churchAs a teenager, I will admit I had a very stereotypical (and admittedly immature) outlook on what my role would be on my wedding day: show up, stand at the alter, say “I Do,” and party hard. Wedding planning is done by the women, in particular the bride, and my job is to stay out of the way. I learned very quickly that dynamic is not only ignorant and impractical… it’s boring!

Wedding planning can get a bad rep, but in reality you have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to engineer your perfect day where you make a public declaration of your love and follow that up with a giant celebration involving all the important people in your life. Now, of course planning a wedding can be stressful but if there’s one thing I’ve learned over the past 7 years, marriage is a team effort and so too should be the marriage preparation.

Even though it sometimes feels like it’s a lifetime away, eventually the day will come where all the preparation is complete and it’s show time. As a newly-minted husband, here are some things I learned now that I’ve crossed over to the land of the married.

  1. Things will go wrong. Maybe the limo won’t have the champagne they promised. Maybe the priest calls you “Brad” instead of “Brett.” Maybe your father-in-law trips on your bride’s veil immediately after he walks her down the aisle. Maybe all of these things will happen. No matter how carefully you plan, some things will inevitably go wrong and the best thing you can do is to roll with it and remember that the day is about getting married; everything else is just details.
  2. Confirm with your vendors. Just because “things will go wrong” does not mean you shouldn’t do everything to mitigate that risk. Even if you have been in regular communication with your vendors, always do one final confirmation call the day before. A 10-minute phone call on Friday saved us from having no wedding cake (and presumably our first major freak out as a married couple).
  3. Your bridal party is there for more than just pictures. They are your support staff. They are there to help coordinate vendors, to keep you on schedule, to handle unforeseen issues. These are some of the most important people in your life and they want to help…let them.
  4. At some point on your wedding day, you will freak out. This isn’t to say your special day will ever be in jeopardy but the emotion of it all is simply overwhelming. For me, I was doing great up until ~1 hour before when we were a few minutes late leaving for the church (literally…only 3-4 minutes late). A good Best Man will know how to talk you down, even if he needs a little help from the good folks over at Bulleit.
  5. Choose your traditionsEveryone knows the popular wedding traditions, like the father-daughter dance, bouquet toss, or the Best Man’s speech. Choose the traditions you like but don’t feel like you have to do all of them you read about in the magazines. Anne and I chose not to do a garter toss or a First Look because these did not fall into our vision of what our wedding should be. We also made our own special requests, like the playing of Villanova’s alma mater as we processed out after the ceremony or taking photos at the iconic Oreo statue throwing up our V’s on campus. We replaced the traditional guest book with a polaroid camera and some glue sticks. I wore bright yellow socks and iced my Fantasy Football league. Anne took over the dance floor to give an impromptu Ice Ice Baby performance. There is no right or wrong traditions, only your traditions.
  6. It’s over before you know it. I know this borders on cliche at this point but it bears repeating: this day will go by faster than you can possibly imagine. Embrace it all from the moment you get up until you say your final goodnight, you’ll never have another day like this one.
  7. Don’t drink too much. Of course you don’t want to be the sloppy mess that bowls people over on the dance floor but more importantly you want to remember the evening. Have a good time but keep your wits about you, you only get one wedding and you don’t want fuzzy memories of it.
  8. Dance lessons are 1000% worth the investment. Trust me on this one, gents.dance
  9. Petticoat…not a real coat. If you ask your bride if you should have a hanger ready for her petticoat at the reception, prepare to be mocked. Mercilessly.
  10. Do something special just for your bride. Write her a letter, order her favorite comfort food to calm her nerves, or bring a picture of your puppy that’s waiting for you back at home. If you’re musically inclined, try recording your wedding song and overlay that with photos from your time together…I can tell you from experience it’ll be a big hit with your lady!
  11. When you get home, you’re going to be a little depressed. This was probably the biggest surprise for me, but after 18 months of planning and a truly extraordinary weekend it makes sense that getting back to your normal routine will take some adjustment. You’re coming off a 3-day adrenaline high surrounded by friends and loved ones. Regardless of whether or not you go straight into your honeymoon, take some quality time one-on-one with your wife to give yourselves a chance to come back down to Earth.
  12. You’ll never experience anything quite like this again. You will make countless memories with your wife in the years to come but your wedding day is single, unique, and incomparable. You’ll never forget how you felt when you first saw her in her wedding dress, the look on her father’s face when he gave her away, or the sound of the cheers when you were introduced at the reception. You’ll remember silly things, like the pile of bobby pins in the bathroom the next morning and how the Best Man had to run back to his table before his speech because he forgot his beer. You’ll look at your photos and see something much more intimate than two people in love; you’ll see promise, passion, and untapped potential. You’re married now, time for the real fun to begin.

Confessions of a Groom

 

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