He’s popped the question. You’ve chosen a date. And now, you’re swimming in a sea of euphoria with no horizons. Good thing, too, because there are literally a thousand things to arrange before the big day.
You do the research, buckle under and dive in. But you find your fiancé’s ardor for the event itself seems to have cooled. It’s not that he isn’t mad about marrying you; after all, he is a great guy, even if he can’t tell a Vera Wang from a Gunny Sack. It’s that his preparation style is hands-off, to say the least. And planning a wedding isn’t a job built for one.
So what to do? Here are ten ways to involve him without increasing both of your stress loads:
1) Delegate areas that have a prayer of interesting him.
The worst thing you can do is expect him to match your ten to twenty years of feminine wisdom on the relative merits of buttercream vs. fondant.
Here are some probable no areas when roping in a reluctant wedding planner:
Selecting the cake frosting
Choosing the favors or favor packaging
Selecting the wedding colors or floral arrangements
Then there are the potential maybes, fraught with fewer hazards:
Choosing the photographer
Choosing the videographer
Arranging the rehearsal dinner
Arranging the all-inclusive honeymoon
Renting big, tricky items like outdoor tents
These are probable yeses, well worth running by your guy:
Selecting the DJ or the band
Setting up and maintaining your wedding website
Researching and selecting charities, if you choose to donate instead of giving out favors
Setting up the carriage, limo or other transportation arrangements
2) If you ask him to help you choose vendors and styles, narrow down the choices first.
It’s a jungle of options out there, enough to give the most natural-born party planner pause. So if you want his opinion on photographers, invites, flowers or cakes, narrow down the options to three or four. He’s less likely to feel overwhelmed, and more likely to feel like an important part of the process.
At times, it’ll feel so good to share the load that you’ll be tempted to drag him into the buttercream debate despite your better instincts. At these times, take a deep breath, count to ten, and call your mother or your maid of honor.
3) Ask him directly for help. Let him know how important his input is to you, and that you can’t do it without him.
Guys like to be needed. Your frank request for help may be enough to pull him out of his comfort zone and onto your team.
4) Try the Art Director/Production Staff approach.
If you think your guy wants to help, but feels uncomfortable playing “art director,” give him “production staff” tasks. Have him make the payments, pick up the food or decor, handle the rentals, do online comparison shopping, or reserve the hotels and reception halls. These are all jobs that will take a load off your shoulders, while freeing up time for the aesthetic stuff you probably enjoy and he doesn’t.
5) Get a calendar and put all the planning in black and white.
Your fiancé probably doesn’t have the first clue in what goes into a wedding.
Get your wedding planner, write it all down, and show him. Once he gets over the shock, you’ll both probably be able to identify areas that interest him. Make lists of the things you’ve each agreed to do, and cross them off as they get done. At the very least, he’ll be far more supportive when he sees what you’re going through.
6) Weave his family heritage/ethnicity/traditions into the ceremony.
What did his parents do? He might be surprised at the question, but it could lead somewhere valuable. He might ask his parents about their wedding, and find your wedding consequently enriched. Look through their wedding album together. Are his ancestors German, Polish, Italian, Croatian, Asian? Incorporate some old-world traditions into your ceremony.
7) Don’t bring him in too early.
Treat your fiancé as a bit of a pinch hitter. Sure, you may be fully aware that you can shave 5K off your costs by starting your favor crafts and reservations 18 months ahead of time. But if he’s like most guys, the wedding won’t become real to him until it draws closer. Expect him to jump in about six months before the actual ceremony, and break into a (relative) frenzy of activity about one month in advance.
8) Talk about something besides the wedding.
Guys aren’t the only ones who complain about brides-to-be talking of nothing but upcoming nuptials. Sometimes, even girlfriends get overwhelmed by all the wedding chatter.
Spend some time alone chatting about anything but the wedding. See a silly movie, split a hot fudge sundae, or watch a basketball game. Do something spontaneous that reminds you both of why you decided to marry in the first place.
9) Check your subtext for hidden meanings.
Tempting as it might be, make sure you’re not using your fiancé as a coin-toss tool (ever noticed how people flip coins to find out what they really want?). When you ask for his opinion, take it seriously. And when you give him ownership of a task, don’t second-guess every step.
Imagine that your fiancé has told you he’s going to draft a dream team in his fantasy football league, and it’s going to cost him $20K to participate. Now imagine that he’s told you your help is supremely important to him.
You’d be a little hesitant to give opinions, right? Some of your ideas might sound feeble, even to your own ears. Hopefully he’d welcome your thoughts, however odd it felt for you to venture them. Now imagine your fiancé feels kind of like that when it comes to the wedding.
10) Remember that men become wedding experts by having one.
Chances are, your sweetheart will open his eyes to the wonder of a wedding by the time the rose petals are tossed. Forever after, he’ll be examining friend’s receptions with a practiced eye, and anticipating the next excuse for a Really Big Shindig.
So keep him around, and count on throwing a first-rate anniversary celebration ten years down the road. In a way, that’ll be the party that really matters, won’t it?