I don’t shave for Sherlock Holmes. Or anyone else.

“Are you going to shave for the wedding?”

This is something I’ve been asked quite a lot recently. Sometimes repeatedly by the same person, which is a little annoying. One of my friends is not a fan of the face fuzz and clearly feels that I would look better clean shaven on the big day. This is fine, but as I’ve stated that my opinion opposes this the matter should be laid to rest now, right?

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Me in the classic “look at my ring” pose

This is the first time I’ve really grown a beard properly. Prior to this I just used to occasionally let it grow for a while because I was too lazy to shave regularly. I am terrible at shaving, and would emerge smooth faced and bleeding like a character in an ’80s slasher movie.

As a student nurse I had to keep myself tidy while on placement, mainly because of the constant whining of my mentor. However, since I decided nursing wasn’t for me, I’ve not shaved in about a year and a half.

I’m not sure I should share that as it highlights just how patchy and crap my facial hair growth is. Seriously, look at the above photo. There’s enough hair there for me to rock a decent moustache and chin beard, but it’s all spread out across my face, meaning that my beard isn’t the best. I wish it was like one of those old magnet and iron filings things where I could just move the hairs around my face until I had a decent full beard.

I’d love to boast a full on Grizzly Adams beard, but alas, my hair grows in a stupid pattern. At least it now looks like an intentional beard, for a while it just looked like laziness.

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Brian Blessed- Beard goals.

This is a downside of having a beard at the moment. I get the sense that people see it as me following the current trend for hirsute men. This isn’t true, it’s just a coincidence that beards are “in” while I’ve grown mine.

The reasons for my beard? Simple really;

  1. My hatred of shaving
  2. Laziness. It’s one less thing to do during my early morning zombie state.
  3. MWF likes the hairy look, so making her happy is an additional perk.
  4. The last time I did shave, for a job interview, I looked really young. And stupid. So, I’ll stick with mature and stupid for the foreseeable future.

I’ll give the beard a trim before the wedding, so that I look a little smarter than normal, but I don’t think shaving it off would do much.

Besides, it doesn’t matter how tidy I look at the start of the day, sooner or later I’ll spill food or drink down myself and shatter the illusion of being a smartly dressed grown up.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.

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Groom With a View #2: Breaking With Traditions

Pizza. Who doesn’t like pizza. The beauty of pizza is that you can choose your own toppings. Regardless of what you add or subtract it is still a pizza.

But imagine if people were annoyed or disappointed with what you picked on your pizza. Or told you that you should stick something on it despite you not liking it. 

That’s what wedding traditions are like. They are the extras you add to the base, and you can pick and choose which ones you have. And which you decide to leave out.

But that doesn’t mean people won’t complain about your choices, like a friend who turns up their nose at your decision to have olives. 

One tradition that MWF nixed early on is the bouquet toss. Which I definitely agree with.

It’s a tradition that seems old fashioned and a little sexist, a throwback to a time when getting married was viewed as a woman’s goal in life. The undignified scrapping to be next down the aisle just seems stupid.
And the male equivalent, throwing the garter just seems creepy and embarrassing for everyone. 

I get why traditions are a big deal, it’s a sense of culture and continuity, a connection to the past and the familiarity is comforting. And I even like some of them, which is why we’re keeping some for our wedding. However, I don’t think you should just blindly follow a routine because “that’s the way we’ve always done it”.

Change is good. And even better is doing what you want.

So, wear a red dress, have a best woman, forego the first dance or have a themed ceremony. 

It’s your wedding day, so you should do what makes you happy, not what you’re told to do because it’s the done thing.
Who knows? You might start a new tradition.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


Groom With A View #1: Proposals and Rings

It’s just over a year since MWF and I got engaged, so I thought write a few entries about engagement and wedding planning from the groom’s perspective.

And we’ll start at the very beginning, a very good place to start, with the proposal and the ring.

I’d decided that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with MWF a long time before I actually popped the question. When proposing I came up with a few ideas as to how I wanted to do it.

I was going to keep it simple. 

I’m not a fan of the viral proposal trend. You know the kind of thing, a guy stages a flash mob or musical number or some elaborate stunt in order to pop the question. Maybe I’m just an old fashioned killjoy but it just seems to be taking away from what is supposed to be a personal, private moment. 

All the bells and whistles seems to be a bit “look at me” and I’m not a fan. It feels less like an important moment for you and more like some ham fisted attempt to grab your fifteen minutes or get a pat on the head for being so quirky.

And like all public proposals it feels a bit manipulative. It’s putting a lot of pressure on the person being asked. They’ll look like a callous heartbreaker if they say no, even if they have good reasons. And if they do stick to their guns and decline how awful would that be for the asker?

I kinda knew what the answer was going to be, marriage had been discussed in our talks about the future.

Despite this I still felt nervous. What if faced with the question she actually decided that actually a life with me isn’t that appealing? That in theory it sounded good but as it threatened to become reality it lost some of the appeal?  It was unlikely, but not impossible. And that small seed of doubt just wouldn’t go away.

I took MWF somewhere quiet and, once away from prying eyes and ears, got down on one knee, did my half prepared speech and asked.

What I said is private. I know what I said, and so does she, and that’s how it will stay.

This is despite people asking for all the details. Repeatedly.

I understand the enthusiasm comes from being happy for the couple, but it feels like prying. I spoke from the heart and for an audience of one, I don’t want anyone else hearing and judging what I said.

Luckily it served as an introduction to the constant questions that became part of engaged life.

The ones that put me most ill at ease were the queries about the ring. I had shown a photo to friends, just to make sure I hadn’t chosen something that MWF would hate, and thought this would suffice.

I was wrong.

Lots of people asked where I had got it, and more invasively, how much it had cost.

This seemed a bit vulgar and, frankly, like nobody’s business. Especially as it’s kind of a gift, and asking someone how much they spent on a present seems a bit rude.

I suspect wanting to know the price was some kind of weird competitive thing. So that people could compare it with their own rings or maybe to use it as some kind of measuring stick for my commitment or love.

This seems stupid. Why get into a “my ring cost more” game? Does it matter? The cost didn’t matter to MWF and shouldn’t to any prospective bride. Insisting on a certain ballpark figure or brand of jewellery seems to be more about wanting to show off how flash or minted you are.

That’s not what an engagement ring is supposed to show. It’s supposed to show a promise and commitment, and frankly you can do that with any ring you want, from a diamond encrusted Tiffany’s piece to a plastic ring from an amusement arcade (if it’s good enough for Sandy Cohen it’s good enough for me).

Needless to say I ignored the “three months wages” guideline. You’re about to start a life together and you’re going to blow a quarter of a year’s salary in one go? On something you can’t drive or sleep in?

These questions die down after a few weeks, but it still bothers me that people react like that. I felt like I was being judged and assessed for my choices and finances, that while most people complimented my choice, some thought I could have spent more.

It could really eat you up. Especially if you start buying into their BS. Luckily for me I don’t, but you feel bad for the guys out there who have a partner with expensive tastes. Or for ladies who are made to feel embarrassed or insecure about the ring, thus putting a dampener on a time when they should be feeling pretty good about life.

You’re not in competition with anyone, and spending your time comparing yourself with others will just drive you nuts. Just focus on you and remember that the important thing isn’t what’s on your finger but why it’s there.

So please, if someone you knows gets engaged just congratulate them and avoid giving them the third degree.

And if you do find yourself on the receiving end of these questions, remember you don’t have to tell people anything.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


Big Bliss, Mixed Feelings

I’ve written before about the fact that MWF and I watch a lot of wedding shows on TV (here and here) and while we took a break after getting a bit of a wedding overdose we still stick on Say Yes To The Dress from time to time.

They’ve added another spin-off recently (joining Atlanta, Bridesmaids and Canada, with a UK based version on the horizon too) and we caught our first episode today. The show is called Say Yes To The Dress: Big Bliss.

The difference with the latest offering is that it exclusively features plus sized brides. This is kinda cool as it shows that a perfect wedding isn’t just the preserve of thinner women and it’s probably inspiring and reassuring for the curvier ladies out there.

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Also the staff featured are lovely, and treat their customers with kindness and sensitivity.

These are all good things, and I’m glad to see that body diversity is being addressed and celebrated. Both here and on the other TLC show Curvy Brides.

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While I applaud this there is something that nags at me about these shows.

Why do the plus size brides have to be exiled to their own little boxes? Why couldn’t Say Yes just feature more body types on their original shows?

It feels like while it’s a step forward in acceptance of body diversity it’s not a massive one, and it still sets curvier women on the outside, as being “different” and not letting them join the party properly.

I’m glad the new show exists, but it’s kinda sad that the “mainstream” show doesn’t include different body types. Still, a small step forward is still progress.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


Don’t Ask, Don’t Get: Leap Year Thoughts

I’m going to tell you a story about my mum and dad. The seventies were coming to an end, and they’d been together for a while. Marriage was on the cards but my dad was dragging his feet.

1980 was a leap year. My mum, being a strong willed, independent woman told my father that if he hadn’t popped the question by the 28th of February that she would on the 29th, when tradition allows women to propose.

My dad, being an old fashioned kinda man, couldn’t stand this idea and so he asked first. They got married in ’81 and thirty five years later are still happily married.

My dad and I are similar in a few ways (crap at DIY, fond of bad jokes and Clint Eastwood movies) but this is one way we differ, as I would have either (a) called her bluff or (b) waited until the 28th and then asked.

Personally I think that as it’s 2016 we should ditch the idea that women have to wait four years for a window of opportunity to ask, and should be able to propose anytime they want.

I suppose some women do propose now, thanks to marriage equality. Or do lesbians hold that tradition as well and both wait four years to propose?

What struck me as odd is that there’s still an issue around it and that women proposing is still viewed in a weird way?

Sure, we’ve come a long way from when Leap Day was seen as when women would “trap” men into marriage, as though no man could have said no.

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The idea of the man proposing seems to be tied in with all these other traditions and ideas which are a bit sexist.

Firstly, I think nowadays some would view it as a bit desperate. The stereotype being that women are all chasing a diamond ring and don’t want to ask lest they appear too eager and scare off the man.

I think, generally speaking, women think about weddings more, but I think that’s because the wedding industry is geared to them.

As a groom-to-be I’ve noticed that people are surprised I take an interest and should just sit back and let MWF sort stuff until I have to put on the suit, tidy my hair and say “I do”. The idea that I have a say and am involved seems to genuinely surprise people and some have even said that I shouldn’t “butt in” as it’s MWF’s wedding.

The second reason I think people have a problem with it is because of warped ideas of masculinity, that somehow the woman asking is her taking control and “wearing the trousers”, which sees both halves of the couple mocked.

I always find this idea that one partner bosses things a bit weird, as surely it’s a team thing and you alternate calling the shots? In our relationship the metaphorical trousers are like my t-shirts and hoodies, in that both of us wear them (seriously, being in a relationship is like living with a clothes thief). And if the woman is calling the shots is that a bad thing?

I’d take the mockery over being proposed to, as it means I get to forego asking. Even though marriage had been discussed and I was fairly sure of the answer, I was still nervous last August when I popped the question.

What if switching it from a hypothetical to a real question changed MWF’s view? What if actually, seriously thinking about being Mrs Page freaked her out? You can never be 100% sure.

And it’s not just the answer, it’s working out how to phrase it, or if the ring is okay. Proposing is not without stress.

Maybe that’s why so many women want to keep the tradition? They don’t have to put themselves out there and risk rejection? The tradition leaves them free of stress and nobody expects them to drop a month’s wage on a ring (seriously, a whole month’s?!)

The ring is another guy thing. He gets it for the girl who wears it while he goes around with bare fingers, it seems a bit like showing the woman is “taken” and its taken on far too much significance and there are some daft perspectives on the whole ring thing, but that’s a whole other blog.

When a woman proposes does she get a male engagement ring? Or just bring one for herself to put on if she’s successful?

I wouldn’t mind if I’d been proposed to. I could have heard a short speech about how much I was loved. I wouldn’t have felt bad or less manly because doing so would seem a bit stupid.

Ladies, if you want to propose to your fella, go ahead. Ask him to be your husband, guys are wimps and have to psyche themselves up to do it. If you’re tired of waiting, take the bull by the horns.

If he gets uptight about it that’s his problem, and he needs to get over his issues about masculinity and get busy wedding planning. And anyone gives you grief can go hang. What have you done? Taken control of your life? How dare you?!

Thanks for reading and congratulations to anyone who got engaged today or in the last few weeks.

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Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


All’s Fayre: My first big wedding fayre

Today MWF and I went to a wedding fayre. We’ve been to one before but that was rather small, while today’s at the Millennium Centre was considerably bigger.

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For those who haven’t been to one, a wedding fayre is basically a big exhibition where different vendors show their wares. You walk around, discussing stuff, looking at what they have, taking cards and planning for your big day.

MWF and I went with three of her bridesmaids and my little sister, and it was rather nice. MWF was happy to get to plan and got lots of enthusiastic support from the other ladies.

I struggled at first because it was incredibly crowded, and having been at work before I had little patience for all the shuffling. It’s also frustrating for a groom-to-be because most of the stuff is geared at bride’s and most vendors focused on MWF leaving me standing around like a spare part.

I wasn’t alone in this as several grooms seemed to be moping about, trying to appear interested with varying degrees of success. Personally, I like the wedding stuff but the repetition was getting to me.

Luckily my mood improved as the crowd thinned and I got to sit down to watch a bridal fashion show. Here MWF and I appeared to be on the same page regarding most of the dresses, and I got to relax.

The one downside was that one vendor joked that I’d been enjoying checking out the models which was a bit of a d*ck move and could have landed me in hot water if MWF had risen to it or taken it the wrong way. Luckily MWF knows me well enough to know that skinny models aren’t my thing and I prefer a more voluptuous woman. Jerk.

Also it was good to sort out some of “my” wedding stuff- where I’m going to get my suit and ring. Free cake samples helped too (the weight loss stuff starts after MWF’s birthday this week).

But the best thing was seeing MWF enjoy herself. We can now say “we’re getting married next year” which makes it seem so much more real and closer. MWF has been enthusiastic about the wedding, which is natural and good, as I’d be worried if she didn’t give a crap.

Unfortunately not everyone has shared this feeling and some have been rather insensitive and impatient with her discussing the wedding, telling her that she has plenty of time and to stop doing so. This response from supposed friends has been rough as you’d hope that these people would be happy for you and understand your enthusiasm, especially as MWF doesn’t bang on about it all the time and hasn’t turned into a bridezilla.

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Not MWF

So, it was good to see her get excited and receive a positive, helpful response from those around her. Her friends matched her enthusiasm and offered tips and help, and also supported her throughout.

It’s far from my natural habitat, but if it helps sort out our wedding and makes MWF happy, I’m fine with going to more fayres. Happy wife-to-be, happy life.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


Jumping the shark? Why I might be done with Don’t Tell The Bride

For quite a while Don’t Tell the Bride has been one of my favourite shows, it’s the very best of trashy TV.

For those unfamiliar with the premise it works like this: a groom is given £12k and three weeks to plan his wedding, with the wife not knowing what he’s doing.

The drama, and hilarity, comes from the grooms being clueless about weddings and having to muddle through, while the narration let’s us know just how off the mark they are regarding what their bride-to-be wants.

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MWF and I watch the show together, picking out what we like and dislike every week.

But the current series has seen me fall out of love with the show.

The problem is that in order to keep the attention of the audience and make the trailers look good they’ve gone for increasingly outlandish themes and OTT grooms. And the result is that I’ve started turning on the grooms.

Previously the show worked because the daft, but well intentioned grooms were trying their best and had silly ideas for a reason (one groom booked a burger van to cater as it was where the couple had eaten on their first date). But the recent grooms have been bellends who’s themes revolve around stuff they love or wanting to have a laugh. Of course, this is to heighten the drama element.

The nadir of this was a groom who was obsessed with roller hockey (because he’s teenage boy in the late ’90s, obviously) and who was so infuriating I found myself hoping the bride would jilt him. He was utterly self absorbed and childish, including making sure his entrance at the ceremony was more elaborate than the bride’s. He threw a wobbly and did a “I love that girl” speech but it seemed a bit more due to his tiredness and plan falling apart.

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He's probably saying something annoying here

This episode had me fuming, but several of the grooms have done similarly selfish actions.

As a soft git I normally root for them, especially if they get grief from the bride’s family, or diva-like behaviour from bridesmaids (I could do a whole post about why the bridesmaids are the worst and what they should do).

It also showed how bride centric weddings have become. The groom having the power and choice highlighted how normally the bride has everything sorted to her tastes, and I think the show works to illustrate that it’s probably best if both are involved.

The “it’s the bride’s day” thinking is so prevalent that the fact MWF consults and involves me has been received with amazement and surprise.

In fact, some think it’s weird and I should just let MWF have free reign. I think that’s bollocks. I know it’s not my day. It’s not her day either. It’s our day.

It just seems odd that as you start your life as a partnership you’re expected to cater to just one half.

DTTB has lost it’s way in focusing on stupid gimmicks and self-centred grooms. While some of it remains entertaining it’s lost the simple, sweet nature of the older shows.

At it’s best it was never about the theme of a wedding and more about a groom trying to do something special for the woman he loves. He’d cock up and struggle, but he always had wanting the day to be special and to make her happy.

It’s the human stories that made the show work, not the daft gimmicks.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


It’s a date

It’s been a almost three months since MWF and I got engaged and we agreed that the wedding wasn’t going to be for a while. This is so that we can save up for a bit and also so that most of the planning will happen after MWF has finished uni so she isn’t too stressed.

Of course, this plan hasn’t worked out that way. Both of us have gotten hooked on Pinterest and saving ideas for the big day.

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#goals- Macho Man Randy Savage and Miss Elizabeth

We’ve been to a wedding fair, binged on wedding TV (Say Yes to the Dress, Don’t Tell the Bride, Curvy Brides etc.) and given stuff lots of thought, mainly because as soon as you get engaged people start asking about your plans.

The planning has been pretty low key and informal, an early guest list draft and some provisional groomsmen/bridesmaid squads. And some bargaining over what I’ll wear on the day. But nothing set in stone.

Until today.

Today we set a date, booking the church and reception venue.

This is big!

The engagement was real anyway, but a deadline for all the planning makes it feel a lot more real to me. It’s extremely exciting, and MWF has been dancing around in glee.

I’m really looking forward to the wedding, and being married, but there is a low level worry about planning stuff.

What if we forget something? Who do I pick as my best man? What will be our first dance song?

Of course, all these will get sorted in time but the major challenge is not getting ahead of ourselves, of getting too caught up with planning stuff. Because of how excited we are this would be easy, but given the time frame would be a mistake. We could burn out, this is a marathon not a sprint, or get everything sorted and then feel flat waiting for the day.

Even with a date we need to pace our planning, and just continue to hoard pins and ideas. That doesn’t count as planning, it’s just research.

But it’s still amazing, especially as the reception venue was a clear favourite and looks brilliant, and getting the right church was a massive deal for MWF for sentimental reasons (as a heathen it was less of an issue for me, who could have got married pretty much anywhere).

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My elope to Vegas idea has met fierce resistance

So when is the big day? Well, I’m not going to be exact here but a friend gave us a cool countdown chalkboard thing, and this is roughly how long there is;

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Anyway, I’m sure I’ll keep you updated as we move towards the big day. But for now I’m off to see how much the Savage get up costs.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


Something Old, Something New, Something Awesome

Weddings can bring out the worst in people, creating bridezillas, causing tension and if Don’t Tell The Bride and Say Yes To The Dress has taught me anything, no end of arguments, bickering and selfishness.
So it’s nice to hear about two folks using their wedding to do something amazingly kind.
In Turkey Fethullah Üzümcüoğlu and Esra Polat were tying the knot. Turkish tradition is for the wedding celebrations to last several days and culminate in a big feast.
However, father of the groom Ali Üzümcüoğlu, felt that this wasn’t right. Living near the Syrian border and aware of the conditions experienced by refugees fleeing the conflict, he decided that the money could be put to better use. He explained his choice by saying:

I thought that sharing a big delicious dinner with our family and friends was unnecessary, knowing that there are so many people in need living next door. So I came up with this idea and shared it with my son

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His idea was to take the money donated by loved ones for the feast and use it to feed the refugees in the area. Ali’s son and his bride-to-be got on board with the idea, and they used food trucks to feed 4,000 refugees.

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The bride and groom helping serve the food

It’s such a wonderful story, people performing a selfless, compassionate act on a day that for many is all about showiness and being the centre of attention.
These amazing people started their life together with a good deed and both talked about the good feeling it gave them and the fact that helping others in need was the right thing to do.
It’s also a great antidote to the depressing rise in hateful, unsympathetic response towards the migrants trying to get into the UK.
If I could find a hat big enough for my giant head I’d take it off to this fantastic couple. Stories like this reassure me that people can be awesome.
Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


Yes Man

Resistance is futile. You can complain, you can try to distract yourself, but sooner or later trashy TV will get you.
This was the case with TLC’s Say Yes To The Dress and its sister show, Say Yes To The Dress: Atlanta.
MWG has been obsessed with both shows recently, and to start with I did not get it. The premise of the show is simple- brides go to a wedding dress shop, try on dresses and see if one takes their fancy (being asked if they’ve found their dress at the end, giving the show it’s title and catchphrase).

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Of course, this is reality TV so there’s a bit more drama to proceedings- family feuds, stroppy brides, stroppier bridesmaids and the bride’s insecurities, for example.
Anyway, it drove me nuts, I marvelled at how much people spent on a single dress (thousands of dollars) and all the fashion speak was like Klingon to me.
But slowly, slowly I found myself getting sucked into it. I found myself giving opinions on the dresses, sympathising with the brides who struggled with how they looked and fumed at the annoying bridesmaids (worst offender? A girl who wanted to wear a tiara to her sister’s wedding. A tiara for crying out loud!)
Seriously, how hard is it for a bridesmaid to shut their mouth, and know their damn role?!
You help the bride, keep her calm and smooth over any dramas. You don’t cause unnecessary grief, you don’t make it about you and you try not to steal focus. Or “do a Pippa” as it could be known.

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Now I put up a token resistance when MWG flicks to TLC, but we both know that deep down I enjoy the show. Not as much as MWG, but then again I’m never going to go wedding dress shopping for myself, whereas that will be part of her future. And mine, hopefully.
The show, like the best reality TV, does a good job of pushing your buttons. Slick editing, simple stories and some hyping up of drama all gets the audience to go along with it, and for a soft git like me, the happiness of the brides who do find a dress and some of their relationship stories are quite heartwarming.
What can I say? I like a good wedding, okay, and a romantic story. And most of all, I like seeing people being happy.
Also, I like a trashy show that makes you tell at the TV or causes a bit of debate (see also: Don’t Tell The Bride, Take Me Out and Sun, Sex and Suspicious Parents). MWG and I debate who’s in the wrong, judge the dresses and laugh at the more ridiculous characters on the show.
And there’s no denying, even to a fashion ignoramus like me, that some of the dresses are gorgeous. Even I chip in with “that doesn’t suit her” and other comments, despite not knowing what the hell they’re talking about.
There are still aspects that bug me- the expense, the brides who seem more concerned with being the centre of attention than the serious commitment that is marriage. This bugs me because I think lots of people go in giving more thought about the wedding than the marriage.
But these aside I’m slowly getting hooked on the show, and enjoying the little soap operas that unfold. This is a prime example of the whole “no guilty pleasures” thing I’ve written about before, because I’m not guilty about liking the show, just that I could have spent my time a bit more constructively, but you can say that about pretty much all TV shows.
Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.