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Michelle Hall, Wedding and Events Manager at Gretna Green Famous Blacksmiths Shop, discusses the growing trend for grooms to take an active part in the preparations for their big day.


THERE was a time when men stayed outside the delivery room during their children’s births, never cooked a meal or washed a dish in the house and almost NEVER took an active role in planning their wedding.

Leaving such things to women was the order of the day. How times have changed!

If feminism has empowered women it has also released a lot of men from a traditional straitjacket of masculinity that barred them from being able to publicly show any demonstrable interest in perhaps the biggest emotional moment of their adult life.

After ten years helping to arrange thousands of weddings at Gretna Green Famous Blacksmiths Shop I’ve noticed a growing trend for men to take a far more vigorous role in planning their special day.

But like entering a whirlpool, what might initially seem a euphoric experience can quickly descend into chaos and men can easily drown in the swirling foam of details.

Some grooms make the initial enquiry, ask all the relevant questions and pay the deposit without their future wives ever speaking to us – only for brides-to-be to call us in a state of panic a fortnight before the marriage to check on the finer points of the wedding.

One of the biggest early disappointments that more romantic men must face involves their desire for a ‘surprise’ wedding. As Brenda in TV soap Emmerdale found out, marriage is a legal ceremony and both people have to consent in advance!

I once had a groom at another venue who simply ignored the fact that it is illegal to plan a wedding without the bride’s consent. Only on the morning did he confess and whilst his bride agreed to the wedding she was furious at the outfit that he had chosen for her and it was far too late to buy another.

However, an advantage in men taking centre stage is their ability to cut through any family politics. They don’t let their emotions get in the way and can be very focussed on the outcome.

Similarly, many military men will insist on either a rigid square seating arrangement, or a top table for bride and groom with the rest of the guests seated around tables of eight.

A downside of grooms getting heavily involved is their difficulty in appreciating timings. So often they want to get married in the morning, without thinking that it probably won’t suit their bride who needs a long time for hair and make-up preparation and who often wants to spend the morning relaxing with her mother and the bridesmaids. The last thing a bride wants to do is rush around to get ready for 11 am!

Perhaps the biggest failings of men is their failure to think of the finer details, what kind of flowers to choose, button holes, wedding favours etc. We are always ready to remind them.

There’s one battle men usually lose and that’s the issue of what to wear. I have been involved in many heated discussions between brides and grooms, especially if the bride’s colour theme involves a traditionally feminine colour such as lemon or pink. The women usually win.

Finally, despite lots of new men getting more involved and even sometimes taking over, they are so often far more stressed on their big day then their brides. I think this is because in the months leading up to the wedding it is always at the forefront of a woman’s mind. A woman spends an eternity choosing her dress, the dresses of her bridesmaids, trial runs on her hair and make-up – getting everything perfect in advance. When her big day finally arrives she feels able to relax, secure in the knowledge that she will look her best.

But on the whole it’s great news that men are not afraid to get more involved. It takes two to tango and if both parties get their steps right it really can be the most memorable day of their lives.

  • Michelle Hall has spent a decade working in the wedding sector, latterly as the Wedding and Events Manager at Gretna Green Famous Blacksmiths Shop which incorporates the adjoining boutique hotel Smiths at Gretna Green.

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