Ask the Expert: Simon Daykin on Common Groom Questions
Simon Daykin is an award winning event designer, planner and Groom Stylist with Fire Fly Occasions. Simon strives to get grooms involved in the wedding planning process and have their opinions heard. He understands that grooms can get left out or pushed out of the planning process so he’s here to help and answer any common groom questions.
I just got engaged, what the hell do I do now?
Well, don’t set the date. I know that sounds odd but I always tell my couples the first thing you need to do is get a fast n dirty guest list together and find a venue that will hold all your guests. There is nothing worse than setting the date and finding out you can’t get a venue or having to compromise your venue choice. After that, figure out a rough budget, start thinking about your best man/ groomsmen and look into hiring a wedding planner to take the stress off so you can both enjoy your engagement.
I want to help plan the wedding, how can I make sure my fiancé and the mums don’t take over?
First you need to tell your fiancé you want to help. Then I suggest setting up a time to discuss the wedding and the plans so far, maybe over a nice dinner. Remember, it’s your wedding too and your opinions must be heard. I would suggest making the decisions with your fiancé and letting the mums know what you both have decided. Remember to stick to your guns and make sure your fiancé has your back. Be courteous and listen to the mums’ opinions, smile and nod, knowing in your mind that the final decision will be yours and your fiancé’s. If you make yourself available to your fiancé and make it fun to help plan the wedding she’ll love having you be a part of the process.
What parts of the planning process can I take over to reduce the stress on my fiancé?
I have a lot of grooms ask me this. Obviously you don’t get to choose the dress…but you can take over other parts of the planning. I suggest grabbing the things you like so it won’t seem like a chore down the road and you’ll want to do a good job. Guys seem to have issues with follow thru so if you like what you’re doing you’ll follow thru and all will be well. Here are a few things you can take over and she may not even miss: Meet with the venue and pick out the menu, you know what she likes so set up a few choices then get dressed up and go out for the tasting. Take care of finding the DJ, the videographer and book the honeymoon. Also, I suggest that if you decide to hire a wedding planner, you sit in on all the meetings, especially the décor meeting!
What should I be looking for when I research vendors?
Oh I hear this one a lot…so here’s the simple answer. Make sure they have a website, a good website. Look for past events they have done, if they don’t have pictures, be wary. Look for testimonials from past clients and make sure they treated their past clients well. Contact the past clients personally if possible. Make sure their email address doesn’t end in .gmail or .hotmail etc. I find that with cheap email providers, usually comes cheap service providers. Not always true, but do you want to chance it? Meet them in person, make sure they fit with your personality, if you don’t like them after the meeting odds are it’s not going to get better and you won’t like working with them and that will stress you out. So maybe they’re not the vendor for you, move onto the next one. Also, ask your other vendors if they’ve heard of the vendor you’re considering hiring. Industry insider information is awesome if they’ll share it with you.
My fiancé’s family has offered to pay for the wedding, this is great but where can my family contribute?
Well, to be honest, this ain’t that bad of a spot to be in. But I hear you, you don’t want them to take over and you want your family to be involved and feel like they’ve contributed something to the day as well. If your fiancé’s family wants to pay for the wedding, I say let them. Your family can contribute in the following ways. They can host the rehearsal dinner, pick up the tab on the open bar at the reception or add in a specialty bar or ice sculpture, or they can take care of the honeymoon cost. It’s up to you as the groom to make sure that the wedding is planned with a vision that both you and your fiancé agree upon and that your personalities are reflected in all the details. Don’t let her family take over and make all the decisions even if they are paying for it. They had their wedding, this wedding is yours!
Should I have a say in who gets picked to be a bridesmaid? And for that matter should my fiancé have a say in who I pick as groomsmen?
This can be a tricky situation as you may be dealing with people she has known for years. A good indication of who should be in the wedding party is that they must have supported you through your relationship and engagement. If one of her friends was all “oh they’ll never last”, you do not want her in that bridal party! (same goes for your groomsmen) Don’t let her pick a person who will add to her stress and make her second guess her decisions. I suggest you both make a list and have back up people on the list as well. Family members are always a good choice, as close as you are now. Weddings can change the relationships you have with your friends. In a couple of years you might be looking at your wedding photos saying you haven’t talked to that guy since the night of the wedding. Have a civilized conversation about it, don’t get all pissy if she wants to vito one of your choices, just make sure she has a valid reason. It goes without saying that your groomsmen should not be anyone she has dated and the same goes for you and her bridal party.
I’m not really a “strip club” kinda guy…do I have alternatives?
Dude, there are so many options for a kick ass bachelor party. Golfing, paintball, white water rafting, a ski trip, a guys weekend camping trip, head out to a cabin, take your boys some beers and hit the lake, go wake boarding and share those crazy stories you can’t at the wedding. Personally I love heading out to a private dining room at my favorite restaurant, having the chef prepare a taster menu, pairing it with wine and then having a good old fashioned Roast. This is a blast and it gets all the stories out of the way so they don’t rear their ugly head at the wedding in someone’s speech. You can also head off to Vegas for a few days with the boys, Gutsy Groom has a condo on the strip so give me a shout if this takes your fancy, we also have access to Playboy Mansion parties, yes…THAT Playboy Mansion, but you’ll have to time it right so it fits into your schedule. I even had a groom head down to Carnival in Brazil for his Stag.
What do I need to cover in my speech?
The speech is key, everyone in that room is gonna be hanging on your every word, mostly ‘cause they know yours is usually the last speech and the bar is about to open again, I’m kidding. You’re one of the main attractions so make your speech count. Make reference to how lucky you are, how beautiful your bride looks, how great the bridesmaids look, thank your groomsmen for being a part of your day, thank her parents, thank your parents, tell a cute story that will make her cry, tell her you love her, then tell her again later in the speech. Thank the people who travelled a long way to be there. I always like it when you thank the planner, we work hard…we deserve it! A good speech runs 3 – 6 minutes, much longer than that and you’ll lose ‘em.
How do I make my rented tux look good?
Accessorize my friend! Take the pants and the jacket and discard the rest. Add in your own shirt, something funky maybe, something classic, but make sure it fits like a glove and it shows off your personality. For the love of all that is good in this world, CHUCK THE SHOES! You don’t wanna put your feet into a place that a million other feet have gone before. Whether you decide to go with a pair of Chuck Taylor’s or a pair of classy dress shoes, please, wear your own shoes (and make sure they’re clean shoes). Get your own tie, here is another great chance to add some of your character to the ensemble, so don’t pass it by. Get your own cufflinks, actually cufflinks make a great gift, to you, from your bride on your wedding day (hint hint). Use the rental as a base on which you build your attire.
Should we have an open bar or cash bar at the wedding? Are there any good alternatives?
Personally I always say if there is any way, have an open bar. You can’t ask your guests to travel, shell out for a hotel room AND bring you a gift and then make them pay for booze. Ah, in a perfect world. But we don’t live in a perfect world do we? If you want to offset the cost of the bar you can always try the following…Have a buck bar or 2 buck bar, the guest pays the buck or 2 and you comp the rest of the drink price. Complimentary drinks during the cocktail hour, but keep it simple, beers, wine and normal bar drinks, nothing fancy. Shut that bar down during dinner and speeches and serve complimentary wine and beer at the tables. Have the wine served instead of leaving it on the tables, this will limit the amount of booze consumed. Have a signature drink, a cocktail invented by you for the wedding, not only is this fun to invent, but you know exactly what goes in it and what it costs. If the venue will allow it, bring your own booze, head out to the liquor store, buy a TON of alcohol and pay the corkage fee, like wine at a restaurant. And this way, if there is any leftover, it comes home with you. Make sure the venue is cool with this though ‘cause some places aren’t.