Q&A with J: Isn’t the Wedding for Grooms Too?

Today’s question is not so much about sex, but about marriage in general. It’s from a guy coming up on his wedding.

I’ve been looking at how modern society (at least in the U.S.) views the actual wedding, and it has me worried about my own wedding. I constantly hear the saying “It’s the bride’s special day”. Maybe I’m taking this too personal, but when I hear phrases like this, it makes me feel like as the groom that I am more or less an after thought.

When I think about it, it almost seems like aside from “I do”, the groom could be gone from the wedding and it would be almost exactly the same.

There’s no special attention to grooms on this day, at least in comparison to what the bride gets. Nobody watches us walk down the [aisle], nobody really comments on our appearance, etc.

While I understand that this is just one day in my life, I’m worried that if my wedding day goes as normal that it will set some sort of precedent that whenever something comes up for us as a couple that she will ultimately be the one who has the final say. Are these irrational fears/concerns? It just seems like weddings reinforce an attitude of “me, me, me” for the bride, when it should be an “us” for the couple being married.

Q&A with J: Isn't the Wedding for Grooms Too?

I found this interesting, because I think for many women, we feel like it’s the last day we get to choose everything. The wedding can feel like a final blowout for her opinions, a day to be the royal princess, while we expect that the rest of marriage to operate more like a democracy. Likely with the husband having 60% of the vote total.

I’m not saying this is how it is — just how it can feel for many wives.

Honestly, however, while you’re dating and engaged, you’re getting clues all the time about how your future spouse will behave and how your marriage — and sexual intimacy — might go. I recently had a discussion with a friend about people we knew who married despite some red flags and ended up divorced in a few years. Oftentimes they were warned by family and friends as well, but chose to ignore those concerns with the belief that “they don’t know him/her like I do!”

I don’t believe that it’s necessarily a problem in our culture that women do most of the wedding planning. Some guys are not interested and would rather just show up on the day wearing their tux and ready to say “I do.” But you do have an opportunity while preparing for your wedding to make sure this is the right person and to set some expectations for your relationship.

If you want to be involved, get involved. My man didn’t give much of a hoot about the particulars of our wedding, but he was opinionated about our wedding registry. That’s when couples choose what dinnerware, linens, etc. they would like to receive from well-wishes. He spoke up for what he wanted, and I happily included him.

What’s a problem is if you want to be involved and she won’t let you. That could be an omen for future dealings. Like that she’ll later plan the family vacations and ignore your input. Or you’ll want to talk about sex and she’ll cut you off. It’s not whether she does this or you do that in the wedding or the marriage, but whether you can work together to satisfy your different needs.

And by the way, guys, this means if she desperately desires your input, don’t say, “Whatever you want.” Just point to the china pattern you like best and move on.

If she’s a bridezilla now, she’ll likely be a wifezilla at some point. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 describes a loving person this way:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

If your bride-to-be is impatient, unkind, envious, boastful, proud, dishonors others, seeks her own way constantly, gets angry with others, etc. Yeah, that’s a big ol’ red flag. Like waving in your face. It’s fine to have opinions and seek a wedding day you want to enjoy and treasure. But tearing out a path on your way to that destination like a tornado is not acceptable.

On the other hand, men, we ladies feel a lot of pressure for this day to go right. So if she’s not mean, but rather stressed-out, do your best to help her out and reassure her. Remind each other continually that your marriage isn’t about just the wedding day — that it’s only the start of something beautiful you want to savor for many years to come.

You’re watching each other. Having talked to plenty of wives, and gals love to share their wedding stories, I know that we have both cultural and personal expectations for our grooms. Some want their guy very involved, some want their guy to stay completely away from their tabbed wedding planner notebook, and most lie somewhere in between.

You may be watching how she acts during this lead-up to the main event, but she’s watching you too. You both can gather useful information now that will help you figure out how to deal with issues later. Are you able to both speak your mind with courtesy and respect? Do discussions turn into arguments, or do you find ways to negotiate a win-win? How does she handle her family, and how do you handle yours? (Important future in-law insight there!) What positive and negative traits does the wedding pressure bring out in both of you?

Pressure cooker moments in life tell a lot about us. (Just ask Job.) Since your marriage will definitely entail some pressure cooker moments, use this opportunity to learn how to work together effectively. You should both speak up for what you want, but at times demonstrate the marriage-necessary trait of selflessness.

A few final thoughts:

  • I strongly encourage you to seek premarital counseling. A quality counselor or premarriage class will force you to discuss important topics and make sure you’re on the same page or at least in the same book. (And that book should be the Bible.)
  • Consider how all these personality traits you’re seeing might affect your sexual intimacy. Yes, that’s what I write about, so it’s my wheelhouse. I see plenty of couples frustrated with spouses who are selfish in the bedroom, when really that’s kind of how they were about their relationship in general before they married. Not always true, but worth considering.
  • I’ve written about wedding nights before. So if you want to peruse any of that information, here are a few of those posts:

What Should a Groom Know about His Wedding Night?
What I Wish I’d Known before the Wedding Night
Q&A with J: Will Sex in Marriage Be a Letdown?

And finally, CONGRATULATIONS! Your marriage has an excellent chance of going the distance, especially if you both commit to God and one another. May He bless you richly!

25 thoughts on “Q&A with J: Isn’t the Wedding for Grooms Too?

  1. sunny-dee

    Well, the wedding (not the marriage, the wedding) has historically been all about the bride — it’s her send off from her old family and maidenhood. (Again, traditionally.) E.g., it used to be that a new bride could be married in a church, but a widow or divorcee would properly be married in a civil ceremony or at home (or a small / private ceremony at a church). The marital status of the groom didn’t impact that; only the bride. Because it’s about her transition. Also, in a practical sense, the bride(‘s family) does all of the planning and paying for the ceremony, so naturally it reflects her desires.

    Now, a lot of things have changed — not all women take married names, the marital states of either party no longer dictates the size and style of ceremony, the couple themselves frequently pay for the ceremony instead of parents. But that’s why the focus has been on the bride, historically.

    Reply
  2. Lynn

    Oh, good, a chance to vent about my wedding day! I married for the first time, late in life, not having expected ever to marry. Both of my parents were deceased and I somewhat stubbornly said I would pay for the wedding (also, he didn’t have a lot of money). I didn’t get a big white wedding dress, I bought a nice $50 dress that I could wear to church or other events in the future. I offered to use a re-purposed ring (he did buy my ring, and he used his own ring from prior marriage). We decided on 60 guests. I kept nagging him to give me a list, which he did three months before the day. It had 140 people on it! He refused to cut it, so I wound up having only my siblings and their spouses and two couples from my church as my guests – total, 12 people. Oh, I can still get worked up about it, because he invited every member of his church and I didn’t even get to have my friends, my boss from work, etc. because the only venue I could afford only held 150 people. I thought I was very, very clear about how unhappy I was about all this, but in his memory today, he says I ‘should have said something’. So – I learned about communication – maybe! And it really didn’t make any difference, but you know what, I still get a little steamed when I remember it (perhaps you can tell). Yet, despite this, we have a wonderful marriage, and we will continue to have one as long as I put our wedding day out of my mind. So, fear not…

    Reply
  3. libl

    My dh could not have cared less about our wedding. He would have been perfectly happy jumping over a broom in the woods. He wanted a JP, but my mother insisted it isn’t a real marriage unless done in church before God. However, My folks were just as broke as dh and I were, so I kept it cheap and simple. I don’t look at my wedding photos and I don’t remember the day very fondly. Should have just jumped over a broom……It would have made me feel loved and special and worth it if he did put a little effort in it. He pretty much wanted nothing to do with it, and told me as much saying he was only going through with the wedding to appease my mother and me.

    Reply
  4. Ham

    I do not recall who said this first, but it has been rightfully pointed out, for what it’s worth, that a marriage begins with a man on his knees holding out a ring and begging a woman.

    Reply
    1. a. nony

      I hope this doesn’t mean what I think it means — that marriage begins because a man demeans himself before a woman. That’s… awful. And factually not true in any real relationship between equals.

      My husband got down on one knee and proposed. He asked my parents’ blessing. He had a ring. I didn’t expect or demand any of this — quite the contrary! I’m the one who would have been happy without a ring, and happy with eloping. He did it because it’s traditional in our culture and he likes tradition. He certainly did not “beg” because we are two actual human beings who actually know, communicate with, and love each other, and had discussed marriage as a concept and our potential future together frequently over the course of our relationship.

      Perpetuating stereotypes of men and women is a disservice to both men and women, because it teaches them to respond to members of the opposite sex as Generic Man or Generic Woman rather than as unique, “fearfully and wonderfully made” image-bearers of God.

      Reply
      1. J Post author

        I got the feeling it was meant as a joke. Ham?

        And I agree with you that there was no begging. I think proposals are simply requests, done up big because they mean something special.

        Reply
      2. Greg

        “Perpetuating stereotypes of men and women is a disservice to both men and women, because it teaches them to respond to members of the opposite sex as Generic Man or Generic Woman rather than as unique, “fearfully and wonderfully made” image-bearers of God.”

        @ a. nony: Just had to say “love this statement!” Well said.

        Reply
  5. Sara with an H

    I think it’s fantastic you want to help with the wedding planning!! Us ladies get pretty stressed out! It’s a big event! But I second everything J said here. I had a moment of “this is the right guy for me” when we were planning our wedding. It was the morning of the rehearsal and I had stopped by the bridal shop and was near our tux place. Since we (and the bridal party) lived 30min from the tux shoo, I decided to pick up the tuxes for the boys so they wouldn’t have to make the drive. About an hour later, my soon to be FIL called me very angry. There was huge miscommunication and he was yelling at me. I called my now husband and told him what happened. About 20min later, I got a call from a mutual friend that my groom had called his dad and chewed him out for yelling at me saying “No one speaks to my wife that way.” I knew right then that we would get through whatever 🙂

    Reply
  6. K

    “I constantly hear the saying “It’s the bride’s special day”. Maybe I’m taking this too personal, but when I hear phrases like this, it makes me feel like as the groom that I am more or less an after thought.”

    I do think he’s taking this too personally. The groom is not an after thought. He is the reason the Big Event is taking place. He is the person the bride loves with all her heart. He is the person the bride is choosing to partner with for the rest of her life. Most girls dream of their wedding day from the time they first understand what weddings are. In other words, practically her whole life! Most men don’t start thinking about their wedding until they are ready to pop the question. And, many don’t even think about it too much until the actual day. When the magical question is asked, the bride to be already has a good idea of what she wants for her wedding. Which only makes since because SHE has been dreaming about this DAY forever! Up to this point, this is likely the biggest, most important day of her life. (His too, but he probably hasn’t been dreaming about it forever.) So, yes, this is the “bride’s special day”.

    Hopefully, she is also thinking as much about the marriage as she is about the wedding. Some brides get caught up in the idea of the wedding, but don’t really think about everything involved in cultivating a marriage relationship.

    Even though I think the wedding is mostly for the bride, I also think the groom should have input if he wants it.

    Reply
  7. Ashley

    I think the biggest reason weddings in our culture have become so much about the bride is that (huge blanket statement here) grooms don’t care about the wedding itself all that much. My hubby cared about very few things about our wedding. He wanted both of our pastors to officiate. He was specific about a certain song he wanted sung. That’s pretty much it.

    Reply
  8. Eric

    GREAT TOPIC, J! June is wedding month, and the only thing that would make this better is if you’d posted it in March or April, while there was a little time for some of those reading this to change direction.

    Sweetie and I had the perfect wedding day: June 1, 1963, a Saturday. So we’re less than two weeks from our 53rd, and we’ll likely spend part of it soaking naked in a bedroom hot tub in a resort inn, an hour’s drive from here. And no guests–for obvious reasons.

    My bride found a marked-down wedding dress (a return by someone who called off her wedding, I think). Her pastor married us, and the ladies of her church furnished the reception meal. Rehearsal was the evening before, and there was no rehearsal dinner–I don’t think it occurred to either of us that this expensive practice was something people did. I rented white dinner jackets for the men in the party and bought them each a bow tie. All my clothes were new (except the jacket), and I bought stuff I could wear again.

    One thing that bothers me about so many weddings these days is the money spent on lavish frills–sometimes $25,000 or more, and that’s often on credit. Or the brides for whom the wedding seems to be a glorified high school prom. Or both. Such starts are bad send-offs into the land of marital bliss, and offer no more guarantee of lasting happiness than the crassest elopement.

    Throughout the Bible it’s pretty well established that marriage is essentially a family affair, NOT a church occasion. There’s no instance mentioned in the Word of God of a priest, pastor or rabbi performing a ceremony. Not once. I do favor church weddings for three reasons, however, neither of which is directly Bible-based (though by no means unbiblical). For one, most pastors will marry only those whom they counsel, and this is an opportunity to discover if the couple has their heads screwed on right, and to call it off, if necessary. Secondly, a church wedding comes with an auditorium (we had 300 guests), and usually a fellowship hall for the reception, often with little or no cost to members.

    Thirdly, marriage is a covenant before God and witnesses (usually family), and a church wedding should be a testimony to the ungodly world that this new relationship is infinitely more than just another celebration, but a permanent, until death do part us, testimony to our relationship with God Himself.

    Reply
  9. B

    J, this is great advice! Oh I wish a resource like this was available when I got married. I am the woman, and I was so bullied. My mother in law’s mantra was “it’s HIS wedding, too!” Although I was expected to pay for the entire thing with the small sum of money my mother and late father had saved. His family got to invite 70 people, I invited 30. They insisted on more, but I told them they’d have to pay for extra people – I was 19 years old and had no way of getting more money. The wedding was here in his hometown, by order of my MIL. I was not allowed to pick seating, or the menu, or pretty much anything. After all, “it’s HIS wedding, too” and his mother always ruled her household and was not to be trifled with. None of us were true Christians. We got married in a church, but the counseling was nonexistent. We were so young and clueless!

    My mom was still grieving and didn’t really have an interest in me at the time. So I had to find a cheap dress at a discount store. I’m still embarrassed when I see he pictures. No salon for me. A cousin put my hair up the best she could, and I didn’t have my makeup done, just put on the mascara I had in my purse. I was so clueless. When I walked down the aisle, no one stood. No one. On either side of the church. I figured they all just didn’t think I was worth the effort. It was such a sad day. I can’t talk about it much because it makes my husband mad that I didn’t enjoy it. I didn’t feel special at all. I felt kicked around.

    We were so young. The good news is our marriage has grown, we have both come to a saving knowledge of Christ, and we have grown as a couple, because God is so good! Yes we’ve been through a ton and had to work through a lot of issues (oh those in-law issues!) but we are still together and getting closer every year.

    So while I feel for this groom and think he absolutely should be a part of his own wedding, this post stirs up sad feelings in me. Because, I was not the bride with the special day. I was the female who got knocked around a lot and just had to pay for the whole thing and act happy, when inside I was so sad and lonely. But it all worked together for good in the long run, so I’m trying to learn not to focus on the icky parts anymore. It’s better to concentrate on the happy present than the crummy past.

    Reply
  10. a. nony

    LW, I too hate the, “It’s your special day, Bride!” stuff that gets tossed around. A wedding is a covenant ceremony, before God, in which two people make solemn vows surrounded by people who are meant to go on to help them keep those vows through their love and support. And then they celebrate that commitment. It’s not a day for the bride to be the “center of attention” — but neither is it a day for the GROOM to be the focus. The covenant should be front and center on the day, IMO. Plus, planning a wedding is (or can be) awful. The “bridezilla” thing gets thrown around, sometimes rightly, but balancing family expectations, a budget, a groom who may want a say, in-law expectations, bridal party budgets and abilities, the actual service, childcare, invitations, decoration, and on and on (while constantly being told “it’s the most important day of your life!”) would stress anyone out, no matter how otherwise calm under pressure!

    If your wife-to-be actually wants a big wedding and that sounds good to you and you can afford it, go for it! But don’t make the mistake of assuming that just because people around you are saying it’s her “special day” that she’s going to flip from being the fiancee you love and want to spend your life with, to a selfish princess planning a narcissistic swarovski-studded tulle-fest. You chose her. You love her. TALK TO HER. Communicate with your actual wife-to-be, bearing in mind that she may have been envisioning and dreaming about this day since childhood. You probably haven’t (but maybe you have! My brother did! All humans are different!). Also, this is important: really ask yourself if you’re just acting out of your irritation with this cultural phenomenon and wanting to shoot down her ideas on principle so you can “have your say”… or Having All the Opinions about her plans without being willing to do the work of (or pony up the dough for) executing those plans (dumping your feelings on her and expecting her to deal with them, saying, “No, I want a full sit-down dinner, not just a cake and punch reception!” and then leaving her to do all the work, and her parents to spend all the money, for example)… or making value judgments about her preferences out of fear that you’re going to set a bad precedent for decision-making in your marriage. None of those things is a good look.

    Instead, stop worrying about hypotheticals in your head, approach your actual fiancee whom you love, assume the best about her, and say something like, “Hey, I’d love for us to plan this wedding together so that it can really reflect us as a couple and the commitment we’re making before God. That means I’m happy to do just as much work and planning as you do.” Split the tasks in a way that seems fair and equitable to both of you, figure out what’s important to you and what’s not, be willing to compromise on your preferences (remembering that your task as a husband is to love your wife “as Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for her”), and spend at least as much time being mentored and counseled by older, wiser folks as you do on the phone with the caterer.

    Reply
  11. IntimacySeeker

    I wonder how many look back and would do the wedding a bit differently (simpler) if given another chance and knowing what we know now. Yes, it is an important day to be celebrated with loved ones and blessed by God. But the amounts of money spent on weddings take my breath away. The wedding lasts a few hours. The marriage is to last a lifetime.

    I would advise that less time, money and energy be spent on wedding planning and more be spent on pre-marital counseling and continue that counseling after the honeymoon. THAT would be wise stewardship of one’s financial resources.

    Reply
    1. Eric Wiggin

      I’m replying to both Intimacy Seeker & A.Nony:

      First, I agree with both. Great thoughts. Weddings should be simple and low-stress. There is a simple compromise between the catered reception dinner and cake & ice cream only: Sandwiches. In our case, they were furnished by the ladies of the church. Our wedding was scheduled for one o’clock on a Saturday; we had the reception downstairs in the church’s fellowship hall, and shortly after the wedding cake was served, I remember saying to my bride, “Let’s get out of here.” (In case you’re wondering about my memory after 53 years this June 1st, I did ask my bride just this morning, and she affirms this.

      We were at the honeymoon cottage shortly after five o’clock, not too badly stressed out, since we hadn’t celebrated with the wedding party the night before (I think this is something that’s developed in recent years). What happened next–well, none of your business!!

      My parents were married in May 1938, one year before I was born (May 10, 1939), at my mom’s home. Small wedding–Mother has several times run over the details with me (she went to be with Jesus in April 2015). The guests were my father’s brother and sister and their spouses, both set of my grandparents, the pastor and my great-grandmother. My mom’s sister, 15 at the time, was the maid of honor. No wrangling over guest lists!

      What about those big old church weddings some of you have seen in magazine photos (Good Old Days or Reminiscence)? Mother has told me that such weddings were “very unusual”; and before World War II, only “the rich” had them. She grew up in a middle-class home, and nearly everyone she knew married at home, and the preacher came to the house to perform the ceremony. Church weddings were a minority until about 1950, apparently. Most brides did wear white, however, and most (after about 1890) did pose with the groom for a photo, even if the wedding itself was in the home parlor.

      Besides the Wedding at Cana (John 2–big party, but at home), the best-known marriage in the Bible is that of Isaac and Rebekah, and it’s summed up tersely in Genesis 24:67: “Isaac brought [Rebekah] into the tent of his (deceased) mother Sarah, and she became his wife, and he loved her.” Unfortunately, one Bible version has inserted the words “and he married Rebekah,” apparently to support the idea of a wedding. But these words are not in the original Hebrew text, and they have no justification whatsoever. It was a simple arrangement, in which Rebekah said “I will go,” v. 58. A verbal covenant and introductions were made, and the couple spent the night fulfilling the second part of the covenant “naked and not ashamed.” It was that simple. Everything else is only tradition; and tradition is entirely optional.

      So . . . keep it simple, get some rest, and enjoy the honeymoon!

      Reply
      1. Eric Wiggin

        Ps. To my last comment: When I wrote, “None of your business,” I meant that the details were private. But I will add that we both were virgins, and we both enjoyed ourselves immensely that evening, with no shame, embarrassment and very little awkwardness. After a time of “Getting to Know You,” we dressed and went to a restaurant. By dark were were back in bed, and well . . . nuff sed!

        Reply
      2. J Post author

        Interesting. I had a very simple wedding in many ways, and if I had it to do over again, I’d do some things even simpler and others bigger. I like the idea of having the community there to affirm their support and celebrate with the marrying couple.

        Reply
  12. Mike S

    In New Testament times, the Jewish groom was the centerpiece of the wedding, not the bride. The groom manifests his love by coming for the bride with great fanfare and escorting her to the wedding, where he stood as her head, protector and lover. Just like Christ and the church.

    I’m not sure our culture can return to this paradigm, but maybe that’s where a lot of other marriage and family matters got off track.

    Keep up the good work!

    Reply
  13. Happy wife

    I did most of the planning for our wedding (he was very happy with that) and my husband was more busy with planning the wedding night. 😛 Both were awesome!!! 😉

    Reply
  14. E Fresse

    We had a fairly traditional style wedding. But after all the attendants walked down, we had a twist. My husband walked down the aisle with his parents. Then I walked down wth mine. He felt that we should be more equal in the way we were presented, perhaps feelings similar to yours? I loved it. You found do separate songs or walk to the same one. I honestly don’t remember which we did! Just an idea!

    Reply
    1. IntimacySeeker

      I would like to see less of a bride’s father “giving her away” as if she is a piece of property. Makes more sense for the bride and groom to process together as two consenting adults who have wisely chosen to enter into marriage and build a life together.

      Reply
  15. nylse

    I had no such thoughts – but I as the soon to be bride, when my now husband wanted to be part of the planning and was actively involved, I was pleasantly surprised and quite happy about it. Since we’d never done this before, we had no clue how to plan a wedding! 🙂 It took a load off and we worked quite well together. It was then I knew I had a keeper. (That was 27 years ago).

    As someone says – talk to her; you might be pleasantly surprised.

    Reply
  16. Dex Tagger

    I know exactly how this question feels, as I’ve been there all this while during my engagement. (Getting married in 2 months)
    I think it is an unfair sentiment, but I can understand why it is so. Whatever the cultural, historical, gender, or familiar background that motivates it, it still sucks, as a groom, to feel like an accessory to your bride on the wedding.
    I ended up having a conversation with my bride about that, and I realized that as much as I wanted it to be even 50-50, it would not be so. There was always going to be a bias, so we decided to make decisions together and split certain responsibilities. She took care of the details and designs and the flow of the events, while i took care of keeping track of our budgets and our things like the honeymoon and flights, etc. Pretty much, we split the responsibilities such that we had to communicate to take of things. So, even though everyone else expected this to be mostly about the bride, for both of us, we took it on together.
    With that being said, as a guy, I have to be willing to let her have some things and she is willing to let me have some things. I understand that certain aspects of the wedding have some significance to her that I cannot wrap my mind around (We call it Estrogen logic), so I just back off from that and let her have her way. For example, she wants the colors to be scarlet and grey (her school colors), and I wanted navy blue and gold (my school colors). It turns out her schools biggest rivals wore navy blue and gold too, so she wasnt having that. Ultimately, I realized that at the end of the day, my wedding is not going to be defined by the colors. Instead it would be defined by how happy she is, and she our wedding colors are scarlet and grey. She was kind enough to let us have gold ties.
    I guess what im saying is, i accept that it is important to both of us and we had to come to a point where we reflected the importance to each other and appreciated the other person’s importance to this whole thing. However, I realized that there are some things that arent worth holding on to for equality. So, i hope that encourages you.

    Reply
    1. J Post author

      Sounds like you’re doing a good job with this!

      And from my experience, in 20 years you won’t care what the colors were. If I had it to do over again, I’d choose different colors, but it doesn’t really matter in the end. 🙂

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.