How to get through the wedding planning phase without losing your mind.
Weddings. The bastion of all hope, the joining of family and friends for a special union, the day any criticism you’ve ever had about women pretty much goes out the window. Your wedding will be a very special day with a lot of people in attendance. Some of them may even be sober.
You’re probably wondering how you will be able to make this day a success without ruining things. You just proposed, so you think you’re done, right? Wrong. Make no mistake, weddings are for the bride. This is a day where the groom will be slightly less than the better half; probably around 5% or so. The wife gets the diamond ring, the bridal shower(s), the registry, etc. You get nothing. Luckily for you, in exchange for all of that, she’s going to be doing most of the wedding planning. That doesn’t mean you let her do it alone, though. And there are a few good reasons why you shouldn’t. The first one is that it’s your wedding, too. Actually, that’s the only reason that should even matter. Millions of men, whether young or old, have survived the fray. Follow this timeline to make sure you’re one of them.
At Least 12 Months Beforehand:
Start brainstorming about everything you and your fiancée would like to do. The most important rule for guys is that you want to help without getting in the way. Topics to avoid include stationery for invitations, wedding colors, decorations, her dress, the cake, and flowers. Think about the general area of town you want to have the wedding, the time of year you want to have it, the amount of people you want to invite, and a ballpark figure of what you can afford.
Remember, you’ll have a life to live after the wedding, so try to make sure the budget doesn’t spiral out of control. Unless you’re part of the family that owns the color blue, you’ll have to put some money into this thing. Weddings are very expensive. So expensive that even “cheap” weddings are expensive. Now, there are ways to have a wedding for less than $2,500, but most people won’t be that lucky. Start saving up. Always remember that the wedding is for you guys first, and everyone else second. Also, start keeping your body in check around this time. You’ll take more pictures than at any other time in your life. Make sure you look good doing it.
At Least Eight Months Beforehand:
This will certainly be the busiest time of planning, and you’re going to want to quit already. In fact, you may have already quit. Get back on the job! Get through these couple of months and the rest is smooth sailing.
Decide on a date and venue. Keep in mind that Saturdays are the most expensive days. If you’re on a budget, you may want to look into Fridays or Sundays, days that are a little cheaper but also a little more of an inconvenience. Avoid holidays. Also, see if you can bring your own booze.
Decide on a guest count and make a rough draft of a guest list. How expensive your wedding is will be directly proportional to how many people you invite. Period. Your fiancée will be busy picking out vendors at this time. If you know of any friends who do photography, videography, or DJing, now is the time to let her know.
Find at least two things that you and only you do. Maybe it’s picking up a rental car, or getting one of the vendors booked. This will really show her you care and make for less fights, because whether she admits it or not, she’ll be pissed if she has to do everything on her own. Friends will be a little cheaper and may even be better quality than the professionals. Just make sure to pay them. No one wants to be a starving artist.
Now is also the time to pick your groomsmen and best man. These will usually be brothers and/or really close friends. Pick people who you get along with and are reliable. The latter point is actually more important than the former. You’ll have things to pay for and things to be at. Having someone who won’t pay on time or be where they need to be is something you’re not going to want to deal with. You know who these friends are. Avoid this point at your own risk.
Your best man is equally important, as he will have a few responsibilities the night of the wedding. Create a group chat to communicate with your groomsmen, and keep them in the loop regularly. Groupme is a pretty good app to do that, but a simple group text will suffice, as well.
This is also the time to get your bachelor party plans started. Put someone who knows how to party and that you’re close to in charge of this. Avoid the first and your bachelor party will be boring. Avoid the second and you may end up kidnapped.
The last couple of things you’ll have to worry about during this time are the caterer, the registry, and the honeymoon. The caterer will probably be the most expensive thing you pay for. This is because most caterers charge per person and because most people invite more guests than they can afford. Pick someone whose food tastes good, first and foremost, and who is both professional and within budget. In other words, you should hire a professional caterer.
As far as the registry is concerned, most of the stuff on there will not be for you. Start getting used to that. But, to help you at least get a tool set that you may need to hang up all of her new gifts, make sure to register in at least one general purpose store, like Target. Don’t skip out on this. You may think you don’t care about the registry, until you actually have to spend your own money on that stuff after the wedding, while your wife is sipping caramel lattes everyday out of her replica porcelain Starbucks cup made in her free Keurig.
Lastly, plan the honeymoon. Book way in advance, and plan on doing both adventurous stuff in addition to just relaxing on the beach. You’ll be surprised how boring the beach can get if you go there every day for a whole week. Get passports and other documents in order at this time, as well.
At Least Six Months Beforehand:
Take engagement pictures. You’ll feel really awkward doing all these poses and fake-smiling, but it’ll be fun. Wear something nice and have it dry-cleaned beforehand. Trim down your guest list. This will bring out the worst in you. Like most people, you probably have a lot of close friends and a lot of family members. This presents a major problem. You’re still not a part of the family that owns the color blue, and each person you invite adds to the cost of the wedding. So, you’ll have to figure out a way to not invite everyone you want to invite.
To do this, create a spreadsheet with three categories, and three categories only. In one, you’ll have the people who have to be there. This will include your immediate family and the bridal party. This also includes you, just in case you were wondering. Next will be the people you really want to be there. This will include your closest friends and your close extended family. The third category will be for people you want to be there, but don’t have to be. This will include mostly your parents’ friends.
You’ll be tempted to add the rest of your friends here. Don’t do it. Your parents’ friends will give you better gifts. And you’ll need these gifts because you won’t have any money after the wedding, and you’ll need to be able to eat. You’ll start thinking of reasons to take people off your list like, “well, she told the teacher I cheated off her test in 1st grade,” or “he just ‘liked’ our engagement on Facebook instead of writing a comment.” See how it brings out the worst in you?
Other ways to limit the guest list are to not allow kids and to limit plus-ones to significant others that you know and that have been together for at least a year. Only about 75% of the people you invite will come. Your fiancée already knows this because she’s been reading wedding blogs since before she was born. How could she have read a blog before she was born, you ask? I have no clue. But trust me, it’s true. Now you know it, too. Anywho, it’s ok that people have lives outside of your little wedding. Practice not being relieved when someone says they can’t make it. You’ll be happy because you know you invited too many people in the first place. Be prepared for people to self-invite themselves to your wedding. The typical convo will go like this:
Them: So, when’s the date?
You: Dec 13th.
Them: Cool, can’t wait, man! See you there!
What you think in your head: No, you won’t see me there. Why? Because I can’t afford to invite people I haven’t seen in 19 years.
What you actually say: Most def, bro.
At Least Six Months Beforehand:
You’ll actually get to chill during this time period. You’ll feel guilty because you’ll think you should be doing something. Don’t feel guilty.
At Least Four Months Beforehand:
Rent tuxes/suits. You may choose to rent a tux or get a suit. The choice is yours. You’ll all be coordinated but not necessarily matching. The groomsmen will have one color of accessories, the fathers of the groom and bride will have one color, and you’ll have one color. If renting, I suggest Men’s Wearhouse because they’re not too expensive (your tux will be free) and they have an app to track whether or not everyone on your list picked up their rentals. This matters. True story: One of my groomsmen rented his tux from the first place he came across instead of getting it from the Men’s Wearhouse, where I had everyone’s tux rentals already set up. Without the app, I wouldn’t have known (because, of course, he told me he got it from the Men’s Wearhouse), and it would’ve been a disaster come the wedding day.
At Least Two Months Beforehand:
By this time, you’re going to wish you just did a courthouse wedding; mainly because a lot of the bills are going to start coming due. While you may think going to the courthouse will be a remedy, it’s a remedy the same way punching yourself in the face unconscious is a remedy for not being able to sleep. (Hint: It isn’t). You’ll also want to buy gifts for your groomsmen and your bride-to-be. No matter what, your fiancée will get you a gift, so save yourself the embarrassment. For the groomsmen, get them something useful. I’ll leave that up to you.
At Least One Month Beforehand:
Finalize plans with the vendors you chose to take care of. Send the DJ the song list you want to be played, including first dance songs, father-daughter dance, etc. Just be sure to have an input on the music. Guys throw better parties.
At Least Two WEEKS Beforehand:
Help plan seating chart. She’ll take the lead on this (in fact, she’ll take the lead on everything). Just be sure to keep your frat brothers away from the table where your parents will sit. Check with the best man to be sure he’s been practicing his best man toast, because he’s going to have to give one, and it’s going to have to be really good, really emotional, and really funny. No pressure, at all.
The Week Of:
Now is the time to panic. Kidding, kidding. Pick up your tux and ensure your groomsmen do the same. You can use that handy dandy app to check on them without them knowing. Have your bachelor party. The only rule for the bachelor party is to not die. Also, finish paying everyone who needs to be paid.
The Day Before:
You’ll have wedding rehearsal this day. Show up on time so you can leave on time. Rehearsal dinner will be afterward. It’s just a dinner. Not sure why they call it rehearsal dinner to add more unnecessary pressure to it. Exchange the gifts that you were suppose to buy a couple of months ago. (You did buy them, didn’t you?)
The Day Of:
It’s the big day. Time to choke. Kidding, kidding. Be sure to count on at least 10 things going wrong. Don’t panic until you reach the 15th. If you weren’t pressured into getting married, you surprisingly won’t be nervous on your wedding day. Sure, you’ll be worried about things going right, but not about actually getting married. Still, everyone will ask you if you’re nervous and you’ll have to tell them you are in order to not minimize the importance of this day.
The morning of, give the best man your fiancée’s wedding band. Kill him if he loses it. Don’t worry about your own wedding band. Your future wife will give you this at the ceremony. You’ll take a crapload of pictures, but you’ll also have a great time. All your closest friends and family members will be there, and it will be a blast! You won’t be yourself. If you’re used to being too cool for school, prepare to dance and smile your tail off. Lastly, prepare to use the word wife to describe…well, your wife. It’ll be weird. At the reception, you won’t eat. But you’ll be having so much fun you won’t even notice it.
After the Wedding:
Arrange for any rentals to be taken back. Be relieved that you survived. Go on your honeymoon. Be merry. Be married.
Photo: Author’s Own