Virtually the moment I got engaged, I became a planning machine, turning ideas I'd been dreaming about into details to tick off a list. My fiancé? I just figured he wouldn't mind if I coordinated the whole shebang myself. Don't ask, don't tell. But after he witnessed my first minor planning freakout ("I cannot rest until the cake flavor is finalized!"), we both began to realize that this was a two-person job. So we started over, slicing my list in two: He would handle the music, the menu and the ceremony readings. I would tackle the flowers, favors and seating chart. Everything else would be decided jointly, democratically and as a pep-rallied team. He felt useful, and I lightened my load. This wasn't just about helping—this was about sharing.
"Wedding planning is no longer a girls-only process," says Robbi Ernst, author of Great Wedding Tips from the Experts (Lowell House). "As more and more couples are covering some or all of the wedding expenses, grooms have naturally begun to play a bigger role in the planning." New York City-based wedding planner Marci Blum, coauthor of The Wedding Kit for Dummies (IDG Books), agrees. "A marriage is a partnership, and it begins with planning the wedding. If you can work together to plan that, then you'll be in better shape for your marriage," says Blum.
Nice in theory—but how do you go about getting your guy to really care about the planning process? Here are some guidelines that may help to, uh, engage him.
"Many grooms want to be involved, but they don't know where to start, and they're scared to step on your toes - or your mom's," says Ernst. Your guy probably hasn't thought too much about it, and he may have no idea what a wedding entails, says Ernst, whereas you've likely been picturing your big day for years. It's up to you to pull him in on the decision-making. Let him know there's room for everyone to participate, and that you want to hear his opinions, gut reactions, preferences. Specific questions—"Do we want a band or a DJ?"—usually yield better responses than open-ended ones, which cultivate noncommittal answers: "Whatever. You decide."
Right from the beginning, Heather Mahon, 25, of Belmont, Massachusetts, told her fiancé, Mike, she wasn't flying solo. "I reminded him that this was our day, not my day, and that I wanted his input on everything. Since neither of us had a clear picture of what we wanted from the beginning, it worked out really well. Mike didn't feel like he was ruining my ‘ideal' celebration with his suggestions."