The Changing Role of the Groom . . . Newer and Nicer

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A relationship built on love, and the determination to make that relationship meaningful and continuing remains a constant and the basis of the institution of marriage. Two people coming together to share a lifetime of commitment, despite changes, stresses and challenges which life have to offer, is the dream of every young couple and has been so through the years.

What have changed in terms of the wedding experience are the needs of today's brides and grooms. These changes have generated significant new roles for the groom, where once he was merely a bystander, who took instructions and waited patiently for the wedding day to arrive.

Today's couples are sharing more than ever in planning their wedding day. Because couples tend to be older, and perhaps wiser, their opinions, more than ever, count. They know what they want, what to look for, and what to get and they know how to get it!

Years ago, in the "good old days," when parents of the bride footed the entire bill for the wedding, it was primarily the role of the mother of the bride to plan the wedding with some input from her daughter, the bride. More recently, the prospective groom has achieved new visibility. More often not he is not only aware but part of the process of initiating plans, making significant decisions, and sharing costs. Aspects of wedding planning which were always considered to be the groom's concern continue to be in his domain, while concerns which were specifically the domain of the bride and her mother, now also include the groom.

Of course, the sharing of responsibilities begins when the bride and groom set the date and time of their wedding. Footing the bill for the flowers traditionally remains the groom's responsibility. Helping with the selection of flowers and floral designs is an extended responsibility in which some grooms now choose to participate. It's also perhaps no surprise that since the photo album is a source of memories to both the bride and groom, many of today's grooms feel entitled to help in the selection of the wedding photographer and, ultimately, in the selection of photos for the wedding album.

Another area in which the groom today is seen to participate more readily involves the selection of music and entertainment for the wedding. Certainly it makes sense that music at the wedding celebration be to the groom's taste, as well as to the bride's. So, many of today's grooms find themselves actively involved in auditioning the bands that is rapidly becoming exclusively the groom's role.

Many grooms also find themselves involved at taste-testings, so they may be part of the decision-making process in selecting the food for the wedding reception. Some brides find it easier to pre-screen and then have the groom involved only in the final menu planning. In this and all other aspects of planning a wedding, each couple needs to decide what areas and what roles they will play separately and in which they will combine their efforts.

Certainly, most of today's grooms are sophisticated enough to make their own selection of wedding attire. With the help of a quality formalwear specialist, the groom most certainly may be trusted to select proper wedding attire for himself and his groomsmen. Today's groom is probably as in tune with current trends in fashion, as his bride.

It has always been and continues to be a responsibility of the groom to select his best man, groomsmen and ushers. It's important for the groom to keep in mind that including friends or family of the bride is not only in good taste, but politically and "emotionally" correct. As part of this function, the groom gives the officiant's fee to his best man on the day of the wedding (to be given to the officiator after the ceremony). It is also the groom's job to put together a list of people he and his family wish to invite to the wedding. In this function, he can also serve as liaison and negotiator if necessary.

Although certainly today's brides are finance-savvy, many couples still choose to delegate the financial duties to the groom. If so, the groom should make changes for himself and his future spouse in all areas of insurance (life, personal property, household, medical, fire, auto), with input from the bride. It's also important for the groom to make certain that he and his fiancée have all the necessary papers, blood tests, medical exams, birth certificates and name change forms.

Traditionally, it has been the groom who planned the honeymoon. In general, that role definition tends to continue today. But tradition has changed for many brides who would prefer to share in honeymoon planning, even if it means giving up the possibility of being surprised. The groom can "score big points" with the bride by remembering to send a thank you note, telegram and/or flowers to her parents the day after the wedding (even if they haven't picked up all the wedding expenses).

When push comes to shove what has changed is that brides and grooms, grooms and brides more often not choose to share the responsibilities of planning their wedding. That happens best when the bride and groom begin their wedding planning based on communication of ideas and feelings and continue their planning based on agreement and mutual sensitivity. The truth be told, it's not really important who does want in planning the wedding, as much as it is important that both the bride and groom and, by extension their families, are comfortable with the choices and decisions that are being made and that no one feels that they are shouldering more of less responsibilities than they feel appropriate.

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