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Ask Team Practical: Less Interested Partners and Planning

I’ve read all gender-related advice on APW and on progressive wedding blogs, asserting how important it is to plan a wedding for two people and not take the “this is MY day so it’s all about ME-ME-ME ” attitude. But here’s the problem: I feel like my fiancé does not want to be included.

I’m a teacher, so I have convenient work hours. He just started his own business, so he’s at the office 24/7, and when he’s home he basically just wants to sleep. Plus I’m kind of a Type A control freak, spending my free time choosing over different shades of blue for the reception because, you know, Tiffany blue just ain’t the same as turquoise, and I will not be mixing them. So I guess I can understand how he does not feel like doing all of it with me. But I feel like he should want to participate in picking at least some parts of the wedding, like the texts for the ceremony, our first dance, our rings.

I’ve tried time and time again to include him in these and he listens to me very nicely but it never goes further. We are having what I consider to be a “big” wedding (100 guests) when I wanted a small one (max 30 guests) because he wanted all his family there, which I get, but now I feel like all that matters is to invite x and y and to have a big party. I’m worried that our commitment to each other just does not matter as much to him. So I feel angry, and frustrated, and disappointed. I just would like to feel like I’m not alone and not the only one who cares.

Am I the only bride-to-be feeling that way ? Do you think I should try to talk to him about this again? Or should I just get over myself and just be happy that I’ve found the love of my life and that we’re going to have the best party ever to begin our life together ?

~ Desperate Frenchy

Dear DF,

Let me lay it on you: one partner being more interested in planning is a common problem. (Please note that I’m offering up a strictly American point of view. Your French compatriots in the comments will have to give the Gallic point of view…) Sometimes that can be an indicator of a bigger problem within the relationship, but that’s not something APW is at all qualified to discuss. What we will say is that if there are other warning signs within your relationship, I urge you to talk to a counselor and work on your relationship together.

But if lack of interest is just the biggest prevailing problem, let me say this: You need to cut your partner some slack and whip them into shape. Let me explain…

Wedding planning is not a latent talent that suddenly becomes activated the second you get a ring on your finger. If that were the case, a lot of fabulous and amazing wedding planners would be out of a job. It can be a great opportunity for you to use your great taste to throw a kick-a** party, or it can be a herculean task akin to dental work, or a little bit of both. Whatever it is for you, it is a job that is suddenly thrust on your shoulders by society because you’re the bride. And if your partner is a groom, society considers his job to be the 3 Ss: Suit up, Show up and Shut up until it’s time to say “I do.” And do not think that a couple that consists of two brides or two grooms has it any easier; the pressure is often much worse. (“Two girls planning a wedding? That should be SO EASY…” or “Gay men’s weddings are ALWAYS so stylish!” Blech.)

My point is that when you’re planning your wedding, you need to consider each others’ personalities as well as what you want the décor to be. Working towards gender equality does not mean that every decision is made together; it means that the bulk of the work in any one area does not get assigned to a particular partner because of their gender. Some people just really and truly won’t care about most aspects of a wedding. There’s nothing wrong with someone not being able to drum up enthusiasm about invitations or ceremony music; they probably just aren’t wired that way. In situations like that, the best thing to do is to sit down, discuss what you want to have in your wedding and figure out who will do the legwork for what. Discuss what each person cares about and how decisions will be handled. And while you’re doing that, make sure that you care about the things that your partner doesn’t. If he doesn’t care about flowers and neither do you, why are you even thinking about them?

When considering your partner’s personality, consider your own. You’ve admitted to being a bit of a control freak and your partner knows that. Think about your previous conversations with him; have you been receptive to his ideas? Often in the face of opposition, some people will just cease to voice their opinions. Your partner may also just be afraid to offer up an opinion, thinking it might be the “wrong” one. Just as it is acceptable for you to pore over the differences between cerulean and glaucous, it is just as acceptable for him to call them both blue and see no reason they shouldn’t be mixed. Keep that in mind when discussing wedding details and make sure the both of you are respecting each other’s tastes and opinions.

That being said, your partner needs to get off his butt and help you. Being wired to not care about flowers does not mean that you can’t weigh in on the decision, or call the damn florist. An expanded guest list was his idea and while you can’t hold him wanting family and friends against him, he also can’t just add people to the guest list and not assist in the extra duties entailed in adding those guests. Talk to your partner about what the details of your first dance and your rings mean to you; they are not just a dance and some jewelry to you, and his input in them is essential. His work may be overwhelming him, but that is no excuse for not participating in other aspects of life. You want a wedding, you have to put in the work.

If you feel you have more time than he does, consider offering up a selection of options that you think will work. Asking him “What do you want to do for a centerpiece?” might be overwhelming, but offering up three options for discussion will be more bearable. Set aside manageable blocks of time to discuss certain aspect of your wedding and only those aspects. For someone who feels inundated with work, an open-ended discussion on invitations may fill them with dread but saying, “Let’s get some wine and talk about invitations for an hour after dinner tonight,” will seem less daunting. He wants his family there, so he recognizes that this is important; just make sure he recognizes what is important to you and respects that also.

Finally, make sure you’re respecting your own time. Relax, make time for other things in your life and don’t make this time into a massive stress-filled experience. You’ve been reading about gender equality on APW, but you’re also reading about how you are not the only lonely bride, and how to stage manage all those crazy details, and how those crazy details often don’t matter, right? No? Then it looks like you have some homework to do, missy…

******

Spill it, Team Practical. Was your partner as involved as you were in wedding planning? How did you handle that? Did you actively try to get them more engaged in the process, or did you enlist outside help and opinions?

Photo: Lauren McGlynn Photography

If you would like to ask Team Practical a question please don’t be shy! You can email Alyssa at: askteampractical [at] apracticalwedding [dot] com. If you would prefer to not be named, anonymous questions are also accepted. Though we prefer if you make up a totally ridiculous sign-off like conflicted and rageful but deeply in love in Detroit (CARBDILID, duh). We’re not kidding. It brings us joy. What, you don’t want to bring your editors JOY?!?

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