…special thanks to the Chicago Tribune!
For generations, wedding planning was the bride’s thing. She and her mother spent weekends trying on dresses and debating chicken Marsala versus chicken Parmesan.
The groom’s job was narrowly defined: find his tux, choose his groomsmen, plan the honeymoon, maybe.
Nowadays, it’s increasingly becoming a team effort with the bride and groom.
“Marriage is about being together. Planning the wedding should be too,” said Matt Stienstra, 32, who will marry Annie Taylor, 25, on July 18, 2015. “My grandmother would give me an earful if I didn’t pull my share, but I’m truly enjoying it.”
Ninety-five percent of engaged couples are planning their weddings together, according to the 2013 Real Weddings poll from wedding website The Knot (theknot.com). That’s up from 70 percent in 2007.
“The bride is still in the spotlight, but the groom is no longer an accessory,” added Yolanda Crous, Brides magazine features and travel director.
Maybe it’s no wonder the groom gets on board these days: The average wedding cost is $28,000 and follows an engagement of 14.7 months, according to the 2014 American Wedding Study by Brides magazine.
Those to-do lists have grown long: Many couples create a wedding website, sit for engagement photos, plan a guest list, throw an engagement party, book venues and hotel rooms, issue “save the date” cards, write their vows, stage bachelor and bachelorette parties, plan a honeymoon and — oh, yeah — get to the church on time.
Stienstra uses a spreadsheet. “Even with two of us, it’s information overload,” he said.
For starters, couples have to choose a theme (Stienstra and Taylor, from Whitefish Bay, Wis., chose Paris), followed by even more choices: colors, attendants, cake, rings, clothing, flowers, music, videographer, jewelry, table cards, invitations, favors, wedding-party gifts, officiant and thank-you cards.
Grooms also are actively engaged in helping to register for gifts, Brides reported.
The biggest trend where grooms are showcasing their talents, said Jamie Miles, an editor at theknot.com, is the “personalization” of the wedding, “from singing-and-dancing proposals to making websites.”
Fueling the move toward dual planning is that 80 percent of couples live together before they marry, the Brides poll noted, so they’re used to making joint decisions.
“You’ve already been through her bringing home the girly comforter and him saying, ‘Excuse me?’” Miles said. “You’ve learned to work it out.”
San Francisco resident Seth Hammac, 34, an advertising technology salesman who married Julia Goldberg, 35, a corporate strategist, in August, was happy to pitch in, given that each had full-time jobs, a not uncommon reality. Hammac knew his efforts would reduce her stress.
“We split up our duties according to what our interests are,” he said. “She chose the music and the traditional Jewish customs. I chose the wine, beer and invitation color — I like orange — and arranged for the officiants (his aunt and her uncle). We outsourced the decorations to Julia’s mom.”
The geographic implications of couples marrying later in life have also affected the bride’s co-decision-maker shifting from her mother to the groom, Miles said.
“Mom is not necessarily nearby,” Miles said. “The bride has grown up and moved on.” On average, she’s 28, and the groom is 31, according to theknot.com.
As the gender lines blur, grooms “no longer lose face by getting involved in roles that were traditionally for women,” Crous added. “In fact, they revel in it. And they see celebrities doing it.”
And, of course, the legalization of same-sex marriage is often bringing two men, not one, into the process.
Although she may be outnumbered, at least one bride is taking the wedding planning lead.
“I’m doing 95 percent of it because I’m a Type A and know what I want,” said Meghan Anderson, 30, a teacher from St. Louis, who will marry Josh Biedermann, 33, an IT engineer, in September. “He’s choosing the groomsmen and tuxedos.”
Anderson deputized both their mothers to help shop vendors.
“Josh is fine with me making these decisions,” Anderson added. “He does plan, though, to go to the cupcake tasting.”
The element of surprise
The one decision the bride still makes on her own, said recent polls from theknot.com and Brides magazine, involves her wedding dress. Matt Stienstra, who is taking more responsibility for planning his 2015 wedding with Annie Taylor, respects that choice.
To keep her dress ideas secret, Taylor posts pictures on two Pinterest boards: a “dress” board, only for her and her maid of honor, and a “wedding” board for the whole wedding party.
“I really don’t want to see her dress before the wedding,” Stienstra said. “When I see her in it for the first time when she walks down the aisle, that will be my real reaction. I want to be surprised.”