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The Groom: Whoever Said Weddings Had To Be All Bride, All The Time?

Though the groom isn't typically the star of the wedding, he has an important role to play, too.

The Groom
Jillian and Mark Oswalt on their wedding day in Pensacola, FL, where Mark was stationed at the time. (Love Is Wild Photography)

Weddings are controlled chaos—and planning them is not a one-person job. Soon after asking my then-girlfriend, Laura, to marry me, I remember us springing into fevered action, brainstorming a daunting list of responsibilities for our impending nuptials, all the while working two full-time jobs in “the city that never sleeps.” It helped that Laura’s an organizational wizard—and I follow orders really well.

It goes without saying that we had a lot to accomplish before July 16, 2011. We tracked everything on a Google spreadsheet, which, looking back at it, seemed like a tall task. There were individual tabs for “Guests,” “Budget,” “To-dos,” “Schedule,” “Priests” (yep) and “Music.” Laura and I divided and conquered on some duties, but most of it was done via a unified front. We tasted wedding cakes and appetizers together (we decided on food stations rather than a formal sit-down dinner); visited multiple venues and eventually landed on an event space dating back to the 19th century in Barneveld, NY; and chose both a classical trio to get us down the aisle and a cover band for the reception. (I even pulled off a cover song on my acoustic guitar before the band got going.) We needed to find and hire a wedding photographer and party bus operator to shuttle our guests from their hotels to the venue, and design and print save-the-dates and invitations. As for the wedding itself, Laura and I wanted the ceremony to be equal parts Catholic and Jewish, so we divvied up readings and readers, acquired a unity candle and a special glass for me to crush underfoot at the end of the ceremony, found a willing officiant and booked a nondenominational church. It was a long road between that first day of organizing and “You may kiss the bride,” but it all worked out.

The Groom
Mark and Jillian Oswalt getting the royal treatment from Mark’s US Navy buddies. (Love Is Wild Photography)

Why am I sharing this with you? It’s not lost on me that in this day and age, the stereotypical, pie-in-the-sky wedding is all bride, all the time. Grooms sort of take a backseat, because, as is assumed, it’s “her day.” And pop culture has only driven that home with reality TV shows such as Say Yes To The Dress, Bridezillas and The Bachelorette—don’t fool yourself; The Bachelor isn’t really about the groom. And, of course, bride magazines abound (not so much for grooms).

I’d like to argue that weddings and the planning involved in them are, more often than not, a 50-50 affair. And I have proof. “We were collaborative with everything,” says native Saratogian Mark Oswalt, a Lieutenant Commander in the US Navy (and childhood friend of mine), who tied the knot with his wife, Jillian, down in Pensacola, FL, where he was stationed at the time. “That’s how our relationship has always been: All the decisions are made together,” Oswalt says. With minimal help from their families—mostly because of distance and timing issues—the Oswalts brought their unforgettable day to fruition together. (I was there, and it was a one-of-a-kind day.)

Gabriel Boyers, another native Saratogian and childhood friend, concurs. Boyers married his husband at the pre-renovation Adelphi Hotel in Saratoga and says that the wedding-planning process was pretty equal. “I do sense that—as was the case with ours—there’s a significant shared involvement in most gay weddings,” he tells me. “My husband, Drew, and I planned most of it entirely together, and really enjoyed the process.”

And what about the next generation? A groom who’s experiencing the madness of the pre-wedding rush, Matty Shu of Vinny’s Barber Shop of Saratoga, puts it this way: “My fiancée told me her dream wedding was at The Inn at Erlowest in Lake George, so that’s where we went to look and will be getting married,” he says. “I don’t eat cake but love cannoli, and my fiancée asked them to accommodate us with a cannoli cake for the wedding, which they’re doing.” In other words, their wedding planning process—and ours and Mark’s and Gabe’s—was all about compromise. A word of advice to all of you grooms-to-be: The ability to compromise comes in handy later. Trust me.

Will Levith

Will Levith is the Director of Content for saratogaliving.com and the Executive Editor for saratoga living magazine. He's a native Saratogian and graduate of Saratoga Springs High School. His work has been published by Esquire, Playboy, Condé Nast Traveler, Men's Health, RealClearLife and many others.

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