everything men NEED to know about weddings (idea)
INTRODUCTIONSo you're male, you're thinking about getting married to a female, and you have no idea what you're in for. Not a problem. This is a relatively short guide of everything men NEED to know before getting married. It is by no means comprehensive, but should act more like a survival pamphlet than anything else. While I'll try to keep it light, I consider this to be a very serious subject. So without further ado:
WHEN TO DECIDE- There are a few things you need to know about yourself and your mate before you pop the question, or even come close to it.
This level of confidence may take some time to establish. Consider living with her first. After living with someone for a year, you have a pretty good idea of the sort of person they are. If it hasn't really gone anywhere, then cut your losses and move on, or at least move out and work up towards breaking up. The worst marriages are the ones where you simply settle for what's there, rather than what you want (or need).
THE RING- So you decided to take the plunge and propose. That's great, congratulations! Where's the ring?
What? You don't have a ring?
Do not put your mate in the situation of having to say "Oh, yes, we're engaged, but we're still saving up for the ring." Not only is it embarrassing for her (and you), but it also completely removes any symbolic tie to the actual moment when you ask her to marry you. Afterward, it's just a piece of jewelry.
So, what to do? You really want to propose, but can't afford a big rock? Try a promise ring first. For about $100-200, you can get a pretty sweet promise ring with a tiny, flawless diamond and gold band. It might only be .005 carats, but if it's flawless, this will excuse it in her eyes, especially if you shower her with poetry comparing her to the flawless diamond (shining, fiery, perfect, etc). Additionally, her initial trepidation at getting such a tiny rock in her engagement ring will turn to immense relief and joy when she finds out it's just a promise ring. Or, more verbosely, "a promise to buy a bigger ring".
Some jewelry stores will even let you trade up for the engagement ring down the road. Keep in mind though, she may not want to lose that first symbol of your commitment.
Now, on to the REAL engagement ring...
I don't care what your personal feelings are on the matter, people (especially women) will judge you based on the ring you gave her at the time you proposed. Even if you and your mate are both completely non-materialistic, and would be perfectly happy with a bit of glass scotch-taped to a foil gum wrapper, you will at some point, suffer humiliation at the hands of those who are materialistic. Let people go on and on about diamond company conspiracies, it doesn't matter. The diamond engagement ring is as ingrained a part of tradition as presents at Christmas, only more people are offended by a cheap diamond than a cheap gift. And though you may not care now, you will as you get older. And god help you if you try to fool her with a fake, because she will find out, and when she does, she'll forever resent you for not telling her the truth.
To avoid this, I recommend getting a good, real diamond engagement ring. By good, I mean one that is of decent quality, and appropriate to the finger. There are 4 C's to consider in a diamond:
Carat (size), Clarity (flaws), Color, and Cut. Though the ignorant consider carat size to be the most important factor, they are ignorant of the fact that a large, polished turd is still a turd. The real reason women like diamonds is because of the "fire", or that colorful sparkly light that makes a good diamond brilliant. The truly important factors in this are actually CUT and CLARITY. A poor cut diamond that is perfect in every other way will not fire, and an included (internally dirty) diamond will block fire with its own particulates.
Research a bit to find the best value for your dollar, but a good goal for the truly ignorant of any diamond is Carat=0.5 or better, Color G or better, SI (slightly included) or better, and a "brilliant" or "round" cut with a ratio equal to about 60/60 or better. The jeweler will know what you're talking about at that point.
And for those where money is not an option, and still don't want to learn about diamonds, just look for a vendor of "Hearts on Fire" diamonds. They are, in my experience, among the best quality cuts, but very expensive.
That said, there is one other reason for getting a good quality diamond ring for her. It shows that you have enough financial acumen to provide her with a good life. This reasoning may be flawed, but it is an ingrained message that very few parents will be able to overlook.
For the band, unless you are going to make the fact you want to get married a complete and utter surprise (and thus set yourself up for possible humiliating failure), I recommend taking her with you to (or you being dragged to) a jewelry store, and getting a vague idea of what kind of band she wants (thin and dainty, big and bold, white gold or yellow gold, how she wants the diamond set, etc.), but not actually let her know which one you'll get. Do this a few times.
THE PROPOSALBetween Hollywood, and TV shows like "Perfect Proposal", and so forth, it's really easy to assume you can't possibly come up with a proposal worthy of her, when so many other people have done it better.
However, you don't need a big movie budget, a TV show, or even a particularly clever set of friends. For the budgeteer, take her to a park, at sunset (or sunrise), and propose to her on a quaint little spot that can forever be "your spot". There is, however, no excuse for the lazy bum who just rolls over in bed and says "hey, how 'bout we make it legal". It's just plain white trash. She might marry you, you both may live happily forever, but she will have many female friends. After your beloved hears about how her friend was proposed to, at the top of a mountain paradise, do you really want her response to be "Oh, when John asked me we were both just laying in bed."
Find something that is special to her and incorporate it. If you can't, then you really don't know her well enough to even think about spending the rest of your life with her, and frankly, she can do better.
One thing to remember is that she will need ready access to either her mother, or her best friend. After you propose to her, if she says yes, she will immediately want to tell the whole world. If you're completely incommunicado with the world, not only will it drive her nuts, but if she says "no", you've got a long uncomfortable journey home ahead. Ideally, her point of contact should be reachable via phone, or even physically nearby the occasion.
It can be as complex or simple as you want, but the two most important things are to make it a special occasion to her, and have her point of contact available immediately afterward.
THE CEREMONYShe said yes. Good on yer! Now what?
Most men pretty much sit back at this point, and just kind of wait to do what they're told. This is, without a doubt, the smartest option possible. Take an active interest in the wedding, if you like, and feel free to give your honest opinion (after, all, if you can't be honest about your wedding, how can you hope to be honest in marriage?). But when it comes down to it, this is her day, her decision, and most likely, her parents' money. You want to help out whenever possible, but don't confuse that with getting your way. She may just want a Justice of the Peace and a court date, or she may want a six-digit wedding to be televised on cable. Regardless, she has very precise reasons for everything.
Now, that said, a few things you need to decide on ahead of time, before an argument results.
THE RECEPTIONThe Ceremony was the easy part. Now what? Music, Food, Friends, Family... it's a party! You can relax, right? Wrong. This is where the majority of the work and expense will occur. The most natural and relaxed receptions probably had the single greatest amount of work put in on all sides. So you need to be aware of this ahead of time, and do your part.
AFTERMATH- Make sure you have delegates to help clean up the mess. Caterers and the DJ will pack their stuff, but if you don't specifically have staff to clean up the mess, then someone has to. Try to make sure someone is seeing to it.
A wedding is, in theory, a beautiful and wonderful occasion whereby two people propose their eternal love for each other. In reality, it is an experiment in social sciences, political diplomacy, and micro-economics. Whether or not it is a success or a failure, you'll never stop hearing about it for the rest of your life. What you end up having to hear depends largely on how responsible and prepared you are ahead of time.