Planning the Wedding: What Should the Groom Expect?

Some grooms may think their only responsibility for the wedding is to show up (you wish).

We are firm believers in the groom being involved in the planning process and incorporating his taste and preferences on an equal basis with those of the bride (she'll probably appreciate it too).

You'll be making important decisions jointly throughout your marriage and your wedding is a great time to start exercising those decision-making and compromising muscles. Remember that your wedding is a turning point in life, not just a big party. It's an opportunity for you and your bride to create a distinctive celebration and make a statement of style to your friends and family as you begin your life together as a couple.

Once you and your fiancée decide to get married, it's never too early to begin talking about how you want to ritualize and celebrate your wedding. Before you decide on details such as the date, time, guest list and location, step back and look at the big picture.

Start by creating the complete fantasy, then find ways to keep the concept alive while accommodating the budget. Focusing on the big picture first allows you to create a thread of style that can weave its way throughout everything the guests come into contact with, from the invitation to the ceremony, the reception to the thank-you notes.

If you focus on the small details without looking at the big picture, it can be more difficult to get a coherent look and feel for your celebration.

Whatever decisions you make with your fiancée need to suit your style as a couple. Forget about the rules you may have heard that suggest you must serve a sit-down dinner at the reception or the men must wear tuxedos.

Different approaches to consider include a morning civil ceremony downtown, followed by a wedding breakfast with a small group of family members and close friends. Another option can be an informal noontime ceremony with just your best man and maid of honor as witnesses, followed by a casual outdoor picnic in a meadow for the wedding party, family and friends.

When Colin begins planning a wedding with a couple, he asks them a series of questions designed to help them define their personal taste, preferences and style. The answers will relate to all aspects of the wedding celebration, from the food to the music.

Armed with this information, it is far easier to make the big decisions on what type and style of wedding celebration is right for both of you.

Questions for You and Your Bride to Consider

  • What kind of ceremony and reception suit you and your bride?
  • Do you live in the city and prefer urban chic cocktail parties, or do you prefer a more casual country feel?
  • Formal or informal?
  • Would you rather have a large gathering of friends and family, or a more intimate setting at a remote location?
  • Will your ceremony be religious, secular or spiritual?
  • What are your favorite restaurants? Describe what you like about them--the atmosphere, the type of cuisine, the quality of food, the way the food is served and perhaps the way the restaurant is decorated. Are there any elements that your favorite restaurants have in common, and if so, what are they and how might you wish to incorporate them into a great wedding reception?
  • What are your favorite foods? Are there specific types of foods--French, northern Italian, Indian, Japanese, Southwestern barbecue--that you love? What are your least favorite foods? Are there certain dishes from favorite restaurants that you love, such as a grilled vegetable salad, or the way a local bistro prepares duck breast? This information will help you better direct your caterer or banquet manager.
  • What sort of foodservice do you prefer? Is a formal sit-down dinner your idea of a great party, or do you prefer a buffet, where you can select foods that suit you? Do you enjoy dining casually or formally?
  • What are your favorite drinks? Do you prefer wine, beer, spirits or soft drinks? Do you have a favorite cocktail? Do you love microbrews?
  • Where do you like to spend your vacation? What appeals to you about the destination and why? Is it formal or relaxed? Cosmopolitan or rustic? On the beach or in the country?
  • What are your favorite books or stories and what sort of atmosphere does your favorite book or story create? Are there ways to incorporate elements of this into your wedding celebration?
  • What is your favorite film and why? Are there scenes from a favorite movie that really appeal to you? Do you remember wedding scenes from films, like Four Weddings and a Funeral or My Best Friend's Wedding, that seem to match your style?
  • What is your favorite flower, and if you're unsure, are there flowers you dislike? If you don't know the specific names of flowers, think about what colors and types of flowers appeal to you. Look through books and magazines, and note or clip photos of the ones you like.
  • What are your favorite and least favorite colors? Consider how your favorite colors translate to different types of fabrics that might be used in wedding attire or decor.
  • Does a particular time of day or season of the year inspire you? Do you love sunsets? Do you love the cozy feeling of being indoors after a winter snowfall? Do you love long summer evenings outdoors? Consider how this might affect the timing of your wedding.
  • Do you have a favorite collection that might offer a theme for your wedding? Incorporating a collection of objects that have meaning to you and your bride or groom is an opportunity to personalize your wedding celebration.
  • Do you have a hobby or pursuit that you want to incorporate into your wedding in some way? If a couple loves to sail, a seaside wedding at a marina, yacht club or even on a boat might be appropriate. If you love opera, maybe your celebration should include some of your favorite arias performed by a local opera singer. If you enjoy collecting wine, then fine wine might be a focus of your celebration.
  • What clothing designers are your favorites? What specifically about their designs appeals to you? Is it the lines of the clothing, the use of color, the fabrics? Consider how these can be translated into your own wedding clothing or the overall party decor.
  • Do you see your wedding as a single event, or would you like to have a series of events over several days, such as weekend-long celebration? Do most of your guests live nearby, or will many be traveling to the wedding from out of town?
  • What is your favorite type of music? Make a list of your favorite composers and their works, the artists and their songs. Be sure to make a short list of the music you definitely don't want to hear at your wedding too.
  • What are your favorite photographic styles? Do you like black and white, color or sepia? Do you like a photojournalistic, documentary, or traditional portrait approach? Remember that you can expect to look at your wedding pictures for decades to come, so be sure to determine the approach and style that suits you and your bride.
  • When you can do absolutely anything, or nothing at all, how do you spend the day? Would you love to spend an afternoon shooting the breeze with friends over a couple of beers, or would you prefer a great hike in the mountains? How could you translate your preferences to your wedding day?
  • Do you have a visual image of your wedding? Whether the answer is yes or no, another good exercise is to look through as many magazines as possible and tear out pictures of things you and your fiancée like and dislike. The more visuals you have when you meet with your vendors, the easier it will be to paint a clear picture of your personalities and taste.

Once you have the answers to these questions written down, you can begin to see what style of wedding is right for you. The important thing to remember is to keep a consistent thread of style that weaves through all the elements of the wedding, from the invitations, the ceremony, the flowers, the food, the drinks, the music, to the thank you notes for wedding presents.

What are you waiting for? Start planning!

 
 
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