Dave & Ruchi, by Dave

*Dave & Ruchi*

To end this week of talking about Working Together, we have a rare treat: a wedding graduate post written by a groom. (Hint: Men, please consider submitting a post? Signed, all of Team Practical.) Earlier this week we had a wedding graduate post from Ruchi’s perspective, and today Dave is here to give his thoughts on being an involved groom in an intercultural, interfaith, Hinjew wedding.

All I want to say is that I was a groom who was involved with the wedding. And who cared about things. I wasn’t overwhelming, but the fact that I let my voice be heard meant I had to wear the moniker of groomzilla with pride even though there wouldn’t have been a second thought about my actions if I were a bride. I mean, I don’t know, was it groomzilla-like for me to go to all the venues and voice my opinion without being asked?

So I wore the groomzilla label as a badge of honor in order to keep my voice heard and maintain my confidence. I was like, “Yeah, I’m a groomzilla. Deal with it.” Wearing the label empowered me to not slink back.

When people would comment on how it was Ruchi’s day and how I just had to stay out of the way and say “Yes, dear,” I felt a combination of frustration and sadness and also smugness and pity. It was sad that this thing, which is really supposed to celebrate both of us, is culturally seen as the bride’s day. But I also felt bad for all the other guys that aren’t able to embrace it for themselves.

It’s not that other dudes don’t think that it’s their day. Dudes enjoy their wedding day too. But a lot of guys don’t get into the planning of it. However, it was important to me. I wanted our wedding to really be our wedding.

I think the most important thing uninvolved guys miss is the art and work of actually making decisions with your wife and your in-laws and your parents. I’m not a deferential person, but I had to learn to negotiate and compromise.

Most guys try to avoid arguing with their mothers-in-law. But I argued with mine over the baraat—an Indian groom’s tradition—that we wanted to integrate into our wedding. In a traditional Indian wedding, the groom’s family and friends bring the groom (who is typically on horseback) to the wedding while dancing around him, while the bride’s friends and family wait inside of the wedding venue to receive the groom. The groom’s procession is then welcomed to the wedding by the bride’s friends and family.

What I wanted instead was to have everyone dance and celebrate by bringing and welcoming me to the wedding hall—bride’s side and groom’s side. I had gotten to know and become friends with Ruchi’s family and friends and I didn’t like the notion of bride’s side and groom’s side. I didn’t want people to line up on which side they’d support if we got divorced or something. And to me, that was still a baraat. Ruchi and I had been in the continuous process of defining and merging our traditions. I felt like my idea of a baraat was a modern day, intercultural baraat.

Ruchi’s mom, on the other hand, had a hard time because she felt I was mixing up the dancing with the welcoming, and the important part was the welcoming. To Ruchi’s mom, I was, at its worst, desecrating the sanctity of her tradition by having a misplaced emphasis. And also, I think she felt that I was asking her and her family to give up their responsibility of welcoming me and my family, which was very important to her.

After lots of drama, Ruchi’s mother’s friends danced with me in the procession, while Ruchi’s family stayed inside the wedding hall to welcome us. Outside, everyone danced and cheered to the beat of the drums while I watched the action from on top of the horse. When I entered the hall, Ruchi’s mom greeted me and then my parents with sweets and hugs. The welcoming was a very emotional experience, and it was awesome to start our wedding doing something that was originally Ruchi’s culture, but that was now part of my own as well. I loved it, my family loved it, Ruchi’s mom loved it, and through the many discussions I had with her, Ruchi’s mom and I strengthened the foundations of our relationship to where we can tell each other how we really feel.

When I think about the planning leading up to the wedding, I appreciate that it was both Ruchi’s and mine. Through the process, we learned to make decisions with each other, while including our families. Because the truth is, I was never a groomzilla. I was just an equal partner.

The Info—Photography: Emily Takes Photos  / Venue: San Francisco Galleria / Day Of Coordinator: Lowe House Events / Ruchi’s Wedding Sari: Roopkala in Mumbai, India / Ruchi’s Reception Lengha: Ushnakmal in Delhi, India / Ruchi’s Ring: Turtle Love Co. / Dave’s Wedding Kurta: Mumbai, India (we can’t remember the store!) / Dave’s Sherwani: Benzer in Mumbai, India / Ketubah: KetubahKraft / Mehndi: Kamala at Henna World

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  • Amy March

    I can’t get enough of this wedding. Would read a book about it

    • Kristen

      TOTALLY. Absolutely agree. So beautiful.

  • Love this! While our wedding was small and not very elaborate, my husband was also an equal partner. Kudos for the men who step up and voice their opinions, stand up for what they believe in and participate. This wedding was beautiful and from both of your posts, seems lots of though was given to the ceremony, to the meaning of it, to the traditions that are meaningful and to your future inter-cultural life. Best wishes!

  • “When people would comment on how it was Ruchi’s day and how I just had to stay out of the way and say “Yes, dear,” I felt a combination of frustration and sadness and also smugness and pity. It was sad that this thing, which is really supposed to celebrate both of us, is culturally seen as the bride’s day. But I also felt bad for all the other guys that aren’t able to embrace it for themselves.”

    I have always wondered when did weddings start being about “the bride” only? That is one of the aspects I hate most about the traditional wedding discourse. Yay for equal partners, in weddings, in marriage, in life!

    And as the reader above, I’m pre-ordering the book about this wedding as soon as it’s available ;)

    Read more: http://apracticalwedding.com/2012/08/being-an-involved-groom/#ixzz24OMXVnWz

    • KB

      I, too, have wondered that. I also feel sad – and this has been echoed in a couple of posts – that the social narrative is so bride-centric. It makes me frustrated when I ask my partner if he cares about X, Y, or Z and he says no, I wonder if he ACTUALLY doesn’t care or if he doesn’t want to contradict my choices because it’s “my day.”

    • Corrie

      YES, to this. Also, this statement:

      “All I want to say is that I was a groom who was involved with the wedding. And who cared about things. I wasn’t overwhelming, but the fact that I let my voice be heard meant I had to wear the moniker of groomzilla with pride even though there wouldn’t have been a second thought about my actions if I were a bride…I wanted our wedding to really be OUR wedding. ”

      I liken this to the way women were treated decades ago, especially in business environments, where they were expected “to be seen and not heard.” I feel like there is this funny role reversal that has taken place in a wedding context where men are expected to be seen and not heard, and Dave definitely touches on that here. This is flawed and strange to me, particularly because a wedding is a joining of two lives and not just an opportunity for a bride to show off her decorating skills. However, it seems that many WIC weddings are approached from the latter standpoint. Perhaps the groom could care less about the asthetics of the day, but I imagine any groom would at least have opinions about the ceremony and vows – the truly important stuff on a truly important day for both bride and groom – and his voice should be welcomed. Fortunately, it seems that the groom’s opinion is becoming more welcomed, but I still don’t think that’s the norm, especially from the WIC.

      • It’s true, I do think that in the context of weddings men are expected to be seen and not heard. Or at least, they should care about the things that are more manly and thus okay for men to care about like the DJ or the beer selection.

        Dave actually did care about a lot of the aesthetics — he’s an engineer and a perfectionist so he spent hours getting name labels on our favors (which doubled as our escort cards) JUST SO. And while I really appreciated a) that he cared so much about out wedding and b) the time he put into tasks that I would have spent two seconds on, I admit, there were times when I would get annoyed that he had opinions on EVERYTHING. Like okay, it’s not just my day, but seriously, can some things be all about me?

        In the end we realized we had two different communication styles with each other. Dave would voice an opinion on anything ever, just because, well if I asked him a question, he’d form an opinion. I would only offer an opinion on things I actually CARED about, and if I didn’t care, I wouldn’t have an opinion. And while Dave stood up for his opinions and expected me to do the same, I would instead feel really really bad about Dave not getting his way. Once we ironed out our communications issues, things went smoother.

        So, yeah. I LOVE having an equal partner who cared so much about out wedding. But equal partnership does take some work … and I’m glad we got to do that work during our wedding planning process.

        • Corrie

          I can definitely see how having Dave so involved in the planning might have created more work (or perhaps, more effort), but that experience is so beneficial to your actual marriage, and I think it’s great that you recognize that. APW talks about how preparing for the marraige is also a part of wedding planning, and having Dave involved in the planning clearly helped you prepare for your marriage – you learned each other’s communication styles and how each of you make decisions. That is so beneficial to your marriage. (And just another argument for why grooms should be involved in the planning process, I think!)

          I can totally see how you might have missed out on having some “all about me” things, though. Perhaps for couples in similar situations, it might help if each person gets at least one “all about me” thing to hande that is important to them?

        • That sounds like such an awesome example of how the wedding planning process can be marriage prep in and of itself. Yay you guys figuring out your communication styles.

  • RachelC

    Absolutely fantastic. Thank you thank you thank you for writing.

  • I hate the -zilla moniker doled out during wedding planning. It’s such a lose-lose situation for the bride and/or groom. Everyone expects you to have the perfect wedding, but if you care too much about making it perfect, you’re a bride- or groomzilla, and if you don’t care about the details, your wedding isn’t perfect, so you’ve failed there, too.

    Also, I love seeing a male perspective on APW. Like Dave said, it’s a point of view often neglected in the world of weddings. Thank you for sharing, Dave!

    • KB

      I want to “exactly” this comment one billion times. I hate hate HATE the -zilla term for this exact reaon. Caring about getting your money’s worth and having it done the right way does NOT make you a huge green city-eating monster.

    • Not to mention the sexist implications of the term. A woman who has opinions and makes decisions firmly? She must be a monster! A man who has opinions is fine, but if they’re about a wedding, that’s girly and men who care about girly things are also monsters.

    • I can’t agree with you more. The slighest bit of stress shown magically makes you a “-zilla”. I did get stressed during wedding planning and the minute I started to lose it people doled out that awful word as my new badge of honor. It only made me more upset and more hurt. I wish we could expel the word from the English dictionary.

    • meg

      If you notice, we have an editorial policy that we won’t use the female -zilla word in any context on the site. In fact, we edited out a mention in poor Dave’s post :) We would have asked to edit out the male version too, but he was owning it, so you know!

      • APW: ridding the world of sexism, one bridal slur at a time :-)

  • April

    Perfection – thanks sooo much for sharing, Dave! Oh, how I have loved reading you and Ruchi’s wedding grad posts and seeing all the happy, beautiful photos of you two and your families these past couple days. BRAVO!

  • Dave, I’m really curious, what was it like to ride on the horse? Thanks!

  • Cassandra

    More pictures of the most beautiful wedding!

    It’s interesting how men’s input in wedding decisions is treated with confusion and sometimes, suspicion. My partner is the one contacting venues, and I suspect there’s going to be a lot of going in circles before he gets the information he’s asking for, whereas all my reaching out has been met with immediate response (and way too much use of the words “YOUR special day.” I’m pretty the ‘your’ is singular, not plural…

  • Newtie

    My sweetie was very involved in planning our wedding and had a LOT of opinions. It was very much a joint experience. But when people outside our immediate family would ask him things like “How’s the wedding planning going?” he’d shrug and say “Ask Newtie!” as if he had nothing to do with it. It made me feel bad when he did this, but when I asked him about it he said he just couldn’t deal with the sh*t people would give him if he started waxing poetic about the details of our cake, etc. And that made me feel sad, that he felt like he had to kind of “pretend” to be a stereotypical groom, even though he really had strong feelings about and involvement with pretty much everything.

    • Dave

      I’m glad you brought this up! This in fact was exactly what another version of my post would have been about. At work (an incredibly male environment given that I’m an engineer) I chose to silently (and painfully) endure my coworkers commentary regarding a man’s role in planning a wedding.

  • Equal partners! Yes!

    And cheers to you, Dave, for having what sounds like an incredibly healthy relationship with your mother-in-law.

  • Wonderful post, Dave. Thank you!

  • Full of win! I want to marry Dave & Ruchi, like together…seriously. Well, not, but your wedding (both posts) is so much of what I am hoping to achieve in the next week and a half. Eeep!

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