It can be tricky to be a groom. Many moons ago, the lines of responsibilities were nice and clear (albeit rather sexist and unfair): The bride did most of the wedding planning work, and the groom nodded and tried to stay out of trouble. Happily, things have changed. More and more couples are working together to plan their weddings, tackling problems as a team, and jointly pulling off one hell of a party.
That said, I’m guessing your fiancé does not subscribe to Grooms magazine. He has not fantasized about the wedding since he was a little boy. He’s not scouring Pinterest for inspiration. And, OK, real talk? He’s a little lost. He has asked himself questions like “Where do I even begin?” and “What’s my job exactly?” and “Wait, wedding cakes cost what?!”
Before you launch into wedding planning mode, he needs to be brought up to speed. First, candidly discuss a division of labor. Explain which tasks you’re excited to tackle, figure out where he could add the most value, then divvy up the boring to-dos you both want to avoid. Second, let him know that some aspects of planning require a true partnership — namely: the When, the Where, and the Who. Let him know that with these three major tasks you need and expect his help ... and then it’s cool if he wants to doze off at the florist. Here’s how to incorporate him fully in each of the “Big 3.”
He needs to do more than simply nod and say “Yes, dear.” He should vet potential dates with his family and lifelong friends and help you crunch the numbers to compare costs between different seasons.
When negotiating with vendors, he can join you in a routine of Good Cop, Bad Cop. (It’s up to you who’s who.) Ask every venue the tough questions: Is the price all-inclusive? What’s the cancellation policy? Are there any hidden costs? Can you bring your own food and booze? New Jersey–based groom-to-be Larry Dai expected meetings with venues to be a head- ache but says, “I had fun reviewing menus and imagining all of our friends enjoying the meal. And visiting each one — five total — was kind of like a road trip.” These are the kinds of mini missions that bring couples together.
See More: The 50 Mistakes Grooms Always Make
Your guest list is like the global supply of crude oil: Its supply and demand will drive every cost of the global economy (your wedding), it’s contested by every superpower (the parents), and it can trigger wars and bloodshed (fights with your mom and bridesmaids). Here, he needs to have your back. When crafting your guest list, use the rule of thirds; if you’re paying, that’s a third of the list for the bride, a third for the groom, and a third for the parents. Don’t be afraid to exclude coworkers (they’ll get over it), and know that it’s OK to be stingy with plus-ones. A good rule of thumb: If neither of you has spoken to certain people on the list in the last year, cut ’em. They won’t exactly be heartbroken and might not even notice.
If you find him giving you flack even after you’ve explained the importance of the Big 3, try getting him to think as if you’re planning a vacation. For a lot of guys, even the words “wedding planning” have loaded connotations; if you orient your to-dos as you would with a vacation, it suddenly sounds like fun! And like any vacation, a wedding can involve some drudgery (invoices), some drama (new in-laws), and some headaches (the guest list), but it also has a glorious payoff. And this is a sun-kissed vacation that lasts forever. So make it a good one.