Yawn. We all know the cliché. You say nothing, do nothing, think nothing. That’s your job, right? (Kind of. Let us explain.)
Yawn. We all know the cliché. She plans the wedding like she’s masterminding the launch of a space shuttle, lugging around a fat nerdy binder, hyperventilating, both appalled by your indifference and, simultaneously, unforgiving when your suggestions betray your naiveté. So you say nothing, do nothing, think nothing. That’s your job, right?
Actually, no. Not if you’re smart. At a few key moments, your vigorous involvement will make this whole slog, paradoxically, feel like less of a root canal. No need to go all Male Martha Stewart—not that there’s anything wrong with that—but when the chips are down, it’s not in your interest to stand on the sidelines, useless, like Ladainian Tomlinson in the 2008 AFC title game.
90% of the time you can get away with muttering, “Mmmm hmmm” and “buttercream sounds nice” while you doze off, check email on your Blackberry, or find a razor that’s sharp enough for suicide. That other 10% of the time, however, you need to wake up.
Here’s how to pick your battles:
Wake Up: Setting the overall budget. Three key variables will probably drive the cost of your wedding: (1) the number of guests, (2) the venue, (3) the date. A thousand other minor (and tedious) decisions will tweak the budget, but guest/venue/date sets the ballpark. Pay attention now or pay up later.
Doze Off: Choosing between the baked brie and the prosciutto-wrapped breadsticks. Her job is to make everything perfect. Your job is to keep things in perspective. The next 70 years of happiness are not contingent on whether Uncle Evan nibbles on chicken skewers as opposed to kabab. (Aside: both brie and prosciutto are high in fat, and if you want to live 70 more years, we suggest you watch your diet. This does not, by definition, make you a wimp.)
Wake Up: Coaching your groomsmen. Putting aside your decision to get married, you’re not an idiot. So we won’t belabor the obvious: handling your boys is your responsibility, not hers. For everything you need to know on that score (and not a word more), click here.
Doze Off: Invitations. Unless shee spels lyke this, there’s no need to squander your time on envelopes or fonts. Embrace the mindset of George Costanza: the cheapest ones are adequate, even if it kills her.
Wake Up: Planning the honeymoon. Tradition has decreed that for the honeymoon, you bust out the Fodor’s and become little Miss Travel Agent. Our advice: forget the obvious hotspots. Instead of thinking about places, think about attributes. Incorporating her input, first whip up your ideal criteria (quiet beaches, local exotic culture, price) then zero in on a destination. For more on planning the honeymoon, click here.
Doze Off: Cakes. It sounds easy, right? Just scarf down dessert and tell her it tastes good? Watch out. This is a trap. The Knot, for instance, has over 120 wedding cakes (and “7 Hot Wedding Cake Trends!” – we couldn’t make that up), and if you ask to get involved, you’ll suffer through each and every one. And trust us—you don’t enjoy the cake when the price tag (actual average cost) is $650. One exception: it’s now acceptable—at times even encouraged, especially in the South—for you to have your own separate “groom’s cake,” which can be as masculine as you damn well please.
Wake Up: Coordinating the music. You’re the one person who can remind the bride that the reception is a party, and parties are supposed to be fun. I have been to weddings where the excitement everyone feels at the end of the ceremony is quickly squandered by a bad band in a lovely room. Your party's vibe starts and ends with the music. Band or DJ? Classical or cover? The wrong choice will ruin $10,000 worth of catered food. (Think Old School: “Turn around, bright eyes…every now and then I fu#king fall apart!”). Click here for the rundown.
Doze Off: Florists. Unless that’s your thing, which is totally cool. Sort of. More info here.
Wake Up: The Bachelor Party. The way you handle strippers—or, more technically, her fear of strippers—will establish some “trust parameters” in your budding family. How far is too far? How much do you tell her? Those questions are almost impossible to answer. But we answered them. Right here.
Doze Off: Finding the right videographer. Unless you’re a filmmaker. Now, to clarify, if you’re enthralled by wedding documentaries—or cakes, or flowers, or the proper syntax for invitations—there’s nothing wrong with taking an active interest. Some grooms will be genuinely pumped about tasting the farfalle with porcini mushrooms. So for all these categories, “Doze Off” doesn’t mean that you’re forbidden from helping the bride; it means that it’s not mission-critical, the stakes are low, and you can save your energy for things like…
Wake Up: Religion. When it comes to Jesus or Moses or anyone of that stature, it’s time to put down the Xbox. Interfaith weddings will add tension for everyone involved—it’s not fair to dump this decision on the bride. Click here to learn how to walk that tightrope.
Doze Off: The outfits. Not even Carson Kressley loses sleep over the color of his cummerbund. But you should know the basics. Get ‘em here.
Wake Up: The uncomfortable money-stuff. Those awkward conversations with your parents (and her parents) over who pays for what, how much, and who gets to make the decisions—you have to live that hell. For more, click here.
Doze Off: The gift registry. Do you really want to quibble over the pattern of your bath towels? Let her win this battle. That being said, click here for some guerilla tactics on getting less china and more cash.
Wake Up: There’s one time when you absolutely must not doze off: the night of your wedding. It’s the most haunting statistic that doesn’t involve Darfur: 52% of couples don’t have sex on their wedding night. To end the night on an up note, click here.
Before you actually get started on your jobs, though, learn how wedding porn is brainwashing your fiancée.
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