My fiancée and I got engaged at the end of our USA travels in July 2016. The last fifteen months have definitely been the fastest and busiest of our lives – juggling new jobs and a house move with preparations for our big day. It’s been hard work and stressful at times but also very exciting! Here’s what I’ve learnt from the ups and downs of being a groom-to-be. Let’s start with the engagement.
1. You can become a diamond guru in minutes
Rhiannon loves surprises so I shopped for her engagement ring in the dead of night, whilst she was sleeping. We were constantly traveling around at the time so it took a few sessions, using variable motel Wi-Fi before I’d finally placed the order.
I quickly discovered that there were so many websites catering for clueless blokes like me who didn’t know their cut from their clarity. Using one of these sites, I learnt everything I needed to know about diamonds and then I simply picked the best one that fit into my budget.
Okay, so the ring didn’t quite fit her (testament to my shoddy ring size reconnaissance earlier in the year) but as for the design – she said she couldn’t have ordered a better one herself. Boom!
2. Moving house in the same year as the wedding is a very silly thing to do
They say moving house is the most stressful thing that you do in life. In my experience, they are right. It’s, therefore, a very bad idea to combine this event with the run-up to a wedding. It’s now two months after the big move and we are still living out of boxes and negotiating an obstacle course of unbuilt furniture.
All our time and money has been going on the imminent wedding and so “feathering our nest” has fallen by the way side.
Perhaps there’s a couple out there who have gone one further still and have moved house, had a baby and got married all in the same year. I salute these crazy people.
3. Share the joys and the burdens
I’m going to sound like such a goodie two shoes here but I was adamant right from the start that Rhiannon and I made an equal contribution to planning the wedding. I think a lot of other blokes don’t have this attitude towards their wedding though and see it as a woman’s responsibility to do most of the organising.
I’ve never really understood this. At the end of the day, marriage is two people pledging to share their life together, including all the joys and burdens that come with it. Ultimately the wedding is a joyous occasion but there is most certainly plenty of burdens attached to it also. Why should one person have to put up with the burden?
Don’t get me wrong though – it’s not just the two of us that have put in all the work for the big day. Our families have been amazing and we couldn’t have put everything together in time without them.
Yes, it is ultimately the bride and groom who need to do the lion’s share of the preparation but in my experience, the family are also very excited about the occasion and very happy to help with stuff.
My advice would be – don’t be afraid to ask for help and delegate a few things to those who offer it. The day comes around so quickly and many tasks take twice as long as you’d expect.
4. Say no to Jaeger bomb seven
I feel sorry for all the blokes that end up hating their own stag do. I think the main reason for this happening is because their ‘mates’ have gone all out to humiliate them. Fortunately, I have nice friends and my stag do was one of the best weekends of my life. When else do you have the opportunity to gather up all of your best mates in one place for a full weekend of booze and banter.
I gave the lads five months’ notice to make sure as many of them could come as possible. I and my best man (my brother Ben) then worked together to plan all of the activities, accommodation etc.
The result was two amazing nights out in Liverpool, beer pong, table tennis, beach football, cricket and a go-karting grand prix.
Better still, whilst I spent a large proportion of that weekend drunk, I can still remember the vast majority of it. Inevitably, everyone was buying me jaeger bombs. But after shot number six, Ben sensibly stepped in and drank the next two himself. Consequently, I stayed on two feet well into the early hours.
The moral of the story is – pick your best man wisely. Choose someone who would not only take a bullet for you but a jaeger bomb too.
5. You’re not a geek if you use a spreadsheet to plan the wedding. You’re a bloody genius.
So I work behind a desk and look at spreadsheets for hours each day. It’s not fun. But making a spreadsheet at home, for personal stuff, is somehow fun. I, therefore, do it at every available opportunity.
Planning the wedding was another chance to do this and I took it with both hands. In a couple of hours, I mapped out all of the things we needed to do in the 15 months before the wedding, listed them in categories and mapped out which month we’d need to complete them in.
Rhiannon poked fun at me at first but it didn’t take her long to discover the truth. My spreadsheet was key to the whole operation. After we had all of the many wedding tasks organised, colour coded and scheduled in, the whole thing seemed much more manageable. Armed with our beautiful spreadsheet, we were unstoppable.