The Groom Speaks
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THE GROOMS SPEAKS: The Bachelor Party: Nothing to Worry About

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Josh Brentan

One of the things women ask me most often is "What really happens at a bachelor party?" Some women are curious; some are suspicious; and some, like the woman I heard about who cries every time she hears the phrase exotic dancers, are just downright crazy. So let's examine a few of the more popular female concerns and see if there is anything to be truly worried about:

1) Will his friends try to talk him out of getting married? Erica admitted she was mildly concerned about this, but I assured her that if they were going to try and talk me out of it, they would have done so long ago. Nobody discusses relationships at bachelor parties—we like to eat, drink, and make fun of each other. That's it. Actual worry scale (1 out of 5)

2) What if he goes MIA? He's probably learned his lesson from The Hangover, but if for some reason he schedules the bachelor party for the night before the wedding (not recommended), I'd be more concerned that he'll still be hung over when the ceremony begins. Responsible drinking and bachelor parties are mutually exclusive, and if he's in really bad shape, it could ruin the wedding. Actual worry scale (3 out of 5)

3) Will he cheat on me? If what you're really wondering is if he'll end up ogling women who are paid to take their clothes off, then yes, the chances are good. But getting a lap dance is not cheating. If you consider any "services" beyond that to be cheating, be assured that only a few guys tend to take advantage of the opportunity. Is your guy one of them? You probably know the answer to that. Actual worry scale (2 out of 5)

4) What if he comes home early? Seem like a strange thing to worry about? Think about it: What does it say about a man if he can't hack it for a night or weekend with his best friends? Actual worry scale (5 out of 5)

—Josh Brentan, The Groom With A View

Brides DailyThe Groom Speaks

THE GROOM SPEAKS: The Case for (and Against) the Name Change

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Courtesy of Josh Brentan

When we applied for our marriage license last week, I gave Erica one last chance to decide to keep her name before I clicked "Send." She declined, and I was happy. It was important to me that she take my name, as I feel it signifies our becoming a unit and embarking on a new phase of our lives together.

But I realize that women have a different take on this than we menfolk do—so for the purposes of debate, I'll be presenting the male side, while Erica will represent the women. May the best blogger win!

The argument: "I don't want him to feel like I'm his property."

Me: What is this, the 1930s? Nobody, at least not any sensible person, thinks this way anymore. I'm glad we've got that settled. Now bring me a beer, woman!
Erica: The long historical tradition of surnames has meant that we are first our father's property, then our husband's. Those who ignore the past are doomed to repeat it.

The argument: "Keeping my name makes me feel independent."

Me: If you do decide to change your name, we're not going to ask you to quit your job, lose your friends, or be tied to the bedpost (unless you're into that sort of thing). In a healthy relationship, each person should retain a good deal of independence—and none of that has anything to do with your last name.
Erica: Who is Josh to say what makes someone feel independent? He feels independent going to the movies by himself. Movies vs. changing your legal name—does one of those sound more substantial to you?

The argument: "It's too much of a hassle."

Me: It's true, there is a lot of paperwork associated with changing your name, but you don't have to do it all at once. After you get the major ones out of the way—Social Security, driver's license, passport, and bank accounts—the rest can be done at your leisure. Get your new husband to help by insisting that if he doesn't, you'll change his name to yours.
Erica: Your husband's sharing in these responsibilities might sound nice, but if most men are like the one I'm marrying, it definitely won't happen. Or if it does happen, it'll be at such a snail's pace that you'll wind up taking the reins yourself, purely for efficiency's sake.

The argument: "It will be confusing for people I work with."

Me: A totally valid argument, because nobody takes a call from someone whose name they don't know. I am not really a fan of the hyphen (so 1990s), but it can be useful in this case. After a while, people will associate you with both names, making the transition to a single name that much easier.
Erica: I would be suspect of this argument. It could just be a cover-up for the fact that she likes her maiden name better than her husband's. Would you want to trade in Carter for Federspielz? Neither would I!

The argument: "I don't care what you say. This is a misogynistic tradition, and I'm having no part of it!"

Me: Do what you want, but I'm still waiting on that beer!
Erica: You go, girl! (Tell him to get his own damn beer—and get one for you while he's at it.)

—Josh Brentan (and Erica London), The Groom With A View

Brides DailyThe Groom Speaks

THE GROOM SPEAKS: Ask Him to Shower With You

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Courtesy of Josh Brentan

I desperately wanted to avoid Erica's bridal shower. Twenty women in one room? Way too much estrogen for me. But I agreed to come for the last half hour...and, shockingly, I enjoyed myself. If your groom needs convincing, here are a few things that might help:

It's Good Practice—The shower is like a warm-up for your big day. Not only can you perfect your "thanks for coming" spiel, but it's also a good time to work on recognizing silent cues. This way, during the wedding, you can't get upset at him for thinking that you had an itchy nose when what you really wanted was some help getting away from his crazy aunt Tillie.

Sharing Is Caring—It's nice to be showered with love and attention, but not everyone likes to be the sole focus of an entire room. If that sounds like you, it's all the more reason to get your groom involved. Support is one of the best things spouses can offer each other—why wait to get started?

Real Men Register—Who would have thought that one day, men wouldn't just like to cook, they'd be responsible for picking out the cookware for the registry? That was my role, and it was great to be there to receive the gifts we'd both be using.

Lots of Food, Free Drinks—If he's still holding out, just remind him of this. No man will be able to resist.

—Josh Brentan, The Groom With A View

Brides DailyThe Groom Speaks

THE GROOM SPEAKS: Staying stress-free...or at least trying

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Courtesy of Josh Brentan

Our wedding is five weeks away, and I am stressed out. Seriously. Still, I've been doing my best to keep it together. Here are five things that are working (so far):

1) Find a happy place. Lately, in the middle of the day when the stresses from work and the wedding collide, I've been taking a moment to visit the websites of the Bali hotels where we'll be honeymooning. I imagine being far, far away, with no cell phone, no vendors, and lots of peace and quiet.

2) Music makes everything better. Whether you're stuffing gift bags or assigning seats, put on some tunes. We assembled our invitations outside on a warm spring evening—we opened some wine, turned the speakers toward the window, and were done in what seemed like no time flat.

3) Put your planning aside. Whether you work out, read a book, or watch a movie, put down the planning binder and do something for yourself. However, if, like my fiancee, Erica, you can't stop yourself from making to-do lists, I'd recommend a planning session at your local bar.

4) Slow and steady wins the race. Instead of tackling everything all at once, make it your goal to tick off just one item everyday. You'll still be making progress, but the list won't take over your life. If you only have two weeks before the big day, however, you'd better get moving.

5) Elope. Don't lie, you know you've thought about it.

—Josh Brentan, The Groom With A View

Brides DailyThe Groom Speaks

THE GROOM SPEAKS: How He Can Help

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Courtesy of Josh Brentan

It's often said that guys want no part of wedding planning, but I am here to tell you that's just not true! Well...it's kind of true. But there are some things we don't mind doing, and may even enjoy. It's a safe bet you can get your groom to take the lead, or at least share the duties, on the following tasks:

1) Food/cake tasting: I can't say it enough: MEN LOVE TO EAT! It doesn't matter if his taste buds are refined or raw, this is the part of planning he'll look forward to most. And yes, he may insist on having pigs in a blanket, but I say it's okay to relent on this one—they're a crowd pleaser.

2) Honeymoon planning: He'll relish this job because it gives him an opportunity to picture you wearing a bikini (or less) in various exotic locales. He'll do everything he can to turn those visions into reality, so once you decide on a destination, ask to be kept in the loop but trust him to do the rest.

3) Music: I recently met a couple in which the groom was lobbying for a hard-core punk band to play the reception. The bride appreciated his enthusiasm but understandably opted to do the music selection herself. Assuming your groom's taste is slightly more in tune with the rest of ours, he would probably be psyched to lead the charge on choosing the band (with your input, of course) or coming up with the playlists, and with better results.

4) After-party: There's no color coordination, no flowers, and no seating arrangement. In other words, it's impossible to screw up. Let him handle it—you have more important, girly things to do.

—Josh Brentan, The Groom With A View

Brides DailyThe Groom Speaks

THE GROOM SPEAKS: Men and Their Mothers

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Courtesy of Josh Brentan

There is only one person who could possibly be more opinionated about your wedding than you and your mother: his mother. Regardless of her personality, keeping her happy requires a deft touch, and you can't always rely on your groom to provide it. Here are some ideas for dealing with different types of moms...and mama's boys:

The Overbearing Mother: The only time she'll be satisfied is when she gets her way. Assign her a project and let her run with it (within agreed-upon parameters). She gets her way, and you get her out of your hair. Do not expect the groom to be your buffer—if she's been overbearing his whole life, chances are he'll be defenseless against her.

The Particular Mother: She will defer to you on most things but will dig in her heels when she's got an opinion—all fine and dandy, if you agree. But if she insists that a band is the only way to have music at the reception and you have your heart set on a DJ, it's time to weigh the consequences. Will your relationship with her be forever icy if you go against her wishes? Will it break your heart to concede? Whatever you do, you and your groom should present a united front, with thoughtful reasons why you're sticking to your plans.

The Passive-Aggressive Mother: She hates the color palette but won't tell you to your face. She will, however, complain incessantly about how the lilac dress makes her skin look washed out. Your job is to kill her with kindness. Tell her how beautiful she'll look, and invite her to go with you to try on makeup. Leave it to your groom to set her straight—he's been dealing with this behavior for years and, if he's any kind of man at all, should be able to handle it.

The Overly Enthusiastic Mother: She can't believe her baby is getting married! But she doesn't think her son tells her anything, so she'll inevitably turn to you for information. In order to avoid the regular phone calls, write her a quick e-mail once a week letting her know what you're up to—the more links and pictures, the better. And tell your groom to call her more often. If your sanity is at risk, his is, too. He'll play along.

The "It's Your Day" Mother: Whatever you want is fine with her. This is like winning the lottery—take a moment and say a prayer of thanks.

—Josh Brentan, The Groom With A View

Check back every week as BRIDES magazine and our groom-to-be offer a peek into what the bride's other half really thinks about all the wedding hubbub. So far, he's written about what men really think about their fiancees' diets, wedding traditions, and sexual histories. Oh my!

Brides DailyThe Groom Speaks

THE GROOM SPEAKS: "Sit...Stay...Good Groom!"

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Courtesy of Josh Brentan

When it comes to planning a wedding, who has time for patience? Here are a few tips to get your groom to do what you want, when you want. Remember, you didn't hear this from me...

What You Want From Him: To finish a task he was supposed to have done weeks ago. How to Get It: Try the ultimatum. If he's a clean freak, refuse to do dishes. If he's helpless, don't do his laundry. And if you really want to get medieval, you can always withhold sex. If he has any sense of humor, he'll get the job done by the end of the day.

What You Want From Him: To look at samples (clothing, linens, invitations, etc.).How to Get It: Try flattery. Tell him his opinion is important to you. Tell him you want him to feel like it's his wedding, too. If that doesn't work, you can always bribe him. A gift as simple as a burger and a beer will work wonders on the malleability of a man.

What You Want From Him: To spend money on something he doesn't think is necessary.How to Get It: Try the sob story. Say you understand that spending $1,000 on a makeup artist is a lot of money, but in the next breath remind him of the time in eighth grade when you didn't get invited to Marcy Greenstein's birthday party because she didn't think you weren't pretty enough. He'll know what you're up to, but he'll probably go along anyway.

What You Want From Him: To register for something he doesn't want. How to Get It: Try telling him how much better his life will be with that item in it. When we were at Bloomingdale's last weekend, Erica wanted to register for this peacock pitcher that, frankly, was heinous. But then she told me it would be perfect for making sangria and drinking it on our patio. Scanner, please!

What You Want From Him: To help you pick out bridesmaids' dresses. How to Get It: Let me put it this way: It's gonna take more than a burger and a beer. A lot more.

—Josh Brentan, The Groom With A View

Brides DailyThe Groom Speaks

THE GROOM SPEAKS: Put a Twist on Tradition—Your Guests Will Thank You

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Courtesy of Josh Brentan

As a wedding guest, I often hope that this time, when I'm interrupted from enjoying my salmon dinner, I'll see something I've never seen before. The May issue of BRIDES magazine has a fun roster of new traditions that are taking root for 2010, but in the meantime, here are a few I've been thinking about changing for our wedding:

Old tradition: The introduction of the bridal party
New twist: Do we really need to be introduced to people we already know? Instead, introduce the people at Table 18 who don't know anybody else. ("All the way from Florida, it's my grandmother's friend, Selma!") It will improve the mingling and make everyone feel included.

Old tradition: The first dance
New twist: The first-dance circle. Nothing kicks a party off better; a good dance circle (or three) will get everyone moving, clapping, and usually laughing. Mandatory participation for the parents and anyone in the wedding party; participation encouraged for everyone else.

Old tradition: The photo slideshow of the happy couple
New twist: Old photos of different guests with the couple at various points in their lives. A nice, personalized touch to let your guests know you care.

Old tradition: Feeding each other cake
New Twist: If you're expected to get frosting on your face anyway, you might as well take it one step further: a cake-eating contest for the bridesmaids and groomsmen. One piece per person, no hands allowed. Winner gets a bottle of champagne. (Betting is optional.)

Old tradition: The bouquet toss
New twist: For those women vying for a ring, why not make them prove their worth to the men they love via a skills competition, or mud-wrestling out back? Set up a tournament bracket—winner takes home the bouquet. Yes, I know it's unrealistic, but wouldn't it be fun?

I've only got two months to find some new, fun ideas, so if you have some of your own to share with me, please leave them in the comments section below.

—Josh Brentan, The Groom with a View

Brides DailyThe Groom Speaks

THE GROOM SPEAKS: The Wedding Registry: What Do You Really Want?

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Courtesy of Josh Brentan

Here's a question: on a scale of one to ten, how excited are you to receive a toothpick holder as a wedding present? Negative three? What a coincidence! Me, too! I understand we're supposed to be furnishing ourselves for the future, but I also want some presents for the present!

Here's what I'd like (and I think you shouldn't be shy about asking for some of these yourself):

For the connoisseur couple: [Fill in the blank] of the Month Club. Coffee, beer, wine, books, chocolate—if you can think of it, there's probably a club for it. And even though it's twelve gifts in one, it only requires one thank-you note.

For the cultured couple: A museum membership, a season pass to a local theater, opera, or symphony. You've got a built-in date night for a year. Who says romance has to die when you get married?

For the collecting couple: A piece of art you've had your eye on at the gallery downtown. I recently met a couple who couldn't afford a piece that they were dying to own, and they decided to put it on their registry. Several friends chipped in to buy it for them and now they say it's the best wedding present they received. Certainly better than the soup bowls, anyway.

For the camping couple: A canoe to take you places you can't hike to on foot, his and hers sleeping bags, or a new stove to replace the one that got eaten by a bear on your last trip. Score extra points if you can make use of it on your honeymoon.

For the culinary couple (a.k.a., me and Erica): I've said from the beginning that the only thing I really want to put on our registry is a smoker. I know you can't use it together like you can with the other things on this list, but, well, it's my list. And besides, both Erica and the neighbors will benefit from the enticing aromas of hickory wood and brisket emanating from our backyard.

Well, that's what I would want. What about you?

—Josh Brentan, The Groom With A View

Check back every week, as BRIDES Magazine and our groom-to-be offer a peek into what the bride's other half really thinks about all the wedding hub-bub. So far he's written about what men really think about their fiancees' diets, mothers and sexual histories. Oh my!

Brides DailyThe Groom Speaks

THE GROOM SPEAKS: How Well Do You Know Your Fiance?

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Courtesy of Josh Brentan


This past week, I heard a story about a woman who had been dating a guy for a few months when he revealed to her that he had a son from a prior relationship. A big deal, to be sure, but not unimaginable. Fast-forward to a year later—the man and woman are now engaged, and he reveals yet another secret: He has two other kids from a different relationship! Naturally, this got me thinking—is there anything Erica hasn't told me? Would I even want to know? Here are five things I would definitely like to know....


1) Family History - Yes, I know your uncle Stanley can get a little rowdy, but that's not what I'm worried about. What about the people I haven't met? Are you hiding them for a reason? Maybe they carry a rare recessive gene that could make our children look like the banjo kid from Deliverance. I'm assuming that I don't even need to ask about secret kids, right? Hello...?


2) Financial Matters - Is there a trust fund in your name that I should know about? Or are you sitting atop a mountain of credit-card debt? (Read: Can I quit my job, or do I need to find another one?)


3) Unfulfilled Dreams - When you hit your midlife crisis, are you going to leave me in order to go save the African gorillas? What about that photo of a one-person raft in the middle of the ocean that you keep on the fridge? Any chance your long-held fantasy is really to cook me dinner every night? I didn't think so.


4) The Ex(es) - I don't want to know how many people you slept with; I just want to know how many of them still keep in touch with you. Are there any who still cling to a shred of hope you might one day take them back? Don't make me go snooping around your e-mails....


5) Filthy Habits - Is there anything you like to do when nobody's looking? I'm not talking about picking your nose—everyone does that from time to time. I just wonder if one day, I'll come home and find you biting your toenails, or some other unsightly thing. Will I still want to kiss you hello?


As it turned out, the man and woman mentioned above got married and are living happily ever after. Clearly, deal-breakers vary from person to person. What about you? What would you want to know?


—Josh Brentan, The Groom With A View

Brides DailyThe Groom Speaks

THE GROOM SPEAKS: Getting the Most Out of Your Man

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Courtesy of Josh Brentan

Wedding planning is hard work, and you shouldn't have to go it alone. Problem is, getting us involved can be as hard as getting us to commit in the first place. But we came around then, and we will this time, too—we just need encouragement. Here are a few ideas that might help:

Don't Rush Us - Planning a wedding is like drinking—if you've never done it before, there's only so much you can handle before your head starts spinning. And in this case, our tolerance is probably much lower than yours, so please, be gentle.

Create a Captive Audience - You may feel like the only way we'll ever listen is if you tie us to a chair and force us into submission; we'll just think you're getting kinky. Instead, give us fair warning of what's on your mind, and plan to discuss it over dinner. As long as there's food in front of us, we're not going anywhere.

Leave Your Mom at Home - You're much more likely to get us out for a day of appointments if we know it's just going to be the two of us, because as much as we like your mother (ahem), we worry she's going to make things complicated. If your mom has strong opinions, ask her for advice beforehand and tell her you'll call her later. She'll appreciate the courtesy, and so will we.

Give Us an Assignment - Tasks within our area of expertise are most likely to be tackled. And if we can handle it from the comfort of our desks, consider it done. Still, you should definitely give us a deadline, and you may want to give us a friendly reminder as well. Erica asked me two weeks ago to coordinate the transportation and, well...

Fake a Breakdown - If you've cajoled, needled, badgered, and bribed and you're still not getting any help, there's one more option: tears. They're not pretty, but they work. Tell him you're overwhelmed. Tell him you can't handle the load. Heave a sob if you have to...actually, you know what? Forget it. If he's not helping by now, just dump him.

—Josh Brentan, The Groom With A View

Brides DailyThe Groom Speaks

THE GROOM SPEAKS: What He Really Means When He Says...

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Courtesy of Josh Brentan

Good communication is always important, but never more so than when you're planning a wedding. Unfortunately, some of us men don't always say what we mean. So in an effort to help you better understand us, here's a handy translation guide to a few phrases you're sure to be hearing:

"I don't care." What he's trying to tell you is that you can do whatever you want, as long as it's something he agrees with. For example, if he tells you he doesn't care about the place cards but you come home and they're pink? Believe me, he's going to care.

"Relax, everything's gonna be OK." He might say it in a soothing voice, but his motives are purely selfish. It's actually a male mantra that means "I was feeling nice and relaxed a moment ago, and I pray you'll let me feel that way again real soon."

"That's fine." He's just being polite. What he really wants to say is, "Stop asking me so many questions! Is it possible to not talk about the wedding for five minutes?"

"No." The good news is that this time he actually means it. But it's often only temporary—so find a new way to ask in a couple of days and you might just get the answer you're looking for.

"Whatever you think is best." This is his way of letting you know he appreciates the hours you spent picking out, say, table linens, while simultaneously telling you he has absolutely no interest in discussing it for any longer than two minutes. (See "I don't care," above).

—Josh Brentan, The Groom With A View

Brides DailyThe Groom Speaks

THE GROOM SPEAKS: 5 Things Not to Worry (So Much) About

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Courtesy of Josh Brentan

BRIDES Magazine and groom-to-be Josh Brentan offer a peek into what the bride's other half really thinks about all the wedding hub-bub.

The Dress: I've been told you'll know when you find the one. Just remember that no matter whom you bring along—your mother, your maid of honor, your high school drama-club "boyfriend"—the only opinion that truly counts is yours. Unless you want something that makes you look like Little Bo Peep—in that case, listen when they tell you "no."

The Shoes: I heard a vicious rumor that they make cute shoes without high heels. If this is true, we beg you to be sensible and buy a pair. You won't have to worry about your feet hurting, and we won't have to smile sympathetically when you complain about it all night long.

The Makeup Artist: I recently found out that makeup consultations alone take three hours. Three hours! People run marathons in less time than that! We know you want to look pretty, but when you're sitting in that chair, just remember that most of us prefer the wind-swept, sun-kissed look you get after a day full of fun. If you can find someone to re-create that, then take all the time you need.

The Diet: When Erica told me she wanted to go on a wedding diet, I took her out for cheeseburgers. We grooms would much rather you eat and be happy than starve and be miserable. And no, a few carrots and a cookie are not a meal. (Extra insight: We don't want you to make us diet, either.)

The Extreme Makeover: If you are determined to get chemical hair treatments, a fake tan, or eyelash extensions, we're not going to be able to stop you. That's fine. Go ahead. But before you do, just imagine looking at wedding photos with our daughter in 20 years and her saying, "Mommy, is that you?" Want to think again?

—Josh Brentan, The Groom With A View

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