Real Grooms Tell All

by Miles Stiverson

How do guys really get involved in the wedding planning process? How about dealing with a planning-crazy bride? And how do they relax leading up to the wedding? Here, recent grooms dish their best tips and advice.

On getting involved . . .

"Let's face it, the color of the linens and the choice of stemware isn't exactly as important as, let's say, your first pick in fantasy football. But if she asks for help, do all you can to make it easy on her. Run all the errands that don't involve making a decision. Tasks such as stuffing envelopes can save her a lot of frustration and headaches."

-- Nate, Miami

"I talked her into relinquishing complete control of the rehearsal dinner -- we had an outdoor bonfire and hog roast, complete with cheesy pig invitations of my choosing. That is something I've wanted to do for a long time and really enjoyed planning."

-- Todd, Atlanta

"My favorite part of the wedding planning was, without a doubt, all the food-tasting sessions. It's a rare occasion when you get to critique five-star food, so savor this opportunity!"

-- Marcus, Dallas

"Between my wife and me, I'm actually more of the planning type, so my responsibilities included creating all of the lists and spreadsheets, serving as the communications conduit, and managing expectations. If anything, I was the 'planning-crazy' one!"

-- Daniel, Atlanta

On using your talents . . .

"What I enjoyed most was the surprise serenade I performed for my wife at the reception, just before our first dance. I played the acoustic guitar and sang a Radiohead song for her. I had her, and most of the guests, in tears."

-- Doug, Pittsburgh

"I designed and printed all of our table cards, place cards, programs, and menus. It helps to be a little bit artistic."

-- Byron, Boston

"I'm a techy, geeky kind of guy, so it was easy for me to set up spreadsheets for wedding guest lists that dynamically updated based on whether a guest was iffy or had RSVP'd. This was really helpful in gauging our numbers before the wedding, as well as following up with thank-you cards after."

-- Mike, Denver

"Since I'm a business man, I was involved in the negotiations with the vendors. There's so much margin in wedding events that you have plenty of room to negotiate."

-- Scott, McLean

On dealing with wedding stress . . .

"I always had to remember that I had been planning the wedding since we got engaged, while she had been planning it since birth. When push comes to shove, let her know that you support her ideas, even if you really don't care."

-- Preston, Dallas

"I responded to the worst stress by playing Madden NFL against really easy teams."

-- Nikolas, Ann Arbor

"It's important to involve each other's families in the wedding preparation (notice I didn't say wedding decisions). We enlisted the help of my wife's parents with decorating the tent (her dad and mom are experts in that area). But we didn't ask them to choose which decorations we would have."

-- Matthew, Pelham Manor

On dealing with Bridezilla . . .

"My best advice would be to listen. At first, when that crazy person who looked like my wife appeared I was scared to death. But after a while she would wind down. I remember once she almost took my head off for moving her car seat back too far -- we still laugh about that one!"

-- Mayo, Birmingham

"Listen and validate her feelings. This isn't the same as agreeing with her. For example, saying, 'You seem angry' (or frustrated or whatever it may be), shows her that you're listening. Trying to ignore it or push back will only make it worse."

-- Mike, Washington, DC

"The easiest way to keep the wife happy was to take care of cooking, keeping my house abnormally clean, and to take her out as often as I could to decompress over a few beverages and Ping-Pong at our local brewery."

-- Callip, Raleigh

"Be patient and focus on the positive. Remember, this is your bride-to-be, and all of this, regardless whether you like it, is what makes her beautiful. If you can maintain a calm demeanor, you will only add to the beauty and simplicity of the day."

-- Josh, Minneapolis

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