A groom is a man who does nothing to help with the wedding besides show up. A “groomzilla,” at least according to a new GQ essay, is apparently a man who has ideas about his wedding at all, or maybe even (gasp) plans it.
Here is what is so great about this piece: as sad as it is that this is a novel perspective, it’s still refreshing to read a hetero guy openly discuss that he had a vision for his own wedding and was happy to take the reins—how it should look, where it would be, who would attend. Zach Baron writes:
What does it mean, in practice, that I’m the bride? We’ve been working that out. Mostly it means I care. I care about table settings, family-style dinner service, centerpieces, the quality and shape of the shuttle bus that will be required to move our drunken friends and family from place to place. I will obsess, like I have obsessed over few things besides certain Future verses, over the guest list and our vows. Until a few months ago, I had no idea any of these things might matter to me. But they do. A lot. I like the decisions, the heightened stakes, the communal nature of it. I like trying to one-up other weddings I’ve been to. I’m competitive. I’m the bride.
Well, no, you’re the groom and you’re handling the wedding planning, but fine. Nonetheless, he offers up an interesting when-a-dude-finally-get-it perspective about being in the wedding planning trenches:
What a weird, passive-aggressive world I’ve found myself at home in. It’s like a video game in which the bosses are all rictus-smiling caterers and maniacally itemizing venue operators and grim, pessimistic florists. You have to triumph over the hordes of people who tell you it’s your special day and they’re just there to give you what you want, followed by the long, disapproving pause when you tell them what you want.
He demonstrates a grasp of the larger, more bizarre, gender-restrictive aspects of the ritual, and is totally sympathetic:
It’s all so hoary. The color white. The very word fiancé, which is so brutal—the Wicker Man of words. The fact that until recently so many people were flat-out excluded from the institution. Women have had to put up with this for so long! For centuries oblivious straight men have been wandering around, acting like some succubus is about to entrap them in a sex-killing ritual conjured out of tulips and marzipan, doing absolutely nothing to help their besieged brides. Meanwhile women have been expected to wade through a polluted river of lacy garbage, trading fake joyful smile for fake joyful smile, making weighty aesthetic and emotional choices and having to pretend the entire time the experience is a dream come true.
And he has a perfectly awesome vision of how his own wedding will go down, which includes a rustic barn, Edison bulbs and “fading late-May light”:
I’ve got this vision: Instead of the usual glum groupings of bridesmaids and groomsmen, we’re surrounded by children. Our friends’ kids. Boys on my side, girls on hers. They can cry, chase butterflies, I don’t really care. The really tiny kids get a wagon. The ceremony ends and we process out all together, us and the little ones, while Young Jeezy plays.
Baron explains that his wife would get married at City Hall if she could; the only reason they aren’t is because of him. So he pitched a wedding he wanted, and she was down with it. This aspect of the piece alone is worth celebrating—one, that the compromise of the wedding ritual can go both ways, and should. Sometimes women don’t want a big wedding and men do, and that is fine! But even more importantly, the division of labor therein should not about gender, but about skills and desire. He’s got a vision for a wedding—let him create it. Nothing crazy or extreme about that.
What is crazy and extreme is that when he told people this, they treated him like he had been “huffing paint.” The writer acknowledges that calling himself the bride is a joke between himself and his fiancée, but it does strike a similar chord to a man proclaiming that his emotional state makes him “the woman in the relationship.”
I’m not entirely convinced groomzillas are a real phenomenon. The actual descriptions behind their media coverage never matches those of their lady counterparts in sturm and drang. This guy was called a groomzilla for simply wanting to pick out his tux; these guys for simply attending some planning appointments with their brides. Although odds alone say some man somewhere has been a nutjob about his wedding, most of the warning signs just sound like men having opinions.
In my opinion, though, it’s much weirder for a man not to have opinions about one of the biggest milestones in his life just because he’s following some dude-script. You’re going to spend tons of money, time, and energy on the event—not to mention it’s the moment you’ll be committing yourself to another human, ostensibly forever. Not having any opinions about that party is kind of like being willfully and selectively braindead. How can you not at least care about what people will be eating, dancing to, or imbibing, yourself included?
Feelings about your wedding—even the argumentative kind—are normal, no matter your gender. Let’s not transform the possession of those feelings into some extreme, demanding, monstrous position. At least until men are demanding that their groomsmen can’t weigh less than them, in which case, it’s totally warranted.
Illustration by Tara Jacoby.