We’re under four months to go now, four months from the biggest and most important life decision I’ve made thus far, four months from Happily Everson After. Yes, that’s right, I am getting married this coming October (!!) and between now and then I’ll be bringing you here at #JPLMagazine a few volumes of ‘A Groom’s Perspective’, providing an insight into the under-spoken half of the nuptial process. I am not your ordinary groom. No idle passenger am I on this wedding ride, as any who know me might expect.
We intend to relish our big night and I am fortunate enough to have a fiancée whose composure and low level of girl-crazy actually allows me to enjoy this process and actively participate. A note to other ladies/future brides: I’ll not judge (much) in these columns, I know your wedding is a day you’ve been dreaming about since you were little and the desire for it to be special, perfect even, is completely understandable. But many of you take the wedding process as an opportunity to over-indulge your girl-crazy, pissing off your friends and alienating your man because you feel it is your right as a bride. But this is a day about two people and some of us fellas (not all, mind you) actually want to contribute. This has been a public service announcement on behalf of grooms everywhere. Moving on…
I’ll aim to keep as much attention as possible off of my fiancée AJ, as she is not much one for the spotlight, though I seek it like Superman deriving his power from Earth’s yellow sun. Opposites attract, yin and yang and all that. I will say that she is my perfect beautiful companion and I am lucky she said yes. We got engaged last year on Valentine’s Day, the ten year anniversary of our first date. It happened on the Bow Bridge in Central Park and it all went according to my plan, other than slipping on the snow right as she walked up and nearly busting my ass. But my plan of a series of signs, held up by the settled snow, went off as I hoped and seemed to genuinely take her by surprise. She often quotes herself as not being able to collect herself enough to say “Yes” to my knee-bent request, instead fumbling out a “naahdfumpha- sure”. We then rode around Central Park in a horse-drawn carriage, happily hazed by the step we had just taken in our life together.
That was 16 months ago and we are now heavily in the middle of the wedding process. And you know what? We’re still enjoying it! We have secured our venue, our dj, our photographer, our videographer, and our officiant. ‘Save the Date’s have come and gone, we have a website, a registry, an Instagram account and even a hashtag (#HappilyEversonAfter). It’s a daunting amount of preparation, regardless of your personal style, but if broken into pieces and handled as a team, it’s all totally manageable. Naturally, we gravitated first to Music, one of the earliest and strongest bonds that AJ and I share. Rooted in classic rock, thrilled and aerated by funk, with a mix of Hip Hop, the 90’s, and various decades of Soul, our musical selections needed to be a central part of our night. After shopping around a bit, we were fortunate to land a DJ who is an old friend of mine, a preference we’ve shared for the entire experience whenever possible. We began a playlist on Spotify, which I am then able to share with our DJ, Will, and every few days it grows as another essential tune crosses our minds. I won’t ruin all the fun musical surprises but I’ll reveal a few:
AJ will walk down the aisle to the love song from Disney’s ‘Robin Hood’, “Love” by Nancy Adams and we are toying with the idea of exiting to “God Gave Rock n Roll to You” by KISS. Dinner will include both “Seven Bridges Road” by the Eagles and “Pepper” by Butthole Surfers. There is also a rumor of a “Time Warp” halfway through the night. A Rock n Roll fairy tale indeed.
We allowed ourselves quite a bit of time at the beginning of our engagement to think and dream and browse ideas, without feeling like we needed to hurry into a place or date. We’d already been together a decade, what could possibly be the rush? We visited a dozen venues in all areas of Massachusetts and even a few out-of-state options, some visits shorter than others (sorry to the lady we ditched while waiting for our meeting at an unnamed but lovely country club; we just knew it wasn’t for us.) Our list of necessities included an outdoor ceremony with a reception at the same location, easily accessible bathrooms (especially for our numerous handicapped guests), and somewhere that would show off the Fall atmosphere AJ was envisioning. Beyond these, our only real defining question was “Can we picture it? Can we see ourselves getting married here?” We found what we were looking for in the Warren Conference Center in Ashland, MA, a fantastic place that we look forward to making our own. Part of Northeastern University, the Center features sprawling grounds with several ceremony locations and can facilitate up to 250 guests. The on-site hotel accommodations which include a 49-room Inn and five 10-person cabins are located a 5-minute walk from the reception location, Hayden Lodge. We knew soon into our visit that it was the right setting for us, our visions quickly filled with lights and colors and reveling guests. We shall laugh and drink and dance the night away.
We have a pretty big wedding party with 6 groomsmen and bridesmaids each, an active group who have already lent a great deal of help to our big event. One bridesmaid helped design the Save-the-Dates, another is hosting the bridal shower at her house, while our Maid of Honor has been tirelessly working to organize it all from a state away. For the guys, well, we haven’t had to do much yet but the time is now upon us. The girls all have their dresses, a well-coordinated array of heights and shapes with slight variances in color, and it’s time for the guys to get dapper. I haven’t yet made my final choice in attire but I have a solid idea what I do and don’t want. Here’s what I’ve got so far: We’re definitely going with suits, three-piece and gray in color. I had been imagining something dark, charcoal perhaps but the more I browse the more I think we’ll be heading toward something lighter. I very much like the idea of buying our suits instead of renting if the group cost is comparable but that’ll require some more shopping and some wheeling and dealing. I want something smooth and modern with style without looking like a Sunday NFL Countdown anchor. It’s time to suit up.
The Best Man
The way I see it, my Best Man selection could have gone no other way. In asking my brothers to split the title I am turning to two of the people I trust most in the world. They know me best, are my strongest supporters and harshest critics, and I value their insight. Though younger than me they are both married with kids and will serve as lifelong examples and stewards for my marriage.
In the world of a wedding, the best man is responsible for a few things such as planning the bachelor party and holding the rings before the ceremony. In some circles they are also responsible for scheduling a set of 2-3 songs with the DJ that are just for the girls during which the guys step outside and have a round of cigars. Some requirements may vary. But the Best Man’s biggest and most formidable duty is certainly The Speech. Advice on a good Best Man’s Speech is readily available and easily disseminated but often much harder to follow. Even for the most comfortable public speakers amongst us (and I speak here from personal experience), the emotion of the day can add significant difficulty to the focused responsibility. My two words of advice: Keep it short and write it down. Here’s some more solid advice from The Art of Manliness.
As you may be able to tell I am a groom that is very much looking forward to the big day. There is still plenty of work to be done and decisions yet to be made. One detail we haven’t nailed down is our wedding cake. Then again, we’ve been to two weddings recently where the couples have foregone the cake altogether and none of us noticed until after it was all over. Is the wedding cake a fading tradition? Perhaps, especially with the newer tradition of an additional dessert. Assuming we actually do a cake though, should I smoosh it into my then wife’s face? Probably, right? Ok cool, thanks.
I’ll be back soon with another installment of ‘A Groom’s Perspective’, updating on more details of our big day including our concert ticket themed invitations, Lyric Lantern centerpieces and plans for our Halloween in New Orleans honeymoon adventure. Be sure to follow me @DrProfEsq on Twitter and Instagram and share all your wedding stories and advice as we move ever closer to our own personal Rock n Roll fairy tale with dinner and dancing.