Grooms back in my day had only four things to worry about: 1. Getting the right engagement ring; 2. Planning the honeymoon; 3. Paying for the rehearsal dinner; 4. Showing up on the big day reasonably sober. Well, things have changed, as I learned reading a new book, “The Groom’s Guide: For Men on the Verge of Marriage.”
If a man getting married back then had wanted to be involved in the planning, he would have been scoffed at. The bride and her family carried most of the weight (but the wise would-be groom still kept checkbook handy, just in case). These days, clearly, are more complicated, and as the book’s back cover notes, “Being a groom doesn’t mean handing over the reins.”
“You can do this,” the book declares. “But you have to know the ropes before you tie the knot.”
The Black Tux, the rental tuxedo and suit company, produced this book, so there’s a lot of sage advice about how to get dressed for the big day — and, indeed, for life. (Speaking of tying the knot, President Trump would do well to take heed of the note on Page 208: “The very end of your tie should just touch the buckle of your belt (or the area where your belt buckle would sit.) This length is timeless, and though some wear their necktie a bit shorter depending on trending fashion, no tie should invade the nether regions.”)
There’s a lot to consider in this book, which is written with a stylish wit reminiscent of those old party manuals published by Esquire magazine. It’s easy reading and is also commendably gender-neutral in referring simply to one’s partner. (A photo of a woman, presumably the bride, doesn’t appear until Page 24.)
Here are seven essentials from “The Groom’s Guide” that every groom should consider.
1. Do your research. Even though the opening lines of this book say to “ignore anyone who tells you there are rules you must follow,” clearly you want to do the right thing. So do ask questions of the officiant, the caterer, the band or DJ, the florist, the reception hall manager — everyone. “The Groom’s Guide” has you covered on what to ask.
2. Keep pen and paper handy. Write out your vows beforehand, so you can read them. Jot down a list of people you need to thank at the wedding, and keep it in your pocket to remind you. Compose a “thoughtful note” to your partner, and have one of your groomsmen deliver it.
3. Open bar, no matter what. That doesn’t mean you’re acting like a tavern. “The Groom’s Guide” offers a number of options to the pricey free-for-all, including two or three “signature” cocktails, pre-mixed drinks that guests can serve themselves, or even a keg of beer with a tap. (Consider buying your own cocktail shakers; they’re wedding mementos you’ll keep using for years after the ceremony.)
4. Buy shoes. “Options to wear with suits are pretty much endless — oxfords, slippers, loafers — but tuxedos are traditionally worn with black patent oxfords,” the book notes. “Again, rules are (sometimes) meant to be broken, and today’s men are branching out more with their footwear, even if they opt for a tuxedo.” But “The Groom’s Guide” offers a caveat: “Please don’t wear a tuxedo with flip-flops.”
5. Travel strategically. If wedding plans call for traveling, pack the “important suit” in your carry-on. (“The Groom’s Guide” shows you how to do it.)
6. Find the “day-of-Zen.” Don’t let the minutiae or the moment(s) get to you before, during or after the wedding. Relax, stay calm, focus.
7. Keep focused on your partner, “The Groom’s Guide” urges. Help yourself accomplish that with new eyewear, either sunglasses for an outdoor reception or regular prescription lenses for indoors.