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Men and Wedding Planning

November 17, AD 2012 8 Comments

I am getting married at the end of the year to a lovely woman named Jane, and so my life in these last five months has involved an inordinate number of decisions around the height of cakes, the thickness of paper and the width of rings. I have also been informed on numerous occasions, by a wide variety of people, that the wedding is Jane’s ‘special day’ and that all major decisions, including what I will be wearing on the day, belong to her. Thankfully Jane has all along seen our wedding as a joint effort but this very common idea, that the wedding is a day for brides, needs some questioning.

While I am certainly pro-marriage I am not so sure that I am pro-wedding. I do not like the way in which the burgeoning wedding industry has taken the ideas of fidelity and self-giving love and associated them with make-up trials, chair covers and expensive cars. Interestingly the rise of the wedding industry and the amount of money spent is almost in direct correlation with the fall in the understanding of the nature and purpose of marriage.

My ideas about the nature of the wedding industry were confirmed when Jane and I attended a Bridal Expo with everything on show from jewellery to bonbonnieres to teeth whitening and even fitness training. One of the stalls was promoting a new wedding planning app in which the couple enters the basic details about their wedding to receive information showing the approximate cost of the wedding, according to industry averages. We had a go and filled out the few questions asked: date of wedding, style of wedding, number of guests etc. We were informed in no uncertain terms that our wedding, with 150 guests at the reception, was going to cost $105,936.09! This included $20,000 in outfits, $4500 in decorations (including $550 of balloons), $42,000 at the reception and $25,000 of pre-wedding expenses. Maybe this is the ‘industry average’ for a wedding, but if so, we all need to take a good hard look at ourselves and ask when exactly it became acceptable to spend more than a year’s wages on an event that is going to take less than a full day.

Now that I can speak from ‘within’ the world of wedding planning I can report that this is a world that has become overly feminised to the extent that male input is almost considered to be in the way. I assure you that wedding expos would not exist in their scope and size if men were playing a more substantial role in offering opinion. When one particular sex is solely responsible for weddings we find an imbalance in the end result. At one end, with women in charge, we find the costly princess-for-a-day model. At the other end, with men in charge, we see the disastrous results in TV shows such as Don’t tell the Bride.

While it is obvious that men and women are different this difference is meant to complement one another. Life is a not a competition to see which sex is most physically strong (that would be men) or which sex best nurtures children (that would be women). When men and women work together there is a wonderful balance. Where a husband might be happy to eat dinner every night straight out of a pizza box, it is the feminine charm of his wife that will civilise him and help him to see the role of a serviette. Where a wife might like to go shopping every weekend and continue to stock the house with ornaments that only exist to be dusted, it is the masculine practicality of her husband that stops her turning their home into a museum.

I am not blaming the many women who have taken over all aspects of wedding planning. Their leadership is often the necessary result of men who have scoured away like mice only wanting to know what date and time to turn up at the church. Just last week one newly married man was telling me proudly how he had left his fiancé to plan everything, as if this was some act of virtue! Both men and women need to embrace their roles in working with one another and using their natural gifts which at the end of the day will benefit not only wedding planning but life in general.

About the Author:

Bernard Toutounji is an Australian Catholic writer and speaker. He writes a fortnightly column called Foolish Wisdom ( which examines afresh issues within news, culture or faith. One of Bernard’s favourite quotes comes from Edith Stein who said “All those who seek truth seek God whether this is clear to them or not”. Bernard is married to Jane and they have two daughters.

  • Elizabeth

    My husband did basically all of the wedding planning since I was in med school at the time. Our wedding was very simple, but I was so touched by all the little details he planned. He worked with the florist to make my bridal bouquet out of flowers which symbolized the gifts of the Holy Spirit. What a man!

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  • SWP

    I am so glad you wrote this post! I was very involved in the wedding planning, not only because my wife was working, but also because I was inspired by the text from Proverbs, that a man should take one year away from working in the fields to prepare for his wedding day. It made me feel as though my being unemployed could have a fruitful purpose, and it did. I also shared your sentiment that it should be a product of both person’s input. I routinely challenged my wife in the months leading up to our wedding to question, “Are we including this because a magazine told YOU to or are we doing it because WE want to?” I have never liked the boquet toss or the garter pull, finding that often lewd. They take time away from my being on the dance floor. So many of these little traditions are unnecessary expenses. In contrast, I was excited to learn that my wife’s Polish heritage included a tradition of the bride and groom wearing a farmer’s hat and bonnet and everyone circling around them. I was so happy to include a tradition of this nature rather than something like the garter toss, which does little to bring honor to the couple. The hat and bonnet we wore were the same that my wife’s grandparents wore on their wedding day. Doing that allowed us to celebrate the families that have gone before us. We included many such elements that celebrated both of our families, and everyone commented how our wedding day seemed so much a representation of who we are as devout Catholics and our personalities and traditions. That was confirmation that indeed we had eschewed the ‘cookie cutter’ wedding that pop culture holds up as not only vital but worth every penny they are willing to charge you. The only thing vital is that Christ be present- all else is decoration.

  • Sarah B.

    My husband and I have been married nearly 4 years, and I still remember all the planning! We had a strict budget, which was modest but would keep us out of debt, and we stuck to it. We pretty much equally split the decisions based on interest. My husband. a musician, planned the ceremony and all the music. I planned the food, reception flow, decor, and flowers. We trusted each other, and it was fine. Oh, and we were only engaged for 9 months, which, when you tell most people (who are of course living together and having sex) they think you are crazy for not spending 2 years planning the perfect “day”.

    Very insightful piece.

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  • Susan Draftz

    Your article reminds me of the time several years ago, I had a booth at one of the local bridal fairs. It was very amusing to see the couples look the other way as they passed by my booth. They seemed very embarrassed about the subject matter…..natural family planning.

  • We married in July, not too long ago, and I heartily agree. Even a relatively modest wedding requires bajillions of decisions – and it’s frustrating, because MAJOR LIFE DECISION/CHANGE is coming up, and you want to be emotionally and spiritually prepared for it. Your wedding should be the beginning of your life together, not one day when everything’s (supposed to be) perfect, followed by a big letdown.

    My MIL gave me an article written by a guy who chatted with the wedding photog at some relative’s wedding. The photog had commented on how happy everyone was. He’d been around to lots of weddings (that was his job) and most often the bride looked frantic, anxious, worried – because the day really rested on all the details going right. At this particular wedding, he was impressed that the bride wasn’t worried about details, and instead was just happy.

  • @Mary I totally agree with you getting married is a life changing decision not one day if that day doesn’t go perfect it shouldn’t be the end of the world and you want to get married because you truly love the person you are marrying not just so you can have your Big day