“It’s the woman’s special day”… “Whatever she wants”… “Leave the planning to the women”. These phrases and a hundred derivations of them are what I have been hearing from the day Jane and I became engaged. Two recent incidences though moved me to look again at this issue of wedding planning and the roles of men and women. The first incident was around the choosing of the suits for myself and my groomsmen and having a variety of friends (men included) tell me that all that mattered was Jane’s approval of what we would be wearing. Secondly, I was at the gym last week and speaking to a recently married man about the general stresses of wedding planning. As if to offer me a helpful solution, he told me that he had left absolutely everything to his fiancé at the time. He expressed to her that he was happy to pay for it all, but that he was very busy at work and he knew she wanted to plan it all anyway. I found both incidences frustrating.
I do not like being told that my choices and preferences are somehow secondary, or worst still, not relevant compared to those of my fiancé. Nor do I not need to be told what suit I can wear. I have dressed myself well for 33 years and I will dress myself exceptionally well on our wedding day. I must state immediately that Jane has very much been one to share out this day and for that I am thankful. I am well aware though that wedding planning is by and far the domain of the bride-to-be. I am not trying to buck the trend, nor do I want to assert planning control over the entire event. I do not mind what colour scheme we have, what type of dresses Jane and the bridesmaids wear or what flowers are used, but I do wish to stand up for the general role of men.
Now that I can speak from ‘within’ the world of wedding planning I can report that this is a world that has become overly feminised to the extent that male input is almost considered to be in the way. I assure you that wedding expos would not exist in their scope and size if men were playing a more substantial role in offering opinion. While I realise that TV shows such as Don’t tell the Bride in which men plan the wedding to disastrous results, do not seem to give much strength to my argument, the couples involved in such shows are not usually those we might describe as Mr and Mrs average.
As Jane wrote in her last reflection men and women are different. It is not a small difference either; we are wired differently at a fundamental level to complement one another. This is something the secular world cannot understand. Life is a not a competition to see which sex is most physically strong (that would be men) or which sex best nurtures children (that would be women). When men and women work together there is a wonderful balance. Where a husband might be happy to eat dinner every night straight out of a pizza box, it is the feminine charm of his wife that will civilise him and help him to see the role of a serviette. Where a wife might like to go shopping every weekend and continue to stock the house with ornaments that only exist to be dusted, it is the masculine practicality of her husband that stops her turning their home into a museum.
Of course it is not simply the fault of women who have taken over all aspects of wedding planning. It is the fault of men who have scoured away like mice and only wanted to know what date and time to turn up at the church. To the men out there I encourage you to take up your role as men. We are not called to dominate but nor are we called to pander to every idea that our fiancé or wife comes up with. We are called to be husbands and fathers and leaders after the example of Christ. Our role is as necessary as that of the women in our lives and it must not be traded away.