A and M Engagement-54

Hi all – I’m really excited to share this with you. I asked my partner (in crime, in life, in beer pong), Marshall, to write a few words about what it means to be a feminist groom planning a wedding that represents our relationship (one built on mutual respect, doing away with creepy power dynamics, and so, so much love). Just like brides, grooms often fall victim to stereotypes, assumptions, and boring old traditional ideas about how a groom should act and feel about the wedding. Below are a some of the biggest things that Marshall wish more folks knew about what it really means to be a groom.

It is dangerous to engage in the rhetoric surrounding what’s “harder” in life. The fact of the matter is, many of the things we think are hard are typically not – it’s all relative, right? I am a man. I am a feminist. I have friends who ask me if it’s hard to be a feminist. No – because caring about equality is not hard. As you know from earlier posts from my partner, we are getting married! (Thank you, thank you, I know). And, not only are we getting married, but we are trying to have a generally feminist and ethical wedding that represents our values.

Here’s the newsflash: I (much like, I would suspect, many grooms in this country) care about my wedding day. I have opinions, feelings, likes and dislikes about a lot of the elements of the big day. The color difference between sea foam and mint for ties, slate or steel for the suit color, trying to not worry about the sun in my eyes at an outdoor wedding. I do think about these things. They do matter to me. A lot of things don’t matter to me at all, but I have a feeling it’s the kind of silly details that Alex doesn’t really care about either. But someone has to pretend, right? Alex and I make the majority of the decisions about our wedding together (just like every other aspect of our life together). A wedding is supposed to be representative of the couple and the relationship. Wouldn’t it be scary if the wedding started with one of us being told we’re supposed to be complacent an indifferent and the other one going it alone/driving themselves crazy?

Breaking free of the “ball and chain” metaphor and being a groom who wants to be engaged and involved in a celebration of the most important thing in my life is not easy, but is certainly possible. So, without further adieu, here are just three of the many things that grooms like me are thinking about when we’re planning a wedding with our partners.

  1. I want to have an engagement ring, too

Yes, I wear an engagement ring that my fiancée gave me a few months after I proposed to her. And it rocks. I love having a symbol of our commitment to one another. And that should not be weird. I was pretty jealous for the months that whenever we ran into someone they would say “let me see it” and then commence to talk to only Alex about the wedding plans and rings (not to mention all the creepy power dynamics at play when Alex is claimed to be mine with jewelry while my ring finger roams free). Having my own ring helped  equalize that power discrepancy and make me feel more involved in the process from the beginning. Once in a while someone will ask about my ring, too, and that’s pretty cool. And yeah I know the whole rings are symbols of property and the man owns the woman in biblical times and it doesn’t make sense for the man to wear one and AmericaBibleGodAnger. You may not get it. You don’t have to get it. I want to have something that says my fiancée is committed to me, too…sue me.

  1. The entire wedding planning process is an event…and not only for the bride

Getting married is not a one day event. There are dozens of little (and some big) events that happen between popping the question and tying the knot. Often the groom is only thought of in the process at the extremes (the proposal and the “I do”). Or, it’s only about us when we’re supposed to be off getting drunk with a bunch of dudes before the wedding. At the risk of sounding whiny-brides get everything. Brides get showers. Brides get “the dress”. Brides get to walk down the aisle by themselves (or with their previous “owner”, I guess, but Alex is flying solo) and be the center of attention. The point is that the rhetoric and the idea of a wedding often are centered on the bride and the groom gets to tag along.

Now, I am not demanding that these things be changed, because I want Alex to have all these things and more. She certainly deserves them more than any other person I know. But her deserving those things does not mean that I do not tangentially deserve or want those things as well. And that is hard to express to everyone. It is hard telling my future mother-in-law I want to walk down the aisle to meet Alex halfway. It is hard to explain to my best man why it is important to me that we have some sort of party just for me. It is difficult to explain to Alex sometimes that I want to have a fun afternoon trying on suits and finding the “perfect one”. Grooms, especially grooms like me that are staying up late with their partners, talking about color schemes and invitation suites, are just as excited about the whole shebang as brides are – and we want to feel important for more than just the 30 seconds of “I dos”.

  1. Your money, their money, our money, no money

Navigating the money issues around a wedding is incredibly challenging. We are incredibly lucky to have financial support for this event coming from many different ways. Our families are divided into about 100 different pieces and parts , but we are lucky that everyone wants to help us with the wedding however they can and have all contributed generously. We ourselves have saved a lot of money for this wedding over the last year and a half that we’ve been engaged. We’re working really hard to cut corners were we need to, save money everywhere we can, and have a fun, awesome wedding that doesn’t put us, or anyone we love, into debt (because it’s a party. Be real.) But, there are some things we know we are going to splurge on because they are special and deserve to be such.

As a groom, I have trouble buying things that are for me. I have had the same conversation at least half a dozen times “does Marshall really need a $500 suit?”. You’re damn right I do! And it is insulting that you would even question that. My suit is probably one of the the cheapest single items we’ll be buying for this wedding, and some of the other crazy things people tell us we need to spend money on (like inviting people we haven’t seen in decades or adding even more food to the reception) do not get a single batted eye from the people who want to save money and look to the “groom’s attire” column on the Excel wedding budget spreadsheet.

A really dope suit is important to me. I’ve never even really owned a suit and the blazers I wore in college I mostly got from Goodwill. Money plays such a necessary but weird role in wedding days, and when people assume you don’t care about anything, you often have to justify what you want even more. Establishing what is important and what is worth the money (especially when you, as a groom, do not feel the money is yours to spend) is essential to talk about with your partner so you can both figure out when to draw hard lines and when it’s worth it to give in a little.

At the end of the day, a wedding (and more generally life) is all about expectations. As a groom, there are a lot of different assumptions and expectations surrounding my role that are often not true. I care and want to care. I like helping make decisions and I like to think that March 18, 2016 will be special for Alex, for me, and for the both of us together all in different ways. As a feminist groom, I often make decisions and have values for the wedding (and my life/relationship/everything) that are very different from the typical groom and that’s okay. As long as my partner and I are making decisions together that reflect both of our values and consider the wishes and feelings of the family and friends that care about us…I think we’re okay. In the wedding, and in life. 

Thanks for reading (and sorry for interrupting your regularly scheduled programming from my wonderful partner),