Despite our collective desire to modernize most parts of our 21st-century lives, wedding planning is still largely a bride's territory. But many women increasingly want to involve their grooms in the process. How to do it when your groom is ultra-traditional, shy, or more interested in eloping than throwing a big, fancy wedding?
"It's very important to not take over every aspect of the wedding planning," urges Kim Sayatovic of Belladeux Events. "Remember, it's his day, too, and you want to make sure you pick your battles and compromise." Here's how to do just that.
Collaborate From the Start
Make sure you're cohesively visualizing your big day by involving your groom from the beginning. Nick Price of TriFocus Media recommends creating a list of "must-haves" and "must-nots" for the wedding. This is a great way to intentionally ask for his help, which will make him feel valued while setting realistic expectations as a couple.
Be Open to His Input
Ask your groom open-ended questions and listen to his input, says Amy Kolodziej of Sunshower Photography. In other words, don't ask him to simply approve something you've already decided or to be a "yes man" to your decision making. "If he feels like his opinions have weight and you aren't just asking so you can say you did ask (but already had your mind made up), he will continue to be involved," Kolodziej adds.
"Don't micro-manage your gift registry, make joint choices, or defer to him on things he feels strongly about," says Janine Dion of Long Island New York's Crest Hollow Country Club. You are selecting household items that you will share together for decades to come, and he should be involved to a certain degree. Even if he insists he doesn't care, he probably wants to help pick out cool kitchen gadgets or the most luxurious bedsheets and towels.
Give Him Complete Control
Offer your guy the chance to be completely in control of a part of the day, suggests Alex Chalk of Taylor'd Events Group. If he's a music lover, then tell him to research and review bands or DJs, or pick the majority of the songs. If he's a foodie, pass the menu planning to him and ask him to keep it a surprise so he takes full control of the task. "Quite often, grooms will be more excited about the element of surprising [their] new spouse rather than just checking another item off the list," says Chalk.
Involve Him in Non-Reception Areas
If party planning just isn't his thing, see if he'd be interested in taking over the ceremony (finding an officiant, selecting readings), organizing travel logistics (your getaway car, buses or shuttles for guests), or taking the reins on the honeymoon (itineraries, hotel arrangements, excursions), says Jamie Chang of Passport to Joy.
Ask Him to Be Handy
Not all guys are handy, but those who are would probably jump at the chance to build something special for their wedding day. Joanne Jiang of LadyMarry says to see if your groom is on board to create something for the ceremony or reception. It could be as simple as a hand-painted "Just Married" sign or as elaborate as an ornate chuppah.
Tap Into His Organizational Skills
If he's type-A about staying organized, see if he'll harness those skills with wedding planning. "If he's a tech guy, then find a wedding planning app that you can both use to collaborate on your shared responsibilities," says Jiang. "He's far more likely to stay engaged and excited if you’re speaking his language." Or, that can translate to sticking to a budget, as it did for Audrey Gilani of OFD Consulting. Her husband-to-be is all about numbers and spreadsheets. "Throughout the planning process, all I had to do was ask a question about a guest or how much something cost and he would run over to the computer and pull up his Excel sheets and could give me a precise answer," she says.
Have Him Create a Unique Guest Experience
See if your guy can take one of his passions or interests and turn it into a fun experience for your guests. "Maybe it's a whiskey bar that gets him excited, so create a special vignette area for whiskey drinking that he and his groomsmen can take over and enjoy all evening," says Kim Sayatovic of Belladeux Event Design.
Make It a Friendly Competition
When all else fails, stoke your man's competitive spirit! He may not be as jazzed about sending the invitations as you are, so challenge him to see who can stuff the most envelopes in 15 minutes, says Max Goldfine of TriFocus Media. The winner gets to pick what movie you watch on Netflix that night.