39: Groomzilla

39: Groomzilla

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Here Comes the Bride

Groomzilla

We find comfort among those who agree with us — growth among those who don’t.

~Frank A. Clark

I’ve heard that some brides get annoyed when their husbands-to-be don’t participate enough in the wedding planning process. But when I was planning my wedding, such a situation didn’t sound like a problem at all. In fact, it sounded dreamy. I fantasized every day about having a less involved fiancé.

My future husband, Tobias, was full of ideas for our wedding. Big, horrible ideas. For instance, at one point he was struck with the idea of renting a big yellow school bus to transport our guests from the church to the reception site.

“It’ll be great!” he’d exclaimed, his eyes glowing. “The guests will love it!”

Would they? I remember trying to imagine my mother, dressed in her finest, bridesmaids in their silky gowns, elderly aunts and uncles, all clambering up the stairs of a grimy yellow behemoth that still smelled of dirty sneakers and old sack lunches. I couldn’t imagine them loving it.

“Um, no,” I said. “Just… no.”

“But it’s Americana!” Tobias cried, amazed by my refusal. “The Germans will love to ride on a real American yellow school bus. They’ll have never done that before!”

You see, this was part of the problem: Tobias is German. In terms of wedding planning, his nationality complicated my life on two levels. First, he fit the stereotype of the super-organized German who loves to plan things, so he couldn’t help but be all over our wedding. Second, as a German, he had a different vision of what a wedding should be. In Germany, weddings tend to be understated affairs, completely lacking in pretension. So black stretch limousines, a phalanx of bridesmaids in identical dresses, tuxedoed groomsmen, and even fat, glittery engagement rings were as horrible for him as having our guests ride in yellow school buses was to me.

But there was another problem, too. My husband loves parties. All the parties in our relationship are masterminded by him, from the foods we eat to the candles we use. And if the party didn’t rage until the wee hours, he frets about its success (which may explain why we once had a Sunday brunch that lasted from noon until after midnight). Somehow it didn’t occur to me when we got engaged that, for him, our wedding would be the Mother of All Parties.

No detail of our wedding was too small for Tobias. Together, we spent hours hammering out the wording, color, shape, and size of our wedding invitations. We bickered over the appropriate flowers for the church. (He wanted wildflowers; I wanted cherry blossoms and peonies.) When visiting caterers, Tobias grilled them about their credentials as if lives were at stake, and tasted their dishes, brow furrowed, scribbling notes, as if he were a food critic for The New York Times. My poor mother, the traditional role of bridal advisor usurped by her future son-in-law, would tentatively offer a suggestion to me, and I’d moan, “Mom, I’m sorry… I can’t handle another opinion. It’s all I can do to get my own in there!”

But there was one area where I drew the line: shopping for my wedding dress. Tobias wanted desperately to go with me. “Well, at least tell me what you have in mind,” he’d begged. “Nothing too formal, I hope. You know… nothing that looks like a wedding dress. And what about a veil? In Germany, brides don’t wear veils.”

“Forget it, Tobias!” I snapped, wondering if it were true about the veils. “You’re not going to know anything about it until you see me coming down the aisle!”

“Coming down the aisle…” he’d repeated, thoughtfully. “Seems so old-fashioned. And I don’t think we do that in Germany. How about we walk in together?”

Maddening.

Somehow, we did make it to our wedding day. The truth is, by the end, I really appreciated Tobias’s contributions. Sure, it was annoying that we had to leave our wedding china off our bridal registry because we couldn’t agree on a pattern (he wanted plain white; I wanted some design, any design), but on the other hand, Tobias had no problem handling the dirtier aspects of wedding planning. He negotiated prices with vendors with the charming ease of a used-car salesman. When the classical quartet we hired to play at the church proved themselves to be unreliable a week before the wedding, he rallied quickly to find an alternate solution, while I was frozen with horror. He gathered the paperwork for our wedding license, and planned our entire (utterly fabulous) honeymoon in the Greek Islands.

Today, eight years and two days after I walked down the aisle in my off-white gown and flowing veil, and my Groomzilla took my hand and whispered, “You look absolutely beautiful,” I look at our wedding pictures and see a wedding that truly represented us. Martha Stewart might frown at our lack of color theme, the uneven number of wedding attendants, or that one groomsman (who wasn’t even Scottish) was wearing a kilt, but I smile. This was our wedding: a jumble of compromises, a blend of cultures, visibly imperfect, but wonderfully, quirkily ours. Had Tobias been less involved, as I’d so often daydreamed, God knows whose wedding it would have been. Maybe Martha Stewart’s?

Good thing some dreams don’t come true.

~Barbara D. Diggs

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