Every wedding is different. But they all have one thing in common – it takes two of you to tie the knot! This can be a bit of an issue when it comes to the planning. Traditionally the bride takes the lead. But in an era of greater equality these expectations are changing. If the bride takes everything on herself she may become resentful that her partner is not sharing the load. On the other hand the groom may be irritated that he’s not being included and consulted! In this article we share some advice that will hopefully come in handy as you work out how to handles these potentially awkward issues.
Think about your personalities
Opposites attract. So, most couples include two characters who tend to be rather different. If one is very outgoing the other is probably more shy and reserved. One may be great at making plans and taking the lead while the other prefers to follow and adopt a more supporting role. One may enjoy dealing with detail but the other simply doesn’t have the patience this requires. It is these differences that form part of the attraction and make the relationship work – one complements the other.
When it comes to planning your wedding it’s important to understand these differences and play to one another’s strengths. Reading the small print of a contract is a job best left to the one who is most task and detail orientated – and that person may be the bride. If one of you is more artistically inclined then they should probably take the lead with things like the invitations, the look of the website and the decorations – and this could be the groom.
Sit down at the earliest opportunity and talk this stuff through. Then make a list of all the things that need sorting. Next, divide them into a his, hers and together columns.
Some things, like the guest list, the date, the nature of the ceremony, the overall theme and style of the event, the venue and the seating plan are very much matters for open discussion – bride and groom have an equal say and it’s important to be sensitive to the other’s preferences, tastes and needs.
Decisions for the bride
Other areas, like choosing the dress, anything to do with bridesmaids, the hen party and hair and beauty are almost certainly the bride’s domain. When it comes to these matters the bride should perhaps share her thoughts with the groom but will probably find he’s not that eager to get involved in the details!
Decisions for the groom
There are some things that are naturally the responsibility of the groom. He should certainly pick the best man and the groomsmen. Buying a gift for the best man and each of the groomsmen is also a task that naturally falls to the groom.
When it comes to the purchase of rings the groom will already have taken the lead on the engagement ring (it wouldn’t work the other way round!) and should also take the lead with the wedding band for the bride. By the same token she should reciprocate with the groom’s wedding band. Having said this, in practice the two of you will probably make the purchases together and who pays for what will shortly become academic as you’ll soon (if not already) have joint finances.
Deciding what he will wear on the big day is technically a decision for the groom, but in practice this does need to be discussed with the bride well in advance. She will certainly have her own views and this is particularly important for any areas where colour is involved, such as the choice of a bright tie or waistcoat – it’s important to make sure it fits with the overall design scheme of the wedding.
Some grooms also buy a gift for the bride to open on the morning of the wedding. This is a sweet idea but it’s not advisable to buy her an item of jewellery to wear on the day as she will already have made this choice and you are just putting her in an awkward spot! Flowers, or a romantic note to read while she’s getting ready, will definitely be appreciated. Another lovely touch is for the groom to take a moment with the videographer at the reception and record a special message for his new wife.
One thing that the groom must do, and cannot possibly delegate, is the groom’s speech! Writing this, and rehearsing it thoroughly, is best done well in advance – it’s not the thing to do at the last moment in a fit of panic.
Finally, it used to be traditional for the groom to make all the honeymoon arrangements without consulting the bride – that way it was all a lovely surprise for her. These days most couples tend to share this (very enjoyable) task.
Decisions for one or other of you (or both)
Planning a wedding involves a multitude of decisions that don’t naturally lean towards the bride’s or the groom’s list of responsibilities. For instance, choosing the wines, deciding on a photographer, finalising the style and flavour of the cake, managing the invitations and RSVPs, or selecting table linens.
Bride and groom need to share out these tasks as appropriate, taking into account their relative temperaments, interests and skill sets. If one of you is foodie then it’s sensible for you to take charge of this side of things. If the other is more business-minded then it makes sense for them to negotiate with the vendors and venue.
Be aware of how your partner is feeling
It’s important to keep each other in the loop about what the two of you are doing. You also need to be sensitive. Don’t overwhelm your partner with too much information if they are reluctant to engage with certain aspects of the planning. By the same token if they are showing interest welcome their input and make sure their opinion is valued. If you ask for their thoughts and continually shoot their ideas down in flames, they will soon lose interest in contributing to the planning process. So be sure to encourage your partner’s ideas and find ways to incorporate them.
Although times have changed the bride will probably still be the one that takes on most of the planning and organising. The groom needs to be aware that there will be points along the way where she hits wedding overload. If he’s smart he’ll spot the signs early and help by cooking the dinner, taking her out for the evening, or even arrange a weekend break - anything to show he appreciates her efforts and to keep the romance alive.