Here Comes the Groom: Grooms’ Rights

Giving your guy a “job,” ladies? He’s onto you

It’s become as  cliché as the chicken dance and bouquet-tossing, but the groom will hear this wedding-planning advice approximately 10 seconds after getting engaged, from those browbeaten husbands who’ve been there: “Stay out of the way.” It’s uttered in a sobering, hushed tone, lest the groom misunderstand: If he doesn’t heed the warning, he’ll wish for a swift and violent death.

For the most part, I steered clear. I just nodded politely and obediently as the list of things that needed to be done got checked off one by one — place, time, church, dress — and waited for impending emasculation. The only problem was, I did have some jobs handed off to me — at least I thought I did.

I was given two tasks: Pick a band and pick something uniquely “me” that could be included at the reception. The day after the ring went on her finger I made a call to an old band-manager friend of mine and sought out the availability of the campy cover band my friends and I used to mindlessly jump around to down the Shore. They were free. I had done my job.

But when we bailed the first Friday we were supposed to go see them and made plans for the next weekend, things began to turn.

Throughout the week, her mother started to inquire about who was going to play at the wedding. My mother started to drop hints about the great band she’d seen at so-and-so’s wedding.

“But we have a band,” I said.

I should’ve noticed the nods. They were dismissive and placating from the get-go. Needless to say, the band I’d hoped for is not attending our wedding. Another one is.

I also wanted a hot-dog machine at the wedding (the “me” flourish). The old-fashioned kind with rollers, so when guests stumbled out of the reception, they could have some non-wedding food to put in their stomachs. Once again, I was given all sorts of assurances of the “let’s just let him have the hot-dog machine” kind, with the requisite eye-rolling from all the female parties involved. Yet, once again, I was denied. 

“We couldn’t get the hot-dog machine,” my fiancée said one day. Something about the venue not having the required licensing. “But we did get … cocktail wieners!”
A bit later, I found out that the registry had already been shopped for and taken care of. What about me? Don’t I get to at least tag along and wield the little scanning gun, too? “I didn’t think you’d want to be a part of it,” she said, trying to temper my annoyance by showing me photos of the lime-green stemware she’d picked out for us.

I didn’t want to be a part of it, honestly. But the problem was, I was tricked into thinking that I had important jobs and responsibilities. I told some of my friends about the band and the hot-dog machine, and attempted to rationalize why they were eliminated. They didn’t buy it. They knew exactly what happened: a wedding rope-a-dope pulled by my fiancée, mother, and future mother-in-law as a way of making sure I absolutely stayed out of the way. My fiancée felt bad about the hoodwinking and attempted to bring me back into the fold, lending an olive branch of sorts.

“Do you want to drive out to New York and take a look at the flower arrangements I’m thinking about?”

Not if my life depended on it.