Tales of a groomzilla

I'm part of a new generation of men happy to share the duties of wedding planning. And frankly, I'm losing my mind

Topics: Coupling, Life stories,

“This photographer has zero talent,” I told my fiancée as we examined the sample wedding album. “I could take better photos with an iPhone jammed up my rectum.”

OK, I’ll admit it: I have become a groomzilla, the increasingly common (and dreaded) masculine version of a micromanaging bride. Oh, I don’t care about the flowers and table linens; I have no requirements of the cake beyond chocolate of some kind. But I’m an equal partner in our wedding day, much like 80 percent of other modern grooms, if Bridal Guide magazine is to be believed. And as the date swiftly approaches, I’m starting to melt down.

“What do you want for dinner tonight, honey?” my fiancée asked earlier today.

“DINNER?” I howled through my teeth-bleaching Crest Whitestrips. “Protein powder, just like we had for breakfast.”

Hey, I just want to look good on the most photographed day of my life. I’m in the best physical health since college — thanks to daily cardio/resistance/starvation — and the worst mental health.

It wasn’t supposed to happen this way. “Just tell me where to show up in a tux,” I said at the beginning of this process. “You can handle the rest.”

Ha. Ha. Hee. Ho. Heh. Ha. Hee. Hee. Ho. Heh. Ha. Hee.

I thought I was being generous when I replied “whatever you want” to my fiancée’s every question. I wanted her to be happy with every decision, but my agreeableness made it sound like I didn’t care. So I decided to show how much I care. Now I’m frantic over every detail from the guest list to which family members can sit at the same table without brawling. (Yes, we’re inviting Irish people.)

My father doesn’t understand this panic and seems to think I’m a total sissy for letting the pressure get to me. In his day, men had no major responsibilities between the proposal and the wedding. Perhaps this is because cohabitation was so rare back then; it’s impossible for modern guys to escape the madness unless we leave our apartments for the bar around the corner … and we dread the beer calories too much.

We’re left with a single option: giving a crap. And when men care about something — whether it’s sports, politics or discovering new foods to pair with bacon — we give it our full attention.



“When you tell a buddy that you’re scouting reception venues this weekend, you’re less likely to get openly mocked,” says Jeff Wilser of the groom advice site The Plunge. “It’s less about shifting gender norms and more about cold, hard cash. The groom might not give a damn about ice sculptures, but if he sees that the ice costs $1,000, suddenly he pays attention.”

But in this arena men are completely out of our league; the frequent bickering over inconsequentialities — for example, ice sculptures — makes you a worse person and a worse partner at exactly the wrong time. An argument over which hors d’oeuvres to serve at the cocktail hour somehow becomes an existential referendum on your lifelong compatibility.

“They say if you can make it through the wedding planning, you can make it through anything, right?” I recently asked my fiancée’s uncle, quoting the cliché.

“Right.” He nodded. “That’s what I thought until my divorce.”

A couple planning a wedding is like a country going to war: You tell yourself it will be quick, affordable and painless — a cakewalk, a slam dunk — but soon your treasury is exhausted, you can’t keep the peace between rival tribes, and you suffer from unprecedented domestic polarization. (Also: It becomes a half-century commitment.)

We assumed it would be so low-key. You find a venue, a caterer, a DJ or band, a dress, a tuxedo, and maybe some flowers. That’s it, yes? How could this possibly take more than a couple weekends of searching, max? Other couples who claim to go through hell planning their weddings are just being melodramatic or unrealistic, right? We won’t give our friends letter grades and proceed to cull them; we won’t agonize over finding a band that isn’t goateed, toupéed, ponytailed, corpulent and otherwise depressing.

Ha. Ha. Hee. Ho. Heh. Ha. Hee. Hee. Ho. Heh. Ha. Hee.

Last year a friend of mine drove to Vegas with his girlfriend on a whim and found the nearest Elvis impersonator to officiate. At the time I thought he was nuts — why wouldn’t you want your family and friends to share the moment? — and I told him so.

“Go ahead and scoff,” he said, “but your big, fancy ceremony will get very expensive, very tense, very fast. You’ll fight with each other, with your parents, with her parents … I have no regrets.”

Now I wish that I could pay a mutton-chopped dude in a rhinestone jumpsuit his $300 honorarium. This has been the most difficult 12 months of our eight-year relationship; neither of us likes the person we’ve become during this process. With a mere couple of weeks left before we tie the knot — dealing with the inevitable last-minute crises such as RSVP changes and rings that don’t quite fit — we’re knotted up, losing our cool for no good reason. She’ll cry because I don’t care which set of plates goes on our registry (because I am a man), and then I’ll spend the next day muttering passive-aggressive, petty insults about her estrogen levels (because I am a man).

“It’s so gray outside,” she observed yesterday. “Summer’s definitely over.”

“Yeah, life is hell, huh?” I snapped, reading way too much into a comment about the weather. Because everything is magnified through the prism of F-O-R-E-V-E-R.

You’re born, you get married, and you die; the second is extra significant because you don’t get to plan No. 1 or No. 3 (unless you kill yourself, an increasingly attractive option). You can get so worried about the future that you manage to jeopardize it, but a wedding should never ruin a marriage. Sure, it’s the ultimate rite of passage, mythologized in our psyches all the way back to the Disney movies that we absorbed as children, so it brings out the crazy from everyone within its orbit. With men helping orchestrate the festivities in unprecedented numbers, more and more couples will find themselves at the breaking point … and beyond.

But we won’t let this happen. Not to us. Not now. All of the financial overload, family drama and other hassles won’t matter in the long run. All that matters is we’re taking this leap of faith together for a reason, even when the universe seems to exist for the sole purpose of crushing our bond. So whenever I begin to freak out — whether it’s a legitimate reason, or because we have only 18 centerpieces for 19 tables — I’m going to remember why I asked her to spend her life with me.

Because I can be myself around her. Because we can still learn new stories about each other’s childhood. Because she introduced me to “Star Trek.” Because we have so many inside jokes, and we don’t even remember when the punch lines originated. Because she makes me feel young, and I’m not even 30 yet. Because I can’t enjoy dancing with anyone else besides her, preferably in our pajamas. Because we’ve already stayed with each other for better and for worse…

And for better.

Marty Beckerman is the author of The Heming Way. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 11
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    Burger King Japan

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Burger King's black cheeseburger: Made with squid ink and bamboo charcoal, arguably a symbol of meat's destructive effect on the planet. Only available in Japan.

    Elite Daily/Twitter

    2014's fast food atrocities

    McDonald's Black Burger: Because the laws of competition say that once Burger King introduces a black cheeseburger, it's only a matter of time before McDonald's follows suit. You still don't have to eat it.

    Domino's

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Domino's Specialty Chicken: It's like regular pizza, except instead of a crust, there's fried chicken. The company's marketing officer calls it "one of the most creative, innovative menu items we have ever had” -- brain power put to good use.

    Arby's/Facebook

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Arby's Meat Mountain: The viral off-menu product containing eight different types of meat that, on second read, was probably engineered by Arby's all along. Horrific, regardless.

    KFC

    2014's fast food atrocities

    KFC'S ZINGER DOUBLE DOWN KING: A sandwich made by adding a burger patty to the infamous chicken-instead-of-buns creation can only be described using all caps. NO BUN ALL MEAT. Only available in South Korea.

    Taco Bell

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Taco Bell's Waffle Taco: It took two years for Taco Bell to develop this waffle folded in the shape of a taco, the stand-out star of its new breakfast menu.

    Michele Parente/Twitter

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Krispy Kreme Triple Cheeseburger: Only attendees at the San Diego County Fair were given the opportunity to taste the official version of this donut-hamburger-heart attack combo. The rest of America has reasonable odds of not dropping dead tomorrow.

    Taco Bell

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Taco Bell's Quesarito: A burrito wrapped in a quesadilla inside an enigma. Quarantined to one store in Oklahoma City.

    Pizzagamechangers.com

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Boston Pizza's Pizza Cake: The people's choice winner of a Canadian pizza chain's contest whose real aim, we'd imagine, is to prove that there's no such thing as "too far." Currently in development.

    7-Eleven

    2014's fast food atrocities

    7-Eleven's Doritos Loaded: "For something decadent and artificial by design," wrote one impassioned reviewer, "it only tasted of the latter."

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>