievable ' pass it on to your fiancé or enlist the help of someone else and focus your energy elsewhere.

DELIVER ' If you say you'll do something ' do it! That way, every item on the checklist should be attended to and omissions avoided. If for whatever reason you find yourself unable to complete a task: discuss and delegate accordingly!

words Hannah May

Copyright Wed magazine 2020