Bride and decider-in-chief Julia. Photography by Rosie Parsons
“The china pattern we liked online looks terrible in real life,” I whisper to my fiancé in a panicked phone call to our flat in London from US department store Bloomingdale’s, where I’m hiding behind a wall of serving platters. I’m American, he’s English, and we’re tying the knot in my hometown of Philadelphia, so I’m across the pond for a week trying to get as much on-site wedding planning done as possible. So far, the gift list is not going well. “I’ve identified a few new options – do you want to log on to the website and we can do this whole thing together via phone conference?”
“That’s OK babe,” he says. “You just pick out what you think is best, and I’m sure it’ll be great.”
Easy for him to say. Since first deciding on the kind of wedding we want to have (open bar, blues band, crazy party, minimal fuss), each day has been a new lesson in just how many details there are to sort out.
From buttonholes to biscuit favours, invitation fonts to colour schemes, even our relaxed ideal requires careful research and relentless decision-making and, for some reason, I seem to have been voted decider-in-chief. Which explains why I nearly burst into tears over a selection of napkin rings.
When I mention to my married friends that, in my opinion at least, we’re having a bit of difficulty finding an equitable distribution of wedmin duties, the standard response is ‘welcome to the club’. “Honestly, I handled everything about our wedding myself except for the honeymoon, tuxes and cake selection,” my cousin confesses. “And I even had some input on the last two.” (Quick poll: Does participating in a cake tasting really count as something he ‘handled’?) Meanwhile, when my college roommate sent her groom-to-be an email formalising the tasks he’d agreed to, he replied with a message subject-titled COULD NOT DELIVER. “The recipient’s mail server was unavailable or busy, or perhaps he doesn’t like responsibility,” he wrote. Clearly items like ‘research beer’ and ‘make our website funnier’ proved overwhelming.
“Basically, we’re calling your bluff,” my fiancé explains when I ask why, in general, grooms assume that the bride will shoulder the bulk of the burden. “It’s not like you’re not going to pick the flowers and invitations if we don’t get involved.” A clever, if irritating, strategy – but it doesn’t quite explain why he zones out every time I suggest we crack open the laptop and tackle a few pieces of the puzzle together. “You’re also a terrible delegator,” he adds. “You don’t actually want any help, you just want someone to sit there and watch you complete tasks.”
Me?! I baulk at first, then remember the incident with the plane tickets (I turned my head for 4.8 seconds, at which point he added pricey carbon offsets to our fares on a whim… then I flipped out). Or when I asked him to call the register office, then grilled him afterwards about all the questions he didn’t ask. Or when he offered to sort out our Save The Dates on his own and my response was laughter.
And so, it turns out there is a very good reason why I have an email subfolder labelled ‘Wedding’ and he has one called ‘Cricket Team’: because that’s exactly how I want it.