Move over, brides! The wedding industry is getting well groomed.
Rules of engagement are changing as grooms mark their territory in a traditionally women-only industry and say “I do” to planning the big day.
Taking the lead is leading man Brad Pitt – he designed Angelina Jolie’s $500,000 engagement ring and celebrated with a family trip to the Galapagos Islands. The thoughtful groom is also reportedly restoring an estate in southern France for the much-anticipated nuptials and is taking charge of other important arrangements, including flowers and ceremony.
It’s no longer her day, it’s their day, chorus wedding planners, who are seeing growing groom interest and involvement in all things nuptial, as vendors offer miles of aisles of groom goodies, including custom-made suits, fast cars and man caves.
The shift in the past five years has been incredible, says wedding expert Karina Lemke. Many grooms are getting in the game from the get-go. In the past, “I would usually need to ask, ‘who is the groom’ when I walked into the rehearsal — that is just how far removed he was from the planning.”
Typically, the groom was told what to wear and when to arrive, adds Lemke, a Toronto-based wedding planner and proposal coach at karinalemke.com.
“Sober and on time” were the only responsibilities of the groom, adds Canadian premier party planner David Connolly. “How did it become such a female-dominated, bride-centric, grooms-not-welcome industry in the first place?”
Well, it’s his party too and he’ll plan if he wants to.
“It is just as much about him … it is an important life marker and likely the most pricey party he will ever host, so why not be involved?” adds Lemke.
All things groom is a boom growth area, second only to destination weddings, says Ophellia McKnight, of bridalaffairdestinations.com.
Guys are lending their voices and personalities to the process to make their wedding truly a celebration of the couple, by the couple, says Mcknight, who produces the Groom Show, billed as the first wedding show for men, which takes place in Toronto spring of 2013 (groomshow.ca).
“The modern groom is trendy, savvy and stylish and wants to bring aspects of his style to the wedding,” says McKnight, a Brampton wedding planner. With many couples footing the bill, “grooms want to have a say in where those wedding dollars go, including a great suit, a bar stocked with their favourite premium liquors, maybe cigar and scotch after dinner, and an amazing honeymoon.”
Man up and don the tux — the days of grooms being innocent bystanders at their own weddings are long gone, says Chris Easter, who runs an online wedding registry for grooms called TheManRegistry.com.
“Grooms are incorporating personal interests and hobbies into the wedding planning — for example, writing custom music for the ceremony, designing the couple’s wedding website and even forging custom wedding bands,” says Easter, author of Be the Man, a practical guide to help grooms navigate the wedding minefield. He expects to see TV shows and publications dedicated solely to grooms in the future.
“One of my favourite groom-centric trends of 2012 is food-truck catering for the rehearsal dinner — an event that the groom and his family traditionally pay for,” says Easter. “From tacos to barbecue to grilled cheese, the possibilities for creative eats are virtually endless. They’re also lighter on the pocketbook than traditional catering.”
Grooms are big business: Easter is also seeing Mad Men-themed weddings, man wedding showers, destination bachelor parties, and grooms creating blogs to document their wedding planning journey.
Involvement can only get more extreme, forecasts Lemke.
“As wedding vendors begin to realize that they need to target the men, you can certainly expect to see more things which will get them to loosen the purse strings.”
The unprecedented industry transformation is fuelled by couples getting married later in life and paying their own expenses, adds Connolly.
The groom’s way
Groom-centric trends in Canada, according to Karina Lemke, wedding planner at karinalemke.com:
- Goodbye rental tux: Grooms are suiting up in either a bespoke suit (custom-made) or even a new, off-the-rack suit.
- Shifting gears: Say bye-bye to the white wedding limo and hello to a yellow Ferrari, Porsche or red Lamborghini. “Modern grooms are arriving in style and self-driving to their weddings in luxury automobiles.”
- Bar bill: Grooms upgrade to the deluxe bar package — even though most guests really don’t care or know what brand they’re drinking and it will add thousands to a budget.
- Midnight snack: Grooms are all about late-night dining with requests for poutine and burger stations, and late-night food trucks to visit the venue and serve the revelers gourmet bar-type food.
- Groom’s dens: A party within a party with a stag atmosphere. “A smaller men’s lounge with billiards or card tables, scotch or Tequila tastings, cigar rolling and scantily-clad servers giving a ‘bottle service’ type experience to the men … I hate the idea, but it is a current trend so I do get requests which I do my best to squash.”
Step aside, Bridezilla
Groomzillas are on the loose.
“There is a difference between being an involved groom, wanting a voice in the wedding plans and assisting their betrothed, and someone who becomes a groomzilla,” says Karina Lemke, Toronto wedding planner.
Bridezillas and groomzillas are both equally ugly. “Taking over, treating friends, family and vendors poorly,” says Lemke, of karinalemke.com. “This is a special, hopefully once-in-a-lifetime event and it should still retain elegance, charm, timelessness and grace and the couple should attempt to tackle it with a united sense of purpose.”
Lemke says to be on the lookout for these groomzilla red flags:
- Your guy has a file of possible wedding venues before he has even proposed.
- He insists on helping you select the wedding dress.
- He corrects you when you say the flowers will be in shades of green and pink, announcing the wedding colours as “sage and blush.”
- His wedding app shows various members of the bridal party and families in different outfits and hair/makeup styles. “I did have a groom pull his laptop out to show me all the various possibilities for bridesmaids’ gowns and hair options.”
- He knows the difference between chiavari chairs and ghost chairs and can spend hours worrying about the merits and pitfalls of each for the reception.
Grooming for grooms
Grooms, go for your personal best, with tips from party planner extraordinaire David Connolly of davidwconnolly.com:
Brawn: Identify your physical insecurities and fix them the best you can in the time that you have. “Invest in the trainer or the meal delivery plan or massage, acupuncture to stop smoking or teeth straightening/whitening … whatever is going to give you the confidence and energy you’ll need to enjoy every minute of your wedding and your honeymoon.”
Beauty: Say yes to the manicure, eyebrow trim, bronzer, new natural colognes — experiment long before the day to see how and what you like. “Barbershops are back. Straight razor, hot towel shaves and any of the haircuts, plus ties, shoes, coats, as seen on Mad Men.”
Personalize your wardrobe with elements to make you feel uniquely you — especially if in a rental tux. “Socks, cufflinks, tie bars, hats, monogrammed cuffs, different cuts of vests – you’ll be surprised the difference their shape and colour make or contribute to the design of your biggest style statement — your boutonniere.”
Brains: Think of her first. Do something that surprises her every day to lighten her load, relieve her stress, make her laugh, relax or sleep more soundly and longer. Budget time and money towards this task. Prioritize it over all others on your list.
According to wedding marketing company McCorister (mccorrister.com), the average Canadian wedding costs $23,330 and hosts 140 guests, while splendidinsights.com reports the wedding industry is worth $298 billion globally.