Written for and originally published on Mamamia
“My fiancé is not helping with ANY of the planning for our wedding. He’s been saying “it’s all sorted” since we (I) booked our venue. He got annoyed with me a few days ago for not having booked catering yet for our wedding, yet has taken no initiative or offered to help me once.
I have more on my plate than he does work-wise and extra household duties. And he has time off work, which he’s spending sitting around doing nothing. It’s hard to watch and I feel angry that I have to try and get him interested in the planning as it should be about us both. How can I motivate him to help and actually enjoy the process more?”
Whoa Silver, hold your horse. We know what you’re thinking.
Why in the modern-day name of holy hell are you getting married to this lazy idjit? There’s a red flag flapping in the first sentence alone.
It’s where we went, too…. the first time we received a message like this eight years ago. Fast forward to 2023 and we’re sorry to say that notes like this continue to slide into our DMs like cystic zits: always disappointing to see and perplexing, given our age (or in this scenario, the era we live in).
So, what’s the go? Is there just a smattering of dud grooms floating around? In order to suss how gendered wedding planning currently is, we polled several thousand people last week. And it probably won’t surprise you that for 60% of the respondents, the bride is doing the lion’s share of the work.
It points to a pervasive trope: that weddings are about brides. And grooms are just along for the ride.
At this point, we’d like to make it crystal clear that we’re talking about cisgender hetero couples here. And obviously not all hetero couples – 21% split the responsibilities down the middle and 8% of grooms were leading the wedding planning charge. But the stats show that often, it’s women that get lumped with the load and this is problematic for several reasons:
- It’s often a lot of work. There’s a reason wedding planning is a career in and of itself – coordinating people, suppliers, money and family dynamics can be a taxing and time-consuming gig. One that’s definitely better shared.
- She’s responsible (or blamed) if things go wrong. For example, when the wedding goes over-budget, as more than 50% tend to (a story for another day).
Stereotypes are rarely ever a great thing and in the case of wedding planning, they end up acting as a permission card for some grooms to – subconsciously or not – play a passive role in the lead-up to the day because they believe that’s what’s expected.
As someone who’s worked in the industry for close to a decade, it got me wondering is it our fault?
Is the wedding industry to blame for not doing more to make the wedding experience innately more appealing to gents? Since shining a light on the subject, we’ve since heard from a number of women that some of their wedding vendors would consistently ignore the groom and default to communicating only with the bride, even going so far as to screen the groom’s calls and wait to hear back from their partner.
My gut says there’s some level of responsibility on behalf of the industry but it goes deeper than that. Weddings for a long time were considered “party-planning” – a domain traditionally led by women. Movies and reality TV depictions of nuptials spur this on, often choosing to focus a whole lot of air-time time on the bride’s attire, bridezilla moments and the overall bells and whistles of the day.
Thankfully, today weddings are increasingly being recognised for what they should be: a celebration that says “this is us” and is a reflection of the different interests of the couple. It’s also understood that most women didn’t bust out of the womb counting down the days until they could swan around in a tulle dress and cut a three-tier cake. However, for most of us, wedding planning is a brand new experience. And it can take a bit of time before the full picture of what a wedding can and should be becomes clear.
So, let’s get back to the DM’s original question: how do you get a disengaged partner to pull up their socks and get involved in wedding planning before they become, quite literally, dis-engaged? Here are our tips.
1. Tell them how you feel
She’s a ridiculously simple one. But let’s give the benefit of doubt: your partner may not realise how much you want their help or know where to begin. It’s also possible that your partner thinks they may be stepping on your toes if they come swinging in with opinions. Sit them down and explain that you want this wedding to be a reflection of you both and that it should be an experience you share together.
2. Ease them into it
We might cop flack for this but we’re here to provide actionable advice so we’ll lump it: if your partner seems disinterested in the wedding (or is flat-out acting like a man-baby and ignoring your requests for help), start by giving them ‘this-or-that’ style decisions to weigh in on. This photographer or that one? This accommodation or that one? We know – it’s a bit lame and you’re still doing the work in whittling down the options. But it can serve to build confidence and emotional investment in the day which will hopefully snowball into further decision making.
3. Split tasks
”But she loves styling/flowers/colour schemes” is the catch-cry of the grooms we get DM’d about that aren’t pulling their weight. And to this we say, well, what do you like? Food? Booze? Music? Transport? Design? Logistics? Fashion? Budgeting? Work together to delegate tasks in areas that you’re both uniquely passionate about.
4. Plan wedding dates
Go out, share a meal and enjoy special wedding planning dates where you pick a job (like refining your guest list or researching a celebrant) and then work together to get it done. There’s a novelty about being productive out of the home.
5. Practice ‘what-wedding’ times
This is the antithesis of the last tip – set days or weeks if necessary where you can’t talk about the wedding. If you feel like wedding planning is overtaking your lives and causing tension on your relationship, it might be time to give yourselves some space from it all.
6. Attend weddings or wedding open days
“My husband didn’t have much input until we attended someone else’s wedding and then suddenly he had lots of opinions and thoughts about what we should do”. It’s a common theme – some people feel more excited to get involved once they’ve had an immersive wedding experience and don’t have to rely on visualising the day.
To round this out, we’re not condoning sh*tty behaviour because of dated paradigms. If you’ve done all these things and you’re still feeling unsupported, there comes a point where you should think about what other parts of life your partner’s attitude will extend to.
Hopefully a clear, compassionate chat does the trick. And a reminder that weddings aren’t a bride’s job – rather, a privilege you both get to share together