Watch out, brides: Here come the grooms

June 11, 2000|By Tricia Bishop | Tricia Bishop,Sun Staff

The good old days are gone, boys. It's not enough anymore to pop the question, ride out the engagement, then appear at the altar all goo-goo eyed and suave in your penguin suit. The times, they are a-changin'.

Just ask Scott Geesey.

He's researched photographers, hired musicians and made the hotel reservations for his August wedding to Catey Galatola. "It was definitely a mutual endeavor," says Geesey, 37, a lawyer at the U.S. House of Representatives.

So mutual, in fact, that Geesey broke out of the macho mold and chose the couple's china, sort of. The couple, who live in Odenton, were having trouble finding something they liked until Geesey stumbled onto the winner.

"It was something simple," he says of the pattern, "so that 10 years from now, no one will laugh at it like they did at my high-school prom tux." Geesey used a similar technique to find their crystal.

"I was so psyched that he was even interested," says Galatola, 26, an advertising account executive in Baltimore. "Scott's been great. We pretty much divided things, and he's taken responsibility even down to the registering."

Geesey drew the line at the flowers, though, saying he wouldn't know if they looked good anyway.

"The groom's role has changed tremendously," confirms Millie Martini Bratten, editor of the 66-year-old Bride's Magazine. "Years ago, it used to be the bride and her mother doing the planning, the father pays, and the groom just showed up. Now we're seeing team wedding planning."

To capitalize on the grooms' new role, several years ago Bride's began putting out an annual groom supplement with its magazine. But the latest Grooms was only 12 pages, while Bride's made news for the size of its record-breaking 1,271-page February/-March issue.

But there are other places where men can turn for the latest wedding advice. David Knickerbocker is the 31-year-old founder and publisher of a new men's magazine, For the Groom. "Men are a lot more involved today. They're sharing the responsibility in trying to plan," says Knickerbocker, who lives in Connecticut.

Knickerbocker has never been married or even engaged. He got the idea for the magazine from a 1995 sitcom that had a groom lamenting the lack of men's wedding guides. He saw an untapped market, and his advertising background kicked in. After some research and a stint in business school, For the Groom was born.

The quarterly publication, which made its debut in January, features the male version of articles that brides have been reading for years. Stories in the summer issue include "Waist Removal," "Keeping the Faiths" and "Guy Time."

Wedding experts agree that the groom's role has been evolving since the late '80s. Three factors have contributed to the change, they say. Couples are marrying an average of six years later than they were two decades ago and have developed strong opinions and tastes. More couples are paying for weddings themselves, with as many as 35 percent of them footing the whole bill. And these days, four out of 10 couples are living together, making joint decisions a more common experience.

Scott Geesey says he's involved because it's fun to work on projects together, and because "if something goes wrong, [he'll] have some clue as to what's supposed to be going on."

Ashley Long, who's getting married in September, says joint planning sets a tone for the marriage. "It goes to respect," she says. "It's an indication of how you're going to make decisions in the future. It's a stepping stone."

Long, 30, and her fiance Scott Cotter, vice president of finance at an Internet start-up, have shared much of the work. The couple, who live in Towson, both chose the reception spot, picked the band and selected gifts for their attendants.

"I've definitely had a lot of input," says Cotter, 28. Long, a lawyer, describes it as veto power.

"In terms of who makes the ultimate decision," she says, "I narrow it down, and he gets the final say." By narrowing the field for Cotter, Long says she gives him realistic ways to be involved and still keeps the traditional bridal hold on the event.

To get a groom involved, it's helpful to play to his strengths, says Bratten, herself married for 13 years. "If he's a great writer, ask his help in writing thank you notes. If he loves to cook, send him to the caterer," she says.

But there are still those who think the groom is sorely out of place in the planning process. "I always tell my grooms," says Sherri Minkin, a wedding consultant at Glorious Events in Owings Mills, "that the best groom is one who keeps his mouth shut and says, 'Yes, Honey.' "

Minkin, who's been in the business for more than 20 years, says she's seen some change lately, but it's more on the side of the woman. "Lots of brides today want to include the grooms, but ... he's just doing it to pacify the bride," she says.

Tim Maloney, 25, disagrees. "It's my wedding, too," he says. "You're going to remember this for the rest of your life."

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