This post is special to us here at AOW for many reasons. Firstly, it was written by a Man. And it is about weddings, and..wait for it…PLANNING. It’s not even a series of thrown-together grunts about weddings, it’s written very, very well. It also throws us some pretty uncomfortable (and important) questions about how people treat the groom before and after the event, and our expectations around the role of the groom.
Secondly, because it’s from Tom, of Esme and Tom, who are our readers, our friends, and purveyors of damn fine afternoon tea. We couldn’t be more thrilled about letting Tom tell his story. And about the thievery of his phrases for our blog post titles. This post is funny, frank and compelling. Enjoy.
Thank you, Tom. Over to you:
So, here I am. Blogging. Eek.
To be quite honest I never thought I would ever blog, and (sorry to live up to the stereotype here) certainly not about my wedding. But then I happened to marry the very talented Esme, who managed to persuade me that I’ve got something interesting to say (we’ll see about that), so here goes…
The first thing I should mention is that I am 100%, unashamedly biased when it comes to our wedding. It was awesomely fantastically amazing and very easily the best day of my life so far. I won’t go on about it. Well OK, I will a bit, because otherwise it wouldn’t be much good as a post on a wedding blog, but I’ll try not to sound too pleased with myself, promise! But I don’t want to get too up myself so any time I feel like I’m about to get boastful I’ll just say ‘see third paragraph’, OK? Good.
When we got engaged, I was absolutely determined that Esme and I would share the work equally when it came to planning the wedding. (I imagine she has laughed herself off her chair after reading that, because it didn’t happen. I feel bad about this.) Mainly, that’s because I wanted to be involved, but it’s also because I didn’t want everyone to think that I’d just assumed Esme would take care of everything, what with her being a lady and all. Unfortunately (or perhaps, in hindsight, fortunately), at the time she had a very boring job involving lots of thumb-twiddling, so quite naturally started doing things like contacting caterers and looking at venues while she was in the office. To say that was the only reason she did so much more than me would be a lie, as I am neither a) organised, nor b) focused, but having time during the working day to plan your wedding does make a massive difference to what you can achieve. I also have the problem that I focus on details first and the big picture later, which probably didn’t help – if it had all been down to me we probably would have had beautiful table decorations but no actual tables on which to put them, which gives you a sense of the scale of the problem. So, no, I did not do half the planning, and I am forever indebted to my wife because, well, see third paragraph. However, I did do quite a lot; most of it wasn’t what you might call ‘man jobs’ and I found the reactions of many people to this to be quite interesting.
I think statistics would probably back me up (if I could be bothered to find any) when I say it’s still true that, for most heterosexual couples, women do the majority of the wedding planning. As I said before, not wanting to slot into this stereotype was why I hoped to share it equally. So much for that, but why does this gender imbalance still prevail? From my own experience, I honestly don’t think it’s because men are intrinsically uninterested – most of us love a good project after all – but much more to do with what your family, friends and the rest of society at large expect. Whenever we went into a shop to ask about wedding-related stuff, answers would always be directed to Esme (even if I’d asked the question!); whenever relatives wanted details they would always ask Esme; and while Esme’s colleagues seemed to bombard her constantly with questions about the day, mine seemed to keep their curiosity to themselves. I am, by and large, not interested in the erecting of marquees or the specifications of generators, but I am massively enthusiastic about design, cooking and decorations, which most people seem to assume are things the bride has really clear ideas about and the groom just goes along with. I designed and handmade all the signs, maps, place names and menus for our wedding, and had a great time too, but I really got the impression that most people thought I was just doing it to please Esme. The main consequence of this was that they then didn’t ask me about it, which frustrated me because all I wanted to do was enthuse at them! Grrr.
Perhaps the perfect example of this type of attitude was the response we got when we told people I was going to make the wedding cake. There were double-takes, people choked on their coffee, laughed or just flat-out refused to believe it. Most people just seemed faintly perplexed. A MAN? Baking a CAKE?! What fresh madness is this? Interestingly, the response was most extreme from Esme’s female colleagues, who seemed to treat it as if it were some sort of anthropological marvel, worthy of a leading article in National Geographic. Weird. I very much doubt that if Esme had said she was making the cake there would have been quite the same reaction. Now I’m not saying that making a wedding cake is a trivial undertaking (perhaps I’ll even write about it if people are interested?) but at the end of the day it is just a cake and the words ‘that man is making a cake’ are not likely to elicit much of a response. Grooms (who are, indeed, men), however, are not expected to make wedding cakes (which are, undeniably, cakes), and the addition of that one, small word seems to send some people’s attitudes towards gender roles hurtling back to the 1950’s.
There were, of course, many, many people who understood perfectly that I was doing these things not only because I love my wife, but for their intrinsic fun too. Some of the other men even got involved themselves – my best man blended a special tea for each of us, which went down a treat with the cake! So many people contributed so much in so many (often unexpected) places, and that’s something I will always love about our wedding day. I am really not interested in garnering praise for a job well done, because I feel like there were so many moments when I looked around on the day and thought ‘Yep, this is better than I imagined’, and if there’s one thing I’ll remember about the guests it’s how damned smiley they all were. That feels like praise enough to me. What has since bugged me, though, is that there seems to be an expectation (yes, one of those again) that because I’m a man I’m not that keen on telling people about it. It seems like Esme has been doing nothing at work but fielding questions about the wedding for the past three weeks; I was asked ‘How did it go?’ a couple of times, and, aside from a bit of excitement when we got the first photos through, that was about it. Again, I have all this enthusiasm stuck inside me, and I want to burst and shower everyone in the awesomeness of our wedding – to do so without being prompted seems boastful and would probably leave me looking like an arse, so I keep quiet, ready to explode at the slightest provocation, like some sort of dangerous wedding piñata (oh my God, please let wedding piñatas be real!).
On the other hand, perhaps I should be grateful that they’re so uninterested, because it now feels like I have this amazing secret that’s all mine to keep. Or then again perhaps they just don’t care… Well, I don’t mind: I’ve got an amazing wife and, like I said, see third paragraph.