The Rules of Engagement (A Guy's Rant)

OK, so my wedding is just over 2 weeks away. Our year-long engagement is coming to an end, so I feel I can now share with you the wisdom of the engaged guy. I must do it now, because once you're married, the way I hear it, you forget all about all of this stuff. Kinda the way you forget a lot of your single days when you start dating someone. Freaky.

So, before the love birds and cherubs come along and suck my memories away, here it is. My advice to all engaged guys, guys about to be engaged, or even guys who are just thinking about it.

First, you've got to get the ring. Seems easy enough. A little sparkly-sparkly, right? Wrong. You see, there are two schools here. The traditional, old-fashioned, I'm-gonna-totally-surprise-you-with-this-thing-I-picked-out-for-you-all-by-myself guys, and the new school let's-go-to-the-jeweler-together-and-you-point-it-out-and-I-pay-for-it guys. With the old way, you get to spend your entire engagement having people tell you how good you did, like you're some trained diamond-buying monkey. That's if you get it right.

Most guys will go on a few scouting missions with her before hand. Just stop in, browse a little, see what she gravitates towards. Then, for your own sanity, at least take a peek in her jewelry box. You're bound to see a pattern. Maybe she likes round things, or triangles, or platinum instead of gold. You stand a much better chance of picking something she likes. If even that seems like too much work, just take her to the jeweler, and bring your wallet. But give up on the surprise aspect.

OK, so you propose (PLEASE BE ORIGINAL, since you'll be telling this story the rest of your life), she says yes, and life is good for a few weeks. Maybe even a few months. Then, the planning starts. Now, I read the articles, and the books, and everything told me to stay out of it. Pick a tux, plan the honeymoon, stay the hell out of the rest of it. But stupid me, I figured it was my wedding too, so I should get involved. You know, so I could help her with decisions and stuff, right? Wrong. Look, unless you know anything about bridesmaid dresses, reception sites, calligraphy, calphalon pans, flowers or place settings, your opinion is shit. Even if she asks you, anything you say will be the wrong answer. I don't know anything about china. I didn't realize there were 17,000 kinds of 'everyday glasses.' I bought the ring. I can lift heavy stuff. Besides that, I'm pretty useless. Then again, I'd expect my fiancée to worry if I knew anything about spring flower arranging and bridesmaid dresses.

But, for a moment, let's pretend you were raised by royalty, and you do have an eye for flatware and china. Even then, what you like, what you want, what you think doesn't matter. It's your wedding on paper. In her head, it's HER party, and she'll cry if she wants to. (And she will.) It might bruise your ego a little, but it's the truth. So, learn it. Live it. Love it. Your answer to everything during the planning is 'whichever one you like, honey.' You hear me? Pick a tux, plan the honeymoon, stay the hell out of the rest of it. I know you want to help, but the last thing the bride needs is another differing opinion.

Which leads to the next point. At some time during all of this, from the depths of her personality arises the BRIDAL MONSTER (don't actually call her this until you're pretty sure she's done with that phase, so you can BOTH laugh about it). This woman is nothing like the one you were nervous about asking out. Completely different than the hottie you daydreamed about or the wonderful person you had picnics with. This is a woman on a mission. A woman with a to-do list. A woman who could really give a rat's ass about the new TV Guide showing up or the new pants you just bought. If it doesn't have to do with the wedding, she doesn't have time for it.

Combined with the 'stay out of it' advice, you can see how this leads to some interesting situations.

You want to stay out of it. You need to stay out of it. But all she wants to talk about is wedding stuff. You're dizzied by the 5 bridesmaid dresses that all look the same. She's showing you centerpieces and favors and place cards. You don't really like the yellow one. But you know it's the one she wants. You can't have an opinion. You know this. You're doing OK. You're nodding, you're agreeing, then she says:

'But, we can do this one, too! I just can't decide. What do you think?'

Now you're faced with two invitations that look almost exactly alike. And she's cornered you. You're screwed. Whichever one you pick will be the wrong one. Even if she changes her mind later and picks the same one, at that moment, it will be wrong. So, what do you say?

'I don't care.'

Ugh. I thought we made so much progress.

You see, the only thing worse than giving your opinion is saying that you don't care. Because your bride-to-be is in a haze. Understandably so. Planning a wedding is no small feat. I can't even plan a surprise party without my head hurting, much less dinner and dancing for 100 people. So, try to understand that during your engagement. She may seem like a ripe bee-otch, but your Love Muffin is in there, somewhere. And she's scared, nervous, and stressed. Which, in National Geographic terms, means she's ready to attack.

Anyway, never say you don't care. In her haze, she won't understand that what you don't care about is whether it's Jordan Almonds or mints. All she'll hear is that you don't care about her, the wedding, her stress, your relationship, or all of the above. And that can only lead to trouble.

The best thing you can do, my friends, is be there when she cries, because she will. If she gives you an assignment, do it fast, do it right, make copies, and report back to her. Listen without talking, because she will go on 20-minute rants about a ribbon or something. And remind her that it's supposed to be fun and that it will all be OK. And show up. In a tux. With the rings.

Oh, and wear a helmet. And a cup. It can get rough.

And that's the rant.

Article Written By

Kwame DeRoche
email | website