Jun 172010

What, us guys being quiet? The direct descendants of “Bam Bam” of the Flintstones making no noise?  Say it ain’t so!

Well, it is from some people’s point of view.  Most women get up to their elbows in this preparation and planning thing.  It seems like an “all women affair” with mothers, mothers-in-law-to-be, sisters, Brides Maids all getting together cutting pictures out of endless magazines and making very involved plans.

If you’re not listening too closely it sounds like all the talk is about cake and dresses, colors and halls and where people sit and who’s coming. Basically a lot of stuff women handle very well. Ergo, the traditional “guy takes a pass” on even being in the same room at these meetings.

True, but there is more, and this is where the “enlightened guy” comes in, …you.  Where?  The one actual part where you’re on stage and making the “most important commitment of your life”: The Ceremony – the Vows.

So yes, she did 90% of the planning, it’s her day, but she has every expectation you also think its your day, …after all you are saying “I do”. And when the Officiator says “Speak now or forever hold your peace”, that’s you too!

So here’s my tip to keeping that red hot relationship working for all parties, plan the vows and the ceremony together. She’ll love it and so will you.  You actually get to say how you feel about something and form your first negotiations and agreements with the person you are going to negotiating and agreeing with the rest of your life.

Bam Bam aside, when it comes to commitment discussions guys are known for silence.  When it comes to Wedding and Ceremony planning there is more “Yeah, that sounds OK” or “I don’t care, than there is “I’d like something special for my day too”.  Somewhere during the planning stages or drafting the ceremony you will care. Better to do a little discovery now, daydream a little, and brainstorm a bit. You may find out what is really important to you.

Guys, Watch your language!  Learn what your words might mean to her:

What I have heard from guys:

“She is the creative one.”
“I don’t know about this stuff, she’s better at this stuff.”
“It’s fine with me–whatever you want.”  (Adding “,honey” doesn’t help)
“I don’t have time.”
“She’s the one who wanted a ceremony…” (look out…)

What it sounds like to women:

“I don’t know what I want.”
“I don’t want any responsibility.”
“It’s not important to me.”
“I don’t want to do this.”
“I don’t care.” (she’s going to the kitchen for a big knife just about now…)

Advice: Avoid misunderstanding and hurt by getting clear about what you want and then communicating your needs to your partner. Do not assume she knows you well enough to decide everything for you. Be a responsible co-creator–your partner is not a mind reader.  End of lecture, breathe easy.

Get off to a good start by figuring it out together. Most men I know wouldn’t turn over the car-buying decision as easily as some will worm out of wedding planning. Maybe the color of bridesmaid’s dresses won’t matter in the long run, but when it comes to the ceremony itself, be there in person and mind – she expects it of you!

Need help getting involved? Here are some ideas for making it fun:


Pre-Planning Exercises – Set aside a day, or a weekend, for pre-planning. The idea is to give your selves enough time to relax, with no immediate agendas, no interruptions, no hurrying to get somewhere.


Brainstorming – Allow an hour or more. Have paper and pens, or flip chart and colored markers handy. Share your ideas, images, wants, don’t wants–just blurt out ideas as they come to you. Write the essence of these ideas in one or two words somewhere on the paper. “What kind of ceremony shall we have?”

Collage Making – Allow 1-2 hours. You will need a pile of periodicals (re: bride, wedding, travel, home magazines), two scissors, two glue sticks, 1 or 2 large poster boards (optional: a bottle of good wine, 2 glasses and your favorite music).

+Flip through magazines, cut out any images that appeal to you.
+Don’t focus too closely on the task, just snip and chat and have fun.
+Use the glue sticks to create a collage of images that appeal to you.
+Talk about your choices. Some may even relate to your ceremony.

Time Alone – Allow an hour or more. Take a walk alone or take some uninterrupted time for yourself. You may want a note pad and pencil. The task is to use your imagination and memory to get some clear ideas of what you want your ceremony to be, or not be.  Examples for thought:

Explore your memory:  Select a memorable wedding or other ceremony that you attended or read about, saw in a movie, etc. What did you like about that event, what didn’t you like? What was perfect, and perfectly horrible, about that ceremony? How did you feel at the time?

Explore your senses:  What do you want to see in your ceremony? How do you want to feel? What smells, sounds and other sense qualities come to you? Who is there to celebrate with you? How do they feel? How would you like them to feel?

Imagine you are overhearing your best friend describe your ceremony to someone else. What kind of experience did he/she have?

Explore your values:  What aspects of ceremony and celebration do you feel strongest about? What about Family, Location, Live music, Participants, Style or size of event? Are some ideas are open to negotiation? Can kids attend? Catered food? Indoor/outdoor event?  In a church or rented hall?

Time together – After you have invested time with yourself to discover your values and needs for your ceremony, set aside about two hours to share with each other. Remember the exercise about sharing values? The same rules for discussion hold true. Before you begin, agree to listen without judgment.  Example ideas:

Paint ‘word pictures’ for each other. Remember, the details will emerge from the picture you are creating together. With positive framing, share what you want to see, how you want to feel, how you want your ceremony to be remembered.

Imagine together how you will describe your ceremony 10 years from now to your kids or your friends. You may want to tape record your discussions to minimize the distraction of scribing notes.

When you feel you have reached a general agreement about what the ceremony means, and how it will flow and feel, you are ready to hammer out the details. And, now that you have done your homework, listened carefully to each other and found accord, the “right words” should fairly leap off the page when you see them.


Note for both of you:  Pay attention to what is not negotiable.

Perhaps you strongly feel that this should be a solemn event, or not. Or, you need to include or omit “God” in the text. Is there a member of the family who absolutely will, or will not, be invited? It is important to know your ‘absolutes’ so you can decide together how to create a ceremony that reflects both sets of values.

Consider what you have written or described to yourself. Notice the values being expressed through what you want or don’t want–even the negatives can bring something positive to the surface.

Put your thoughts into a positive frame – For example, if you are dead set against a large wedding, no more than 50 guests–ask yourself, why? By thinking more deeply, you may discover the positive “frame” or value is about intimacy or creating a sacred space. So, when the time comes to share these ideas with your partner you could say, “It’s important to me that our ceremony feels intimate and sacred. How could we arrange it so…” or, “I’d love to share this event with our family and our very best friends. Can we limit the invitations to 50?”

Positive phrasing, or framing, will allow your partner to hear what’s true for you, and what is important from your perspective. You will find ways to negotiate without losing your essential value.

That’s it – you’re getting married and if you’ve read this far “you’re quite a guy!”

Go For it.

Written by: Angel - Angel writes from a commitment perspective. She has published articles and books and appeared at civic events.

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