It used to be that the average groom's involvement in getting married consisted of proposing to his bride-to-be and then showing up on wedding day to say "I do."
The majority of the intense coordination and detailed decision-making traditionally fell on the shoulders of the bride and her mother, with their wedding planner meeting the groom maybe once before the big day. But that little-to-no participation stereotype just isn't cutting it for modern couples, especially those who are paying for any part of the event themselves. Lately, grooms have started stepping up to the plate and sharing planning responsibilities — even handling some of it themselves.
"When the bride's parents handle the costs, the groom is careful not to overstep boundaries," said Brooke Keegan of O.C.'s Brooke Keegan Weddings and Events. "But when the couple is responsible for the budget, they take on the process together in a more egalitarian way. When the groom is contributing financially, he's very involved in design, décor and floral appointments more than you would traditionally see."
Although it's assumed the groom will always try to enforce a tight budget — to the dismay of his bride's grand vision — Keegan said she's seen times that an actively engaged groom can add to the extravagance. When one of Keegan's couples reviewed their floral centerpiece mock-ups — priced at $250 and $400 — the groom loved the more expensive version so much he agreed to go with it. If he weren't there in person, he may have chosen the lower-priced option.
But that's not to say that the male half of the wedding party can't get involved in flowers or décor. Christina Wright of SoCal's Simply Modern Weddings estimates that 30% of grooms come to every design and planning meeting and have very strong opinions. She's even had two recently who created the stationery design — the men had graphic design backgrounds and were able to infuse a personal touch into the invites.
"I think that with the evolution of wedding design, grooms are seeing a new way to show their personality through design elements," said Jesi Haack of Jesi Haack Design in O.C. "Gone are the days of just making things look pretty; now we are telling their story and they are more interested in being involved."
Haack's approach to planning seems to inspire grooms to have more fun with the event, instead of simply going by the book.
One of Haack's grooms put a new spin on the garter toss when he rented a fog machine for the occasion and entered wearing a Rocky-style boxing robe. Her grooms love to come up with fun surprise elements or games to keep guests entertained. "They always want a say in music and booze. And fun and games. It seems the grooms take the party more seriously and want to make sure the guests remember that, instead of the design."
But for the most part, grooms do love saving money and acting as the function-minded foil to the bride's style-mindedness, said Nathaniel Neubauer, owner of Encino's Contemporary Catering and Event Production. "That applies to all areas. The bride wants everything to look beautiful — she's happy if the drinks have pretty stir straws — but the groom wants it to really taste good. In the long run it's a great balance because the bride fights for beauty and the groom fights for budget."
In a testament to just how active some grooms are these days, Neubauer said that in the 40 to 45 weddings he's planned in the past year, he's had 7 to 10 grooms as the lead contact, something that has never happened before.
For a groom who's not sure how to get involved, Haack recommended he "decide what he wants his guests to feel at the wedding, then start thinking of fun and interesting ways to convey that. Hire musicians, bring in interactive entertainment — anything to show his personality."
And to all naysayers or traditionalists, "even if his buddy makes fun of him for going to a floral appointment, he's going because he wants to," said Keegan. "I see in most of my couples that the bride really respects the groom and his opinion and wants this day not to just be hers, but to be theirs."